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Cowboys news: Mike McCarthy deals with discontent, Dak Prescott’s worth is realized

If you’re looking for positive things, well, they are hard to find.

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Cowboys' Mike McCarthy responds to stinging criticisms voiced by several unnamed Dallas players - John Breech, CBSSports.com
Sounds like the head coach was a bit miffed about the unattributed criticisms.

McCarthy was actually asked about the criticisms this week and he clearly wasn't thrilled with the fact that a few of his players decided to anonymously complain through the media.

"The anonymous is something we don't want to recognize," McCarthy said, via USA Today. "But it's important to recognize anything and everything for a teachable moment."

If we learned one thing from McCarthy's interview, it's that the players who complained definitely haven't voiced their frustrations to him yet. The Cowboys coach said he hasn't sensed anything awry in the locker room through six weeks.

5 Bucks: Finger pointing, Missing Dak & Zeke’s Fun - Bucky Brooks, DallasCowboys.com
Now that Dak Prescott is absent, he is dearly missed.

Perhaps the Cowboys took their QB1 for granted over the past five years. Prescott has been nitpicked by every armchair quarterback across the country as the leader of America's Team but his value to the Cowboys was on full display during the team's meltdown against the Cardinals. The Cowboys clearly missed his playmaking ability as one of the top quarterbacks in the game but his leadership, toughness, and resilience were notably absent during the game.

That's not a knock on Andy Dalton as a competitive QB2 thrust into a tough situation but No.4 is built to overcome adversity. He's done it throughout his background and the lessons learned from those experiences have helped endure less than ideal circumstances this season to keep the Cowboys competitive in the NFC.

From dealing with the musical chairs along the offensive line to the Cowboys' leaky defense, Prescott has been able to take his game up a notch to keep the team within striking distance in every game. The Cowboys' ability to rally is a testament to his ability to bring them back as a leader and multi-faceted playmaker.

Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith says games against Washington, Eagles are must-wins - Calvin Watkins, Dallas News
Division games are almost always must wins.

The Cowboys have road games against division rivals Washington and Philadelphia which could separate themselves from everybody else.

“It’s a must-win. It’s a must-win, both of these games,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “That’s how we’re viewing them. But we can only focus on one at a time. So, we’re doing everything we need to do to prepare for Washington.”

Writer’s Blocks: Anatomy Of A Crippled Roster - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com
An excellent critique of what is happening in Dallas.

At least in 2020 we have some clarity.

Frustrating as this season might be, we at least have an idea of what we're looking at.

That's what we didn't have last season. As the Cowboys middled their way to an 8-8 record in 2019, we were at a loss for why. All of their top-notch players were healthy. All of their stars were producing. All hands were on deck. And yet, they never produced consistently. They rarely played well in the games they were supposed to win, and they never beat the tough teams on the schedule. It led to weekly debates about whether the roster was as talented as we thought it was.

We don't have to worry about that in 2020. This roster might have been talented in August, but it sure isn't looking that way in mid-October. And however many talented players might remain in Week 7, they certainly aren't playing up to the level of expectation.

Heading into another division rivalry on Sunday, the Cowboys find themselves behind a hell of an eight ball. Half the talent on their roster isn't available because of injury, and the half that is available isn't producing for them on a variety of levels.

Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers weigh in on Cowboys’ early struggles under Mike McCarthy - DMN Sportsday staff
A couple of Mike McCarthy's former QBs had some things to say about the current travails in Dallas, including this from Brett Favre about how they failed to respond in the first game without Dak Prescott.

"I thought really they’d kind of rally around his injury and rise up to the occasion. But, you know, when it rains, it pours and that’s not always the case, but a part of me is not surprised. You know, the human element takes over and it just takes one bad play or a bad start or something, and then guys start [expletive] and moaning and complaining. Why are we doing this? And why don’t we do that? Why can’t the offense help us? It just gets bad. And, you know, I never thought I’d see the Cowboys look this bad. Just a couple of years ago, the last few years actually, you could easily sense how close they were. But they have fallen big time.”

Last season Cowboys LG Connor Williams was a liability. Heading into Washington, he’s the last man standing. - Michael Gehlken, DMN

Connor Williams was thought of as the young guy on the offensive line, now he is the experienced veteran.

Williams took first-team reps Thursday in a padded practice leading up to Sunday’s visit to the Washington Football Team. The other four first-team linemen were envisioned as backups. Two are rookies. The two veterans haven’t started a game for the Cowboys, including one who hasn’t made an NFL start period.

Against Washington on Sept. 15, 2019, the Cowboys started left tackle Tyron Smith, Williams, center Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin and right tackle La’el Collins.

On Sunday, it could be left tackle Cam Erving, Williams, rookie center Tyler Biadasz, right guard Connor McGovern and rookie right tackle Terence Steele. Martin will start if he can clear concussion protocol in a short week. Otherwise, McGovern will make his first career start.

Williams, a 2018 second-round pick, suddenly is the offensive line’s most established commodity.

“I think it’s about just keeping a direction for the O-line to follow,” Williams said Thursday. “Lead by example and just — I mean, I was in their shoes two years ago. So I know how it is and looking at the old guys and having the confidence to fight, go out there, do your job and trust in the man next to you.”

Ex-Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant to join Ravens practice squad following early season workout, per report - Patrik Walker, CBSSports.com
The pandemic rules on the practice squad have opened the door for former Cowboys star Dez Bryant to try and prove he is still a capable NFL player.

It's been a winding road for Bryant to get to Baltimore, but it's finally come together. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver initially got a multi-year offer from the Ravens in 2017, but instead opted to sign the aforementioned one-year deal with the Saints, citing his ish to re-establish himself as one of the best in the league before committing to a long-term deal with an NFL team. In August ahead of the 2020 season, the Ravens would revisit signing Bryant, flying him in for a workout that didn't immediately yield an offer.

Now, in October, he's one passed physical away from finally suiting up for the Ravens practice squad, putting him one nod away from being on the team's active roster at a moment's notice.

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