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Cowboys News: Are Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott Ready To Compete For Super Bowl?

A fresh batch of Cowboys news for your lovely Memorial Day.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Before we head into the news, be sure to check out Landon’s Mailbag FanPost, where you can drop in a question for the podcast later this week. You guys always ask great questions and he’ll try to answer as many as possible.

Jerry Jones: Zeke and Dak's success with Cowboys captivated 'millenials by the thousands' - SportsDay Staff
From the moment they both saw the field together, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the NFL world by storm. The pair of rookies took the Dallas Cowboys and their fans on an exciting ride through the regular season that has everyone wanting to see what the duo has in store next. Jerry Jones discussed the two faces of America’s Team and how they will grow the fan base.

But what do Jones and the Cowboys front office plan to do to engage a new generation of sports fans, many of whom are cord-cutters and consume news and sports differently than their parents have?

Jones thinks the answers lies in the new faces of the Cowboys, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Prescott won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors for 2016, while Elliott's 1,631 rushing yards claimed him the league rushing title.

"I saw what the millennials did when Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott hit the field," Jones said in an interview with Cheddar at his award ceremony. "All of a sudden, millennials by the thousands starting getting interested in the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys and watching it in even a more traditional way."

Dak Prescott may need more help for Super Bowl season - Steve Miklosko, The Landry Hat
Miklosko takes a look at past sophomore Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and what they had in common.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is attempting to achieve something only four quarterbacks in NFL history have accomplished before him: win a Super Bowl in his sophomore year.

Those quarterbacks include the following: Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, New England Patriots Tom Brady and St. Louis Rams Kurt Warner.

Interestingly, there are two similarities among each of those teams that won the Super Bowl aside from their quarterbacks’ experience. They each had a competent run game and a strong defense. Check out the numbers below:

2013 Seattle Seahawks: #1 defense points against, #4 rushing offense

2005 Pittsburgh Steelers: #3 defense points against, #5 rushing offense

2001 New England Patriots: #6 defense points against, #13 rushing offense

1999 St. Louis Rams: #4 defense points against, #5 rushing offense

Think that sounds farfetched? Last year, the Cowboys had the #5 defense in points against and the #2 rushing offense. Plus a pretty impressive passing game. So...

Cowboys QB coach on looking for Dak Prescott's dark side, whether Tony Romo would return to team - SportsDay Staff
Dallas Cowboys quarterback coach Wade Wilson sat down with and discussed Cowboys related topics, including Dak’s “it” factor.

"Everything in Starkville, from the coaches, to the staff, to the trainers, we went downtown and had lunch, everybody loved this guy," Wilson said. "Like, what's wrong with him? EVERYBODY loves him. There's got to be a dark side somewhere. But as we got him, and got to know him, we brought him in and put him on the board in Dallas, and he passed every test."

Wilson also discussed the possibility of Romo returning to the field if needed. He says the former Cowboys quarterback is “most definitely” capable of playing.

"It's fun to speculate about that, if Dak were to go down in week 2, would Tony come back," Wilson said. "I don't know the answer to that. I just don't know. Do I think he's capable of coming back and playing? Most definitely. Does he want to or what his commitment is to the network? I don't know.

"It's fun water-cooler topics to talk about, (even without) information to make a definitive answer on that."

How will Dak Prescott's playbook change in Year 2? - SportsDay Staff
Entering his sophomore season, Dak Prescott will be given more responsibility in the Cowboys offense. How will things change for the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year?

"He's going to get a lot more offseason work," Wilson said in the interview. "Last year he didn't have that much exposure into our offense in the offseason for sure. ... We'll give him more on his plate that he can change at the line of scrimmage."

Wade Wilson also notes that the Cowboys are heading to more of a Dak-friendly offense.

"We're going to shotgun a little bit more, do the zone read a little bit more, and he's going to do stuff that he's comfortable with," Wilson said. "And I think that getting all of these reps, and doing all of these things over and over again, he's just going to react, instead of just thinking a lot."

10 things to know from Cowboys OTAs: Jaylon Smith's progress, rookies finding roles, and more - SportsDay Staff
The SportsDay staff writes about all the interesting tidbits surrounding the Cowboys’ OTAs.

Dak Prescott in charge

"It's funny just watching that film from last year on Day 2 [of OTAs]. I mean, I got two reps out of the whole day compared to the reps I get [now]." -- Prescott

After coming into OTAs simply as a fourth-round pick sitting behind Tony Romo and Kellen Moore, Prescott enters camp this year as the man -- and he came prepared.

"He's improved strength-wise, flexibility-wise, speed-wise, quickness-wise, so he's not resting on anything that went on last year," Cowboys QB coach Wade Wilson said. "He had a phenomenal rookie year. He's been out here working the whole offseason and taking over a little bit more of a leadership role this year that's kind of innate with the position."

The article goes on to note Rico Gathers and his development at the tight end position. Can the former hoops star contribute to the Cowboys’ offense this season?

Rico Gathers’ development

The heir to Jason Witten? That goal still might be far off in the distance, but the goal of becoming a contributing piece to the offense is much closer than it once was.

Cowboys TE coach Steve Loney: "He's come a long way from where he started. I have to remind myself that he has zero background. Last year -- just getting in the huddle and hearing the snap count -- that's now behind him. He's getting off on the snap count. He was slow before because he was thinking too much. Now he's reacting. So I feel good about his progress and I want to make sure I keep him humble and don't have him look too far because there's a huge challenge ahead of him.

Dak Doubters Should Judge Dak Prescott By What He’s Already Shown - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
With all of the talk about Dak Prescott suffering a sophomore slump, BTB’s Michael Sisemore says that ‘Dak Doubters’ should look at what he has done.

For one, if you’re waiting for something like that, don’t hold your breath when the average age of the projected offense around Dak is barely 26 years old. That time may not come for quite a while as the Cowboys are doing everything they can to keep their offense together. Who’s to say they won’t just keep churning that young roster around him? Spoiler alert: that’s the Cowboys M.O. under this leadership. You can’t convince anyone that having a team with such a young nucleus should just drop anytime soon without outside interference.

Another group of the “Dak Doubters” as we’ll affectionately name them has come in the form of some unfounded conjecture. The “Dak doesn’t have to do much” crowd is growing and that perfectly lines up with the aforementioned notions. Statistically speaking, Dak has done more than most rookie quarterbacks as was noted in the first paragraph. Let’s peruse a quick chart of Dak and Sports Illustrated’s list of Top-10 rookie seasons:

Texans Deshaun Watson is not Dak Prescott 2.0 - James Mastrucci, Cover32
With Deshaun Watson entering a quarterback-friendly environment, there have been many speculating if Watson can have a Dak-like season. Mastrucci is hesitant to give Dak credit and says that the surrounding cast — not the player themselves — is the difference between the two.

With 100 less passing plays, Prescott had less pressure on him to perform while utilizing his skill set to his full potential. Watson will not have that same luxury in Houston. While the rushing game is above average, the offensive line is not as skilled. There will be more pressure on Watson to make big plays himself and not rely on others.

Watson will have to make more plays himself for the offense to score compared to Prescott being able to hand it off to Elliott and let him make a big play. Miller will be able to make some plays on his own, but not at the consistent level that Elliott does. Without a reliable fallback plan, Watson will have to make plays on his own.

Could NFL rushing title competition come down to Ezekiel Elliott vs. DeMarco Murray? - SportsDay Staff
Ezekiel Elliott looks to be the favorite to win another rushing crown in the 2017 season, but could a former Dallas Cowboy be in the race to stop him?

"Ezekiel Elliott is going to win back-to-back rushing titles," Tomlinson declared. "The Cowboys' offensive line is built for the run game, so he'll get plenty of carries. And with has good Dak Prescott was in his rookie season, they will have to run the ball to be successful on offense. It's just hard for me to argue against Dallas' run game."

"DeMarco Murray will get back to the top of the rushing heap, like in 2014. I love the Tennessee Titans' offensive line and I think Marcus Mariota is going to have his best season in Year 3," Wyche explained. "The passing weapons are going to prevent defenses from stacking the box, leaving Murray to take advantage of all the positives the Titans have added on offense."

The 5 best Dallas Cowboys RBs of all time, ranked: We know 1-2; who's in the 3-4-5 spots? - SportsDay Staff
The Dallas Cowboys have a rich history of producing great running backs. Emmitt and Dorsett are at the top of the highly talented list, but who rounds out the top five?

The Rundown:

George: Top 3 on this list were as dominant as any RB could be in their prime.

Hairopoulos: Study up, Zeke.

Moore: How can NFL all-time rushing leader and winner of Dancing with the Stars not top the list?

Machota: Too early to put Ezekiel Elliott in the top 5? OK, I'll leave him out. He'll be there soon enough.

Ryan Switzer is making a name for himself in Dallas - Brandon Anderson, Tar Heel Blog
Ryan Swizter has been receiving lots of raving reviews for what he has been able to do during Cowboys’ OTAs. Anderson notes that Tar Heel fans are not surprised of the success their former receiver is having.

A big part of what Ryan Switzer has been able to show off is his catching ability. During the OTAs, Switzer managed to haul in a one-handed catch from Prescott near the right sideline and get both feet inbounds. This is of little surprise to UNC fans, as Switzer had the lowest dropped pass rate in 2016 in all of college football. He finished the season with 1,112 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

What’s The “Significant Role” Cowboys Have Planned For WR Ryan Switzer? - RJ Ochoa, Inside The Star
The Cowboys reportedly have a “significant role” planned for their fourth-round selection. Ochoa discusses if the addition of Switzer will just make the Dallas offense even scarier.

It’s actually Prescott, the original 4th Round Success Story, that could be the “significant role” that the Cowboys have planned for Switzer. Dak Prescott has been criticized by some for his accuracy downfield, a claim that holds very little water. Let me be clear in that I’m not saying that Dak Prescott can’t throw downfield – he absolutely can – he just doesn’t need to exercise that level of his game very often.

Adding Ryan Switzer to that mix makes it virtually impossible to stop the Cowboys in the middle of the defense. Switzer obviously is added depth behind Beasley, but when they’re on the field simultaneously there simply won’t be enough manpower to cover such proficient slot guys and Dallas will move down the field, one first down at a time… a pace they’re fine with.

Jaylon Smith Continues to Impress Cowboys in Comeback Bid - Pat Doney, NBCDFW
A lot of the talk surrounding the Dallas Cowboys right now is 2016 second-round pick Jaylon Smith and his recovery from injury. Pat Doney writes that Smith has been impressing the coaching staff with both his work ethic and his outlook.

When speaking about the work Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith has done in a return from a devastating knee injury suffered during his senior season at Notre Dame, Dallas coaches have not hesitated to offer high amounts of praise.

“His optimism, his outlook in life, it is just rare,” said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. “I really do believe that’s helped him get better and better.”

“He’s ahead of the game,” said Cowboys linebackers coach Matt Eberflus. “He was able to learn the system and schematically what to do (during last season). Now he needs to learn on the field how to do it.”

Two Cowboys among's top 10 players from U.S. service academies - SportsDay Staff
Memorial Weekend is a great chance to catch up with friends and family and to eat great food, but it is also a time to remember those who fought in war. The SportsDay staff notes that the Dallas Cowboys had two former players make's top 10 players from U.S. service academies.

Two of the top 10 played for the Dallas Cowboys, including No. 1 ... Roger Staubach.

Staubach won the Heisman Trophy as a junior for Navy in 1963. He played for the Cowboys from 1969-79 after fulfilling his obligation to the armed forces. He served four years, including a year in Vietnam.

Also on the list from America's Team (at No. 6) is Chad Hennings, a defensive tackle who played for Dallas from 1992-2000 and was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams. Hennings, who went to the Air Force Academy, was an 11th-round pick by Dallas in 1988. An Air Force pilot, he served four years of an eight-year commitment (the rest was waived) and he joined the Cowboys at the age of 27.

La'el Collins is learning every day as the Cowboys give him a shot at right tackle - Stephen Hunt, The Advocate
Stephen Hunt writes about La’el Collins’ transition from guard to right tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. Collins is grateful for the opportunity to learn under three great lineman and Frank Pollack seems to like what he has seen from Collins at his new spot.

Collins considers himself blessed to play on an offensive line among the NFL’s best, a group that also features center Travis Frederick and left tackle Tyron Smith as starters; they have been to a combined seven Pro Bowls.

“Man, it’s amazing. I’ve never been a part of a group like these guys, guys that just know how to work, come in every day, get it done,” he said. “These guys have showed me how to be a pro. I just take what they showed me and I apply it every day.”

Even though Collins’ transition is in the preliminary stages, Dallas offensive line coach Frank Pollack is encouraged by what he has seen.

“It’s still early, but I see a guy who’s grinding and working his butt off to get better and try to make the transition mentally in the classroom and physically on the field as far as techniques,” Pollack said. “He’s doing a nice job working hard.”

Five Dallas Cowboys Players Who Have The Most To Prove - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
From James Hanna to DeMarcus Lawrence to Dak Prescott, which five Dallas Cowboys have the most to prove during the upcoming season?

5. James Hanna
It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago when Hanna was seen as a valuable piece to the Cowboys offense. But a career-threatening injury and the development of Geoff Swaim has the veteran tight end’s job at risk. The team could save $1.5 M if they cut him this year so he might not even get a year to prove himself. But next year’s situation is much more challenging for him as the team would save $2.75 M if they released him. Hanna is going to have to prove that not only can he stay healthy, but return to being an integral piece of the Cowboys running game

1. Dak Prescott
The Cowboys new passer is not in the hot seat. His job isn’t in jeopardy. His contract is super cheap and he is not in a contract year. So why is he number one on this list? Well, when you are the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys all the world takes notice. The team has just made one of the most difficult organizational decisions when they moved away from Tony Romo and anointed Prescott their new franchise quarterback. If Prescott starts to falter, you better believe it’s going to met with heavy criticism. The Cowboys future is in the hands of this kid and it is imperative that he follows a great rookie season with more evidence that the Cowboys made the right choice.

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