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Cowboys News: Why Dak Prescott's rookie season was not a fluke

Latest Cowboys headlines: Why Prescott should be even better in 2017; why Cowboys run defense was better than you were told; why Cowboys are “excited” about rookie Noah Brown.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Was Dak Prescott’s rookie season a fluke? - Steven Ruiz, For The Win
Ruiz puts 10 breakout stars of 2016 under the microscope to determine whether 2016 was a fluke or not. His verdict on Prescott: No fluke.

As someone who has written about the influence a good supporting cast can have on a quarterback’s performance, I totally understand why many are questioning Prescott’s tremendous rookie campaign. Quarterbacks dream of playing behind the Cowboys line and having a back like Ezekiel Elliott to lean on.

But there is nothing flukey about Prescott’s game. From Day 1, the fourth-round pick exhibited veteran-like poise in the pocket and a willingness to get through his progressions that you just don’t typically see from rookie passers. And he doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his pre-snap abilities. Prescott was consistently tinkering with protections and play-calls before the ball was snapped.

If anything, Prescott should be even better in 2017.

Just how good was the Cowboys run defense in 2016? - Mike Renner, PFF
Renner writes that the penetrating style of attack set the Dallas Cowboys run defense apart from all other teams in 2016.

If you paid attention to the NFL at all last fall you know how good the Cowboys run game was. What you might not have realized though, was how good their run defense was in 2016. While they didn’t actually lead the league in rushing, they led the league in rushing defense, allowing a paltry 83.5 yards per game. Now some of that was due to the fact that their opponents had to play catchup a lot of the time, but their 3.9 yards per carry against was still the eighth best figure in the league.

The most impressive part of it all, though, is the personnel they do it with along the defensive line. There’s no big names. There’s no big money. Heck, because they don’t utilize a true nose tackle there’s no real big men even. What they do have is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. Rod Marinelli has been coaching defense in the league for 20 years now and at every stop he’s been he’s employed an aggressive one gapping defense.

Many run defenses around the league preach gap integrity as a means to be effective. If you have every gap covered, and each defender manages to stay in their gap, theoretically there will be no lane to run. Marinelli’s defenses take a different approach. While executing assignments is still important, gap integrity takes a backseat to penetration. Marinelli wants the defensive line to create as much disruption as possible even if the linemen aren’t necessarily finishing the plays themselves.

[...] For Dallas, this is all a calculated measure. They want to make tackles for loss that scare opposing teams from running the ball so that they are the ones that control the clock. Marinelli is content giving up a handful of chunk plays on the ground rather than consistently yielding three yards a pop. Of the 340 rushing attempts against Dallas last year, almost a quarter of them went for no gain or a loss. That type of aggressiveness scares offensive coordinators into passing more as there is no sense handing it off if it’s not going to get your offense into more favorable down and distances 25 percent of the time. That’s why Dallas is your Teaching Tape for an aggressive, one-gap run defense in today’s NFL.

Check out the entire article; Renner walks us through a lot of detail on why the Cowboys were successful with this approach, and how critical Sean Lee was in all of it.

Cowboys “excited” about rookie receiver Noah Brown - Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Gotta hand it to Williams, who quickly quickly learned to out-headline the original source ("Scott Linehan on how rookie 'tweener' Noah Brown could fit into Cowboys' WR Corps") in her new job at PFT.

It’s been “Switzer! Switzer! Switzer!” since the Cowboys drafted receiver Ryan Switzer in the fourth round with plans to make him a significant part of their offense. But the Cowboys have another receiver they drafted who has potential they are “excited” about.

“[Brown] is a little bit of an all-around guy,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said, via the Dallas Morning News. “He’s an outside receiver with a big frame. He’s kind of got a ‘tweener’ size (6-2, 222) when it comes to receiver. He’s got a little bit of a TE element to his game as far as his size and the matchup and the people he’s blocking. So he should match up well in that area.

“He’s a good receiver, too. He has a real consistent game, and he’s a smart kid, so we’re excited about him.”

4th of July History Lesson: How the Dallas Cowboys Earned the Nickname “America’s Team” - Kristi Scales, 5 Points Blue
Never hurts to hear the story again.

In 1979 when NFL Films editor-in-chief Bob Ryan was working on the Cowboys’ highlights from their 1978 season, he needed to write some extra copy for the video’s narration. While editing video, he noticed that during road games there were people in the stands with Cowboys jerseys and hats.

“I saw all these fans in away stadiums,” Ryan told NFL Network. “Hey, they’re the most popular team in the country. How can I use that? Why don’t we call them ‘America’s Team’?

Ryan included “America’s Team” in the title of the highlight video. He also wrote these opening lines which were voiced by narrator John Facenda at the start of the video: “They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, ‘America’s Team’.”

The term was then picked up by broadcasters and used on game day telecasts early in the 1979 season. The nickname stuck, much to the delight of Cowboys fans and management.

Newy Scruggs Takes Offense to Comparing Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line to The Hogs - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Cool story:

Scruggs was the guest on [Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic's] Countdown to Training Camp, when [host Chris]Miller asked if the Cowboys' revered offensive line could end up as the second coming of The Hogs -- the offensive line of the Washington Redskins known for their ability to control the line of scrimmage in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Scruggs stood up for the Cowboys [see the video in the linked article] – "We've already had a great wall in Dallas that won three Super Bowls, OK?" Scruggs said with a tone that was a mix of annoyed and incredulous. "Why can't they be that next version? Let's not compare them to something that's over in Washington."

20 Questions: Which Cowboys Player Will Earn His First Pro Bowl in 2017? - Dallas Cowboys Staff
Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman, and Bryan Broaddus take a stab at predicting the next first-time Pro Bowler, and end up with five names. La'el Collins, Chris Jones, Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, and Maliek Collins.

Broaddus: This is a deep shot but give me Maliek Collins. I like what I saw in his 14 starts last season and what he's done working against Zack Martin in these practices. He's playing with quickness and power and If he can somehow deliver 7 or 8 sacks - I believe he has a chance. There's a ton of ability and promise in that player.

Mailbag: Accounting For The Loss Of David Irving? - Bryan Broaddus & David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
In response to a reader questions, Broaddus and Helman take a stab at predicting who will start at defensive end for the Cowboys.

Bryan: From what I've seen in these practices, Tyrone Crawford still lines up at LDE and is the starter so Charlton would have to beat him out. Lawrence will have competition from Damontre Moore, Benson Mayowa and Charles Tapper on that right side. I do agree with you about Charlton being on that left side as opposed to the right.

David: I have been of the opinion this entire offseason that Tyrone Crawford would be better off moving back to defensive tackle, but Irving’s suspension might prevent that from happening. If I had to guess, I think it’ll be DeMarcus Lawrence on the right side and Crawford on the left side when the season starts. It will be interesting to see how they shuffle the lineup when Irving returns, because you’ll only have so many snaps to go around for Irving, Crawford and Taco.

Damontre Moore attends Von Miller's pass rush summit -
Von Miller organized a “pass rush summit” at Stanford on Thursday. The guest list was a pretty strong one and included the Cowboys' Damontre Moore.

When Von Miller and Vic Beasley said that they wanted to train together in the off-season, a lot of quarterbacks probably said "I don't need this" and went on to do something else with their day that was less depressing than the news. Well guess what quarterbacks, it gets worse! Miller had a ton of talent present at his mini-mini-camp, including the likes of Seahawks' DEs Cliff Avril & Cassius Marsh, Raiders' OLB Khalil Mack, Giants' OLB Olivier Vernon, 49ers' OLB Arik Armstead, Cowboys' DE Damontre Moore and Miller's teammate, Broncos' OLB Shane Ray. Also in attendance was Chuck Smith, a former All-Pro defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons.

Ranking the 15 best landing spots for Dorial Green-Beckham after Eagles cut him -
It says something about the strength of the Cowboys' receiver room that the Cowboys don't show up among the 15 teams listed, even if that would have been some easy clicks.

'All or Nothing' showcases Rams' up-and-down season - Dan Hanzus,
How much you'll be interested by the new season of All or Nothing may correlate directly with how intrigued you are by a car crash, Hanzus writes in anticipation of the second season of All or Nothing, which premiered yesterday.

From The FanPosts

Our FanPost section is where Blogging The Boys members have the opportunity to write their own posts about the Cowboys. Take a little time to write a post about your thoughts regarding the Dallas Cowboys, and there's a chance it will be linked right here in our morning News roundup.

History of the Dallas Cowboys - Part VI (1986 - 1990) - Blogging The Boys
BTB-member MrMannequin continues his review of the Cowboys history, and arrives at what was likely the low point in franchise history. But that low point also marked the beginning of what would soon turn into a franchise-defining run of Super Bowl wins.

It’s hard for those who didn’t go through this period to understand the difference a single season had made. Rather than going backwards (as the team had for seemingly 10 seasons) things now looked to be going forward. The team was winning and featured an exciting group of young players. Finally, after years in the wilderness, there was reason for optimism.

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