The Vegas Raiders are trying to brand their new stadium ‘The Death Star’ and I’m having none of that.
There is only one Death Star and it’s right outside of Dallas. There is only one Empire team and that’s America’s Team. Fuck this noise.
Everyone in Dallas has been calling our stadium the Death Star since day 1. The UnTicket explains the origin (and also is where this badass cover image came from).
Early in 2009, months before the stadium first opened, the Cowboys changed their flagship radio station from The Ticket (a legendary radio station) to The Fan (a trash radio station).
As part of the move, Jerry had to fire Ticket morning host George Dunham (co-host of the tweeter above) from his stadium PA job and replace him with a host on The Fan. It was bullshit because Dunham had been awesome at that job for years, and long before the Ticket had flagship rights as well.
Those morning show hosts found a way to exact revenge through the Death Star moniker, and it’s stuck ever since. It’s an awesome nickname that we should all be proud of.
Fuck you Jerry. We don’t have to call it Jerry World. Thanks for building a beautiful DeathStar, Jerry.
This must’ve seethed our owner more than I realized because Jerry is 100% behind this new Vegas branding. Mark Davis is a puppet owner of the new stadium, while Jerry is the real owner.
Jerry thinks that by having Mark Davis run with this Death Star schtick in Vegas, we might be forced to stop saying it back in Dallas. Again, I’m having none of that. Fuck off Jerry. Be a better emperor.
New England rushed a whopping 62% on first down last week. That ranks them first in the league after week 1, with the next closest team being LA Rams at 48%. The Pats had 42 total rushing attempts and just 19 pass attempts (69% running, nice).
This flies in the face of most anal ytic pundits. They claim that failed runs stall drives more often than failed passes, especially when those failed runs come on first down and the defense gets to pin their ears back.
But Belichick puts zero stock in their studies. He doesn’t care, and it usually works out for him. He knows of the two key variables that throws wrenches into the nerd-speak.
One, obviously, is the fact that running well makes it easier to hold leads. Take time off the clock, rest the defense, etc.
The other is the X factor you get when activating a QB as a run threat. Forcing the LBs to key on an extra player and having RB lead blockers will flip the script in trench battles.
When Cam is healthy, he’s one of those rare QBs that can throw (run?) the analytics playbook off the table. He had 15 rushes for 75 yards compared to 15 total pass completions. He also had double the amount of rushing yards that most anyone else in the game had (Miles Gaskin had the next most with 9/40 for Miami). He looked vintage on Sunday.
Well, kind of vintage. He wasn’t quite as explosive as his 2015 days, and he might have just benefited from the Dolphins horrid rush defense. The Miami Herald put out a fairly hilarious article on this after the game.
The Fins invested hundreds of millions into defense during free agency, but most of that was allocated to secondary and pass rushers. They had 11 draft picks, but only used one on a run defender – Bama DT Raekwon Davis in the 2nd round.
So was this an opponent-based scheme by Belichick, or is this how the Pats are gonna go all season? We’ll have to wait and see. The upside with Belichick’s brain and Cam’s legs seems limitless, but there is a huge downside – health.
Norv Turner tried to turn the Panthers scheme into more short-passing based and less QB running to protect Cam. But Cam didn’t want to do that, so they stayed the course. The result? Cam got killed.
By the end of Cam’s tenure in Charlotte, he had to be pulled for hail marys, All or Nothing doc footage showed him looking completely fucked, and he was shot putting throws left and right (and up and down) all over the field…
Shoulder = SHOT
But he’s had some rest now and is 100% fresh. Maybe it holds up for a whole season. If he was on any other team, I might even be cheering for that to happen.
Not a great start for America’s Team, but we would’ve won if not for that cowardly flop by Jalen Ramsey or if the fans hadn’t whined PI reviews away. I’m not worried by the loss.
Also, the Rams are good again. I was leaning on them at +6000 and that definitely should’ve been a full bet. They dropped to +2200 overnight and that’s still a play. They’re also a pick em at Philly on Sunday and that’s a lock.
McVay’s o-line is healthy again and he’s got that RPO scheme rolling like the new age triple option – so simple, yet so diverse and dangerous. 60% time of possession, including a devastating nine minute, 17 play drive in the first quarter.
Still, the Cowboys found a way to enter halftime with a lead and nearly managed to end the game with a win if it weren’t for that cowardly flop. We did have some issues yes, but the two minute drills nearly made up for them.
Great teams find ways to win after playing poorly, and the Cowboys almost did that against a good Rams team. I’m not panicking yet, especially considering the circumstances of a brand new coach with no preseason or offseason.
McCarthy’s first game certainly didn’t win anyone over, but it’s way too early to judge him. Nothing to complain about on that front yet.
The most controversial coaching decision was the late 4th and 3 attempt. It fell a yard short and failed, but NFL fans these days will blindly laud all 4th down attempts as good decisions so McCarthy is not getting heat for it.
Aggressiveness is good, obviously, but this was the wrong decision. If it was 4th and 1, maybe 4th and 2, I’m okay with it. Otherwise, just tie the game and guarantee us to be within one possession of the lead max til the end.
Losing like this is still way better than how we lost with the last coach… I won’t complain.
After a further deep dive into the game, here are the main takeaways…
1. Blake Jarwin Tore His ACL and Fucked Us
Jarwin looked pretty great for almost two quarters until he tore his ACL without contact. God damnit what a shitty Week 1 blow.
Our replacement, Dalton Schultz, was in way over his head. The 4th and 3 failure was technically on him for not getting enough depth on his pick route. He was likely being overcautious because, on his first series after replacing Jarwin, he had a terrible OPI that negated a badass slip screen touchdown by Zeke.
On a screen pass, man? Come oonnnnn. Definitely not the type of mental mistake we should expect from a Stanford alum ‘lunch pail’ guy.
In fact, the 4th and 3 would’ve never happened to begin with if he doesn’t have this awful drop two plays earlier.
Hopefully we can chalk this up as a preseason game for him and see some better results with starter reps. He did have a sick conversion on 3rd and 10, making a play that Witten hasn’t been capable of finishing for years.
That’s a good sign at least.
2. We Need La’el Back ASAP
We started UDFA rookie Terence Steele at right tackle. It was surprising considering we had just signed a decent swing tackle in Cam Erving, but Erving got injured himself on a field goal play anyway. Jesus Christ.
At least the offense stayed functional, unlike what happened under the previous regime with o-line injuries, but that Rams front made for a brutal mismatch. By the end of the game, LA was basically overloading the entire left side because they knew Steele couldn’t block 1v1.
You can’t fault a UDFA rookie for not being good in Week 1. The fact that he didn’t completely fall apart is somewhat commendable.
Instead, the scorn should be directed at whatever fuckhead driver cut off La’el Collins during training camp and caused his injury. Whoever that person is should be outed and banished from the state of Texas. We need Collins back on the field ASAP.
3. Connor Williams Sucks So Much
According to PFF, our worst lineman was not Steele, but rather Connor Williams. He graded out at 49.5 overall with a pass blocking rating of 27.2, (half that of Steele’s).
What a fucking awful second round draft pick. He sucks so fucking much.
4. Skill Position Players Looked Sick
Zeke had a good game (and so did Tony Pollard). The overall scheme didn’t look much different from last year, but we were definitely activating the backs in the passing game more. In the first half especially, it was a big time red zone multiplier.
The second TD was called back because of the Schultz OPI, but still those are some badass scores by Zeke. He had some slick as hell runs too, and you can tell that he’s gonna destroy lesser defenses this year. Feed him!
No complaints on the WR front either. Cooper had 10 catches, Ceedee looked sick, and Gallup had an outstanding game that would be getting a lot of noise if it weren’t for that flop. Man that catch against Ramsey was so awesome.
Most importantly, Gallup didn’t have any drops. He dropped an absurd 10% of his passes last year and still went 80 yards per game. His hands were amazing in college and his rookie year, so we’re hoping last season was an outlier. So far, so good. He’s breaking out this year.
5. Dak Was Decent
Dak was alright. No turnovers, a sick TD run (pretty much), good two minute drills, but a couple of bad 3rd down mistakes in the second half.
The first was losing field goal range after a terrible sack (although more fault goes to sorry ass turnstile Connor Williams). The second was a piss poor throw on what should’ve been a routine conversion for Cooper. Both cost us points.
6. LVE Is the New Lofa Tatupu, Probably
Vander Esch broke his collarbone and is out 6-8 weeks. The neck injuries are piling up and he’s looking more and more like the next Lofa Tatupu. That blows.
Next to him in the lineup, Jaylon Smith had a decent but not dominant game. He’s being paid to be dominant. Need better.
7. Keep Cranking up the Earl Thomas Talk
Our pass D was weak as fuck down the middle, with slot men and tight ends running all day. I don’t care what kind of chemistry issues he may have… If our safety play doesn’t step up, I want ET coming home.
That question about how Aldon Smith’s five year layoff would affect his production? Turns out the answer is NONE AT ALL. Holy fuck what a find.
This means Everson Griffen and Randy Gregory will be BACKUPS to two of the most dominant ends in football. We won’t be lacking for pass rush this year.
9. Trevon Diggs Is Gonna Be Awesome
Keep in mind that Trevon Diggs is a natural receiver with only 1.5 years of prior CB experience at Bama. Once his instincts develop just a tiny bit more, he’s gonna be a star.
There were three plays in particular that stood out where he was an inch away from changing the game.
The first was a perfectly thrown deep pass where he went for a pick instead of deflection. The second was a perfectly thrown short ball that he nearly blanketed. The third was an insane one-handed interception (almost).
He also had a BIG TIME tackle on the most important defensive play of the game. Run support like this from a CB is such an asset.
10. Legatron, Cmoonnnn
Lastly, special teams. Legatron drilled a short field goal but missed a 54 yarder. I know its a long distance, but what the hell man? Where was this kicking in the dome?
Free agent kickers always have the risk of being damaged goods, but if the Rams thought this dude was better than Legatron then I’m confident they misevaluated.
These loud misses are gonna be hilarious this year.
My biggest regrets over the past two years are not going public with my biggest futures – KC +4500 in 2018, and Baltimore +1700 last year (after Week 7).
Both failed to hit of course, but they ended as Super Bowl favorites the week going in to their last games. They were easily hedgeable and profitable, so I’ve got some skins on the wall in this shit.
(Also had Luka MVP +3800 nbd, would’ve been +6000 if I’d done it a day earlier).
A commonality in both of those picks, besides obviously the young QBs, is top-notch coaching. Andy Reid spent years tipping my teenage Cowboy fan angst to boiling points back in the day, so I’ve always believed in his bonafides. Harbaugh’s resume was already speaking for itself.
A key difference for me in this year’s picks is that I might not even bet them for myself because I hate the teams. I’m gonna be pondering this over the night but it’s TBD.
If you don’t have a conscious though, then by all means follow me.
Washington Football Team +22500
Over 5.5 wins +100
Keep in mind that they do not have to win. They just have to make the (now expanded) playoffs.
They’d have to win 1 out of 200 times for this to be good value, which I think is the case. But they do not have to win 1 out of 200 times for you to make money.
First up is coaching – I’m a big time believer in Ron Rivera. He consistently churned out elite defenses in Carolina without particularly heavy draft or free agency investment. They were almost always division round caliber and had a 15-1 Super Bowl run thrown in the mix.
He got some time off over the winter with an early firing to rejuvenate, and I’m a fan of sabbaticals for long term production.
Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, and Johnathan Allen. That is by far the best front Rivera’s ever had to work with and you’re high and/or biased if you don’t think that’s a foundation for an elite defense.
Also a key note for defense is Jack Del Rio is the DC. He’s a low key a talented coach who’s managed to make some noise with shitty franchises back in his day.
At quarterback, I’m not as high on Haskins as Mahomes and Lamar obviously, but I don’t think it’s fair to say he sucks like everyone’s assuming these days. He didn’t have a chance at all last year. His talent and ceiling is high enough to at least get a fair chance before judgement.
It also helps Alex Smith will be a key veteran presence in the locker room and Kyle Allen can provide enough competition to suppress potential complacency. At the very least, both can provide a safety net of adequacy if Haskins does end up sucking.
Lastly, we must address the elephant in the room – the owner. I came of age trolling redskins boards and am confident in the fact that nobody knows this owner and these fans better than me.
Dan Snyder is one of the most successful con men to ever live and he may just be entering his prime. There’s a huge misperception out there that the fans have always hated him, and that’s just not the case.
Out of the gates in his first offseason, he spent boatloads of money on legends Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, and Mark Carrier to dupe the fans into thinking they had their new Jerry Jones (irony at its best).
He emptied the vault to sign that era’s version of Chip Kelly (but actually good version) – Steve Spurrier. He also maxed out on assistant coach contracts to get a discombobulated all star staff that further duped fans.
When that fizzled out, he brought back the Hall of Fame hero Joe Gibbs. Redskins fans were so excited; their owner could bring back Gibbs but ours burned the bridge with Jimmy (forgetting the fact we had Parcells).
The Joe Gibbs team actually could’ve been good enough to win in spite of Snyder. That was his best shot at conning his way into immortality. Unfortunately, Sean Taylor died and everything kind of fell apart.
By then, Snyder had gotten rich enough to stop caring as much about the fans and that’s when the cycle of bottoming out began.
However, that bottoming out was not as consistent and permanent as people believe. Whenever Snyder got to the point of revolution from the fans, he always managed a way to snake em back in for a bit.
Mike Shanahan, Scot McCloughan, and remember this? Hahahahahah ahhh haha that’s so good.
Right now, Dan Snyder is under more attack than he’s ever been, but I don’t think it’s enough to cancel him. The owners will let him stick around as long as he’s bringing in the cash, and now we’re about to see an up-cycle where he does just that.
While I hate the redskins so much, I just might pull the trigger on this one just to cheer for Snyder to keep his post. It’s for the good of the Cowboys.
Carolina Panthers +15000
Over 5.5 Wins -120
Again, coaching is key here with the Panthers. Matt Rhule was suspiciously the most sought after coach for the past two years. He killed it at Temple and worked a miracle at Baylor; although that doesn’t seem like an NFL resume, the many pursuits he’s had by teams indicates there may be something special there.
These are some serious green flags…
He‘s coached every position except secondary and running back (but has also been a run game coordinator). It’s a resume of someone who may not have shot up the leader, but has so much experience on the ground in all the sectors to end up the most knowledgeable candidate for a job.
However, these are some serious red flags…
Ethics are an issue. This bothers me, but it doesn’t bother everyone so I’m just throwing it out there in case you care.
The head coach isn’t the only prodigy on the staff. In fact, they might have the greatest coaching prodigy of them all – Joe Brady.
Seriously, has there ever been a 30 year old with this much god damn credentials? Groomed by Sean Payton for two years and then goes to LSU for one season and managed by far the greatest college offense of all time. He is special.
Lastly, we have quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who for some reason is kind of polarizing. I just don’t get it. He had a freak injury and that sucks, but both before and after he’s done nothing but win.
His last two years in college: 11-2 and 12-1 records. His last year in New Orleans: 5-0. Overall record including Minnesota: 22-12.
A good comp for him is Chad Pennington. He’s smart, quick, accurate, and is dependable for everything but scrambling and throwing a lot of deep balls. At minimum, he’s never going to suck.
With the god guru calling his plays and the god running back in his backfield, he has more than enough skills to keep on winning.
Oh and the division is hard yes, but only because of New Orleans. Tampa is this year’s Browns because Brady right now is not better than Jameis. I don’t care to argue about it at the moment, but you’ll see.
Other bets to consider:
Brian Flores Coach of the Year +2500 – for many reasons both on and off the field
Rams +6000 – definitely worth a look, too much money and talent to have a bottom barrel price
Cowboys +1400 – we’re so fucking stacked
Saints +1150 – already the most talented team in the NFL and that’s before Jameis comes in. Currently fact checking Jameis 1of1 and it’s all checking out so far.
Chiefs +500 – let’s be real they’re probably a dynasty
The long running saga between Earl Thomas and America’s Team began on Christmas Eve of 2017. After beating us in a virtual playoff game in Week 16, the native Texan ran through the Cowboys tunnel to catch Jason Garrett and ask him to ‘come get me’ once Seattle ‘kicked him to the curb’…
(Side Note: That game was the beginning of the end for Dez in Dallas. Here are his full highlights from the game)
Trade rumors were buzzing when he held out the entire 2018 offseason and camp. Dallas offered a 2nd round pick, but Seattle demanded both a 1st and 3rd. That was way too much for a pending free agent, so Dallas declined.
ET was not pleased, and he made his feelings known against us in Week 3 in the form of two interceptions and a bow…
It looked like the saga was over for good last summer when Baltimore opened the bank for ET in a way that Dallas could not afford.
Anyways we all know how that worked out. Despite the choke job vs Tennessee, ET still looked to be in a good spot to wind down the prime of his career with Baltimore. Then shit got super real over the summer.
Early in camp, he got kicked out of practice after getting into an all out brawl with fellow starting safety Chuck Clark. Fighting in football practice is not a big deal, but it was the latest in a string of problems ET’s had with his teammates.
They had already grown sick of him last year because he kept to himself in a tight-knit locker room, called out DT Brandon Williams for not playing through injury in their Week 4 loss to Cleveland, and skipped all the team workouts this offseason (even though he reported to camp in great shape).
The straw that broke the camel’s back was him releasing a video of the pre-fight coverage breakdown on Instagram, and sharing private practice intel to the public is a big no no.
The Ravens ‘leadership council’ requested he be released, and now he’s a free agent.
Dallas was the top team to sign him after he got released, but it’s been almost three weeks and he’s still unemployed. Is ET coming home or what?
Obviously Jerry Jones would love for that to happen, but contrary to popular belief he is not the real decision maker in Dallas. He is a spokesman while his son Stephen runs the football operations with massive delegation to Mike McCarthy and Will McClay.
McCarthy does not seem too keen on signing ET, likely because of his relationship with Seahawks GM John Schneider going back to their Green Bay days. As it stands now, sources keep telling journalists that the Cowboys have no interest and all the ET rumors are bullshit.
That being said, safety is definitely our biggest question mark going into the season. The current starter at free safety is Xavier Woods, who can play in both spots and has very high ceiling potential. Last year however, our scheme got exposed and he struggled along with everyone else on defense.
In the strong safety spot, we had hopes for HaHa Clinton-Dix, but he disappointed in camp and got cut. That leaves the starting job to special teams journeyman Darian Thompson – not good.
We did sign Brandon Carr recently, who is a solid old vet and could be dependable. There’s also been a lot of noise about playing Cheetoh at safety.
I’m cool with rolling with those guys to start the season and seeing how things work. McCarthy has proven trustworthy to this point, and we don’t need entitlement culture seeping through.
If anyone struggles though, Earl Thomas needs to get a call. Kevin Sherrington wrote it best: allow some time for Thomas to humble up, see how our current personnel works under live bullets, and bring him in on an incentive deal if we need him.
If that happens, it means Super Bowl. America’s haters are just gonna have to…
We all the knows the Cowboys offense is certified Death Star status and possibly one of the greatest of all time. The defense? Just needs to be solid enough to hold teams under 35, and the prospects for that got way easier last week when we signed EVERSON GRIFFIN!
Ohh ho hum just a nice little rental for a $6M Pro Bowler to add to this group…
We officially have the best front seven since the glory days. Everson Griffin is just as good at pass rushing as Robert Quinn, except Griffin can actually stop the run too.
Speaking of run stopping, we have big DTs for the first time since like, ever… Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. No more Rod Marinelli banging his god damned hand on the table to make us draft Trysten Hill. We finally have competence over the ball in the form of eight combined Pro Bowls.
That will free up the best young LB duo in the league to do cool superstar LB stuff. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are switching positions – LVE to Mike; Smith to Will – because Mike Nolan does this novel thing with his linebackers called blitzing. It’s going to be awesome to watch.
Speaking of rushing the passer, D-Law is still a top five edge rusher in the league and will actually have a training camp this year. It’s so nice when your star player doesn’t have to hold out on his surgery for four months because you procrastinate on giving him a fair contract. He’ll be certified Death Star status this year for sure.
The depth on the pass rush hinges on Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory. Two huge question mark players yes, but if just one of them works out the pass rush will be so deep and deadly. If both of them work out? Quarterbacks will start looking like Alderaan.
And to top it all off, we have one of the most legendary position coaches of all time – Jim Tomsula baby.
So is it fair to call this front seven a Death Star unit? No. Because as I was writing this blog, Gerald McCoy ruptured a tendon and is out for the season. God damnit. Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford are going to have to not suck, which is possible. But until then we are just badass Star Destroyer status. With our offense, that’s more than fine by me.
We’re still in the offseason but that doesn’t stop Zeke from cranking out some sick highlights for Cowboy Nation:
What a player. What a competitor. You can tell by the way he licks his lips while killing that ‘Feed Me’ is more than a football mantra – it’s a life mantra.
I’m certain I’ve played this game more than Zeke and I feel alright about my skills, but he’s still as better than me at Warzone as he is at NFL football. The C4 throws. The confidence in the final circles. The swagger to assassinate that motherfucker with a finishing move. It’s a classic example of how most great athletes aren’t just great at the sport they play; they’re great at anything remotely resembling a competition.
Partying is a competitive sport for most bros and Zeke has been no exception throughout all his prior offseasons. This year however, he’s been forced to channel that energy into video games and has had the quietest summer since he’s been drafted. That hasn’t stopped scumbag outlets like SI from continuing to slander his name, so we’re getting used to the fact that people will be after his character for the rest of his career.
By all public accounts over the past four years, Zeke has shown nothing but class. Interviews, All or Nothing footage, streams, mic’d up segments – they’ve always portrayed a calm, chill, happy-go-lucky beacon of utter confidence. He doesn’t want trouble, but haters are bringing it to him anyways because they’re convinced he’s a monster whenever we can’t see. At this point, there’s nothing we can do about until the haters have to kiss our rings.
What is worth getting riled up over is the other kind of slander Zeke’s faced this summer – that of his play on the football field. The most egregious culprit is Next Gen Stats, which is owned by washing r-word fan Jeff Bezos. They had a competition to come up with a new stat, and they awarded it some fucking nerds in Austria who have never watched a down of football in their lives. Their new stat, ‘expected rushing yards’, doesn’t even rank Zeke in the top 10. Dumb fucking nerds.
Ahead of Zeke in their rankings is Carlos Hyde, Mark Ingram, Leonard Fournette, and Chris Carson. Utterly ridiculous. Clearly analytics has a long ass way to go to be as meaningful in football as it is in other sports, and until then we should let these euro nerds stick to soccer. I’m with Zeke’s mom on this one…