The Dallas Cowboys have just completed their bye week. The team sits with a record of 2-3 and it’s possible that running back Ezekiel Elliott will be out for six games. The Cowboys need to find a way to get some wins quick, but it won’t be easy.
Dallas is tasked with traveling to the west coast for a game against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend, then to the east coast for an in-division battle with the Redskins, back at home against the Kansas City Chiefs, back east to take on the Falcons in Atlanta, and then the team returns to At&T Stadium to host the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys need to get things on track in a hurry.
Despite the 2-3 record, there have been some bright spots for this team. We are handing out a game ball to both the offense and defense. Who has impressed through five games?
Offensive Game Ball
Quarterback, Dak Prescott
After setting the league on fire in 2016, Dak Prescott continues to stake his claim as one of the better quarterbacks across the National Football League. Dak did struggle in the first two games — missing open receivers against the Giants and playing poorly against the Broncos’ elite defense — but he has been very impressive these last three games, save for the third quarter of the Rams game.
Don’t let the 2-3 record mislead you, Dak Prescott is carrying this football team right now. His performance against the Arizona Cardinals was a good example. He used his legs to hurt the defense, created big plays out of nothing, and even flipped into the end zone:
Against the Rams, Dak again put his playmaking ability on display. The quarterback was pressured by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, but the Rams’ star was no match for the Cowboys’ quarterback:
Wow. Dak Prescott shakes off an Aaron Donald sack and finds Dez Bryant for a first down on third and 7. pic.twitter.com/8W6hQhl7yy— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 1, 2017
Dak shredded the Packers for the third straight time. The young gunslinger has owned the Packers’ defense all three times that he has faced them. Dak went toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers on the national stage, as he threw for three touchdowns, rushed for one, passed for more yards than Rodgers (251 vs. 221), completed more passing first down conversions (15 to 13), and had the Cowboys in position to win the game with a minute remaining in the game.
He continued his display of highlight-reel plays, too.
Dak's mobility and escape ability in full effect once again. pic.twitter.com/fqdWB637Ap— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 8, 2017
Aside from the first two games, Dak has been on fire this season, second in total QBR (77.0), 62.5 completion percentage, 13 total touchdowns to four interceptions, and 1,192 yards through the air.
Man. Look at Dak’s sophomore slump.— DCBlueStar (@DCBlueStar) October 9, 2017
112 of 179, 62.5% comp, 13 TOT TD, 4 INTs, 1192 yards... 10.64 yards per comp.
How do those numbers compare to his historic rookie season? Well...
Dak Prescott threw for 3,667 yards and 23 TDs last season— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 9, 2017
Dak is on pace to throw for 3,814 yards and 35 TDs this season
The team will likely rely more and more on their young star, assuming Zeke eventually serves his suspension.
Defensive Game Ball
Defensive End, Demarcus Lawrence
For as much slack as the defense receives — and, in many cases, rightfully so — one of the better players on the Dallas Cowboys roster happens to be on that side of the ball. Demarcus Lawrence has played like a man possessed since the opening game of the season. In his contract season, the 2014 second-round selection leads the NFL in sacks and has become a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks week in and week out.
Whether it he is playing like this because he is a free agent this offseason or not, there is no denying how effective D-Law has been for this team. His ability to explode by offensive tackles and get to the quarterback, as well as help out in the run game, has been huge for a unit looking for any kind of optimism.
Your weekly reminder that no edge defender has been more productive on a per snap basis so far this year than DeMarcus Lawrence pic.twitter.com/ZGPNGcJiOO— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 3, 2017
Highest pass rushing productivity (4-3 DEs from the right side):— PFF NE Patriots (@PFF_NewEngland) October 9, 2017
1. DeMarcus Lawrence 37.5
2. Deatrich Wise 15.8
3. Aaron Lynch 15.6
Is that good?
Here is what PFF has to say about the Cowboys’ pass rusher:
PFF Grade: 90.6
Elite Stat: Lawrence’s 20.2 pass-rush productivity mark is almost a full 1.0 higher than the next closest edge defender.
DeMarcus Lawrence has generated more pressure than any other defender in the game through the first four weeks of the season. In fact, with 30 total pressures, eight of which are sacks, there is nobody else even close to the volume of pressure Lawrence has been able to produce and his PFF pass rush grade of 92.5 is almost five points higher than any other edge defender.
Needless to say, 90 has been an absolute stud this season. The Cowboys, especially with David Irving’s return, have finally found a consistent pass rush. While the linebackers have struggled without Sean Lee and the secondary is largely learning on the fly, Lawrence has been a huge bright spot for the Cowboys. Lawrence has sacked the quarterback in every single game this season — credited with 1.5 versus the New York Giants, two against the Broncos, three on the Cardinals, one versus the Rams, and another on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in week five.
Demarcus Lawrence has been the man for the Cowboys’ defense this season.
Who deserves the offensive and defensive game balls so far this season, BTBers?