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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 1

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.
Read the rest of this entry →

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.


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 →

Dallas and Green Bay Continue Storied Postseason Duels 12

Posted on January 11, 2015 by Chris Kent
Bart Starr scores the winning touchdown in "The Ice Bowl" in 1967

Bart Starr scores the winning touchdown in “The Ice Bowl” on this one yard plunge into the end zone.

The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Need anyone say anymore? Despite that, there is plenty to talk about. Especially when the two of them meet in the NFL playoffs because memories abound. Chief among them is “The Ice Bowl” which was played on Dec. 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field. The winner was the champion of the NFL (which became the NFC) and advanced to Super Bowl II to meet the champion of the American Football League (which later became known as the AFC). This game is one of the most storied in the history of the National Football League. The postseason series resumes today when the Packers host the Cowboys in the NFC divisional playoffs.

The temperature at game time was -15 oF and the wind chill was about -48 oF. While Green Bay had the home field advantage that day, the elements were surely not friendly to either side. What edge the Packers had came from them just being used to it more during that time of the year compared to their visitors. It was so cold that attempts to heat the field backfired, transportation problems occurred, and equipment malfunctioned. Even though a tarpaulin covered the field in the days leading up to the game, it left moisture on the field which froze in a flash after the tarpaulin was removed. This created an icy surface on the field that got worse as the game wore on. The turf-heating system for the field malfunctioned and many players had difficulty starting their cars forcing them to make alternative transportation plans in order to get to the stadium on time. When the game did finally begin, referee Norm Schachter blew his whistle only to have it freeze to his lips. Upon freeing it from his lips, he ripped his skin off. The resulting blood just froze to his lips. The marching band from Wisconsin-State University LaCrosse (now The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) could not perform their pre-game and half-time shows as their instruments froze and would not play. Several band members also got transported to area hospitals for hypothermia. This was literally a test of attrition and the limits of the human body were tested for every player, coach, official, fan, worker, and media person that day.

In the end, Green Bay won 21-17 on one of the most famous plays in NFL history. Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak from the

The bitter cold is shown hear from the fans' breath during "The Ice Bowl"

The bitter cold is shown hear from the breath of the fans cheering in the stands during “The Ice Bowl”

one-yard line on third and goal with 16 seconds left to play provided the winning score. Starr had called timeout prior to the play to discuss strategy with Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi. Knowing that the traction was difficult with the icy field, handing off to a running back or stepping back to make a throw would have been difficult. So Starr convinced Lombardi to sneak it in. In doing so, Starr followed a double team wedge block from right guard Jerry Kramer and center Ken Bowman against Dallas left defensive tackle Jethro Pugh to cross the goal line for the decisive score and a 20-17 lead. The extra point provided the final score. Dallas would down the ensuing Packers’ kickoff and could manage only two incompletions which ended the game. Jubliant Green Bay fans rushed onto the field knocking over players from both teams. It was the end to an iconic game in NFL annals.

Since then, Dallas and Green Bay have also had some lofty playoff history. For three straight seasons during the 1990’s, the Cowboys and Packers met in the playoffs. These meetings came at the height of the Cowboys dynasty period during the decade. Dallas won all three times and all three games were played at Texas Stadium in Irving, TX, the Cowboys prior home to their current plush digs at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX which opened in 2009. Behind the offensive brilliance of “the triplets” – Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin – along with a fast and aggressive defense, Dallas ended Green Bay’s season three straight years from 1993 through 1995 by a combined score of 100-53. The Cowboys beat Green Bay in the NFC divisional playoffs following the 1993 and 1994 seasons by respective scores of 27-17 and 35-9. The most memorable of those three games then came after the 1995 season when the two met for the NFC Championship. A very competitive game went back and forth into the fourth quarter before Dallas wore the Packers down en route to a 38-27 win. Smith ran 35 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the win which were all single game postseason career highs for him. Smith’s 35 carries and three touchdowns were also Cowboys single game playoff records which still stand as of this article. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Playoffs Include Many Familiar Faces 6

Posted on December 29, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Led by quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray the Dallas Cowboys seem to have their best chance at making a playoff run since the days of Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman.

Led by quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray the Dallas Cowboys seem to have their best chance at making a playoff run since the days of Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman.

Technically the NFL trend of having at least five teams earn postseason bids after missing the playoffs the previous season held to form with the 2014 season, but there is something extremely familiar about all the teams vying to reach Super Bowl 49 (if the NFL isn’t going to use Roman Numerals for 50, I feel no obligation to use them for the upcoming game).

Six of the eight division champions for 2014 also won their division a year ago with Cincinnati yielding to Pittsburgh (though both teams are in the playoffs) and the Dallas Cowboys soaring past the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.

Surprisingly, the longest playoff droughts to end this season belong to the Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, who both last reached the playoffs in 2009. The Steelers and the Detroit Lions last reached the playoffs following the 2011 season.

After winning the Super Bowl following the 2012 campaign, the Baltimore Ravens missed the postseason in 2013, but are now in the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years.

The four teams receiving a bye should be of little surprise, though in our “what have you done for me lately” society all four were written off at some point during the season.

Both the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots were sold down the river before the season had reached October, only to both rebound for 12 win seasons.

The defending champion Seattle Seahawks looked vulnerable after three early season losses and some less than inspiring offensive performances, but recovered to again win the NFC West and earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos looked powerful early, but seemed to lose some of their offensive compulsion in the final six weeks of the campaign and “limped” to a 12 win season, though that does represent the lowest victory total in Manning’s three seasons with the team.

The first weekend of playoff games should be quite interesting as each game has an interesting storyline.

The first game of the weekend will feature a team on their third quarterback traveling to face a team that finished the season with a losing record and actually had to win their last four games just to reach the postseason. The Carolina Panthers won five fewer games than in 2013, but surprisingly became the first team to repeat as NFC South champions since the division formed in 2002. Their opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, looked like a Super Bowl contender before losing their top two quarterbacks and leading rusher. Even with their third quarterback they seem to be a superior squad to the Panthers, but this will likely be a hard fought game where the home field could be enough to help Carolina pull out a win.
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