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Cowboys News: How the “Fantastic Five” have prepared quarterback Dak Prescott

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Explore a side of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott you haven’t seen before, straight from his childhood friends - Jori Epstein, SportsDay

Epstein writes a great piece on how Dak’s childhood friends have made him both the quarterback and the person that he is today.

To really get to know Dak Prescott, start with the Fantastic Five.

Prescott’s childhood teammates remain to this day his best friends. He’s Superman to them for all the times he carried them on his shoulders. Sticky-handed receiver Trent Jacobs was Spiderman. Shifty slot receiver Jordan Craft was Flash. Damon Gladney stretched for so many receptions he became Mr. Fantastic. And few could stop three-phase, jack-of-all trades Marlon Seets, christened Mr. Incredible.

To understand why the Cowboys want Superman at the helm as their franchise quarterback, we asked the friends who knew him as Clark Kent. As Prescott returned to hometown Haughton for his youth camp last week, the Fantastic Five shared new stories and insight.

[...]

“I think about moments in high school, I think about the teammates I had in high school and making the relationships the same in the NFL,” Prescott said.

”I think if I can have half a bit of the relationship off the field in the NFL that we had here in high school,” he continued, “that’s a championship team.”

Dak Prescott enters proving ground in 2018 - Cody Williams, NFL Spin Zone

The 2018 season gives Dak an opportunity to prove himself again to the NFL world.

All of this obviously puts Prescott, once again, in a position where he’s going to be set up to succeed. In the same vein, however, that means that the pressure is going to be dialed up on the Cowboys quarterback.

The truth of the matter is that, despite back-to-back winning seasons as the starter to begin his career, not everyone is sold on the idea of Dak as a franchise quarterback. Whether that’s fair or not is irrelevant, it’s just the facts. Thus, the new-look offense that now has personnel and assumedly a scheme that is better tailored to him leaves him with few excuses. If he fails, the blame will more squarely be placed on him.

You could certainly argue that Prescott has already proved himself worthy to be the guy in Dallas — I happen to be of that belief, for what it’s worth. However, this is America’s team where you’re always under the microscope, especially when you’re the quarterback.

RPOs – what they are, which NFL team used them best in 2017? - Michael Renner, Pro Football Focus
When Dak Prescott was asked in February what "Dak-friendly" means he started talking about the Chiefs and the Panthers.

"I think it just means if you watch a little bit of maybe what the Panthers are doing or what the Chiefs did, just the RPOs, the run-pass options, just allowing me to use my feet if necessary more," Prescott said. "Allow me to go out there and be more comfortable in everything I'm doing."

Per PFF, the Chiefs and Panthers ranked 2nd and 4th respectively in RPO plays last year. Here's what could be in store for the Cowboys if they include more RPO Plays in their playbook this year:

The conclusion here is quite obvious: run-pass options, similar to read-options, produce vastly superior results to traditional runs. League-wide last season, RPOs gained 5.01 yards per play compared to 3.95 yards per carry on handoffs with no option look (even taking away short yardage situations that number only goes to 4.14 yards per carry). One might respond ‘duh, you’re including pass plays.’ To which I’d reply that’s precisely the point. Those passes are essentially an extension of the run game and a very high percent completion rate because they are throws any quarterback in the league should be able to make (screens/slants/etc.). The league-wide average depth of target on RPOs was 1.85 yards downfield and they only get thrown if the run is unlikely to be successful.


With Kam Chancellor seemingly departing Seattle, will this influence how the Seahawks handle Earl Thomas? - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
There are conflicting reports this morning about whether Chancellor is indeed done playing. In any case, if he is done, the Seahawks could handle Earl Thomas one of two ways, and Ochoa explains.

The Seahawks might not want to purge the entire Legion of Boom all at once: It might be too daunting for the Seahawks to rip the entire band-aid off all at once. Maybe they think they’re good enough to compete, or maybe they just aren’t ready to say goodbye to everyone all at once, but maybe they feel something else.

Seattle might now be in a fire sale sort of mood. There’s already a large level of logic to trading away Earl Thomas for the Seahawks. For one, he’s holding out and wants a new deal that they don’t want to give him. Secondly, it doesn’t seem like Seattle is going to pay him and his deal is up next offseason. Why not cash out now for whatever you can instead of being left hanging a year from now after a year of simply treading water?

Playoffs or coaching search: Why the 2018 season is Jason Garrett’s last chance - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay

While the upcoming season is certainly huge for Dak, it may be even more important for Jason Garrett and his coaching career.

It’s that one magical playoff run that has eluded Garrett, not to mention the four Cowboys coaches who preceded him. Another failure will cause Jones to look elsewhere. The steady-as-he-goes Garrett has a better overall record than Wade Phillips, a better regular-season record than Jimmy Johnson.

But we know which of those two is more closely associated with Garrett and which really never gets mentioned in the same sentence with him, thanks to back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

If Garrett coaches much longer without winning games in January -- he’s 1-2 in the playoffs -- he starts to move into strange company. The only coaches in league history with more wins than Garrett and fewer postseason wins -- that would be zero -- are Marvin Lewis and Jim Mora. There are only a handful of 1-playoff game winners ahead of Garrett including Phillips, Sid Gillman, Jack Pardee and Jack Del Rio.

Cowboys’ main concern may be tight end, not wide receiver - Ryan Ratty, BTB

In order for both Dak and Garrett to succeed in 2018, a pass catcher needs to emerge. Ryan writes that tight end is a bigger concern that wide receiver.

While the wide receiver and tight end positions have both lost their two figureheads, the Cowboys have invested more resources into improving the wide receiver position, yet that it the one that most people are criticizing the Cowboys for. Comparing the two positions, Dallas made significant efforts to fix the receiver position once Bryant was released. They signed Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency then used two draft picks on Gallup and Wilson. There were serious moves and decisions made to shore up the receiver position. Conversely, when thinking about the tight end position, the Cowboys just added Stanford’s Dalton Schultz in the fourth round of the draft.

It is not an indictment on Schultz, his talent, or his potential. He is a fine prospect coming from a school that has famously pumped talent into the NFL at the position. Stanford head coach David Shaw was extremely high on Schultz, labeling him as the “most complete” tight end Stanford had in recent years. He was not a dynamic, vertical pass-catcher in college, but he displayed potential within the seams and in the slot thanks to his natural athleticism and his soft hands.

Now with the Cowboys, what kind of role can ex-Packers LB Joe Thomas carve out for himself in Dallas? - Jori Epstein, SportsDay

Overlooked by other acquisitions, how will Joe Thomas — no, not that Joe Thomas — fit with the Cowboys this season?

2018 outlook: The Cowboys signed Thomas in free agency as insurance after linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber left for Kansas City and Oakland, respectively. They then also selected linebacker Leighton Vander Esch from Boise State in the first round of the draft. Right now, Thomas is projected to back up Jaylon Smith at strongside linebacker. Damien Wilson and Justin March-Lillard are also projected to be in the mix for linebacker help on defense and special teams while Sean Lee and Vander Esch join Jaylon Smith as Rod Marinelli’s starting base 4-3 defense. Thomas will compete in training camp for those reps as well.

Look: Cowboys’ Tyron Smith doesn’t often look tiny, except next to Shaq - Drew Davison, The Star-Telegram

In other news, look at how small Tyron Smith looks next to Shaq!

At 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith is a monster of a man. He’s the most physically imposing player on the team.

But Smith finally found someone who can make him look like a baby brother — NBA great Shaquille O’Neal.

The man. The myth. The legend.

A post shared by Tyron Smith (@tyronsmith77) on


The Shameful Enabling of Jameis Winston - Robert Mays, The Ringer
Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension is just the latest example of the NFL's inability to properly enforce its personal conduct policy. May explains why the suspension is the latest example of the NFL’s hypocrisy—and presents a look at the systemic failures in several organizations.

After Tom Brady was accused of plotting to deflate footballs in 2015, he was unwilling to show the same contrition. Brady was suspended four games after a prolonged legal battle.

Former Giants kicker Josh Brown was accused of (and admitted to in journal entries) repeatedly assaulting his now-ex-wife; he was initially suspended a single game in 2016, before the league tacked on six games a year later (when Brown, notably, wasn’t on an NFL roster).

Ezekiel Elliott was given a six-game punishment last season on the heels of an investigation into multiple accounts of violence against an ex-girlfriend.

And Martavis Bryant was suspended for all of 2016 for missing multiple drug tests for marijuana.

Attempting to find consistency here is a fool’s errand. Apparently violations of drug policies get you crushed, while those violating the league’s nebulous conduct policy are reprimanded differently, depending on their willingness to repent at the feet of Goodell, the Great Decider.

The ruling—and the settlement that led to it—reveals systemic failures by every institution involved. That begins with the NFL, as this represents the latest instance of the league’s maddening inability to properly adjudicate the personal conduct policy that it put into place in December 2014. That policy appears to mandate a six-game suspension for violations such as Winston’s. Yet Winston will serve half that time because he was willing to offer a half-hearted apology to commissioner Roger Goodell and the powers that be. To anyone with even a tenuous grasp of reason, this makes zero sense.