Don’t you love it? ESPN insiders trying to correct an NFL ranking that ESPN put out in the first place. In it, Dak Prescott was ranked the 9th best quarterback in the NFL, coming in at #77. Too low? You bet. They also think Tyron Smith is overrated.
Really!? I appreciate that being surrounded by several other top-100 players means there is a ceiling on the amount of credit Prescott will receive. But it doesn't seem that discount was applied to the five other Cowboys offensive players, who outrank Dak despite obviously benefiting from his excellent play. I am far from a Dak fanboy. Even late into last season, I thought the Cowboys would have been better off with Tony Romo. But that doesn't change the fact that Dak's Total QBR (adjusted for strength of defenses) is better than seven of the nine QBs ahead of him. And in the playoffs, he went toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers, throwing for 302 yards and three touchdowns.
Forget about the obvious skill sets of the NFL's best. Here are the unnoticed attributes that push each of these players to the top.
15. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys
Sneaky quality: Mobility
The Cowboys can lean on zone schemes and the inside duo-blocking concept because of Martin's mobility on the interior. Sure, he has all the traits and the intangibles of a top-tier guard at the point of attack, but his ability to climb to the second level is the reason Dallas can consistently gash defenses in the run game.
Combo-block and then climb. Chip to the linebacker. That allows Martin to move in space to create a positive angle to that second level. This is where Martin can cut off defensive pursuit angles and clear a path for Ezekiel Elliott or Darren McFadden to push the ball into the secondary. Martin is one of the best guards in the league, and he plays in a scheme that caters to his athleticism.
Sturm’s write-up after the Oakland pre-season game offers twelve tidbits worth reading. We’ll quote one of his positive comments.
It was certainly wonderful to look at this offense once again with Dak Prescott at the helm. If you include what we saw last week without Ezekiel Elliott and then what we saw this week with the RB that may-or-may-not be in tow when they play the Giants, it is clear that this offense is prepared to remain one of the heavyweights in the whole league at moving the football, controlling the clock, and putting up points. I really appreciate their style and their balance and their disposition. The best part is dominating 1st down which not only shortens your 3rd downs, but often prevents them altogether. This is not easy. Many teams in this league make offense look incredibly difficult. But, because of the enormous amount of talent this team has assembled on that side of the ball, they are a thing of beauty. On Saturday, they unleashed all of their personnel groupings and all of the different looks that are built on keeping the defense in a bind that is next to impossible to predict what is coming next. I was quite impressed in their action what they can do. They will be a handful again in 2017.
The Cowboys' ageless tight end is looking primed for a bounce-back season. It would certainly be nice to get his yards per catch back above 10. When was the last time we saw this kind of down-the-field pass to Witten? Other than the Cleveland game last year, it hasn’t happened often enough.
Jaylon Smith worked with the first-team at middle linebacker for the second consecutive day Tuesday, as he looks to take plenty of snaps early in the season. That’s not to say that Hitchens won’t be missed.
"I think he's really ready to give us quality snaps out there," Jones said of Smith. "All you've got to do is watch him get there and watch him wrap and see what a physical force he is out there. So, with him and Durant, I think we're in great shape.
"We're so excited Hitchens' injury could have him back as early as five or six games. That's critical to us. As we all know, this is a marathon. And what you have right today or next week compared to what you're going to need around the first of February if you go that far in the playoffs is daylight and dark. So, we feel really lucky and happy that Hitchens is going to be there for us later."
Jerry Jones said Saturday night that the Cowboys would not be releasing Cooper Rush when they trim their roster down from 90 to 53 by Saturday, but it looks like they will also take Kellen Moore.
"I'm just excited that we've got on this roster the potential of Rush now to go with Dak [Prescott], and of course Moore we always thought that he brought the knowledge and the ability to execute the offense to the table," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan's Shan and RJ show [KRLD-FM]. "So, I look at it as though we, at the key position, the hardest one to find in all of football, we've all of a sudden really gotten really serious depth or serious long-term potential here."
Ezekiel Elliott's appeal hearing to challenge his six-game suspension by the NFL started Tuesday, but may take a couple more days before it is in Harold Henderson’s hands.
The carryover pushes the wait for Henderson's decision ever closer to Dallas' season opener, Sept. 10 against the New York Giants.
Final roster cuts are made Saturday, so the Cowboys may have to hold an active roster spot for Elliott and cut another player. If Elliott's suspension is upheld, he'll be moved to the reserve/suspended list. If there's no ruling, the Cowboys could begin game prep and factor in the chance Elliott could play.
Henderson doesn't have to issue his written ruling by any deadline after the hearing is completed other than "as soon as practicable," according to the collective bargaining agreement.
We’ve heard very little from the Cowboys owner since the league suspended Ezekiel Elliott, but he opened up today.
"Unfortunately you get confused in this conversation," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. "Every person that has any sense at all understands domestic violence and abhors it. On the other hand, I've had a lot of experience in this area. For 10 years before I bought the Cowboys I was the head of battered women of Arkansas. I raised more money and been in more safe houses than a lot of people that talk about it and so it's a terrible problem.
"On the other hand with what we are today and what we're trying to be relative to addressing it in the league, [it] has all kinds of issues and it should. It's a very complicated issue because you have no evidence here. That's all I want to say about it. But it creates quite a convoluted approach by Zeke's representatives and by the league that I really hate is a focus of all of our attention. I do. Even though others would say that the issue needs this kind of focus and you're using the NFL for visibility."
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said he stands behind his running back as Ezekiel Elliott appeals his six-game suspension.
"We've talked a little bit before he left and then [I] just sent him 'good luck,' this morning, not exactly knowing what he's going through but I support him," Prescott said.
The Cowboys are preparing for Ezekiel Elliott to serve his full six-game suspension and feel their backup running backs are ready for extra duty.
There is no timetable for arbitrator Harold Henderson to make a decision on whether to uphold, rescind or reduce Elliott's six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Team officials do not know if the announcement will come before they need to cut the roster from 90 players to 53 on Saturday.
If the suspension is upheld or reduced, Elliott would revert to the reserve/suspended list. As it stands currently, he would not be able to rejoin the Cowboys until Oct. 23 and to play Oct. 29 against the Washington Redskins.
The Cowboys held their last practice before the final pre-season game on Thursday. Is the offensive line finally settled?
First-team offensive line: LT-Tyron Smith, LG-Jonathan Cooper, C-Travis Frederick, RG-Zack Martin, RT-La'el Collins— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 29, 2017
Good for Xavier Woods. Bad for Kellen Moore.
Xavier Woods just intercepted Kellen Moore in red zone portion of team drills— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 29, 2017
A Jourdan Lewis sighting?
Good sign for Jourdan Lewis (hamstring), getting in some punt return work pic.twitter.com/0gclT6O5Ta— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 29, 2017
The next time the Cowboys practice, they will have cut down their roster and will be looking ahead to the Giants game.
The team held its last of six scheduled training camp practices Tuesday inside Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, culminating five weeks of workouts split between the franchise’s new world headquarters and their annual training base in Oxnard, Calif.
The Cowboys’ open practices at Ford Center were the first camp practices ever held by the team in the North Texas area.
"It's been great,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “Training camp has been really, really good, the environments that we practice in in Oxnard. Even when we practiced in Cleveland at Case Western Reserve (prior to the Hall of Fame Game) and then back here at The Star. It's been outstanding. And our players and coaches have responded really well to it.
Proceeds from Thursday's preseason tilt between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans will benefit the victims of historic flooding in southeast Texas, the Texans announced Tuesday.
“Game proceeds, representing contributions by both clubs and the players, will be donated to the United Way of Greater Houston Relief Fund that supports the efforts of the Red Cross and The Salvation Army for Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery along the Texas Gulf Coast,” the Texans said in a press release.