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Cowboys News: Five Cowboys make the Pro Bowl, including one first-timer

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Dallas Cowboys v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

2019 Pro Bowl: Byron Jones makes it in first year at cornerback, five total Cowboys selected - RJ Ochoa, Blogging the Boys
On Tuesday night, the official Pro Bowl selections were announced, and the Dallas Cowboys were one of only three NFC teams to have five of their players be selected for the all star matchup, including their star running back, two offensive linemen, a member of the Hot Boyz, and their top cornerback.

The biggest achievement here is undoubtedly Byron Jones who made the Pro Bowl as a cornerback in his first full season of playing the position. It’s well-documented how great he’s been playing this season, the Kris Richard effect is a very real one.

Obviously Ezekiel Elliott has had a great season and is currently the league’s rushing leader. Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are mainstays at the Pro Bowl (Martin has never not made it) and DeMarcus Lawrence continues to give the Cowboys reasons to pay him.

Absent from the Cowboys headed to the Pro Bowl that are notably Leighton Vander Esch and Amari Cooper. They’re the only two that you could make legitimate arguments to be in, but Cooper simply hasn’t had enough time in Dallas this season. As for no wolf howls in the all-star game, well, call it one of the biggest snubs of the season.

2019 NFL Pro Bowl snubs: Leighton Vander Esch tops the list - Nick Shook,
Shook spotlights the 13 biggest snubs, including Leighton Vander Esch.

1) Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys: This one is the most glaring of all, though a lot of the blame is due to this position receiving just two slots on the team. It's difficult to jump Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner, but it's hard to argue with Vander Esch's contribution to the Cowboys. The rookie's play (especially in the absence of Sean Lee) has directly benefited a Cowboys team that has made a late-season surge to the top of the NFC East. Vander Esch's impact was on full display in a crucial road win over Philadelphia back in Week 10, and he hasn't slowed down since. One would think he's first in line to take an alternate slot on this roster.

What surprised Jerry Jones most about Cowboys loss to Colts - Stefan Stevenson, Star Telegram
The Cowboys weren’t favored to win against the Colts in Indianapolis on Sunday, but it still must have been a shock to everyone to see the Cowboys get shut out for the first time since 2003. For owner Jerry Jones, there was one aspect of the game that surprised him the most.

“I was surprised with the inability to stop the run,” Jones said on KRLD/105.3 The Fan.

For perspective, the last time the Cowboys allowed a team to rush for over a 100 yards was the loss to the Titans, who had 125 yards rushing. In fact, Dallas held their previous two opponents 99 rushing yards combined. The 178 rushing yards allowed is the most by Dallas since giving up 178 to the Broncos in Week 2 a year ago.

Ezekiel Elliott: Cowboys’ loss ‘embarrassing’ but ‘very much needed’ - Jori Epstein, USA Today
The Cowboys didn’t just lose on Sunday, they were dominated. For a team that had been on a big winning streak, a 23-0 drubbing was perhaps the most embarrassing thing that could have happened, especially with the opportunity to clinch their division, and a spot in the playoffs, on the line. Ezekiel Elliott said just as much.

“That was a very embarrassing performance by us,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said.

But just as the Cowboys followed up their error-heavy loss to the Titans with five straight wins, could the franchise’s first shutout defeat in 15 years be the team’s next launchpad?

“I think a loss like this was very much needed,” Elliott said. “I think it’s better for us in the grand scheme of the season. I think we needed to get put in check, I think we needed a reality check and I think we needed someone to remind us we still have a lot of ball left.

“Nothing’s going to be given.”

Why loss to Colts was a wake-up call for Cowboys’ defense in particular - Jon Machota, SportsDay Dallas
The point of view that Ezekiel Elliott took on the blowout loss has turned out to be a popular one. Now that the winning streak has ended, and especially in such a disastrous way, could the Cowboys be highly motivated to exorcise their demons against Tampa Bay next week?

They haven’t played that sloppy very much the last two seasons. The line seemed to get no push and allowed large running holes. And then the missed tackles were even worse. I found it interesting that over the Cowboys’ last 26 games, they’ve allowed only three 100-yard rushers: Marlon Mack, Chris Carson and Aaron Jones. But during that stretch, they’ve held Christian McCaffrey to 50 yards, Saquon Barkley to 28, Adrian Peterson to 35, Alvin Kamara to 36, Kareem Hunt to 37 and Melvin Gordon to 65. I expect the run defense to be very good Sunday against Tampa Bay. On the offense, I don’t know that it was a wake-up call because many of the same problems we saw Sunday are similar to what we’ve seen most of the season. Obviously, No. 1 being the red-zone problems. It will be a quick exit from the playoffs if that doesn’t show some improvement.

Jason Garrett: Cowboys need mental toughness, not humility - Todd Archer, ESPN
While several of the players have tried to spin the embarrassing loss to the Colts as a good thing, saying that it brought them back to reality and humbled the team to go out and fight for their playoff appearance, head coach Jason Garrett seemed to disagree with that assessment.

“It goes back to mental toughness. I think we’re all challenged by those things in our lives, in our careers, and certainly a football team gets challenged, as well,” Garrett said. “It’s a matter of putting that last experience behind you and getting focused on this one and be your best for this experience through your preparation and through your focus and intensity when you’re locked in on it, and that’s critical. I think our team has actually done a really good job of that over the course of the year, handling some early adversity and came back and we won a few games in a row. I thought we did a good job handling that.

Cowboys defense couldn’t make a tackle - @JoriEpstein
One of the biggest factors in the Cowboys’ disappointing 23-0 loss to the Colts on Sunday was the defense’s inability to get stops, which has become a rare sight in recent weeks as this defensive unit has looked like the NFL’ s best. As it turns out, the Cowboys had a tough time tackling.

Jerry Jones thinks it might be time to play Taco Charlton - Josh Alper, NBC Sports
There was a lot of speculation going on in the recent weeks about Taco Charlton, who has been a healthy scratch for some time now. Jason Garrett gave a cryptic answer on it that came down to the notion that Charlton had to earn the right to be on the field again. Now, Jerry Jones seems to think it’s time the defensive end made a return.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said last week that players have to “earn their opportunity,” but the play of the defense in a 23-0 loss has Jones pondering a move in a different direction. Jones felt the team didn’t get enough penetration against the Indianapolis offensive line and that the 2017 first-round pick might have more luck on that front.

“Maybe we ought to get him in there,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan, via the Dallas Morning News.

Charlton missed time with a shoulder injury earlier in the year and has appeared in nine games overall this season. He had 16 tackles and a sack in those outings.

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