Random Thoughts: New Wrinkles On Offense - Jeff Sullivan, Dallas Cowboys
Sully offers a smorgasboard of thoughts, including this on the offense.
Will be interesting to see how the offense evolves this regular season on two fronts. First, head coach Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson spent the entire offseason making tweaks to the scheme that better fit Dak Prescott rather than Tony Romo. And two, no one in the league spent a second preparing for Dak during the 2016 offseason. I think we’re going to see more no huddle, more play-action and roll outs, and more screen passes. Also more one-on-one opportunities for Dez Bryant, meaning if Dez is in one-on-one, let him make a play. He doesn’t need to have a step or separation. We kind of saw that with the touchdown catch last Saturday.
The Play That Will Define the 2017 NFL Season - Kevin Clark, The Ringer
Clark explains how the run-pass option is flummoxing even the league’s best defenses, and that Dak Prescott is one of its most accomplished practitioners.
The RPO, in part, fueled Dak Prescott’s record-breaking rookie season, and most college systems run some variation of the play. Unlike many college schemes, it translates well to the NFL level.
Mike Kuchar, who runs football-research company X&O Labs, said the concept is simple: There’s going to be one defender, typically an outside linebacker, on a given play who is going to commit to playing the run or pass post-snap. Once that player makes their decision, you run that play “to the space he vacated.” If he commits to the run, you pass, and if he doesn’t, you run. All decisions are made quickly after the snap. “It’s the modern-day triple-option,” he said, referring to the old-school run option in which a quarterback can keep the ball, or has two options to give it to his fullback or running back.
But the most dangerous option in this play comes in the passing game. The Cowboys had success with a “third-level” RPO last year, which requires the quarterback to read the safety and helps exploit secondaries even more.
The RPO works because it doesn’t rely on trying to outrun anyone; it relies on going to the most empty part of the field in the most efficient way possible. Done right, it’s the perfect modern play.
Most, least accurate, luckiest, aggressive, conservative, valuable quarterbacks in NFL 2016 - 2017 - Scott Kacsmar, ESPN
Kacsmar, of Football Outsiders fame, tries isolate a quarterback's value when he threw or ran the ball relative to what the rest of his team did on every other play, and presents a top 10-list of quarterbacks most valuable relative to their team's performance in 2016.
Dak Prescott comes in seventh overall, and Kacsmar adds some interesting observations.
QB EPA: plus-129.5 (third)
Team EPA: minus-24.6 (15th)
QB-added value: plus-154.1
While running back Ezekiel Elliott received a lot of attention last season, the single biggest reason for Dallas' improvement to 13-3 and the NFC's No. 1 seed was the instant success of Dak Prescott. He produced the third-most EPA by a quarterback last year, which shows the offense's success was about more than just the running game -- although Elliott helped the Cowboys rank seventh in non-QB offensive EPA (plus-8.0). The No. 20 defense (minus-40.0 EPA) was nothing to write home about, and between the suspensions on that side of the ball and Elliott's six-game ban this year, we'll see just how valuable Prescott can be in his second season.
What the Cowboys' past tells us about the current backup QB situation - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Sturm walks us through the Cowboys' recent history at backup QB (that includes Brad Johnson, Kyle Orton, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore) and concludes that the Cowboys have been reckless in looking for a quality backup.
It is curious that they have done so little to try to create competition or upgrade a spot that, frankly, seems easy to upgrade. It has led me to believe that if Prescott is gone for 6 weeks, their primary solution will be to speed-dial Romo again. He might laugh at them, but I swear that must be the plan. Otherwise, they are just being reckless.
You know, reckless at backup QB, like they were many other years since I have covered them. It seems the solution has been to hope their QB doesn't get hurt. They aren't the only team in the league to feel that way - many teams take that approach, it seems. But, we don't cover those teams. We cover a team that has been bit by this strategy enough times to suggest you would think they would have a better plan than this by now.
Reports surfaced this weekend that the Cowboys are now officially concerned about QB2. That probably means nothing because asking a QB to join your organization in late August is never easy with everything that a QB has to know to have a chance to compete. But it staggers the mind that they are just discovering that Moore might not inspire confidence throughout the organization.
In other words: stay healthy, Dak.
What key trait just caused Jerry Jones to compare Cooper Rush to Troy Aikman, Tony Romo, Dak Prescott? - Jori epstein, SportsDay
Chalk up "workingest" as another Jerry-ism.
"One thing Cooper Rush has in common with Troy Aikman, with Dak Prescott, with Tony Romo is they are the workingest football players you can be around," Jones told 105.3 The Fan's G-Bag Nation show [KRLD-FM]. "I don't think you can outwork them. So he prepares and ... I don't want to get out ahead of ourselves, but he has some very natural things that make good quarterback."
La’el Collins making seamless transition to right tackle - Drew Davison, Star Telegram
Davison explains that it doesn’t appear as though Collins will be much of a step back, if at all, from the retired Doug Free.
After all, there’s a reason the Cowboys handed Collins a two-year extension in camp even though he’s never played a regular-season game at right tackle.
“He’s been consistent and he’s also improved,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Even if you look at him at the early part of training camp. His sets are stronger. His sets are cleaner. I think technically he’s playing better and better. He’s one of those guys who’s very physical and he plays with great passion. You never want to take that away from him. That’s a big part of who he is. That’s line one when you’re describing him.
Surprise cuts for the Cowboys? Doesn't look like it - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys have roughly half a dozen players vying for a two or three spots, but nobody on the chopping block appears to be a surprise, Archer writes.
Would Mark Nzeocha or Emmett Cleary or Ronnie Hillman be a surprise?
Nzeocha can play his way on to the roster in the final two preseason games but needs to excel in special teams. Cleary, who was the Cowboys' swing tackle for most of last season, is caught in a numbers' game if the Cowboys keep just eight offensive linemen. Hillman remains where he was when he signed with the Cowboys: behind Darren McFadden, Rod Smith and Alfred Morris. It's hard to see the Cowboys keeping five running backs with Ezekiel Elliott suspended.
As I look to put together my final guess at the roster, I'm down to Noah Brown, Andy Jones, Joey Ivie, Duke Thomas, Marquez White, Robert Blanton and Jordan Carrell fighting for the final few spots.
It'll come down to the coaches' tastes and priorities, but surprise cuts? I just don't see any right now.
Quick 53-man roster projection after Cowboys’ 3rd preseason game - KD Drummons, Cowboys Wire
The noble Drummond offers up a A 53-man roster projection that has three QBs, six wide receivers and a decidedly anti-German bias on defense.
An arbitrator has denied an NFLPA request to make some notes available in the suspension appeal of Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys
"We're going to suspend you, but we're not going to show you any of the evidence that led to your suspension. You'll just have to trust us on this one."
Arbitrator Harold Henderson has denied a request from the NFL Players Association to make available the notes of NFL investigators and the Columbus, Ohio, authorities in the case of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott prior to Tuesday's suspension appeal hearing, according to a source.