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Cowboys news: Cowboys plan to “sling it” against #1 rated Lions passing defense?

Dak Prescott looks to find rhythm on offense after three weeks of struggles.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott needs to 'start slinging it around' - Todd Archer- ESPN
QB Prescott and OC Scott Linehan have a plan to get the passing offense going with a few more "wrinkles".

“There’s going to be some different things I think you’ll see,” Prescott said. “More so, I guess, Scott’s kind of saying, ‘Us going out there and just playing and being ourselves.’ From the passing game, from the running game, from everything, just getting comfortable with everything that we’re going to do and, yeah, whatever he says, hopefully we sling it around just as much as he says.”

Will Cowboys offense 'start slinging it around' against first-ranked Detroit secondary?-David Moore- SportsDay
The Lions have been pretty great at stopping passing offenses and pretty poor at stopping the run. Apparently the Cowboys plan to sling it around, let's see if the bold strategy works.

“You start to press,” Linehan said. “I think our guys just need to basically take the weight of the world off their shoulders and go out and play. Just start slinging it around.

”They’re ready to do that.”

Here’s where Cowboys could have biggest advantage Sunday vs. Detroit -Jon Machota SportsDay
Cowboys should rethink “slinging it around” when they can pound it on the ground.

What are the Lions’ greatest strengths and weaknesses, defensively?

Rogers: They’re still figuring it out in Matt Patricia’s new scheme, but there’s a lot to like about the team’s secondary. Darius Slay is a legit star at cornerback and Quandre Diggs has really come into his own the past year or so as a versatile nickel/safety hybrid. He has a knack for big hits and big plays, but has really grown from a coverage standpoint.

The back end is tied together by Glover Quin, a cerebral, playmaking safety who has been underappreciated his entire career. He’s hit some rough patches adjusting to the new scheme, but played closer to his normal level last week against the Patriots.

As for the weakness, the team has really struggled stopping the run, especially outside the tackles. That seems problematic against the Cowboys.

Dak Prescott: Offense’s Issues A ‘Collection Of Execution’- Rob Phillips- Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott and his teammates believe that they have been the biggest failures in the offense and plan to execute better.

“It’s just getting everybody on the same page and letting them know, seeing how simple this play could’ve been a big play if this one job gets done,” he said. “It’s about everybody doing their 1/11, doing their one job and knowing collectively it’ll come together.”

The Dallas Cowboys Have Lost Their Identity -Robert Mays- The Ringer
Could a lack of play-action be a reason the Cowboys offense has such trouble returning to 2016 form?

On 40 dropbacks against Seattle (Prescott was sacked five times against a mediocre Seahawks front, but we’ll get to that later), Dallas used play-action on five passes. Five. For the season, Prescott has used play-action on 22.1 percent of his dropbacks, which ranks 19th among qualified quarterbacks, according to Pro Football Focus.

That rate hasn’t fallen off much since 2016—when he was at 24.2 percent—but what’s changed is the prevalence of play-action throughout the league. Two years ago, Dak’s percentage ranked fourth in the NFL. Through three games this season, that same rate would rank 14th. No QB averaged a play-action rate greater than 25 percent in 2016; 11 are topping that mark this season, including four players who use it on more than 30 percent of dropbacks. Rams QB Jared Goff, who plays in arguably the most innovative offense in football, leads the league at 36.8 percent. As teams have adopted this approach and made it their own, the play that was once the focal point of the Cowboys offense is now just another example of how far Garrett’s team has fallen behind.

Cowboys point/counterpoint: Is biggest problem coaching or execution? -Tom Ryle & Michael Strawn- Blogging The Boys
A debate on the state of the Cowboys. Who’s really causing these offensive catastrophes?

Tom: Here’s the problem I have with that. We don’t know what the coaches tried to prepare them for. They may have focused on how to handle Frank Clark all week - only to see players just run by him as he was headed in the opposite direction towards Dak. I’m fairly sure Sanjay Lal has continued to emphasize hanging onto the ball, but Michael Gallup and Zeke certainly didn’t. And I will guarantee that they are trying to get Prescott’s mechanics and processing speed better. It just isn’t taking.

Dallas Cowboys: Playoff odds depend on Detroit Lions game -Peter Dawson- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
How important is a Cowboys win on Sunday? Here's what the odds say about their postseason possibilities.

Right now, gives the Cowboys the worst odds to win the NFC East. gives the Cowboys a 28 percent chances to get into the postseason.

The site currently says the Cowboys, who are currently favored between three and four points by most oddsmakers, have a 62 percent chance to claim a victory this coming Sunday.

Only 28 out of the 207 playoff teams since 1990 have made the playoffs. That means that if the Cowboys lose on Sunday, history says they have around a 14 percent of securing a playoff berth.

Writer’s Blocks: Zeke's 30% of Cowboys offense, improved passing will improve everything- David Helman-Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott is already a huge part of the offense but when one side isn't working, it affects everything.

1. Let’s quit the hand-wringing over Ezekiel Elliott’s carry count for a second.

I feel strange typing that, because I’m typically the guy advocating for Zeke to touch the ball as many times as possible. But coming out of that loss in Seattle, I don’t know how you can argue that Zeke isn’t touching the ball enough.

He might have only taken 16 carries, but Elliott came out of that game with 127 yards, and the Cowboys ran for 166 yards as a whole. Of course, Elliott could have had more carries for more yards – but at some point, the passing game has to complement the running game in some form or fashion.

At 23.5 percent, the Cowboys have the second-worst third down percentage in the league. They have also run the third-fewest plays in the league, with just 165 snaps on the year. These two stats are obviously related.

As my esteemed colleague Todd Archer pointed out on Wednesday, Zeke’s rushing are still accounting for roughly 30 percent of the offense. It’s just that the Cowboys are running far fewer players because they can’t sustain drives.

Bottom line: Zeke’s numbers will be fine, provided the Cowboys can connect on enough passing plays to help him out.

Dallas Cowboys: Will RB Ezekiel Elliott ask for more carries? -Clarence Hill- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Ezekiel Elliott says he doesn't necessarily need more carries but the team just has to be better on offense.

“At the end of the day, if you go back and watch the film, it’s poor execution on offense,” Elliott said. “You can’t run the ball if you’re down by 17 points. That’s what it is. If we get behind, we’re going to have to throw the ball. We’re not going to be able to do what we want to do. So what we have to do, so we can be able to run the ball more, is be better early in the game. If we’re better early in the game and we’re not taking those three-and-outs, if we’re not in long down and distance, we can run the football. If we can execute early then we can run the football as much as we want.”

Should the Dallas Cowboys have any interest in newly-released WR Rishard Matthews? - Cole Patterson-Blogging The Boys
An interesting wide receiver hit the market on Thursday. Should the Cowboys add him to their crowded room?

The 6-foot, 217-pound target was Marcus Mariota’s go-to perimeter threat during his time with Tennessee, but the team selected Corey Davis in the first-round in the 2017 draft. The Cowboys, though, seemingly have a need for a receiver to step up on the outside to relieve some pressure for Ezekiel Elliott, as well as free things up for Prescott.

Dallas did bring back Brice Butler last week, which was a surprising move to many. Prescottappeared to have a connection with Butler, especially on the deep-ball and on plays that broke down; but can Butler be a reliable receiver?

If this team is serious about getting the passing game on track, looking hard into signing Matthews would be a smart move. The wideout appears to be recovered from a torn meniscus that he suffered over the offseason, and he has the talent to at least be an upgrade in the receivers room, should the Cowboys go in that direction.

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