Dak Prescott to take on more with Ezekiel Elliott out - Todd Archer, ESPN
Looks like the Cowboys are now asking Prescott to do what they asked Tony Romo to do for most of his career: carry the offense while also compensating for a subpar defense.
With Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension starting immediately, pending more legal action by the running back's attorneys, and out until Nov. 30 when the Cowboys take on the Washington Redskins, there will be even more pressure on Prescott to perform at a high level.
Prescott had one of the greatest rookie seasons in NFL history by a quarterback with 13 wins, 24 touchdowns, four interceptions and a team record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (six). He did all of this for a team that had been as reliant on Tony Romo as any team had been reliant on a single player.
As Romo went, the thought was, the Cowboys went.
But then Prescott and Elliott changed that notion a year ago. Prescott was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Elliott was the heartbeat of the offense.
Now, however, they have to put more on Prescott by demand if not by choice in Elliott's absence.
Sturm's mailbag: Best case, worst case without Zeke - Bob Surm, SportsDay
Sturm tackles many questions in his weekly mailbag, one of them about the next six games (without Elliott).
Q: Best-case, worst-case scenario if Zeke does have to sit out six games now?
Impossible to know, really. Next six games: at San Francisco; at Washington; vs. Kansas City; at Atlanta; vs. Philadelphia; and vs. the Chargers on Thanksgiving. So, there looks to be two games you have to win (San Fran and LA), two games you would think you could get (Washington, Philly) and two games that the Xs and Os suggest you might be in some big trouble for (KC and Atlanta).
So, best case from 2-3 when Zeke gets back -- 6-5? Worst case -- 4-7?
Eesh. Better buckle up, everyone.
Why Barry Church thinks Dallas can still have a "pretty good" defense - Radio transcription, SportsDay
Barry Church recently joined 105.3 The Fan to talk about the Cowboys defense, among other things.
Why he thinks the Dallas defense has struggled...
Church: That's tough, I mean, they have a lot of injuries. Sean [Lee] hasn't played these last couple weeks. I know they were down a couple corners early on, and they got a lot of the young cats out there playing.
I feel like they've just got to gain more experience, but those young guys, they've got a chance to be really good. I like the way 27 [Jourdan Lewis] is out there playing at corner. He seems to be very savvy for a young age. ... They just got [David] Irving back from suspension, and he played a heck of a game. So, I feel like once they get everybody healthy, back rolling again, they should be pretty good.
What's Wrong With Cowboys Defense? - John Owning, Fanrag Sports
Owning takes a detailed look a the issues plaguing the defense, but also offers some hope for improvement.
While things may look bleak for the Cowboys’ defense after this examination of its problems, there is still room for some optimism.
The return of Sean Lee will definitely help this defense, because he is capable of covering up some of the weaknesses plaguing the Cowboys. Lee’s ability to read-and-react quickly has been sorely missed, and his return should improve the run defense. However, Lee won’t be a cure for all of the defense’s pesky problems. Dallas still needs the other linebackers to play with better technique and mental processing ability.
The pass rush is finally starting to get home, pressuring opposing QBs on 30.3 percent of their dropbacks. And the defense has been particularly effective in Cover 3, as opposing QBs have just a 75.2 QB rating against Dallas’ three-deep zone, per PFF — easily the best among the coverages Dallas has played this season.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been the best pass rusher in football through five weeks with 8.5 sacks — already besting his previous high for sacks in a season. Irving looks ready to be Lawrence’s disruptive sidekick up front. Jourdan Lewis looks like a future No. 1 cornerback — playing with swagger, toughness, good technique and discipline — and Xavier Woods has performed well beyond his years in the slot and at safety.
What the Cowboys can do to get back into the playoffs - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
At 2-3, the Cowboys now have to fight for their playoff chances, and Ryle looks at some of the things they need to do. Here's one of those things.
Fix the linebacking situation.
This is one thing that may largely be done with the expected return of Sean Lee to the field. The struggles in stopping the run the past two games seem to be directly linked to his absence while recovering from a hamstring problem. The team made a strategic decision to keep him off the field against the Green Bay Packers. We all have to hope that was the right move.
Video review: One analyst shows how the Packers have legalized holding - Michael Strawn, Blogging The Boys
Every fan base feels like their pass rushers are being held on every snap, but this is a new angle.
Brett Kollman at The Film Room provides very interesting insights on his video breakdown of an unusual Packers’ pass-blocking strategy.
Green Bay Packers’ offensive line coach James Campen has developed an approach that takes advantage of modern NFL rules changes and referee tendencies. The Packers OL don’t punch defenders in the chest and instead spread their arms wide, removing the defender’s target. They wait for the defender to make the first hand action and then hold “hug” defenders, grabbing them on their shoulder pads.
NFLPA believes Ezekiel Elliott remains eligible to play, for now – Michael Smith, ProFootballTalk
The legal maneuvering continues.
Despite the NFL’s statement this week that Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension has begun, the judge overseeing his case says otherwise.
A source tells PFT that United States District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant has informed the NFL and NFL Players Association that he will not lift the injunction preventing the NFL from suspending Elliott until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rules on Elliott’s pending petition for recall of the mandate to dismiss the case.
This potentially means that Elliott remains eligible to play, at least until a petition for rehearing is filed and resolved.
NFL, NFLPA interpret latest court order differently – Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk
As they do in most things, the NFL and the NFLPA disagree as to what the implications of the latest legal moves are. The NFLPA believes Elliott remains eligible to play, the NFL doesn't.
Reasonable minds can differ as to what Judge Mazzant’s ruling actually means. Here’s the bottom line — the Fifth Circuit undoubtedly will provide further clarity by Monday or Tuesday of the coming week.