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2018 Team Review: 10-6 (NFC East Champions)
The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC for the third time in the past five years, for all the shit they get the team has actually been pretty successful recently but that success hasn’t always continued into the playoffs. The Cowboys started out their 2018 with an interesting draft at the top. Even though they had LB’s Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee on the roster, the Cowboys took LB Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State with their first round pick. This pick was partly due to the fact that Sean Lee seemed to always get hurt, and when he went down so did the Cowboys defense.
The Cowboys also lost two valuable receivers for QB Dak Prescott, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten. They didn’t replace the TE position but they did draft WR Michael Gallup from Colorado St. that did flash a bit during the year. Those losses and additions are important to note because about halfway through the season, the Cowboys felt like they needed help and traded for Oakland Raiders WR Amari Cooper during their Week 8 bye. Coopers addition helped propel the Cowboys from a 3-5 record, to a 10-6 record and NFC East Champs.
Even though Cooper only played in 9 games for the Cowboys, he still led the team in receiving with 53 catches for 725 yards and 6 TDs. Even so Cooper still showed some of his inconsistency, in the final three games of the year he recorded games with just 32 YDS, 20 YDS, and 31 YDS. He also had huge games with 180 YDS and 2 TDs against the Redskins, and 217 YDS and 3 TDs against the Eagles. Still Coopers presence alone opened up the offense for other guys in the WR core and for Zeke on the ground.
Other than Cooper, Cole Beasley had 65 catches for 672 YDS and 3 TDs, while rookie Michael Gallup flashed and had 33 catches for 507 YDS and 2 TDs. At TE, Blake Jarwin led the group with 27 catches for 307 YDS and 3 TDs. Although Jason Witten doesn’t move much faster than a grandma waling through the grocery store, his presence was still missed.
The obvious star for the Cowboys on offense was Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot proved once again his in the argument for the best RB in the league with 1,434 YDS rushing and 6 TDS to go along with 77 catches for 567 YDS and 3 more TDs. Zeke along with a stacked offensive line was the heartbeat of Cowboys, without Zeke the Cowboys are not the 10-6 team they became in 2018. Their offensive line was even dominate without their leader, C Travis Frederick who was diagnosed with Gullian-Barre syndrome in late August and didn’t play one snap pin 2018.
Dak Prescott apparently had a Pro Bowl year as well. He led the Cowboys to only 21.2 PPG which was 22nd in the league and threw for 3,885 YDS for 22 TDs and 8 INT. Dak was also second on the team in rushing with 305 YDS and 6 TDs.
When you’re only scoring 21 PPG it’s hard to win 10 games, but you can when you have a great defense, which is what the Cowboys had in 2018. The Cowboys held teams to just 20.3 PPG which was 6th in the league. They also held teams to only 94.6 rushing yards per game which was 5th in the league, and under 240 passing yards per game. The Cowboys recorded 20 turnovers (9 INTS, 11 FUM), and sacked the QB 39 times.
They were really led by a great LB in Jaylon Smith, Rookie Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee in the 7 games he played. Vander Esch led the team with 140 tackles while also grabbing 2 INTS, and Smith was second on the team with 121 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries that led to 1 TD, and 6 TFL.
As far as sacks go, the Cowboys were led by Demarcus Lawrence who made the Pro Bowl with 10.5 sacks, 15 TFL, and 23 QB hits. Behind him were Randy Gregory with 6.0 sacks, and Tyrone Crawford with 5.5 sacks.
The secondary was led by Byron Jones who made a Pro Bowl in his 4th year. He didn’t record any INTs, but that’s because he basically shut down whoever he was guarding. The Cowboys also good CB play from Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.
The Cowboys 2018 didn’t start off too hot. After the first 9 weeks of the season they were 3-5 and got dominated on Monday Night Football at home against the Tennessee Titans which looked like the end of their season. However, that was the first game with Amari Cooper and after that the Cowboys took off and won 7 of their last 8 to win the NFC East. All of these games were close however, they won each of those 7 games by only once score, and their lone loss was a 23-0 beat-down by the Indianapolis Colts. In fact the Cowboys played close games all year, they only had 4 games all year that were decided by more than 8 points and that trend followed them into the playoffs.
In the Wild Card round the Cowboys hosted the Seattle Seahawks who beat them earlier in the year 24-13. The Cowboys came out on top in this game by winning 24-22. Going into the 4th quarter, the Cowboys were down 14-10 but their defense stepped up and held the Seahawks scoreless until 1:18 left in the 4th quarter, and Dak Prescott led two TD drives the second of which put the game away with 2:08 left in the game. Prescott played well with 226 yards and 1 TD and 1 INT with just 11 incompletions and 1 rushing TD, while Zeke had 137 YDS and 1 TD, and Amari Cooper caught 7 balls for 106 yards.
In the Divisional Round the Cowboys had to travel to Los Angeles to play the Rams. The Cowboys got done big early in the third quarter with the Rams holding a 23-7 lead. The Cowboys tried to fight back and got within 8 two different times, but they just didn’t have enough. The story of this game was the rushing yards. The Cowboys who gave up under 100 yards per game on the ground during the regular season, gave up 273 yards and 3 TDs to the Rams, and only rushed for 50 yards themselves. The Rams put up 30 points with Jared Goff only throwing 186 yards. Dak Prescott had an average game, throwing for 266 YDS and 1 TD but he couldn’t carry the team when he needed to.. Michael Gallup had a good game with 6 catches and 119 yards while Cooper had 6 catches for 65 YDS and 1 TD. Zeke for his efforts only had 47 yards on 20 carries. The Cowboys season came to a crashing halt in Los Angeles by getting dominated in the things they did best all year, running the ball and stopping the run.
Key Off Season Acquisitions
WR Randall Cobb (1 Year, $5 Million)
The Cowboys weren’t able to add too many big names because they need to pay Dak, Zeke, and Amari Cooper but they did go out and add Randall Cobb to replace Cole Beasley. Cobb can be a better player in Beasley but he really fell off in Green Bay the past few years. Maybe a new start will get him re-energized to the player he once was.
OLB Robert Quinn (via trade with the Miami Dolphins)
Quinns best years may be behind him but he is still an effective pass rusher at times. Quinn is a depth pick as he’ll be behind Demarcus Lawrence and Taco Charlton on the depth chart, but he’s a very valuable backup to have. Also, he’s suspended for the first 2 games of the year, like another good DE they have in Randy Gregory who can’t stay off the WEED.
Round 2 Pick #58: DT Trysten Hill
By trading for Cooper the Cowboys had to wait to the second round to take somebody, and they went with a DT. Hill is depth pick for a very good front four that the Cowboys have.
Round 4 Pick #128: RB Tony Pollard
Pollard wouldn’t have been on here at the start of August, but with Zeke’s holdout he could be the main guy. He’s gotten a lot of praise from Dak and the coaching staff. Pollard ran for 552 yards and 6 TDS while catching 39 balls for 458 YDS and 3 TDS in his junior year in 2018. He was also playing behind Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor who both had over 1,000 rushing.
Key Off Season Departures
WR Cole Beasley (via free agency to the Buffalo Bills)
Beasley was a very good at times, and then disappeared at other times. He left Dallas partly because he thought he wasn’t getting his fair share of the targets, and the Bills gave him a big pay day. Don’t think its a huge loss with Cobb getting in.
The Cowboys 2019 season revolves around Ezekiel Elliot and whether or not the Cowboys can get a deal done with him. Yes the Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the league, but you can’t just put any RB back there with Dak and expect the offense to flourish. Last year even with Zeke, Dak and the offense struggled to score points at times. Even when they added a weapon in Amari Cooper they still struggled to score points.
Even with Zeke not in camp the Cowboy still have the distraction of Dak Prescott and his contract situation. Apparently Dak is looking for north of $30 million a year which he has proven his not worth. As pretty much everybody says when they talk Cowboys, this offense revolves around Zeke. If Dak really wants to prove his worth that money, then he should want Zeke to holdout throughout the year and lead the Cowboys to the playoffs without their best offensive weapon.
Now the Cowboys have added some pieces to their offense. I believe they’ve upgraded at slot with Randall Cobb over Cole Beasley. They do also get Jason Witten back at TE after he failed miserably in the booth for Monday Night Football, and Michael Gallup who showed a lot of promise is looking to make that second year jump. You also have a whole off season of Dak and Cooper working together to get back on track. There are still so many questions there though: what does Witten have left, what does Cobb have left, and can Cooper become consistent in his production? All of those things need to be answered, and without Zeke those players will have more pressure on them to perform.
The defense will probably have to carry this team again but they also have their issues, mainly with suspensions and injuries. Star CB Byron Jones is coming off the PUP although he’s expected to be ready by Week 1, DeMarcus Lawrence is on the PUP list, Tyrone Crawford is on the PUP and has a suspension looming, Randy Gregory is suspended indefinitely, and Robert Quinn is suspended for the first two games of year as well. So the defense will have to navigate for a unknown time without those guys, luckily the start of their schedule is relatively easy.
This is really a make or break year for Dak in Dallas. If Dak plays well and proves he doesn’t need Zeke to be great then the Cowboys will be back in the playoffs. However if Dak is the QB I think, and a lot of people think he is, then the Cowboys are going to have a real tough time making it back to the playoffs in a loaded NFC.
The NFC East plays the NFC North and AFC East this year. The Cowboys won the East so they also get division champions the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Well it’s the Cowboys so you’re going to see them on TV way more than you want to. They have five prime-time games: Week 4 on Sunday Night Football at the Saints, Week 7 on SNF vs the Eagles, Week 9 on Monday Night Football at the Giants, Week 10 on SNF vs the Minnesota Vikings, and Week 14 on Thursday Night Football at the Chicago Bears. They also play SEVEN games that kick off at 4:30, many of which that will be the main late game that week. In those 4:30 games you have Week 1 vs the New York Giants, Week 5 vs the Green Bay Packers, Week 6 at the New York Jets, Week 12 at the New England Patriots, Week 15 vs the Los Angeles Rams, and Week 16 vs the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys are supposed to be good, so of course that means everybody in American wants to fucking watch them. The Cowboys only have four noon kickoffs and those games are against the Redskins, Dolphins, and Lions. I am already annoyed by the Cowboys.
Fantasy Player You Want
Whoever is playing RB, Zeke or Tony Pollard. I don’t like Cooper in the second round on my team, I think there are more consistent WR’s you can take around there. So whoever is the starting RB for this team is who you want.
Fantasy Player to Avoid
Jason Witten. I don’t think I need to explain.
The Cowboys have a very well rounded team but they also have a few questions. Can Dak carry this team without Zeke, will the suspensions hurt them early on, and are they going to win all those close games in 2019 like they did in 2018. The most wins I see this team getting is 10.
Cowboys seem to go every other year with succesfull season. I could see them not getting the breaks this year like they did in 2018, and the suspensions hurting them. However they are too solid to have a huge drop off, I say the Cowboys win at least 7 games.