Don't sleep on Dak Prescott in 2018 - Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Brooks offers three reasons why Dak Prescott will be better in 2018 than he was in 2017.
I find it interesting that so many skeptics question whether Prescott can guide the Dallas Cowboys' offense without a real WR1 on the field. I've previously outlined why the offense will function just fine without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, but I really believe Prescott is capable of doing some Tom Brady-like things in 2018, thanks to his increased comfort level with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
1. With that in mind, I would expect Prescott to take another step in his development entering his third season in the same system. Granted, that system is being retrofitted to better suit No. 4's game after originally being designed with Tony Romo in mind. That's even more reason to believe Dak will break out in 2018.
2. Based on the numbers from his first two seasons, Prescott is at his best when he spreads the ball around to a variety of playmakers, as opposed to just force-feeding the ball to a designated No. 1 guy. [...] That's why Prescott has downplayed the loss of Bryant at every turn: The force-feeding approach actually hindered his game. Despite targeting No. 88 on 133 pass attempts last year, Dak only hooked up with Dez on 51.8 percent of those throws. By comparison, Ben Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown at a 62.3 percent rate, while Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen had a 64.1 percent clip.
3. Another reason Prescott will flourish in 2018? A full season of Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. His presence completely changes how opponents defend the offense. The 2016 NFL rushing leader will force opponents to play more "plus-one" fronts with single-high safety coverage. This will create more one-on-one opportunities for the Cowboys' unsung WR corps.
With the quarterback intent on getting the ball to the first receiver to come open -- instead of force-feeding it to Bryant -- the Dallas' offense could look like a ball-movement NBA squad with No.4 playing point guard. Considering the Golden State Warriors' success with that approach, the Cowboys could see Prescott channel his inner Steph Curry while directing a retooled offense in 2018.
Predicting the Fate of the NFL's Young QBs in Prove-It Years - Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report
This Bleacher Report writer doesn't think much of the arguments Brooks offered.
Yes, Prescott will have Ezekiel Elliott back for the entire season after Elliott was suspended six games a year ago. And the Cowboys possess one of the NFL's best offensive lines. But with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, the Cowboys' receiving corps is one huge question mark. There's no go-to receiver, and the entire group has combined for all of one 1,000-yard season (Allen Hurns, 2015).
This Cowboys team won't make the playoffs this year.
Two Cowboys offseason losses that are being overblown - Kevin Sherington, SportsDay
Sherrington doesn't think the receiving corps is “one huge question mark”.
Q: Which veteran will be missed more this season -- Dez on offense or Scandrick on defense?
Kevin Sherrington: Frankly, I think the loss of both has been overblown. Scandrick is the better player of the two at the moment. Or at least I think he'll have a better season. Dez needs a QB who gets him, like Tony Romo did. Even at that, I don't think he's the same WR he used to be, at least physically.
The Cowboys WR corps may not be very good, but it wasn't very good last year, either. I don't know why people don't see that. This is a running team. When the running game is good, it frees up the WRs. Witten is the bigger loss, because there's almost no experience coming in behind him. They've got some good young DBs and some promise at WR. I don't see the same at TE.
Here's why the Cowboys don't need a No. 1 wide receiver to make a Super Bowl run - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay
Gosselin sets out to "explode the myth that you need that franchise wide receiver to win a championship."
There have been 18 Super Bowl champions since 2000. Seven of the champs did not have a 1,000-yard receiver, and 11 of them didn't have a wideout catch at least 80 passes. Only two of the last 18 champions had wide receivers voted to the Pro Bowl -- the Packers with Greg Jennings in 2010 and the Colts with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in 2006.
The game has changed. With four- and five-receivers now in most passing sets, the quarterback has more options. More players are going to catch more passes. You don't need to ask one receiver such as a Jerry Rice or an Irvin to put a team on his back and deliver a championship. You can spread the ball around to an Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor as the Eagles did last season and still get to where you want to go.
And that's the type of passing offense the Cowboys will have in 2018 with this young receiving corps. The ball will go where Dak Prescott's reads take him. It may be Cole Beasley one week and Michael Gallup the next.
Cowboys are barely in top half of opening odds to make the playoffs - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys are barely in the top half of the NFL as far as opening playoff odds. Do you think that’s fair or nah?
The Cowboys have the 16th-best odds at making the playoffs.
The Falcons, Ravens, Panthers, Packers, Texans, Jaguars, Chiefs, Chargers, Rams, Vikings, Patriots, Saints, Steelers, Eagles, and 49ers are who Dallas trails in terms of 2018 playoff odds. Almost half (seven) of the Cowboys season will be played against these teams, so at least it’s technically the minority.
The hottest seat in the NFL can be found in Dallas - Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
Freeman identifies Garrett as a hot-seat candidate, and then promptly proceeds to tells us why Garrett can be successful anyway.
Jason Garrett is 67-53 as the Cowboys head coach in the regular season, but since he took the job in 2010, the team has made only two playoff appearances (Dez Bryant caught it). That's not a stellar performance.
So perhaps it shouldn't be all that surprising that Garrett's name was among the two (the other was Green Bay's Mike McCarthy) several front office sources told me had the most pressure on them this coming season.
On the bright side, both have tools to save themselves. McCarthy has one of the best quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers) to ever play this game, and Garrett has a special QB (Dak Prescott) of his own, an all-world running back (Ezekiel Elliott) and, to me, an underrated defense. In other words, there are plenty of ways to lower the temperatures in Green Bay and Dallas this fall.
Playoffs or bust for Jason Garrett? - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Cowlishaw offers a very different take on whether Garrett is on a hot seat.
Q: Is 2018 "playoffs or bust" for head coach Jason Garrett?
Cowlishaw: It's a fair question to ask. I believe Jerry Jones has given us at least a couple of reasons to think that this coming season is anything but "playoffs or bust" for Garrett as he moves into his eighth full season as Cowboys head coach.
But at 75, I think the impatience that once led Jones to make head coaching moves on a revolving-door basis now compels him to believe Garrett has the answers and it's simply a matter of letting them fall into place, if not in this coming January then perhaps the next one.
Newly-acquired defensive tackle Jihad Ward is getting high praise from the media, coaches, and his teammates.
“A guy who can disrupt the running game,” Garrett said, “and affect the passer.” (His 14 stops and 18 quarterback hurries as a rookie support that.) Ward is projected to back up Maliek Collins at left defensive tackle. Between David Irving’s four-game suspension to start the season and Collins’ offseason foot injury potentially lasting through the start of training camp, Ward will have ample opportunity to show coaches what he’s got inside. And he’ll work against the best guard in the league in Zack Martin. Martin has faith: “He’s got that combination of leverage and strength and speed and quickness,” Martin raved. “I truly believe he’s going to be one of the top three-techs in the NFL.”
A healthy, productive Jaylon Smith could leave Cowboys with a problem they'd love to have - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Machota answered questions in a recent chat, one of them about Jaylon Smith.
Q: What can we expect from Jaylon Smith this season?
Jon Machota: I don't think anyone can accurately predict that at this point. He appears to be healthier than he has been at any point since he was drafted. Having the drop-foot brace off is obviously a great sign. What intrigues me at the moment is what if Smith, Sean Lee and Leighton Vander Esch are all healthy and playing well? How will they split up the playing time? It's unlikely the Cowboys will have three linebackers on the field very often. Lee is never coming off the field if healthy, so that leaves Vander Esch and Smith to split time in nickel situations, depending on Leighton's progress. But that's a problem the Cowboys would gladly welcome.
Mike Fisher of 247Sports gives his opinion on the rumors that DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys officials could be potentially meeting to negotiate a long-term contract before the July 16th deadline.
I’m told negotiations have gone nowhere all spring. The Cowboys will surely visit with Canter again before July 16, and as owner Jerry Jones likes to say, “Deadlines Make Deals.’’ Maybe the conversation will spin away from $17 mil a year and closer to what guard Zack Martin just signed for, about $14 mil a year. But more likely: Dallas will wait on Lawrence staging a repeat performance of 2017, when his career-best 14.5 sacks left him tied for second-most in the NFL and sent him to his first Pro Bowl ... and then make a decision after the season.
That decision could mean another franchise tag, it could mean that gigantic contract, or it could mean Tank’s eventual departure from Dallas.
The contract extensions talks between Demarcus Lawrence's camp & Cowboys reportedly happening next week probably won't get too far unless a Dallas offer is more than Olivier Vernon's 2016 deal ($17M-avg/$52.5M in guarantees/$40M-fully GTD). Lawrence & Vernon have the same agent.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) July 6, 2018
Bryan Broaddus and David Helman of the mothership answer some mailbag questions from Cowboys fans around the world. The Rico Gathers hype train will never die.. How much playing time do the two writers think he’ll get?
Bryan: He’s going to get a lot of time in the preseason regardless. Missing last season really hurt him on the development side. It might be too much for him to have to make up.
David: He’s not going to get any better without a ton of playing time, so yes I think you’re going to see plenty of him this year. If you recall, the Cowboys played him plenty last summer. It’s too soon to say where it’s going to go. I don’t know if there’ll be a trade or if he’ll make the team or what. But it starts with him getting a chance to show his stuff.
Hope I am wrong but carrying an extra QB and WR might lead to some number issues. https://t.co/nculx0EnCK— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) July 7, 2018
Hard to argue with Phantom’s list of names.
Zack Martin/Travis Frederick (G/C)
Zack Martin and Travis Frederick are included together because both are outstanding and both would likely have the same backup as Joe Looney and Marcus Martin have position flex to play center. It’s unclear who all makes the team on the interior offensive line, but it should include at least Joe Looney or Marcus Martin, if not both. While either are not terrible backups, the drop-off in talent from the All-Pros starters to the reserves is considerable.
DeMarcus Lawrence (DE)
The Cowboys have done a good job strengthening the depth on the edge recently. Draft investments like Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong as well as veteran free agent signing Kony Ealy give them solid depth at the position. In previous seasons, we’d all be happy about that type of depth filling in for a key starter, however, in previous years the team didn’t have a perennial pass rusher sitting out there on the edge. Thanks to a breakout season from DeMarcus Lawrence, the team now has someone they can’t afford to lose. We love the arsenal the team has within its rotation, but should something happen to Tank, the pass rushing battle just got a whole lot harder.
Ezekiel Elliott (RB)
A lot of people attribute last year’s failures to the loss of Ezekiel Elliott as his suspension marked a turning point for the Cowboys season. The team was just coming off a three-game winning streak, only to turn around and lose three straight once Elliott’s suspension took effect. In that span, the offense averaged seven points a game. But then, the Zeke-less Cowboys would turn around and win three straight again as the team would average 33 points a game. It appeared the team found a way to still win games without their star running back. As discussed already, the offensive woes had more to do with the absence of one of their top blockers than it did without their top ball carrier.