Last Wednesday the NFL Network was re-airing the Dallas Cowboys epic last-second win in New York from 2014. Giants fans tend to remember this as the "Odell catch" game as opposed to "just another miserable loss," but hey that's their prerogative.
If you'll remember that was a Sunday Night Football game so Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were on the call. Towards the end of the game Cris is talking about Romo's influence on the team and how many Cowboys fans used to, incorrectly, announce that it was he (Romo) that was holding the Cowboys back. Collinsworth goes on to say how the Cardinals game that season (which Tony missed due to injury) was a horrific preview of what life without him might be like and how he is now our hero.
If the 2014 Cardinals game was a preview, then the majority of the 2015 season was the main event. Tony Romo missed 12 total games and the Cowboys resorted to the services of a Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore blended cocktail.
Last week I let you guys know that I had recently started watching Survivor. I'm only a couple of seasons in, but so far despite the insane levels of hunger that the contestants have reached no one has been desperate enough to call on Weeden/Cassel/Moore.That's saying something.
Now I'm not trying to poke at old wounds here, but if Friday Night Lights taught us anything it's that backup quarterbacks are important (plus Texas Forever, Whataburger rules, and Mrs. Saracen was such a drag). Natural selection has run its course a little bit as Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel have migrated to homes more worthy of their illustrious talent, the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans respectively. Weird how the Titans just love Cowboys leftovers, ain't that right DeMarco?
The Dallas Cowboys currently employ Kellen Moore and the recently drafted Dak Prescott (4th Round, 135th Overall) to enjoy life drinking Gatorade and man one mean scout team while Tony Romo reaps in all the glory and success for the franchise. In the event that Romo goes down though, and Cowboys Nation is on red alert, our hopes would be seriously tied to one of these strapping young lads. I've eloquently dubbed the tandem DakleMoore.
Say that happens in 2016 - CALM DOWN IT'S JUST A HYPOTHETICAL EVERYTHING WILL BE OK I PROMISE - the trials of the season force us to start Kellen Moore or Dak Prescott. What chance do they realistically stand here? What games could they quarterback us to victory?
Here's my guess.
|Game||Could Kellen Moore Win?||Could Dak Prescott Win?|
The Common Denominators: @WASH, @SF, @CLE, WASH, TB
Something that must be considered in everything from this point forwards is that whether Kellen Moore or Dak Prescott are hypothetically quarterbacking the Dallas Cowboys, they're doing so with the services of fully healthy versions of Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott at their disposal. Fair? Fair!
It's quite simple to understand why either Kellen or Dak could beat the Redskins. It's actually so simple that Matt Cassel did it. With a limited Dez. And no Zeke. I know we're talking about Kellen and Dak here, but even you have a fighting chance against the Washington Football Club with this team.
What about the 49ers? What about them? At the culmination of the 2015 season they were one of the most disorganized teams in the NFL. They "solved" that problem by bringing in Chip Kelly. I bet they "solve" fires with gasoline, too.
The Browns are the Browns, although Hue Jackson has them looking a bit spicier than usual. Ultimately the Browns Factor will still weigh them down for a while so either Kellen or Dak could fare well in the Factory of Sadness.
I will say that the Buccaneers are starting to scare me. Jameis is for real and their receiving corps would make up a basketball team that might've put up a better fight than the Warriors on Sunday. Nevertheless defensively they just aren't there yet. Remember that Cassel's Cowboys almost beat Tampa Bay, and a Zeke/100% Dez hybrid would be enough to get it done this time.
Tell Me Moore, Tell Me Moore, Tell Me Moore
The guys and gals wanted Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko to tell them more, but Cowboys Nation wants to see no more of Kellen Moore. Oh well, oh well, oh well.
What is Kellen Moore good at? Supposedly it's being accurate with where he throws footballs, but those summer dreams were ripped at the seams in the winter of 2015.
Let's assume that Kellen can recapture some of the insane accuracy his game boasted back in his Boise State days. What's the old saying? Hit the guy between the numbers, right? The only numbers I want Kellen focused on if he's starting for the Cowboys are 2-1, Ezekiel Elliott's.
Kellen Moore can play a very Minnesota Vikings/Adrian Peterson type game against that very team, don't you think? Moore is perfectly capable of staying in the pocket, turning around, and handing off to Zeke. Why isn't Dak?
As a fresh rookie, Dak doesn't have the pocket presence that would be required in this game. Why is it required? The Vikings have one of the most league's most ferocious defenses and would keep him there. This game can only be won by Kellen in my estimation. There's a sentence I never thought I'd type.
Dak, Dak, Dak, Dak, Dak
I have a few rules when it comes to movies, and one of them is that if Emilio Estevez is in it then it's awesome.
Similar to the Mighty Ducks after they changed rose from the District 5 ashes, Dak Prescott is technically undefeated as a Dallas Cowboy. This is a case of how facts can be misleading, class.
Nevertheless up top I gave Dak exclusive wins over the Bears and Ravens. Why's that? The dude's got wheels, man! Dak can fly, not together like the Ducks, out of the pocket and make plays with his feet. Imagine him running a read option with Zeke?!
The Bears are rebuilding (rebearding? Yes? No?) and the Ravens had a similar 2015 to the Cowboys, but these are two defenses that Dak's skillset lines up well against. Again, the majority of the work here would be done by a Zeke/Dez blend, but Dak is interesting enough to make the rest happen on his own in situations where Kellen couldn't.
This, using this world loosely here, dynamic duo could very well be called upon when it matters in 2016. Two and a half months ago I took a look at Tony Romo's "starting opportunities" relative to nine other quarterbacks and the data was alarming.
Can either half of DakleMoore get it done? As loyal members of Cowboys Nation, we have to hope so.
Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II
Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.
In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:
It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.
Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.
The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.
Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.
The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.
Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.
Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time. I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.
Back to the chart.
Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.
So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.
Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.
When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.
At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.
If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.
Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.
The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III."
Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.
The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.
Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.
43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.
I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.
But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.
The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.
Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.
I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.
I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.
"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.
Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
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