I have been waiting a long time for this, and so have you. The Cowboys clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants on Thursday night. It was tough to root for the Feathered Flock from Philly, but it had to be done. By the time the contest was over, we knew that the road to the Super Bowl was going to run through North Texas, as it should.
Dallas could have locked up homefield and the division itself with a win in either of its final two games. The Giants were the only team in the NFC who had a chance to overtake the Cowboys, but they needed to win their final two games and have the Cowboys lose both of theirs.
For the Cowboys, it’s their second division title in three years and the 22nd in the team’s history. It’s also the sixth time they will have the top-seed going into the playoffs.
The Cowboys have won the Super Bowl three of the five times that they were the top seed (1977, 1993 and 1995). They were also the top seed in 1979 and 2007 – each one-and-done playoff years.
It was that win that also secured a cheerleader picture for some of you as an early gift this holiday season, so enjoy. If I don’t get a chance to say it later the best of everything to you and yours during this season. You are the reason for our success here at BTB, and I want to say thank you.
One was supposed to be a misuse of a top tier draft pick and the other was supposed to be a project for the Dallas coaching staff. Regardless of what the experts labeled Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott, the two Dallas rookies are now Pro Bowlers in their first professional seasons.They are joined on the roster by three of the five offensive lineman who combine to help the first year phenoms make the most of their talent.
“It’s hard to make a Pro Bowl, it’s hard to play football in this league, it’s hard to make a team in this league and to be recognized as one of the best at your position in this league,” Elliott said. “It’s very exciting, especially as a rookie.
“You got to embrace that, you got to not celebrate, but you got to accept that that’s a rare thing. But us as a team, we have bigger goals than that.”
We don’t often toot our own horn in the news links, but in this case I am throwing this post in because it flies in the face of a commonly held belief. The ‘war room’ under Jerry Jones is supposed to be a joke, a collection of incompetent clowns who have no clue what they are supposed to be doing, but the numbers tell a different story.
Since 2007, the Cowboys have selected 81 players in the draft, 13 of which went on to make at least one Pro Bowl. That's a "success rate" of 16%.
That success rate is 1.5% higher than the next best team and nearly double the league average. The collection of clowns in Dallas must be doing something right on draft weekend after all.
Moving on to a man who has Pro Bowl level talent but has faced his own worst enemy in putting things together we find that Randy Gregory looks ready to play some football after 14 weeks in the NFL’s doghouse.
With DeMarcus Lawrence hobbled by a sore back, the second year defensive end has a chance to come in and help take some of the burden off of his fellow linemen. He will no doubt he on a limited work schedule, but any help he can provide will be a welcome addition to Rod Marinelli’s corps of rushmen.
The Cowboys will likely give Gregory about a dozen snaps in pass-rushing situations when he returns, bringing him along slowly since he didn't even go through training camp with the team.
"He really looked good. He made some plays in one-on-one," Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens said. "He looked like he hasn't lost a step.
Doubling down on articles from George, the Cowboys are now in a situation where they will be down veteran reserve linebacker Justin Durant. An injury to Durant’s elbow, suffered against Tampa Bay, will likely result in more playing time for the man he backs up, Anthony Hitchens.
Anthony Hitchens will play more against the Lions, taking most of the snaps at middle linebacker. The Cowboys have used Durant to spell Hitchens in games throughout the season.
Durant played 14 snaps Sunday against the Buccaneers and finished with three tackles and a pass breakup.
There are two regular season games left to play but as 2016 winds to a close attention has already turned to the drama of the off-season. There will be some questions to be answered in Dallas, including one surrounding the QB situation. Hairopoulos tackled that and other questions including possible plans for resting the starters in week 17 during a chat session with fans.
It doesn't sound to me like they are going to go into full rest mode. I could see them getting Mark Sanchez in and pulling Dak after a half or so. Then you've got to try to get all the guys who have been managing injuries (there's a bunch, of course this far into the season) a little extra time to be in the best shape they can be by the playoffs.
Fans and writers have the luxury of discussing things like the off season questions the Cowboys will face, but Jason Garrett does not. With the possibility that his team could have little left to play for when the next return to the practice field, the Dallas head coach was focused on one thing during Thursday’s practice. It was Thursday’s Practice.
“We’re just focused on our practice today," Garrett said. "We had good meetings this morning, had a good walkthrough right now and we’re going to go out and practice as well as we can.”
The red headed one has proven over his tenure that he believes in working to get a little better at each opportunity, and it would go against his nature to change that approach now. He is not worrying about things that are over the horizon.