Cowboys' Crawford credits rookie duo for more than just great on-field play - John Kryk, Toronto Sun
Crawford credits Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott for injecting a magnetic blend of exuberance, confidence and camaraderie into the team.
"A lot of our success this year has to do with those two," said Crawford, a fifth-year NFLer. "They brought this chemistry to the locker room, almost like a college-type atmosphere. They kind of sparked up a brotherhood here. They’ve been amazing. So much energy.
"We’re all so close to each other now. Even when I played high school football with all my friends (at Catholic Central) in Windsor, I’ve never been this close to teammates in my life. We do everything together, and it’s not just like the defense with the defense, and the offense with the offense. It’s all of us, special teams too. We’ll have a good time together, and it’s just like a big brotherhood.
"We’re playing our type of ball. Being the family that we are now, we’ve just got to keep rolling like that."
Three obstacles to a Dallas Cowboys title run - Gregg Rosenthal, NFL.com
As the first team to clinch a playoff berth, Dallas is sitting pretty now -- but don't think the Cowboys will just roll to the Lombardi. Rosenthal lists three issues that could ruin a Cowboys Super Bowl run.
Getting too comfortable - unlikely.
Failing to stay healthy - nothing you can do about that, but nothing that's unique to the Cowboys.
Failing to find a pass rush - It is what it is.
Twitter mailbag: Who can stop the Dallas Cowboys? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Jeremy Mincey has a questions for Archer's mailbag, and wonders who can stop the Cowboys.
When the Cowboys' leading sacker from 2014 checks in, you take his question. Jeremy Mincey was one of the good guys in my time covering this team. He knows more football than I do but I can see the Cowboys losing to the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins, the Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers. Heck, whoever makes the playoffs. Now, I think the Cowboys can beat anybody, too. That's the way the NFC is. The Cowboys just can't roll the ball out there and win. They are not so blessed with talent, say like the 1992-93 Cowboys or even the 2007 Cowboys, where they can line up and win. They need to work and grind it out. The Cowboys can go 15-1 and have homefield and I'd still think they could lose to anybody in the playoffs. Maybe that's being overly negative to some, but I just think there isn't a big margin between these teams despite what the records say. Thanks for checking in, Jeremy.
Here's why Big D is better on O - Jared Dubin, CBSSports.com
The Giants shut down Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott in Week 1, but the Cowboys are a much different team now.
The Cowboys offense that will take the field against the Giants this Sunday is a whole lot different than the one the G-Men stifled in the season opener.
Those Cowboys operated from a conservative shell, the byproduct of not wanting to ask Prescott to do too much too soon. Those Cowboys had Elliott trying to turn every play into a home run, either impatiently outrunning his blockers or tiptoeing too tentatively behind them while searching for an obvious crease that would never develop.
The Cowboys of the past 11 games, all Dallas victories, have operated at full-throttle, full-time, pressuring defenses into mistakes they can't afford to make. They've had Prescott spraying the ball to all areas of the field and Elliott taking every inch the defense gives him and more. There's a reason the Boys rank fifth in yards per game and fourth in points per game despite having run fewer drives than the average NFL team. They're efficient and they're explosive (6.2 yards per play overall and an NFL-high 75 "big plays"), and if it seems like they always have the ball, it's probably because they do.
Cole Beasley Finds Space to Stand Out - Ben Shpigel, The New York Times
Along with explaining Beasley's circuitous journey to the Cowboys, this article explains why Dak Prescott says of Beasley "he's unguardable."
Cole Beasley began preparing for his current job, as the Dallas Cowboys’ slot receiver extraordinaire, in seventh grade. He was a quarterback then. When his father, Mike, a high school coach, would bring home film to study, Beasley would sit there watching, listening, processing. Those sessions were rather elementary — just basic defensive principles. But the more information Beasley grasped, the more his father taught him: coverages, blitzes, cornerbacks’ techniques.
As a freshman in high school, Beasley started. He took every snap in the shotgun, his father said, improving his hands. As a junior, Beasley understood the offense better than the coaching staff, his father included.
"He just called it by himself," Mike Beasley said.
The macro perspective that Beasley developed now guides him nearly 15 years later, every time he heads to the line of scrimmage. In those spare seconds, he assesses when and where he will get open, because he will get open. He determines where he will run after catching the ball, because he will be catching it.
Lucky Whitehead doesn't travel with Cowboys to New Jersey; missed team meeting - Drew Davison and Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Lucky Whitehead did not make the trip to New York after violating team rules. Quite a number of sources - who apparently don't care much about fact-checking the stuff they put out - initially reported this had something to do with a Snapchat account.
Charean Williams sets the record straight.
The team announced Saturday that Lucky Whitehead did not make the trip because he violated team rules. Whitehead missed a team meeting, according to a source.
Giants get injury clarity, but not all the help they wanted - Paul Schwartz, New York Post
Justin Pugh had been the Giants’ top-performing offensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus, and there had been some hope that he might be able to play against Dallas. That hope is now gone.
There will not be help arriving for the offensive line, as left guard Justin Pugh is expected to miss his fifth consecutive game, as his knee injury is not fully healed.
Running back Shane Vereen was activated off injured reserve on Saturday and will make his return Sunday night against the Cowboys. Vereen has missed the past nine games with a torn triceps.
Why does Jason Witten always kill the Giants? - Dan Pizzuta, Big Blue View
Our friends from BBV try to figure out why Jason Witten, in a wheelchair in 30 years, will still be open over the middle against the Giants.
Between the mixture of Witten’s physical and mental skills, he’s consistently a matchup nightmare for any team. The Giants consistently match up poorly against opposing tight ends and the volume at which these two teams meet sets up for this type of dominant performance. Even while Witten’s physical skills start to fade, he’ll continue to give the Giants problems for as long as he stays on the field.
Giants’ strategy for stopping Ezekiel Elliott: ‘Camera club’ - Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post
Cannizzaro explains that stopping Elliott has to be at the top of the Giants’ "to-do’’ list for Sunday.
Elliott leads the NFL in rushing with 1,285 yards. He averages 4.9 yards per carry and has 12 touchdowns. He’s also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield, having caught 28 passes. Elliott is explosive. He’s powerful. He’s fast. He’s decisive to the open holes on the line and he has great vision.
Elliott represents the most dangerous Cowboys player to the Giants Sunday night. And he’ll be stopped only if the Giants’ defense gang tackles him every time he has the ball.
"Camera club,’’ defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. "That’s what we called it in college [at Syracuse]. Everybody gets into the camera shot on every tackle. The more hats to the ball, the more population you have to the ball, the better the outcome of fumbles and recovering fumbles. There are just a lot more positive things that can happen when you have more hats to the ball.’’
But where does that strategy leave Dak and Dez?
2017 NFL General Manager Candidates - Dan Hatman, Inside The Pylon
Hatman breaks down all the 2017 General Manager candidates to prepare for the offseason, and has an interesting take on the Cowboys' Will McClay.
GMs-in-Waiting: These candidates have been discussed for various GM jobs the last few years, but have been incredibly selective in interviewing, with many observers assuming they are in control or waiting to take control in their current organizations:
Nick Caserio – director of player personnel – New England Patriots
Eric DeCosta – assistant general manager – Baltimore Ravens
Will McClay – senior director of college/pro personnel – Dallas Cowboys
George Paton – assistant general manager – Minnesota Vikings
Duke Tobin – director of player personnel – Cincinnati Bengals
Eliot Wolf – director-football operations– Green Bay Packers
No member of this group was noted as interviewing for a GM opening in 2016. Caserio pulled his name out of the Dolphins (2014) GM search and consistently turns down interview requests. Both he and DeCosta are paid handsomely and are in great positions to take over excellent organizations. DeCosta, McClay, Tobin and Wolf are sought after by many, but have never interviewed for a GM job and, like Caserio, have turned down interview requests.
Lionel Vital, also of the Cowboys, is expected to be one of the hotter candidates in the years to come.
Why some NFL general manager candidates decline to interview - Paul Kuharsky, ESPN
In his look at the 2017 NFL GMs above, Hatman linked to this article to explain why some GM candidates have been reluctant to take interviews:
Why the reluctance?
"You get one shot at your first chance to show how competent you are as a leader of a billion-dollar organization," one NFL personnel man told me. "You need stable ownership and the ability to create your organizational structure. Guys won't just jump at a job if they have a strong situation.
"Example: Why go to Philly when they have a guy above you that still wants to be the GM? Or why go to Cleveland with a contract guy that has final say on the 53-man roster? Or why go to a team that the coach has control of personnel? That is why guys that are good don't just take a job for the payday or title."
Oddsmakers disagree strongly on Patriots-Cowboys Super Bowl line - Larry Hartstein, SportsLine.com
The Cowboys and Patriots could very well meet in Super Bowl 51. Oddsmakers have dramatically different opinions on what the pointspread should be.
The top oddsmaker for William Hill's 100-plus Nevada sportsbooks, Nick Bogdanovich, told SportsLine he'd make the game a pick'-em.
CG Technology, which run sportsbooks at the Venetian, Palms, Hard Rock and elsewhere, would list the Pats as 1.5-point favorites, per VP Jason Simbal.
A major offshore book, BookMaker.eu, would post New England -4.