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Cowboys News: Why Dak Prescott Has The Cowboys Offense Humming On "The Money Down"

Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott handles third downs like a veteran; the Cowboys running game will eventually get it in gear; the Cowboys can win without Romo.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, Dak Prescott stories lead the news! We start with Bob Sturm, whose weekly breakdown of Scott Linehan's offense is always a must-read. This article focuses on how well Dak is playing on "the money down."

Dallas Cowboys: Sturm: Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott handles third down like a veteran - Bob Sturm, DMN

The money down in the NFL is clearly third down. We have written for years how this team is dependent on Tony Romo to move the chains on a regular basis. In 2014, the Cowboys were second in the NFL on third-down conversions (just a shade behind the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees and just a shade above the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers) at 47.3 percent. Phenomenal work from the offense.

In 2015, New Orleans stayed at No. 1. Dallas fell to No. 27 at 34.5 percent without Tony Romo for 77 percent of their offensive snaps (interesting to see that Green Bay also fell to No. 28, even though Rodgers was available, but Jordy Nelson was gone for the year at 33.7 percent).

This year, the Cowboys are back to No. 2 in the NFL. It is early. Really early. But, at 55 percent on third downs, we are already seeing that Prescott and the Cowboys are not afraid of the money down.

He's not the only one singing Dak's praises. Even opponents are giving the kid some respect.

Dallas Cowboys: What current, former NFL players are saying about Dak Prescott: 'Man, the kid's making plays'  - DMN Staff

"Man, the kid was making plays. He was making plays with his arm. He was making plays with his feet. Dallas obviously saw something they liked in him. Now, everybody else is seeing it." -- Redskins safety DeAngelo Hall

Dallas's other touted rookie hasn't been doing quite as well as Dak, but give him time.

Dallas Cowboys: Fear not: The Cowboys' running game should be among NFL's best when season ends - Newy Scruggs, DMN

I'm not disappointed in Zeke after two football games because I respect the defenses NFL too much. It's hard to ask a running back with less than 15 preseason reps to come in and dominate regular season games. The staff didn't want Elliott to get hurt so they put in bubble wrap during the preseason. I won't blame the rookie for that. Jason Garrett made that decision. Bill Parcells would have tested Elliott early and often in the preseason to give him some humble pie and try to get him ready for the grind of the long NFL season.

Coach Garrett is chalking up Zeke's late-game fumbles against Washington as a learning experience.

Garrett Maintains "We Have Confidence In Zeke" After Rookie’s Two Fumbles - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

"We have confidence in Zeke," Garrett said. "We thought he played a good ball game yesterday. He made strides from Week 1 to Week 2. He ran the ball hard. He ran the ball tough. He has handled the ball well through his career. He has strong hands. He does a good job with his ball security. He did that at Ohio State. He has done that for us up to this point.

"But that was a big play in the game, though. He made a good run and bounced it out side. Norman came in and punched it out. Those things can't happen. When you’re carrying the football, you’re not only carrying the football for yourself, you’re carrying it for the whole offensive unit and the whole football team. That's a big responsibility that comes with that. He will learn from that experience."

Our own Tom Ryle explains what we learned after the Washington game.

Five Things We Learned In Cowboys’ 27-23 Win Over Washington - Tom Ryle, BtB

The Cowboys can win without Romo. This is the big one. The thing they could not do last year. It was a close-fought game that could have gone either way, and Dallas rose to the occasion. It was a team victory, although Prescott gets a huge share of the credit.

It wasn't Randy Gregory's or the Cowboys decision to drop the appeal of Gregory's second suspension, it was the NFLPA's decision, according to Jerry Jones.

Jerry Jones: NFLPA Made Decision To Withdraw Randy Gregory's Appeal - David Helman, The Mothership

"He didn’t – the Players Association did," Jones said. "You have to have the support of the Players Association or else it’s hopeless, and they felt that, legally – technically, legally – that he didn’t have an appeal. And that decision was made there."

The Gregory suspension led Babe Laufenberg to note how badly Dallas has fared recently for its second-round draft picks.

It's staggering that the Cowboys have gotten zero production from last four second-round picks - Babe Laufenberg, DMN

Randy Gregory has been what the rest of the league thought he was. So your last four second-round picks were, in order, Gavin Escobar (rarely sees the field), DeMarcus Lawrence (suspended), Randy Gregory (suspended), and Jaylon Smith (most likely out for the year with a knee injury suffered at Notre Dame). To get zero production out of your last four second-round picks is staggering.

And now for something more positive about the defense.

Tyrone Crawford moved to defensive end on Sunday for the second half, and picked up his first sack of the season.

With Cowboys Needing More Rush, Crawford Anticipating Playing More DE - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

Crawford, who was able to get his first sack of the season, could start at left end this week opposite Benson Mayowa. The Cowboys have the luxury of moving Crawford out of the tackle spot because of the play of Terrell McClain, who could start at the 1-technique and Cedric Thornton would slide to the 3-technique.

Finally, Geoff Swaim is getting some love.

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys' big-play ability is coming from an unlikely source in former Longhorn Geoff Swaim - Jon Machota, DMN

The Cowboys have had five passing plays go for more than 20 yards. Swaim is the only player responsible for more than one.

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