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Crucial Decisions Upcoming for Dallas Cowboys in 2016 NFL Draft 1

Posted on March 07, 2016 by Chris Kent

As the 2016 NFL draft approaches, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in a quandary with the fourth overall pick. Do they draft a quarterback to succeed an aging Tony Romo or pick an impact defender who can round out an average defense and make them Super Bowl caliber within a year or two? While the entire Cowboys’ organization of scouts, personnel people, and coaches, will be involved in the player evaluation process, the decision will ultimately come down to the franchise’s head brass of owner Jerry Jones and his son Stephen, the team’s Chief Operations Officer, and head coach Jason Garrett.

Tony Romo will turn 36 before the draft and he is nearing the end of his career with three or four years left to play. With this in mind, many NFL analysts believe it is time for Dallas to draft a quarterback such as North Dakota State University’s Carson Wentz or California’s Jared Goff who are widely regarded as the top two quarterbacks in the draft. Furthermore, the window is closing for the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl in the Romo-era. Romo’s three fractures of his left clavicle dating back to 2010 and his two back surgeries in 2013 have made him more susceptible to injury or re-injury. While he has played through some of those injuries and others – such as the broken rib and punctured lung that he played with in leading Dallas to an overtime win at San Francisco in 2011 – Romo is not as mobile anymore and needs to be protected better. Exposing him to big hits that drive him into the ground is too risky based on his prior back and shoulder injuries.

Helping the Cowboys here is the fact that their offensive line is the strength of the team and is one of the best in the league. Left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick, and guard Zack Martin are all first round draft picks between 2011 and 2014 that enabled Dallas to rebuild its’ line. Guard La’el Collins was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2015 but graded out by many scouts as a first-round talent. Those four along with right tackle Doug Free, a nine-year veteran, have formed  a premier unit. Smith is a three-time pro-bowler while Frederick and Martin have appeared twice each.

With quality protection in place, Dallas can turn their attention elsewhere in the draft to help solidify their team. The Cowboys’ core players are Romo, tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Dez Bryant, Smith, safety Barry Church, linebacker Sean Lee, defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, defensive back Byron Jones, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, and kicker Dan Bailey.

Adding an impact pass rusher or cover cornerback makes sense and could turn an average defense into a top 10 defense in the league. Dallas ranked last in the league in 2015 in turnover differential at -22. Their 11 takeaways ranked last in the league and their 33 giveaways tied with Tennessee for last in the league. The Cowboys also lacked in getting pressure on the quarterback as their 31 sacks tied for 25th in the league. Furthermore, Dallas ranked 17th in total defense with an average of 348.1 yards allowed per game. Their front seven was leaky at times, allowing 120.9 rushing yards per game which tied with Chicago for 22nd in the league.

All these statistics point to the need for better defense especially in the pass rush and turnover areas. So here are five of the top defensive players along with a sleeper pick that could rise higher in the draft that would fit the Cowboys’ needs.

Joey Bosa – Defensive End, Ohio State

During the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, Bosa said that he thinks he is the best player available in the draft.

Bosa is relentless and has excellent technique as a pass rusher.

Bosa is relentless and has great technique as a pass rusher.

Others in the media suggested that he is in the mold of J.J. Watt. If he lives up to those lofty descriptions, he will have a major impact for any NFL team. Bosa has good blood lines in the fact that his father and uncle both played in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. Bosa was consistently productive at Ohio State where he totaled 26 sacks and 51 tackles for a loss during his three seasons in Columbus.

His best season came in2014 when he had 13.5 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss. Last year he had five sacks and 16 tackles for a loss en route to being named a unanimous first-team All-American as well as an All-Big Ten performer. At 6-5 and 275, Bosa has the strength and agility to get to the quarterback. With defensive end Randy Gregory’s recent violation of the league’s substance abuse policy causing him to face a four-game suspension in 2016, this not only makes sense for Dallas but has become a pressing need. Bosa could provide the Cowboys with the consistent pass rusher they have lacked since they parted ways with DeMarcus Ware – the franchise’s all-time sack leader – following the 2013 season.

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Cowboys and Redskins Offer a Historic and Renowned Rivalry 0

Posted on December 07, 2015 by Chris Kent
Dallas and Washington have had some battles over the decades.

Dallas and Washington have had some battles over the last several decades.

When it comes to rivalries, the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys are near the top of the list in any sport and at any level. The two NFC East Division combatants have been playing each other since 1960 and have met twice each regular season since the fall of 1961. Over the last five and a half decades, their games have produced many elite players and dramatic finishes. While most of the historical moments in the series occurred during a 20-year period between 1965 and 1985, the two teams have always been a thorn in each other’s side. The matchup has always brought out the best in the two teams regardless of their records and regardless of whether or not they are in the playoff race.

With no one taking control of the NFC East this season, neither team is a sure bet for the playoffs. At 5-6, the Redskins head into tonight’s meeting on Monday Night Football in first place in the division. A win gives Washington sole possession of first place in the NFC East at 6-6 and puts them three games up on the Cowboys. On the other side, a loss drops them to 5-7 and would mean Dallas – with the win – is just one game behind at 4-8. More importantly, a Cowboys’ win would make them 3-2 in the division helping their cause in tiebreakers used to determine the division championship. In a season where the NFC East has been more like the NFC “Least”, Dallas and the Redskins are in a prime spot to again bring out the best in each other even though they both have losing records and are battling to stay in the playoff race. Yet, the history of this great rivalry says that the two teams have always been competitive against each other regardless of circumstances. Read the rest of this entry →

Injuries, Suspensions, and Losses Force Cowboys to Catch Up in Messy NFC East 0

Posted on October 19, 2015 by Chris Kent
The loss of pro bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant in the season opener has left a huge void in the Cowboys' offense. Bryant suffered a broken bone in his right foot against the Giants and had surgery the next day. He is expected to return later this season.

The loss of pro bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant has left a huge void for Dallas. Bryant suffered a broken bone in his right foot in the season-opener against the Giants and had surgery the next day. He is expected to return later this season.

The significant injuries to the skill players of the Dallas Cowboys have left them without their star power this season and made the NFC East more even. Wide receiver Dez Bryant’s broken right foot, quarterback Tony Romo’s fractured left clavicle, and the loss of Lance Dunbar for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL have turned the Cowboys into a more predictable and ordinary team.

These injuries and others along with suspensions have left Dallas playing without a full deck all season. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick was lost for the season with a torn ACL in training camp and prized rookie defensive end Randy Gregory suffered a high ankle sprain in the 27-26 season-opening win over the New York Giants and his been out ever since. Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Greg Hardy were both suspended for the first four games before each played in their first game this season on Oct. 11.

As a result, the division has been and will be more competitive this season. The playing field has been leveled. All four teams can beat each other on any given day and nine wins could win this division this year unless a team gets on a big winning streak. Philadelphia and the Giants both started the season 0-2 and the Eagles have not been as strong as expected. Washington plays up-and-down football, is mostly stuck in mediocrity, and is always looking up in the division. Heading into week six, New York led the division at 3-2 while everyone else was 2-3. Although the Cowboys have lost three straight, their 2-0 division mark was a plus at this time.

Coming into this season, Philadelphia was supposed to be a high powered team under Chip Kelly’s up- tempo style. The signing of Sam Bradford and 2014 NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray were believed to give the Eagles the upper hand in the division but their offense has not shown it. The Giants were an unknown and the Redskins fortunes were unpredictable with questions at quarterback. Read the rest of this entry →

Pieces in Place for Dallas Cowboys to Contend for Super Bowl 50 2

Posted on September 13, 2015 by Chris Kent

The 2015-16 version of the Dallas Cowboys are about to be unveiled. The stage will be set as America’s Team will be showcased in prime time before a national television audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football tonight. AT&T Stadium will be nothing short of a Texas-sized circus.

An offseason that brought many changes with additions and losses of players through free agency, the draft, trades, and undrafted signings has altered the Dallas team. The team’s offense, defense, and special teams will all feature new faces at key spots and those new faces will largely determine how successful the team is this year. While the Cowboys’ biggest loss is NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray, who is now wearing green and white in Philadelphia, other players will be missed. Dallas also lost their punt and kickoff return ace in Dwayne Harris who also contributed as a receiver. Offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell who was a valuable reserve for an offensive line that was regarded as the best in the NFL last season is now in Jacksonville. Also lost in free agency were linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive lineman Henry Melton. Both were important contributors to last year’s 12-4 team that won the NFC East and a playoff game, each for the first time in five years. Murray is the biggest loss out of this bunch as his franchise rushing record of 1,845 yards will be missed. Murray also ran for 13 touchdowns and had 57 receptions for 416 yards last season.

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray.

This year’s running game appears as it will operate by committee unless someone emerges with consistent productivity. Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar all bring different strengths and styles to the position. Randle, a third-year back out of Oklahoma State, brings speed but lacks experience. He has been serviceable in spot duty over his first two years but needs to fulfill his blocking assignments better. Two legal incidents including a shoplifting charge last year following the Cowboys’ upset win in Seattle have raised questions about his character. McFadden, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2006 and 2007, played seven injury-riddled seasons in Oakland where he managed to post only one 1,000-yard rushing season, that being in 2010 when he ran for 1,157 yards on 223 carries. Even then he ran for only seven touchdowns while also missing three games. Dunbar has amassed only 324 yards on 80 carries with no touchdowns in his three-year career. While each of these backs are different, they each can contribute. If McFadden can avoid the toe and chronic foot injuries that have plagued his career, he could be productive for Dallas while Randle will have to stay out of off-the-field trouble and be more consistent. Dunbar’s challenge will be to take advantage of his opportunities and be reliable as a pass catcher and blocker out of the backfield. Waiting in the wings in the backfield is Christine Michael who the Cowboys just signed this past week from Seattle. Michael saw only limited action in his two years as a Seahawk but was on Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII championship team. In time, Michael could make a contribution this season and have a chance to show more. If nothing else, he gives the Cowboys some depth at running back.

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2015 NFL Division Predictions and Latest News Affecting Your Favorite Teams 1

Posted on May 05, 2015 by Ashley Andrews
After rumors to the contrary, looks like Philip Rivers will be back with the Chargers in 2015.

After rumors to the contrary, looks like Philip Rivers will be back with the Chargers in 2015.

What does the 2015 NFL season have in store for fans, players, and the league alike? From top draft picks to team standings, predictions are already flying ahead of the upcoming preseason. From the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East all the way to the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West, here is a look at what some are saying will be the best season of football yet.

NFC East
In the NFC East division, analysts believe that the Dallas Cowboys stand the strongest chance and give them the lead. Part of the reason for this prediction is the relatively easy schedule during the 2015 season. Add the fact that the Cowboys have a super star in Dez Bryant and the Cowboys seem to be strong contenders for the NFC East title.

NFC North
The Green Bay Packers are predicted to have the strongest year in the North. Despite the fact the team will face the Seattle Seahawks at home and Arizona and San Diego are favored during the 2015 matchup, ESPN analysts seem optimistic. Green Bay’s final season ranking? Survey says; 11-5.

NFC South
In the NFC South, it appears to be a duel between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Each team is given an overall 2015 season win/loss prediction of 10-5. With the return of ten out of 11 of the defensive starters and nine out of ten starters showing up strong for the offense, the Panthers show a promising season ahead. New Orleans, on the other hand has the second-easiest schedule at home in 2015 which could prove favorable for them.
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Murray’s Signing with Eagles Reveals Sacrifices on Both Sides 2

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Chris Kent
DeMarco Murray's aggressive running style was a big reason for the Cowboys' success in 2014.

DeMarco Murray gave the Cowboys consistent production on the ground in 2014 as they went 12-4 and won the NFC East.

Loyalty.

While it is extremely rare in today’s National Football League – as well as in sports in general – it is never meant to be forgotten. Furthermore, just because it is rare, doesn’t mean it should be ignored, devalued, or even taken lightly. While money is what players are after today – at times legitimately so – they should not base their contract decisions on that entirely or even make it their prime objective. Players seek lucrative contracts without considering that their search for green is much more of a sacrifice than they realize.

Such is the case with what transpired with the Dallas Cowboys and their negotiations last week with free agent running back DeMarco Murray. In a situation that came down to the limitations of the salary cap and the economic climate of franchises and the league, Murray’s negotiations were not fiscally conducive to the Cowboys’ payroll. In the end, Murray opted to sign a five-year $42 million contract with the NFC-East rival Philadelphia Eagles. The contract is structured with $21 million in guaranteed salary.

While the days of loyalty – for the most part – are long gone in this money-driven world of sports, that does not mean that everyone has to operate by that or agree with it. Plenty of professional athletes have taken pay cuts or restructured their contracts to help management re-sign players or extend contracts in an effort to remain fiscally sound, competitive, and be able to realistically contend for a championship. Even after NFL free agency began in 1993, loyalty was still seen in the mid and late 1990’s with pro bowl quarterbacks like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and John Elway taking pay cuts or re-negotiating their long-term contracts in order to free up cap space to help their teams re-sign players to new deals. This allowed core players to stay together longer giving teams a better chance of maintaining their winning ways.

While it is possible to see raises given out by ownership and management in today’s world of salary cap constraints, it is just something that doesn’t happen as much. Everybody has a ceiling and that ceiling can’t always be continually raised. Yet, the Murray negotiations raise a question about sacrifice. Is it better to sacrifice for money and personal gain, or for a team and the success of an organization? Kind of sounds like that typical job interview question of, “Are you a team player or are you focused on individual acclaim?” While it is possible for any individual, especially a talented one, to achieve individually within the team concept, one would think that most employers want to hear that you are a team player. Read the rest of this entry →

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