…Could be the best thing to happen to our Cowboys this season. It all depends on how you choose to look at it.
Perusing over my last several contributions, it could be said that I did so under the influence of the infamous kool-aid many fans partake of in the months leading up to the football season. But just because I may have had one too many, doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the potential for disaster the Cowboys have across the board.
Romo’s back and the potential of re-injury, the defense once again setting records in the wrong direction, and Garrett’s struggles with in-game management could yield mediocre if not atrocious returns for the Cowboys 2014 season. That is an undeniable, irrevocable truth that should not be ignored by any fan; to do so could lead to unfair and unwarranted expectations.
But even if everything that can go wrong does go wrong, there still could be positives that arise from the ashes of yet another season better suited for the incinerator.
Clearly there is nothing that could happen more catastrophic than Romo's back injury rearing its ugly head. If Romo goes down, the opinion is unanimous amongst fans and analysts alike – the Cowboys' season will be over.
The silver lining to that very dark cloud, however, is two-fold:
- The Cowboys can no longer ignore the fact that Romo’s best years are behind him and will likely have to address the QB position in the following draft.
- Given the lack of Romo, the Cowboys will likely be drafting high which could put them in line for a QB worthy of carrying Romo’s jockstrap, if not better.
Believe it or not, I’m more realist than optimistic, so I won’t even mention Jameis Winston…or will I? No, I won’t.
The other prevalent argument being thrown against the Cowboys' chances this year is the lack of star-power on the defensive side of the ball. There is literally not one person on that side of the ball opposing offensive coordinators are game-planning against.
However, once again, there are a few positive takeaways:
- No names means no sense of entitlement for anyone; even if their best does not turn out to be good enough, we at least won’t be left with the sour taste of quit and/or half-effort in our mouths following games. These men are not just playing to win; they are playing for their future career in the NFL and quality of life. They do not have a resume that assures them another job next year.
- If the defense does in fact prove to be worse than last year with the loss of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee, and whoever else falls prey to the injury bug, once again, we are likely looking at another hard-to-watch season that, at least, leads to a high draft pick.
Jerry Jones was recently quoted as saying the record is not specifically what he will be looking at in terms of whether or not Jason Garrett receives an extension at the end of this season. That doesn’t mean Garrett keeps his job, come what may. If that were the case, he would have already been handed an extension. On the contrary, Jason is still on a short leash; Jones realizes that much can happen within a season that can impact the win/loss ratio, regardless of Garrett’s contribution and, therefore, has his sights set on a different measuring stick.
If Garrett once again can be pointed to as part of the problem and not the solution; if the Cowboys lose in late-game situations as a result of poor in-game management, he will not receive an extension. The good news is the Cowboys will finally get that shiny new head coach many disillusioned fans have been hoping for. Personally, I’m not completely sold on that being the best thing for the Cowboys, but it will at least shut up the Garrett detractors for a little bit, which would be music (of the silence variety) to my ears.
In life, every situation presents a set of hurdles. A set of pitfalls and potential success that can be realized immediately or eventually, only made possible through the experience earned by a certain degree of failure. It is how the individual or team responds to defeat that distinguishes true winners, even when the scoreboard disagrees.
Far too often lately, I am hearing on the radio, reading in articles, and following discussions on blogs that seem to harp on everything that could potentially go wrong this year for the Cowboys. It's as though listeners/readers/fellow bloggers have been living in a bubble up until this season, and just so happened to decide on a whim to start being a fan of the Cowboys.
As a Cowboys fan you are well-versed in all of the impending doom and gloom; and this is not a condition specific to the Cowboys, or even the sport of football. It is a very simple study in probability. The Cowboys have a 1 in 32 chance of going to the Championship every year. While those odds easily trump our chances of winning the lottery, they still are not very good – 3.125 percent to be exact.
So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Cowboys have not made it to the Super Bowl since the mid-90’s. It’s not like the odds improve the further a team gets away from their last brush with greatness. Unless you subscribe to the ignorance that Dallas is special and holds sports teams to a higher standard, this should not be a difficult concept to digest.
Circling back to the point (and kicking away the soapbox in a fit of disgust), a lot could go wrong this year for the Cowboys – already discussed, as well as a new variety of tragedy. But truth be told, 31 other teams face similar challenges.
Every team’s quarterback is one grisly hit away from being out for the season and sinking the team’s hopes for the year. Every team’s defense starts at ground-zero proving they are a force to contend with when the regular season begins; no one concedes victory until the final second ticks off of the clock in each and every game. And every head coach is second-guessed for the decisions they make, regardless of the winning and the losing of it all.
But if you don’t learn to appreciate the small victories, that don’t involve the Cowboys winning, your chance of not enjoying the football season is 96.875 percent.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
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