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X-Factor: Why DL Cedric Thornton Must Re-Gain His Philadelphia Form in 2017

Kevin Brady

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X-Factor: Why DL Cedric Thornton Must Re-Gain His Philadelphia Form in 2017

Since Stephen Jones and Will McClay have effectively took over the player, personnel, and scouting elements of the Dallas Cowboys, their philosophy on free agency has been simple.

Don’t participate.

Since getting burned by cornerback Brandon Carr’s huge contract in 2012, the Cowboys have steered cleared of big money free agents and have done their best to go bargain shopping during the free agency period.

Last offseason, the Cowboys did the same when signing defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. The former Philadelphia Eagles lineman was an effective and productive player from 2013-2015, but saw that production fall off considerably with the Cowboys in 2016.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

What happened to Cedric Thornton last season? He was an above average starter in 2013-2015. (h/t @PFF)

Pro Football Focus shared their year-by-year grades of Thornton this week, showing that he played well below his own standards last season. Of course, you always take these grades with a grain of salt, but anyone who was paying attention could see Thornton didn’t perform as well as we’d hoped.

It is easy to point to the lack of defensive line talent around him as the reason for the drop off, considering he played with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham in Philly, but there is more to it.

A 2-gap defender for the Eagles, Thornton had to adjust to a new 4-3 scheme in Dallas. Based off his performance, he clearly struggled with the adjustment. This is exactly why it is dangerous to project players into new roles through both free agency and the draft, and why the Cowboys went with more “sure things” on draft day this year.Cowboys Headlines - "We Hate Them" Ex-Eagle DT Cedric Thornton Speaks On Former Team

There is hope for Thornton to re-gain his Philadelphia-self, however. Buried on the depth chart by Terrell McClain in 2016, Thornton is now the front-runner to start next to second year tackle Maliek Collins this season.

Stephen Paea may provide some competition. but when you consider the money the Cowboys owe Thornton, you’d have to hope he can win that job.

Cedric Thornton will also be entering his second year in this Rod Marinelli defense. Maybe with increased comfortability in the scheme and surroundings, increased production will come. Regardless, Thornton is one of many x-factors on this defense for the 2017 season.

If he can re-gain his Philadelphia form, and fellow defensive lineman David Irving can become more consistent in his own play, this defensive line can become a strength on the defense. With a younger secondary behind them, each defensive linemen in the rotation will need to be ready to step up in big moments this season.

If each can play to their potential, a defensive line of Taco Charlton, Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, and David Irving could be very effective.

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Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the ‘boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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3 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    The preseason will show who they will keep around I think This rookie class is gonna give every one of these veterans all they can handle and the push they need. Thornton, Scandrick, Carroll, Heath are all on notice They all will get pushed by these rookies in a good way or bad way We will see

    • John Williams

      Heath’s job on the roster is secure. Still on low money, he’s seen at the very least as a valuable depth piece. He plays special teams and contributes with the limited snap count. There’s a good chance that he starts this season.

      I don’t think Carroll is as on notice as you think.

      They just signed him to a three year deal, for not a lot of money, but there is a reason they brought him in in the first place. They think he can play at least to Carr’s level, which was consistent if not great.

      Scandrick I agree on. Players don’t stay young forever and at some point Scan will no longer be with the team, but one of his best traits is his competitiveness. He raises his game (just ask Morris Claiborne) and that will raise the game of everyone around him. I think he stays with the team this season and then moves on in 2018. He is a valuable leader for a young defensive back group.

  • John Williams

    The play of the defensive line is going to be key. If one of Mayowa, Irving, or Lawrence can take a step forward in play and production it will help everyone.

    Defensive Line is probably my most anticipated camp battle. Aside from Collins’, I think every snap is up for grabs.

Star Blog

Think Jason Garrett is a Robot? FOX Sports Agrees

Jess Haynie

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Jason Garrett

Cowboys fans have often complained that head coach Jason Garrett is too robotic in his demeanor, media answers, and constant clapping. Yesterday, with most of the country feeling Star Wars fever, FOX Sports tapped into the zeitgeist while also taking a little jab at Garrett’s robot reputation.

FOX Sports released photographs of several NFL personalities as Star Wars character. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady were Jedis.  Bill Belichick, surprise-surprise, was a the evil Emperor.

Garrett… well….

FOX Sports: NFL on Twitter

@AaronRodgers12 @CameronNewton @Panthers @Patriots Jason Garrett is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication.

From 2016 Coach of the Year to punchline, Garrett’s reputation has certainly taken a big swing this season. Things are so bad, they couldn’t give him a C-3PO with matching arms. Oh, the indignity.

Of course, this is all in good fun. Garrett has 12 and 13-win seasons in two of the last three years. 2017 could’ve been very different if not for Ezekiel Elliott‘s legal issues and Sean Lee’s injury. And even now, there’s still a chance the Cowboys can sneak back into the playoffs.

Yes, Jason is repetitive. And yes, he’s no Bill Parcells behind a microphone. But could they at least have made him R2-D2?

At least FOX Sports didn’t make him Jar Jar Binks. That should go to Roger Goodell.

Just for fun, what other Star Wars characters would you compare Cowboys players and other staff members to? Maybe Sean Lee as Boba Fett, hunting down targets in the open field? Or maybe Cole Beasley as Luke, since they’re both a little short to be Stormtroopers.

Have any other good Cowboys/Star Wars comparisons? Share them in the comments!

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Combinaciones Para Playoffs?, ¿Juego Trampa vs Raiders?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott, Offensive Line

Es increíble pensar que ya estamos en la semana 15 de la NFL. Más increíble aún, los Dallas Cowboys que se fueron 13-3 con el sembrado #1 de la NFC hace un año, ahorita cuentan con un récord de 7-6 y unas esperanzas de pasar a playoffs muy, muy pequeñas.

El domingo pasado, a pesar de llevarse la victoria en el campo contra los New York Giants, los Cowboys no recibieron la ayuda que necesitaban alrededor de la liga.

Pero a pesar de ser pequeñas, las esperanzas siguen vivas. Y este domingo, los aficionados a Dallas no sólo apoyaremos a los Cowboys en el Sunday Night Football, sino también a otros cuantos equipos.

Para los Cowboys, ¿cuáles son las combinaciones necesarias?

  • Dallas Cowboys termina la temporada 10-6, ganando los últimos tres partidos. 
  • Que los Green Bay Packers pierdan un partido. 
  • Que los Detroit Lions pierdan un partido. 
  • Que los Atlanta Falcons o los Carolina Panthers pierdan dos partidos. 

En mi opinión, incluso con Aaron Rodgers volviendo al campo, los Panthers y los Falcons presentan el mayor reto. Y creo, que lo que deberíamos estar apoyando en este momento, es que sean los Falcons los que pierdan dos partidos.

¿Por qué? Porque este domingo, Carolina se enfrentará a Green Bay. Francamente, Panthers es el equipo que más probabilidades tiene de echar a perder el regreso heroico de Rodgers. Panthers también puede vencer a los Falcons en la semana 17.

Así que, mientras los Panthers no podrían ayudar perdiendo, creo que más bien nos podrán apoyar ganando. Sin embargo, los resultados de la semana 15 influenciarán mucho a quien apoyaremos como fans de los Cowboys.

Por ahora, estos serían los resultados ideales de la semana 15:

  • CHI Bears vencen a DET Lions. 
  • CAR Panthers vencen a GB Packers.
  • TB Buccaneers sorprenden a ATL Falcons. 

Claro, dos de estos resultados parecen muy optimistas, pero todo puede pasar en la NFL y sobre todo con equipos tan inconsistentes como los Lions.

Por supuesto que, todo esto no tiene ni sentido si los Cowboys no se van 3-0 en las siguientes tres semanas. El rival más fuerte que le queda a Dallas son los Seattle Seahawks. Con Ezekiel Elliott volviendo esa misma semana, será un duelo increíble en el AT&T Stadium.

En mi opinión, será el partido que definirá de que son capaces los Dallas Cowboys del 2017.

Pero primero que nada, los Cowboys se tienen que preocupar por un partido que puede resultar siendo un juego “trampa.” Un juego trampa, es cuando un equipo tiene una semana muy importante por venir (Seahawks) y subestima al rival (Raiders) que tiene enfrente dentro de los próximos días.

Sobre todo cuando es de visita, estos partidos pueden resultar siendo peligrosos en la NFL y realmente, en todos los niveles de football americano.

Fantasy Football - #FantasyFootball Hot Sauce/Weak Sauce and Waiver Wire Adds for Week 9 3

Oakland Raiders Derek Carr (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Y sí, los Raiders han tenido una temporada muy decepcionante en la que ni Derek Carr ni Amari Cooper han sido lo que se esperaba, pero Derek Carr es un QB que puede echarse al equipo a los hombros en cualquier momento.

Todos pueden tener una mala temporada, y ese ha sido el caso para el #4 de Oakland. Sin embargo, si los Cowboys mantienen el partido cerrado en el cuarto cuarto, Derek Carr puede demostrar que tan peligroso es.

Con jugadores clave como Khalil Mack, que por cierto tendrá una batalla épica con La’el Collins, es un juego que no es tan fácil como parece. Sí, los Raiders tienen un récord de 6-7. ¿Y? Los Cowboys tienen un récord de 7-6. Es mejor, claro. ¿Pero realmente es tan bueno como para pensar que será una victoria fácil?

Podemos criticar a Jason Garrett por muchas cosas, pero una de las cosas que no podemos criticarlo, es la motivación que le da a los jugadores. A pesar de muchos reportes acerca de que los jugadores “estaban molestos” con los coaches, definitivamente no han jugado como si se hubieran rendido en su entrenador.

No creo que los Cowboys pierdan el domingo. Pero esperemos que no sólo ganen en la noche, sino que obtengan victorias indirectas alrededor de la NFC.

Tell me what you think about “Cowboys en Español: ¿Combinaciones Para Playoffs?, ¿Juego Trampa vs Raiders?” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Star Blog

Is 3-3 Without Ezekiel Elliott A Win For Dallas?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how quickly perception can change in the NFL.

A little over two weeks ago, the sky was falling on the Dallas Cowboys. They had just been blown out three straight times, twice at home and twice against direct NFC playoff competitors. Cowboys Nation wanted firings – whether that meant head coach Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, or all of the above.

Dak Prescott couldn’t survive without Ezekiel Elliott, and all of the change made to the defense was beginning to be called a failure by the masses.

Fast forward to this week. The Cowboys have now been the deliverers of butt-kickings the last two weeks, and now sit at 7-6 with an outside chance at a playoff spot. And while the team looked like a complete mess without Elliott previously, a win Sunday would put them at 3-3 over the course of the Pro Bowl running back’s suspension.

And is that really all that bad?

Heading into the suspension, most fans probably would’ve taken 3-3 without Elliott and 8-6 overall. Most fans would’ve though that would put the Cowboys right in the thick of the things in the NFC playoff hunt. And most would’ve assumed we’d be happy with an 8-6 Cowboys team.

Unfortunately, 8-6 most likely won’t be good enough in this year’s playoff race. Especially considering the return of Aaron Rodgers and previous losses to both the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Plus, the entire NFC South has been fantastic this season (besides Tampa Bay) and two teams from the West look legit as well.

So maybe this just isn’t the Cowboys’ year. But, the success of other teams in the conference shouldn’t cloud our perception of what the Cowboys have done this season if they were to win Sunday night. A win over the Raiders this week would qualify the team’s handling of the Elliott suspension as a “success” of sorts (in terms of on the field, at least) in my opinion.

They would have kept themselves alive in a deep NFC playoff race, discovered a legitimate offensive weapon in Rod Smith, maintained a solid rushing attack over the majority of the six games, and allowed for some real growth from their young quarterback Dak Prescott.

I know the first three games of the suspension were awful, and a team with the talent of the Cowboys shouldn’t be losing that way three times in a row, or three times in a season at all. But, something should be said about how the team has weathered that storm, and kept themselves above water in this competitive conference.

But, of course, the result Sunday night could change all of this if the Cowboys come out and lay an egg in Oakland, effectively ending their season before Zeke even gets back. In that case we will more vividly remember the three horrific losses in which the team was out-coached and embarrassed. But, still those games should be remembered regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

So maybe success is a bit of a strong word.

This week’s game is not only a huge one in terms of the 2017 playoff race, but also may be an important one for determining what the 2018 Cowboys will look like.

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