Film room: The top individual matchups on the Cowboys’ 2020 schedule, including one of the best in all of football - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
What are the best individual matchups the Cowboys will partake in during the 2020 season?
WR Amari Cooper vs. CB Patrick Peterson..While Patrick Peterson isn’t the same shutdown cornerback he once was, he’s still good enough to make his matchup against Amari Cooper a must-watch affair. Peterson is one of the few corners who can match Cooper’s size and athleticism, as both are outstanding athletes who stand more than 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. On top of that, both are technicians who continually get praised by their peers for their craft.
Peterson is a press-man bully who has the quickness and change-of-direction ability to maintain tight coverage in and out of breaks. Additionally, Peterson has become much more comfortable playing off coverage with age, doing a stellar job of baiting quarterbacks into dangerous throws in tight coverage.
Unlike most corners in today’s NFL who play exclusively on one side of the field, Peterson is rare in that he will shadow and cover the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver from any alignment, doing just that with six different receivers (Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., D.K. Metcalf and Robert Woods) in 2019. The expectation is that he will do the same against Cooper in Week 6 this year.
A nation divided: How Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s contract talks have driven a wedge between those in NFL circles - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News
The contract talk about the Cowboys’ quarterback has drive a wedge between NFL circles.
Other than the enormity of a contract that would make Dak one of the highest-paid players in NFL history, his detractors focus on two areas of concern: The occasional tee shot out of bounds, and one playoff win in four years. Even so, if you’re going to say a guy’s not worth what he’s asking, you ought to at least see if the numbers line up.
The most balanced analysis I’ve read comes from John Parolin of ESPN Stats & Info. Parolin attempted to address several theories, starting with Zeke Elliott’s impact on Dak’s success. What he found was that Dak actually has a higher QBR with Zeke off the field (71.3) than on it (70.3). In fact, the only QB from 2016 through 2019 with at least a 71.3 is Patrick Mahomes (78.2).
Dak’s high-dollar offensive line shouldn’t get outsized credit, either. His Total QBR of 33.6 when under pressure is far above the NFL average of 21.2 and ranks seventh among quarterbacks with 200-or-more pass plays under pressure. Over the last four seasons, the quarterbacks who rank behind Dak in that category include Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. On the other hand, Dak hasn’t beaten enough good teams: 0-5 against 10-win teams last season.
The General still has something on his football bucket list.
At this point in his career, Lee has taken a year-by-year approach to playing, and his production last season convinced him that he could still help the team. The Cowboys agreed and reached a new one-year deal with him in March.
Vander Esch is expected to return healthy this season. But Lee’s value is still evident. He can play any linebacker position, and he’ll continue to be a mentor for Vander Esch and fellow starter Jaylon Smith.
It remains to be seen how many more years Lee will play. But his goals have never changed.
“Obviously being here for as long as I have been, it’s a place where I want to retire and hopefully fulfill a goal of winning a championship,” Lee said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio in March. “… And for me, hopefully winning a championship with the Cowboys and then in the future retiring there, that’s always been my plan.”
Can the rookie wideout reach the 1,000 yard mark in year one?
Cooper (116) and Gallup (112) were both heavily targeted in the passing game last season. As the Cowboys WR3, Randall Cobb was targeted a total of 83 times and turned that into 55 receptions for 828 receiving yards. If you’re doing the math, that’s just 172 shy of the 1,000 yard mark, which in itself is pretty impressive.
I don’t know about you, but for a player who is known as an after the catch monster like CeeDee Lamb, I think he’s more than capable of picking up those 172 yards Randall Cobb left on the field last year. You don’t have to take my word for it though. I actually have a few stats to back up that stance.
According to Pro Football Focus, nearly half of CeeDee Lamb’s career receiving yards – 1,520 of 3,292 – at Oklahoma came after the catch. As a junior in 2019, Lamb also broke an impressive 26 tackles in 62 catches. His after the catch ability should allow him to surpass the numbers Cobb put up last season relatively easy, especially considering his ability to play on the outside or the slot.
Where the Cowboys will gather for training camp is a little bit up in the air.
For 14 summers now, including some or all of the past eight, the Cowboys have made Oxnard, California, their home-away-from home.
The team is hoping to return there this summer, but at the same time, it’s planning on holding training camp at its headquarters in Frisco, Texas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty.
“As a staff, we’re planning for a full training camp, and we’re also planning for a training camp in Oxnard; we’re planning for a training camp in Frisco,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said on a conference call with beat reporters Wednesday. “We spent an enormous amount of time in the planning phase because it is our first camp together. So we’re just trying to be ready for when the NFL and those big decisions are made that we’re not running around trying to adhere to a different schedule. So we’ve spent a ton of time in our preparation of getting ready for that moment when we do get to be with the players.”
Which Cowboy is the most underrated on the roster?
Hey guys, I’m catching up on The Last Dance doc and I’m wondering, since you guys have been around the team a long time, if there’s a player on this team whose contributions you feel are highly underrated or overlooked by the outside world, sort of in the Scottie Pippen mold?— MATTHEW K / PLANO, TX
Nick: Yeah, it’s always fun to compare but I’m not really seeing it. To have a Scottie Pippen, you really need a Michael Jordan. However, I’ll play along. If you want a guy that is highly underrated and overlooked, what about La’el Collins? Here’s a guy that is on an offensive line filled with Pro Bowlers but he hasn’t ever made it. Still, he had a really good season after getting a big contract, something that doesn’t always happen. Collins might be overshadowed by Zack Martin and Tyron Smith but to me, he’s one of the anchors on this line.
Jonny: To me, that guy is Zack Martin. Martin was drafted into an already talented offensive line, so he’s always sort of been thought of as one part of a larger group, which is of course true, but that undermines just how great of a player he is. Since he was drafted in 2014, he’s been an All-Pro selection every single season. That can’t be said of any Dallas Cowboys and very few players in the NFL.
Everybody knows about Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, but who should be the fourth receiver on the Cowboys? What about the fifth? We discuss on the latest episode of Talkin’ The Star.
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