Cowboys 6-Pack Of Bold Predictions
Every year there are some surprises and unexpected stars for every team. For the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, unknown FA signing Jeremy Mincey led the team in sacks. A 34-year old Tony Romo was in the running for MVP - despite coming off his 2nd back surgery within the last 2 years. DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing yards. Rolando McClain showed the world why he was a 1st round pick in 2010. The list goes on. You can bet there will be a few surprises in 2015 as well, and with training camp right around the corner, here are my six bold predictions for the 2015 season.
Joseph Randle has over 1,000 rushing yards and a higher average YPC than DeMarco Murray did in 2014
Randle has all of the physical tools to have a breakout year for the Cowboys. In fact, he might even be a better scheme fit in Dallas than Murray was. Randle averaged 6.7 YPC in 2014 and had a higher elusive rating and breakaway % than DeMarco Murray. He also averaged more yards after contact than Murray. The main aspect of his game that will allow him to have success is his outstanding vision. Murray sometimes dances in the backfield or picks the wrong running lane, while Randle is much more quick and decisive with where he wants to go.
The only question with Randle is whether or not he can keep his head on straight. If he does that, I predict he can be a star.
Greg Hardy gets double-digit sacks despite his suspension
Yes, I am well aware of Hardy's current 10-game suspension. However, this prediction is based on the assumption that his suspension is reduced. Many believe that Hardy will end up missing 4-6 games when it's all said and done, but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets down to 2 or 3. Either way, I think Hardy could still record at least 10 sacks in 2015. That may seem like a tall order, but Hardy gets sacks in bunches. He has nine sacks in his last four games alone and had three 3+ sack games in 2013. Even if Hardy misses 6 games, if he has two 3-sack games in 2015, then he'd only have to get four more sacks in his remaining 8 games. Keep in mind, Hardy's contract with the Cowboys has incentives for each sack he records. He'll also be determined to play at a high level so he can earn a big deal somewhere when he becomes a free agent next offseason.
Gavin Escobar has more receiving touchdowns than Jason Witten
Some fans may have a problem with this prediction but hear me out. Escobar had 4 touchdowns on 9 catches last year - That's 44% of his catches that went for scores. The Cowboys drafted Escobar to eventually replace Witten. However, with Jason continuously defying Father Time and consistently performing at a high level, Escobar hasn't gotten many opportunities. I have a feeling the Cowboys will (finally) get Escobar a little more involved this year - especially in the red zone. Witten averages about 4-5 TD's per season throughout his career. Escobar scoring 5-6 doesn't seem unreasonable. That's just one or two more than he had last season. Having said that, I still believe that Witten will continue to be Romo's safety blanket and will have more catches and yards than Escobar.
Tony Romo sets a new franchise record for passing touchdowns in a season
The franchise record for passing touchdowns in a single season is 36 - which was set by Romo in 2007. He was just two touchdowns shy from tying his own record in 2014, despite missing a game and a half and clearly not being himself in the first two games of the season. If Romo had played in all 16 games at full health last year, he likely would have passed the 36 touchdown mark and could have possibly gotten to 40 for the first time in his career. Now that he's fully healthy and has yet another 1st round-caliber offensive lineman blocking for him, surpassing 36 touchdowns seems very possible - if not probable - in 2015.
Byron Jones leads the team in interceptions as a rookie
The Cowboys were ecstatic when Byron Jones fell to them with the 27th overall pick in the draft. They picked the talented defensive back without hesitation with the expectation that he would help solidify their secondary. Jones is not only an athletic freak, but he has tremendous work ethic and excellent football IQ. That combination of traits are hard to find in one player. This guy is special. If Jones does indeed lead the team in interceptions, he would become one of just eight other rookies in franchise history to do so, and the first since Terrance Newman in 2004. Among the other Cowboys rookies to do it were Everson Walls, Charlie Waters, Mel Renfro and Roy Williams. That would put Jones in some pretty impressive company. I think he's up for the task.
Sean Lee wins the "Come Back Player of the Year" Award
Despite missing 34 games during his NFL career (more than two full seasons) Lee is still tied for the most interceptions among all linebackers since his rookie season in 2010, with 11. He is also just the 2nd linebacker to intercept both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, has 4-career INT's vs Super Bowl winning QB's, led the NFL in interception return yards in 2013 and tied Lee Roy Jordan's franchise record for tackles in a single game. When healthy, this guy is one of the best in the league. If he (finally) stays on the field for 16-games this season, there's no telling what kind of numbers he'll put up. He's gotta stay healthy eventually, right?
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