Sturm’s weekly Decoding Linehan piece has some pretty amazing numbers regarding Dak Prescott and the blitz. That’s usually the part of a young quarterback’s game that needs the most work.
On Sunday, Prescott killed the blitz of the New York Giants. He did it so much that people were wondering why the Giants would continue to do something that was damaging their situation so badly. That doesn't happen much against young quarterbacks -- blitzes failing so badly that the defensive coordinator comes under fire for not realizing he is being taken advantage of by the kid -- but that is what happened Sunday.
The Giants would blitz, then Prescott would find the correct hot read and destroy him. It wasn't that hard, partly because the Giants do not have one-on-one personnel that can handle their business these days, and partly because Prescott nearly had a perfect day from a mental standpoint.
He has had a near-perfect season. Would you believe that since they installed this statistic in 1991, this is nearly the best season in Cowboys history?
According to our friends at STATS, the 2017 version of Prescott is exceeded only by the best year of Romo's career. And, for that matter, considering that we are talking about 27 different seasons of Cowboys quarterbacks -- many of them run by Aikman and Romo -- Prescott has already registered two of the top four in the first two seasons of his career. Based on the fact it took Romo until the 2014 season to fully master the blitz, would it be OK to give Prescott credit for this?
It would seem in this NFL world that this is a rather important component. Prescott destroyed the Giants' blitz on Sunday and, by the looks of it -- as he sits as the career leader against the blitz with a passer rating of 105.0 (Romo at 90.0, Aikman at 86.2, Drew Bledsoe at 83.9 at and Quincy Carter at 62.6 are the four other Cowboys quarterbacks with 200-plus throws against the blitz in their careers) -- he has done this since Week 1 of Year 1 as a Cowboy.
After three very shaky games without Zeke, Dak has begun to turn things around. The Cowboys have also run the ball pretty well the last two games.
The Cowboys always lauded Prescott's work ethic, and demeanor. But they always acknowledged that he was still a young, growing player, despite having the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history in 2016.
In the first three games of Elliott's absence, Prescott was intercepted five times and fumbled three times in blowout losses by a combined score of 92-22 against the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and Los Angeles Chargers.
But he has come out of it over the past two weeks with 38-14 and 30-10 victories against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants with five touchdown passes and no turnovers.
Archer’s Five Wonders delves into several interesting topics.
I'm on record as saying the Cowboys need to keep linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who is set to be a free agent. I wonder why the Cowboys aren't talking to him about a new deal now. The word I've gotten is that there haven't been any discussions. Considering Sean Lee's injury status and Jaylon Smith's continuing return from a serious knee injury, keeping Hitchens around makes sense and not just for insurance. Hitchens is a good player; better than people want to realize. If he goes, then the Cowboys have to add a linebacker somehow, either in free agency or the draft. Why not keep one of your own? Here's a mini-wonder inside a wonder: I wonder if teams will place a higher value on Hitchens than the Cowboys and make him an offer he can't refuse if he gets to the open market.
I would have to agree with him about Hitchens, who is only 25, unlike the defensive backs Dallas let walk last year. It’s possible Jaylon Smith will make huge strides with another offseason, but even if he does, that give the Cowboys three great linebackers, which we have seen is the minimum they need.
Even with back issues and the lack of practice, La’el has impressed the last two games.
The past two weeks La’el Collins has played quite well. Not just in run blocking but also in pass protection.
Some may want to discredit Collins’ improvement based on the teams he has recently thrived against. That would be misguided. While the New York Giants and Washington Redskins may be performing poorly as a team, both boast excellent edge rushers.
Last week La’el Collins scored an impressive 82.5 performance score from profootballfocus.com. If he can continue what he’s done the past two weeks, he could make the Cowboys running game an unstoppable force for years to come. Even with a revolving door at left guard.
La’el Collins has quietly gone from a liability to an asset this season. The Dallas Cowboys took a gamble and committed to develop their youngest, most promising prospect. And that is starting to pay off now.
Our own Danny Phantom explains why the secondary needed an overhaul - money and age. While there will be growing pains, there is potential among the rookies.
What happens in the secondary over the next few games won’t always be pretty. There are going to be more hiccups. But if this group continues to show signs of improved play, the Cowboys “secondary overhaul gaffe of 2017” will have people singing a different tune in the future. A revamped secondary will be huge for this team’s ability to compete down the road and while that is a “wait and see” type of circumstance, the Cowboys decision to go this route has already proven beneficial. The money saved by going this direction is going to allow them to retain players who have already demonstrated that they’re a valuable commodity to this team. With players like DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, and Anthony Hitchens set to hit free agency this offseason, fans are wondering - which players do they keep?
Meanwhile, Tom Ryle looks at all the position groups to evaluate where he thinks the Cowboys are at this point. Suffice it to say, more data is necessary to reach more solid conclusions.
It is a weird time for the Dallas Cowboys. The chances to make the playoffs in this tumultuous season remain slim, but still have not gone completely away. After getting outscored 92 to 22 over a horrid three-game stretch in November, they bounced back to win the next two games by a combined points total of 68 to 24. But the losses all came against playoff contenders, while the wins were over a couple of division rivals that are going nowhere fast. The hope of fans is that the team has finally overcome whatever was plaguing them and is now at least building some confidence for the future. The concern is that all we have seen is that the Cowboys can beat up on bad teams while not being able to stay on the field with good ones.
Which is it? Is this a bad team with some good talent in places that sometimes rises to the occasion, or is it going to have another bounce back year in 2018 following a down one as it has the past few seasons?
Davison looks at the Cowboys next opponent by position group.
On paper, the Raiders appear to have receiving threats in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. But Crabtree seems to be on the decline with no 100-yard receiving games and just one standout performance – a three -touchdown game vs. New York Jets in Week 2. And Cooper, who started his career with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons, has battled injuries and has just one standout performance – a 210-yard, two-touchdown game vs. Kansas City on Oct. 19. The Raiders leading receiver this season? Tight end Jared Cook, the former Green Bay Packer who caught the long pass from Aaron Rodgers in the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff loss last season.
Oakland has been even more of an enigma than Dallas this year. Which team will show up Sunday?
Since opening the year with wins over Tennessee and the New York Jets, Oakland has lost seven of 11 games and only posted back-to-back wins when the Raiders beat backup quarterbacks Paxton Lynch of Denver and Geno Smith of the Giants leading to a move into a tie for first place heading into the Chiefs game.
But with so much on the line, they showed little urgency on either side of the ball and fell behind 26-0 before a fruitless late rally made the final score a bit more respectable.
Playoffs? Did someone say playoffs? What no one seems to be calculating, perhaps because it’s too complicated, is what will happen if more than two teams are tied at 10-6 fighting for the 6th seed. Head-to-head doesn’t always govern. Remember 2014? Dallas, Green Bay, and Seattle all ended 12-4, and Dallas had beaten Seattle that year, but Dallas was the three seed and had to go on the road to play Green Bay, instead of getting a bye and a home game.
With three games to go, the Cowboys are 10th in the NFC. They lose head-to-head tiebreakers to the Packers and Falcons. If they win out, they will have an 8-4 conference record, which might help them in other tiebreakers against the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers or even the New Orleans Saints.
Most of us likely thought the new Goodell deal was done, and Jerry Jones’ efforts to delay his deal was dead along with it. Jerry may not get any votes, but the topic should be interesting.
One day before expected fireworks at the NFL owners meeting in Irving Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says the resolution he put in weeks ago to delay a contract extension for the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is still in place.
Never mind that the NFL’s six-man compensation committee has already come to terms with Goodell on an extension worth up to $200 million and there is essentially nothing Jones can do about it.
Jones said on his radio show on Tuesday on 105.3 the Fan that the resolution is still in place and on the agenda for the Wednesday’s owners meeting and he is excited about what might transpire.