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Cowboys News: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott looking to turn things around vs. Cardinals

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott look forward to providing answers after week of questions - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys are ready to move on to Arizona and expect to bounce back from last week's game.

“We’re a very strong team. I think we respond well with adversity,” Elliott said. “We’ve had bad weeks offensively before. You’ve got to take that on the chin. You’ve got to get back in here and you’ve got to get to work, focus on the next weekend, making sure we don’t go out there and perform like that again. We’ve got to get started early and make sure we execute throughout the game.”

A prevailing theory from the 42-17 loss to Denver is that the Broncos offered up a blueprint to stop the Cowboys. Arizona coach Bruce Arians debunked that theory, unless “you can borrow Denver’s players.”

Prescott doesn’t believe a blueprint has been devised.

“I don’t buy into that. I think we just didn’t play our game and we didn’t execute the way that we should or we normally do,” he said. “I kind of encourage teams and hope teams give us that same scheme and those same matchups. I’m not buying it.”

Neither was Elliott.

“I mean, every week people stack up against our offense,” Elliott said. “It’s not something we’ve seen for the first time. It may have been the first time that it’s worked that successfully, but teams do that every week. So I don’t think there’s any blueprint to stopping us. I think it all comes down to how we go out there and execute.”

Scout’s Eye: Winning On First Down - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Win on first down and things will fall into place on offense, Broaddus explains.

The Cowboys’ offensive identity is their ability to successfully run the ball, especially on early downs. Despite those issues against the Broncos, the Cowboys still rush the ball for 4-plus yards on first down 54 percent of the time -- so that’s a positive sign. When the Cowboys are humming on offense, they’re winning on those early downs running the ball and that sets up the other downs.

When they don’t stay ahead of the chains is where they get crushed. Opponents have put Dak Prescott in some tough situations to have to convert, especially on third downs. When opponents have blitzed him, he has a rating of 61.9, while the league average is 91.6.

For the Cowboys to win this game, it’s going to come down to the ability to figure out this Cardinals’ defense especially on first down. Win there and it sets you up for other opportunities on second and third downs, where the Cardinals struggle playing pass defense.

Cowboys offensive line knows it has to improve - Todd Archer, ESPN
Cowboys center Travis Frederick said the lack of an effective running game against the Broncos "counts as a group failure."

“It comes down to everybody doing their job on every play,” Frederick said. “It might be one guy [making a mistake] one play and it might be the next guy on the next play. As far as grading out, it might not be that bad, but when you look at it as a group, the way it all fits together as one, if you say our group had a failure, then that counts as a group failure and we didn’t play very well.”

Here’s the secret to Demarcus Lawrence’s domination on defense - Drew Davison, Star-Telegram
Lawrence explains why he's off to such a strong start:

“The key is my back is feeling good,” Lawrence said. “And I’m paying more attention to details. It’s slowing the game down a lot for me. Plus, my coaches and my players are helping me get in the right position to make plays.”

“It’s a contract year. So what?” Lawrence said. “I want to be here forever. This year don’t define me as a player. Y’all might say it’s because it’s a contract year, but the first year I was balling. My second year I was balling. My third year I had trouble with my back, so it didn’t seem like I was there. This year doesn’t define me.”

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli agreed.

“You know, all of a sudden, oh, he’s playing good because it’s his contract ... sometimes that’s an insult to a man,” Marinelli said. “I think to him it would be because two years ago he had an unbelievable season. He had the eight sacks that year and played lights out. His rookie year, he was beat up and all those things, you remember the Detroit game [in the playoffs]? Dropped the fumble and then came back and had a sack-fumble and recovered it? Showed his character is off the charts.

Dez Bryant Feeling No Pressure to Deliver Big Numbers Against Arizona - J.J. Taylor, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Dez Bryant, who’s off to a slow start, said he’s not feeling any pressure to put up big numbers against the Cardinals.

“Of course that's not acceptable, but this is the National Football League," Bryant said of his numbers.

"Things are going to go right and then when they do, it's going to be the exact opposite and everything is going to be great. You got to treat the lows like the highs and highs like the lows. That's what it's about.

“This is minor. That is minor to us. If we focus on that, pay attention to that, we are just feeding into what everybody is talking about. We can't do none of that. We understand how this game goes. These are great football players and great teams we are going up against. It's not just me and him. It's everything. It's 11 guys versus 11 guys. That's the last thing on our mind because we know when it hits, it hits.”


Cowboys get Scandrick back among injury-plagued cornerbacks - Shuyler Dixon, Associated Pressd
Orlando Scandrick is ready to go against the Cardinals.

"Eager to get back and get things on the right track," said Scandrick, the veteran leader of the secondary who was injured in a season-opening win over the New York Giants. "Good defense we're playing. And it's our job to outplay their defense."

Bene Benwikere, acquired in a trade with Cincinnati just before the season, is likely to be active for the first time if Nolan Carroll (concussion) and rookie Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) can't play against the Cardinals.

Carroll and Awuzie were gone before halftime against the Broncos and missed the first two practices this week.

Appeals court to hear oral arguments in Ezekiel Elliott case on October 2nd - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
The next stage of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension has been set.

Based on this timeline Elliott will be able to play for the next two weeks at minimum. The Cowboys play games against the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams in that span.


C.J. Anderson: Fastest I ran all game vs. Cowboys was to meet Jason Witten – Michael Smith, ProFootballTalk
Nice story of Broncos running back C.J. Anderson, for whom meeting a childhood idol was the biggest thrill of Sunday's game.

Anderson, whose Broncos beat the Cowboys on Sunday, couldn’t wait to meet Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who’s been in the NFL since Anderson was 12 years old.

“After the game, I saw him in the tunnel, and I literally did sprint, that was the fastest I ran the whole game, just to shake his hand and tell him how much I appreciate him, and thank him for being such a great role model,” Anderson told NFL Media.

Tony Romo’s greatest feat as a broadcaster was explaining how Bill Belichick screws with opponents - Ryan van Bibber, SBNation.com
Two weeks into his broadcasting career, Tony Romo has already established himself as one of the game's premier voices, and if you haven't watched/listened to a Romo-moderated game, perhaps you should tune in to Bengals vs. Packers on Sunday - you're bound to be impressed, Cowboys fan or not.

In this article, van Bibber gushes about Romo's abilities behind the mic, and showcases Romo's broadcasting acumen on a play in which Romo explains a defensive call by the Patriots.

The most pleasant surprise of the NFL season so far has been Tony Romo’s Madden-esque color commentary. Hands down.

His weekly display of broadcasting greatness started when he predicted that Drew Brees would throw a touchdown pass to Brandon Coleman in the second quarter. His soothsaying was on display last week too. He’s watching the field, how defenses and offenses line up and presenting that information to you from the quarterback’s point of view. That’s just not what we’re expecting to get from a color guy; it’s a hundred times better.

Romo’s ability to demystify the game went to another level later on, when the Patriots had things well in hand against the Saints. What did he do that topped predicting plays? Oh, not much ... he only explained what the hell Bill Belichick was thinking.

Brown defends block on Miller: ‘The block I did was legal.’ - Drew Davison, Star-Telegram
The block might have looked awkward, and Von Miller certainly didn't like it, but it wasn't illegal.

“I saw that he was critical of it. He did fall a little bit funny,” said Brown, a seventh-round pick out of Ohio State who was making his NFL debut.

“But I had no ill intentions. The block that I did was legal. There was no flag, no penalty, no fine. I hope he’s all right. I hope he has a great season. There was no ill intentions.”


Emmitt Smith on the most intense negative media coverage he received in 15-year career - Staff, SportsDay
Smith explains how the constant second-guessing by the media got to him when he was playing injured in 1996. And keep in mind, that was before parts of the media covering the Cowboys were trying to "establish a brand" with their constant negativity.

"I didn't know how badly sprained my ankle really was. So I struggled the whole entire season. I actually broke a bone spur in the ankle that was sprained. I was diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain and so forth and tried to practice, tried to play and perform.

"I was basically relegated to running on one leg not having power, not having the ability to make people miss and so forth.

"I struggled the whole entire season and the media just went nuts in terms of, 'He's running on empty; his best days are behind him; he'll never be the same running back; maybe it's time for the Cowboys to let him go; he's had too many carries.' And all this stuff.

"As a player it didn't feel good. All the negativity with the people not knowing the truth about how severely bad my ankle really was. It was so bad that at the end of the season I had to have surgery on it.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott look forward to turning things around - Todd Archer, ESPN
If you feel like many media members, observers, and even fans are waiting with bated breath to see Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott cut down to size, you're not alone.

As the Cowboys get ready to play the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night, it's almost as if the goodwill Elliott and Prescott generated over their rookie seasons, which helped the Cowboys finish 13-3 and earned them Pro Bowl appearances, is forgotten -- at least from outside The Star and by a certain segment of the fandom.

Finally humbled, Cowboys’ Prescott and Elliott look to respond - Associated Press, Arizona Sports
This is exactly what Archer is talking about: The author here seems to suggests that putting the two former rookies in their place is a good thing, and was long overdue anyway.

Dak Prescott didn’t need long to answer whether Dallas’ 42-17 loss to Denver was his most humbling day in the NFL.

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona’s 10-time Pro Bowl receiver, didn’t have much sympathy for Prescott’s “probably so” in reference to the first blowout loss for last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and fellow first-year star Ezekiel Elliott, the league rushing champion.

“I would say they’re damn lucky,” Fitzgerald said. “It took them 18 regular-season games to be humbled. I got my humble pie Week 2 of my rookie year — a big, big dose of it. Then it happened a few more times my rookie season.”


Eli Manning Is Profoundly Mediocre - Ty Schalter, FiveThirtyEight
This article gets a nice introduction from Scott Kacsmar on Football Outsiders:

Ty Schalter writes an article that politely points out what I've been saying for over a decade: Eli Manning is not, and never really was, a top quarterback. But that there is still value in that. We already knew that, of course, but folks like us tend to get drowned out by the "two rings" crowds and/or the shouting from over-the-top NY media rags. So it's nice to see an even-handed and not overly pejorative article about it.

A more succinct summary comes from a reader of The Ringer:

[Eli Manning] is two Hail Marys away from being Kerry Collins.

An excerpt from the article:

Manning has been reliably, and historically, mediocre.

Only 10 quarterbacks in NFL history have started at least 200 games, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, and the list is a who’s who of all-time legends: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Warren Moon and John Elway. And Eli Manning. And, OK, Vinny Testaverde — but still.

Save Eli Manning and Testaverde, all have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or are virtually certain to be.

Among that group, Eli Manning ranks either last, or ahead of only Testaverde, in nearly every season-indexed rate stat: completion rate, yards per attempt, interception rate, passer rating, adjusted yards per attempt, net yards per attempt and adjusted net yards per attempt.

But Manning is not just terrible at being great — he regularly tests the lower boundaries of even being good.

Machota: Why I feel the Giants are no longer Cowboys' greatest challenge in NFC East - Staff, SportsDay
No kidding.