Lots of great stories today!
Dak Prescott is on the cover of Sports Illustrated! It's actually his third time in his last three years. It's a great story with nuggets from Dak's personal life. But this is the key football info.
When the 6' 2", 226-pound Prescott made his predraft visit to Dallas, coach Jason Garrett and coordinator Scott Linehan put him through the wringer, harassing him as he diagrammed plays. But little rattled Prescott. "I felt like Dak was enjoying it," says Linehan, "because it was football." In the end the Cowboys say they identified Prescott as having the highest football IQ of the seven visiting passers.
At camp he learned the playbook faster than any rookie Wilson has seen in his 10 seasons with Dallas. He eliminated the staggered stance he’d used in the Bulldogs’ shotgun offense, he shortened his stride, and he spent his nights focusing on the transition from a no-huddle offense to one that gathers after almost every play. Prescott’s training camp roommate, rookie tight end Rico Gathers, remembers the QB reading aloud from his practice script in bed, stressing the formation, motion and protection so he could better enunciate them in the huddle. "When he has an area he has to work on," Garrett says, "he’s very diligent in getting that right."
This is one guy's take on the Dak v. Romo debate. But it also contains an interesting quote from Jason Garrett.
"Zeke ran really, really well, but a big part of this game was the efficiency of our passing game," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said after the win over Cincinnati. "Dak read things out well, threw it to the right guy, and was accurate. ... He’s grown with the experience he gets. He goes about it the right way. We’re lucky to have him."
As Crash Davis in Bull Durham, Kevin Costner says that "a player on a streak has to respect the streak." Same goes for an NFL team. Barring an absolute meltdown by Prescott during Dallas’s Week 6 visit to Green Bay, the fourth-round pick will have done absolutely nothing to justify removing him from the lineup.
The Cowboys still believe that Romo is their quarterback of the present, but Prescott has emerged as their answer for the future. Allowing that loyalty to Romo to disrupt the momentum Dallas has found under Prescott’s watch would be a mistake.
The first part of this headline is not a misprint. George notes that while Romo will open up more passing options, all the running options that have been so effective, and led to three of Dallas's touchdowns this week, will likely go by the wayside.
But really, how many plays have the Cowboys called for Dak Prescott the first five weeks that they won't call for Tony Romo? Do you really think the Cowboys will call a bootleg for Romo? Can you ever see Romo running a zone read play? Will the Cowboys even run as many empty sets when Romo returns? Prescott brings an element to the offense that defenses have to prepare for now that they won't worry about when Romo is running the team again. Romo is the better quarterback, but Prescott may be more of a headache now for defenses than Romo because of his ability to beat you with the run.
Sturm's Decoding Linehan is required reading if you want to understand what's going on with Dallas's offense. This week he shows how Scott Linehan set up Cincinnati for three touchdowns based off a simple read-option play and the waggle roll-out play Dak Prescott has run a lot. You have to read the story to see his videos Sturm also weighs in on Dak v. Romo.
This is with your rookie backup quarterback, which is why I go back to the question of Romo over Dak. What exactly could you improve by changing quarterbacks right now? I realize Tony Romo is a far more accomplished quarterback and has put together a career Prescott could only hope to have, but seriously, what could this offense do better than they are doing right now without Dez Bryant by changing quarterbacks? This is a serious case of something not being broken.
Even Brett Favre has joined the debate.
On his weekly show on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Favre sang Prescott's praises.
"It's a little bit of everything -- pocket, bootleg, down the field, short screens -- and just the poise with which he has carried himself and the accuracy which he has shown is incredible, and the composure," Favre said. "And I probably, like most people [wonder] can he continue this week in and week out? And I know it is very early into his young career, but I have to admit I am extremely impressed at the way he has played."
Love Michael's "Claiborne Island" quote.
"I know they have removed 'Revis Island,' but we got a brand-new 'Claiborne Island' coming on out here! I was like, 'What is this right here?! We got a 'Claiborne Island' going on out here!' ... I was happy to see him have some great success -- especially after all he's gone through, with the injuries and everything, and starting to get some, you know, some acknowledgment across the country for his play at cornerback. That's great for the Cowboys."
Terrance Williams has also been balling in Dez's absence these last two games.
In the last two games without Dez Bryant, Williams has nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Brice Butler has caught a touchdown pass in Bryant’s absence. So has Cole Beasley.
In the nine games without Bryant last year, Cowboys receivers totaled three touchdown catches.
Phillips has four good points. Here's the last one: the second half defense has been pretty good.
But despite the Bengals’ 14 points in the fourth quarter last Sunday, the Cowboys have been tougher in crunch time. In the first half of games, opponents have converted 45.8 percent on third down (11-of-24). In the second half, they’ve converted only 34.5 percent (10-of-29). The defense has gotten off the field in critical situations, particularly in close road wins over the Redskins and 49ers. That was a problem last season.
The headline is about McFadden, but here's the part worth noting - a little shout out to JJ Wilcox!
I wonder if we all owe J.J. Wilcox an apology. On more than one occasion, I advocated for his release in the offseason and in training camp, but he has made some key plays in the first five weeks of the season. The Cowboys are using Wilcox in their dime defense and are rotating him with Barry Church and Byron Jones. But for a mini-wonder inside I wonder, I wonder if the limited playing time has helped Wilcox not be exposed. He is fearless as a tackler and will hit anything. He had a big pass breakup against San Francisco too. I still don’t think the Cowboys look to re-sign him to any kind of starting-type deal for 2017, but he deserves kudos for how he's played so far.
Now let's turn to the Green Bay game.
Maybe there’s a comfort level missing in the pocket. But this is not the same quarterback who lit Washington up for 480 yards in a 2013 game and Arizona for 400 yards in a 2009 playoff game. This Rodgers has been putting up Matt Cassel-type numbers -- 199 yards in the opener against Jacksonville, 180 against Minnesota, 205 against Detroit and then 259 yards last Sunday night against the Giants.
Rodgers is 4-1 in his career against the Cowboys with a four-game winning streak. Maybe the Cowboys are finally getting Rodgers at the right time.
The Packers have the best run defense in the league. I believe they're allowing an average of roughly 2 yards a carry. But when you are an offense that has developed a run first mentality, when you believe that is what gives you a physical edge and establishes your identity, you don't back down. Remember the Seattle game two years ago? There were questions about the Cowboys ability to run on the Seahawks and they took it to them.
Finally, the suspension that's been hanging over the Philadelphia Eagles has kicked in.
Turns out the Cowboys aren't the only team that is taking a hit from drug-related suspensions. Philly has now lost Lane Johnson for the next 10 games. For Johnson, the suspension negates the $35 million in guarantees in his new $56 million contract. Ouch!
The original plan was to have left guard Allen Barbre move to right tackle and have Stefen Wisniewski take his spot if this situation arose, but the Eagles have since had a change of heart. They now intend to have rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai man the right tackle position in Johnson's absence.