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Cowboys News: Why Byron Jones is killing it; how Ezekiel Elliott wins ‘em; Dez Bryant back to Dallas?

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Plus, is Sean Lee back yet?

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant might want to play for the Dallas Cowboys again - RJ Ochoa, Blogging the Boys
Dez Bryant remains a free agent, and speculation about where he might sign just reached a whole new level.

Dez has always loved being part of the Cowboys so it makes sense that they would be his preferred destination. Could it happen? He and Jerry Jones were hanging out at a Beyonce concert recently (seriously), so anything is possible.

Would you want Dez back?

Dez Bryant wants to play for Cowboys again - C.L. Kohuss, Fansided
But why?

After an off-season full of venom directed at ex-Dallas Cowboys teammates, notably Sean Lee, wide receiver Dez Bryant looks to be having a case of the take-backsies.

As a refresher, Bryant was released way before training camp, has been offered deals and turned them down, he’s made visits to the Cleveland Browns and he’s even not so subtly reached out to the New England Patriots.

The real question is would the Cowboys welcome him back. And the answer to that is likely no. Color us shocked if it were to happen. Dallas and the Jones family seem to have completely moved on, despite the need for a legit threat at receiver.


Film room: Breaking down best plays in Cowboys victory - John Owning, SportsDay
Owning explains what Dak Prescott and Scott Linehan did to revive the offense.

Many clamored for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to totally revamp his system and playbook. Instead, Linehan decided to use familiar concepts -- such as play-action, up-tempo offense and pre-snap motion -- more frequently against the Lions.

Dallas utilized the play-action passing game on 35.5 percent of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, a considerable jump from Dallas' previous play-action pass rate (22.1 percent of dropbacks in Weeks 1-3). Dallas averaged 12.6 yards per play, giving the offense the ability to gain chunk yardage throughout the game. Furthermore, the Cowboys used more no-huddle offense and pre-snap motion (28 times against Detroit; 24 was previous high) than they had in the prior week. That gave Prescott easier and more defined options in the passing game.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott needs to get back to the deep ball - Ben Cooper, Pro Football Focus
PFF explains that Dak Prescott has been one of the best in the NFL when it comes to throwing the ball deep, but he's been reluctant to push the ball down the field in 2018.

It’s not just a problem because Prescott isn’t throwing it — it’s a problem because his deep ball has been routinely above-average in his career. Among quarterbacks with 75 or more attempts of 20 or more yards in the air since 2015, Prescott is fourth in passer rating (115.6) and has 11 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

The expected question that should follow after seeing the immense success he’s had: What’s causing Prescott’s reluctance to throw deep this year? It could be the stout secondaries he’s faced so far. His first four opponents have combined on deep throws to allow just three touchdowns with eight interceptions. But in the NFL, testing a secondary often yields a big play eventually, no matter how sturdy that secondary may be.


Cowboys don’t expect Sean Lee back this week - Josh Alper, NBC Sports
The Cowboys won without Sean Lee last week, something that’s been near impossible in recent years. And it looks like the Cowboys will have to try and do that again this week.

Lee hurt his hamstring against the Seahawks in Week Three and was ruled out well ahead of kickoff in Week Four. During an appearance on 103.5 The Fan Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones all but ruled him out for this week as well.

“It would surprise me to see Sean back this week,” Jones said.

What does the return of David Irving from a suspension mean for the Cowboys? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Encouraging news about Irving.

“He brings a little more fear for the offensive line,” Tyrone Crawford said. Crawford said Irving is in “way better shape,” than he was in the spring when he weighed more than 300 pounds.

The Cowboys have an exemption for Irving this week but if he plays Sunday at Houston, they will have to create a spot on the 53-man roster for him.


Ezekiel Elliott injury news: ‘Banged up’ but OK - Mike Fisher, 247 Sports
Elliott had himself a big game against the Lions and now leads the league in rushing by a wide margin. However, he may find himself on the injury report this week.

“He is banged up, but not to the extent ... relative to Sunday,’’ said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in his Tuesday morning visit with 105.3 The Fan. “I do want that kind of workload for him. He’s healthy, he’s very physical. You (as a defender) take more than you give out when contesting Zeke. He wins ‘em. That takes its toll on the defense and inspires his teammates. We’ve got an outstanding player who plays football by its definition. So yes, we should use him.’’

Ted Nguyen’s Film Room: The most interesting plays from Week 4 – Ted Nguyen, The Athletic
Nguyen's summary includes Ezekiel Elliott as a receiver and an underhanded compliment for Scott Linehan.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has taken a lot of heat for his unimaginative offense in the first few weeks of the season. Though he has a long way to go to prove the naysayers wrong, he put together a pretty creative game plan against the Lions. A crux of that plan was deploying running back Ezekiel Elliott as a weapon in the passing game. He finished with 88 yards receiving and 240 total yards.

Down by one point with 1:23 left in the game, the Cowboys lined up in an empty formation with Elliott in the slot to the right. The Lions initially disguised their coverage with a 2-deep safety look before shifting into a Cover 1 (man-to-man with one deep safety) at the snap of the ball. Linebacker Jarrad Davis (No. 40) was assigned to cover Elliott, which is a big mismatch. Davis is an athletic freak but his technique in coverage has been shoddy since his days in college.

Elliott ran a slot fade route. Davis took a couple of slow shuffles but failed to turn and burst when Elliott closed in on him. Elliott easily ran by him. Quarterback Dak Prescott did a good job of holding the safety by looking to the other side of the field before hitting Elliott perfectly on the outside shoulder.

This was a difficult pass for a running back to catch. Elliott had to track the ball and make an adjustment to his outside shoulder. Running backs don’t make these type of catches often but Elliott rewarded Linehan’s faith in him and he did it in a crucial moment in the game to set the Cowboys up for the game-winning field goal.


Byron Jones is getting the Richard Sherman treatment - @PFF_Cowboys
Last week brought the announcement that Pro Football Focus graded Byron Jones as the best cornerback in the NFL through three games. Apparently, Detroit got the memo when they made their gameplan for the Cowboys.

Cowboys' Byron Jones is turning into one of the NFL's best cornerback - Brandon George, SportsDay
High praise from Rod Marinelli, who is known for his tough grading of players after games.

"Byron Jones is killing it right now," Marinelli said.

Byron Jones said he's also been able to thrive this season because the Cowboys are playing much more press coverage.

"I like being up at the line of scrimmage challenging the receivers and I have the attributes to do so," Byron Jones said. "It works to my advantage. I'm a big, long corner. I can run a little bit. I can put hands on these guys, and it kind of disrupts the quarterback-receiver timing.


Jerry Jones: Texans are like a relative or brother, ‘you want to beat them as bad, almost worse, than anybody’ - Jon Machota, SportsDay Dallas
The in-state Houston Texans are next on the schedule for Dallas, and while there’s not really much of a true rivalry between these teams, the battle for the heart of Texas is nevertheless important.

“Consequently, it’s like playing a relative or a brother, you want to beat them as bad, almost worse, than anybody. So I’d like to go down there and come out of there with a win for all those reasons, but mainly because it would give us 3-2. And I have a lot of respect for them. I have a lot of respect for that quarterback, and we all know they have some defensive players that are really phenomenal. It’s just going to be another game that we’re going to have to be ready to go right down to the wire.”