If you ask a die-hard Cowboys fan which recent season felt the most like "the year" Dallas would win it all, you'll get one of two answers. It's either going to be the gut-wrenching loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in 2014, or it's going to be the heart-breaking loss to the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium in 2016.
Which one hurt the most is tough to decide and it really depends on each individual fan. Personally, I find the 2014 season ending way more painful and unbearable than the ending of the 2016 season.
One thing is for sure, though. If the 2014 and 2016 playoffs weren't enough to give everyone in Cowboys Nation a couple of bad memories, Jason Witten's retirement just made them even more hard to live with.
Throughout the tight end's 15-year career in the NFL, not only was he an elite starter for America's Team. His journey in the league can't be told in mere stats and records. Witten was much more than that for the Dallas Cowboys and the team's fan base.
He always worked as a captain and a measuring stick for everyone in the locker room. For many years, Cowboys Nation almost unanimously agreed that the player who deserved a ring the most was Jason Witten. The tight end, whose hand was always on the dirt, ultimately felt short of that mark, as he said during his retirement press conference earlier this month.
"For 15 years, I tried to represent you the right way. Bring you joy. And win you a championship. And while I leave today falling short of that mark, I hope that along the way, I made you proud to be a Dallas Cowboys fan." - Jason Witten.
Although being a future Hall of Famer himself, Witten played in a team that failed to establish a winning tradition most of his career. And now, with him ready to replace Jon Gruden under the lights of ESPN Monday Night Football, his chance to hold a Lombardi Trophy is over.
Jason Witten will be a champion without a championship, somehow. 2014 and 2016 were the years he could've put that final dot in his career.
2014 may hurt the most when considering Dez Byrant and Tony Romo's departures. I'm pretty sure that when the referees overturned Bryant's catch at Lambeau, none of the three Cowboys' emblematic players imagined that that would be their last playoff ride together.
Sure, they managed to get there in 2016 again, but Romo was on the sidelines. It's crazy how quickly things can change in the NFL. Last month, I wrote about the moment that put the Cowboys in limbo, changing the path of this franchise out of nowhere.
From one moment to another, the Dallas Cowboys saw the ending of the Tony Romo era and the beginning of the Dak Prescott era. Just one offseason later, legends Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are also out of the picture.
It comes as a tough pill to swallow for Cowboys Nation, but also as a reason for excitement for the future. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will head into their third NFL season in 2018, along with a ton of young talent on offense and defense.
Jason Witten will be missed, but it's time the new generation of Cowboys steps up. They undoubtedly will.
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
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