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Cowboys news: Dak Prescott’s elite play has led Cowboys to championship-level expectations

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Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Dak Prescott’s elite play has expectations around Cowboys rising to championship levels - Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News

The signal-caller has had an MVP-caliber start to the season.

Prescott, who has led the Cowboys to five consecutive victories, has completed 73.1% of his passes for 1,813 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He directs an offense that leads the NFL in scoring (34.2 points), yards (460.8) and yards per play (6.58).

He’s the best player on the best offense for one of the best teams. Simple, right? Imagine how good this offense would be if it’s red-zone offense wasn’t shady. And Prescott is doing this a year after dislocating his ankle, which forced him to miss the final 11 games last year. For a normal dude, this can be a two- or three-year rehab. Prescott was back for training camp in July.

Wow.

Report: Cowboys safety Damontae Kazee arrested Tuesday morning, charged with driving under influence - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys

Looks like it’s not going to be a quiet bye week for Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys are only two days into their bye week and generally speaking this is a part of the year where coaches offer one particular point of advice to players - stay out of the news. Ideally the bye serves as an opportunity for injured players to rest up and get healthy and for the team to self-scout before returning and getting to work. You never want to deal with any sort of off-the-field situation during the bye, but that will not be the case for the 2021 Dallas Cowboys.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Dallas Morning News reported that safety Damontae Kazee was arrested on Tuesday morning. He was charged with driving under the influence.

Why Cowboys were better off beating Patriots, even if it meant potentially losing Dak Prescott - David Moore, Dallas Morning News

Injuries happen, let’s just hope Dak doesn’t miss any time,

Here’s another hypothetical, the kind McCarthy would never indulge but makes for an interesting conversation. Would you take the victory over the Patriots knowing Prescott would suffer an injury on the final play that could keep him out a game or two, or accept either a tie or loss knowing you have your starting quarterback for the next game?

And the answer is…Door No. 1. Take the win. No question. “It’s huge,’’ Prescott said after the 35-29 victory. “Going into the bye week being what, 5-1? Yeah, it’s huge. “Five straight now.’’ The Cowboys are four games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2018 season. Arizona is the only team in the league with a better record.

Dallas has as many victories as the remainder of teams in the NFC East combined and has opened up a three-game gap over Washington and Philadelphia. “We know we’re for real,’’ Prescott said. “I don’t think we’re out here trying to send a message to anybody, more so than we’re showing it to ourselves. Just holding each other accountable to our standards and expectations.

“That’s what we’re going to continue to do as a team, offense as a unit, defense as a unit, special teams as a unit. All together coaches down to the players, we have high expectations and understanding that we live by, practice by and play by.

Rating the NFL’s most improved teams - Reasons behind the rise of the Cowboys, Cardinals, Chargers and Bengals - Bill Barnwell, ESPN.com

The Cowboys season is perplexing in some ways.

The Cowboys are weird, man. Their offense has been great, but they’ve had to be spectacular at times just to overcome their own mistakes. Everybody talking about the Cowboys discusses their offense, and that’s understandable, but the defense has kept them alive at times. Sunday’s win over the Patriots was the perfect encapsulation of how frustrating and fascinating this team can be, often during the same game or even during the same drive. What a strange six weeks.

Let’s start with that defense. Led by Trevon Diggs’ spectacular start to the season, the Cowboys have 14 takeaways through six games. During last season’s dismal 2-4 start to the campaign, they produced ... three takeaways in six games. They have at least two takeaways in each of their first six games so far. The only other time that has happened across the past 30 years was with the 2006 “They are who we thought they were” Bears. Diggs’ seven interceptions have obviously led the way there, with the Cowboys picking off 4.8% of opposing passes so far.

“A Great Situation” With La’el Collins Returning - Rob Phillips, Dallascowboys.com

La’el Collins’ return will provide the Cowboys with some depth on the offensive line.

"La'el's been here. He looks good, the workouts and so forth," McCarthy said. "We'll be excited to get him back into the full mix after the bye week." Collins signed a five-year, $50 million extension prior to the 2019 season, and he's been the starter at right tackle when healthy. But he missed the entire 2020 season with a hip injury that required surgery, and he had limited reps late in training camp due to a neck stinger.

Collins was able to start Week 1 against the Bucs. Then came the five-game suspension. Steele, a second-year veteran out of Texas Tech, has held it down on the right side. The Cowboys are the No. 1 offense at 460.8 yards per game and 34.2 points per game. They're second in rushing, averaging 164.3 yards, and quarterback Dak Prescott is an early-season MVP candidate with 16 touchdowns to only four interceptions. McCarthy was asked if it's a no-brainer that Collins steps back in as the starter.

"That's really the timing of the bye week. These are the kind of conversations we'll have," McCarthy said. "We got a full slate of self-scout projects that we're going to do (Tuesday). We're going to do across-the-hall preparation for when the players come back. … We'll have a personnel meeting probably (Tuesday) and we'll have those types of conversations."

Where Do Injury Concerns Stand At The Bye Week? - Staff, Dallascowboys.com

Taking a look at what players could potentially return after the bye week.

To hear it from Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, the news is encouraging for Michael Gallup. It's been just more than a month since Gallup strained his calf in the season-opening loss to Tampa Bay, and McCarthy was optimistic Monday that he may be able to take part in practice next week. "I'm hopeful when we come back from the bye week we can maybe start him in individual like the three last week," McCarthy said.

For reference, McCarthy was referring to several other injury concerns that already began their road back last week. Donovan Wilson practiced last week and was able to return to action in the win against New England. Additionally, rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph and second-year tight end Sean McKeon began their practice windows as they continue the process of returning from training camp injuries.

Cowboys Should be Even Better After Bye Week - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star

The Cowboys could be even better after the bye week, and then when they get to full strength.

The biggest absences so far in 2021 have been DE DeMarcus Lawrence, WR Michael Gallup, and OT La’el Collins. While Tank is expected to be out for at least a few more weeks with his foot fracture, the two offensive starters are expected back when the Cowboys travel to play the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8.

While Cedrick Wilson has been very good as the third receiver in his absence, Gallup takes things to another level for Dallas’ offense. He’s their best “jump ball” receiver and a guy that Dak Prescott has proven confidence in to make contested catches. Michael’s been the security blanket in the passing for a few years now. Teams already have enough trouble trying to shut down all of the Cowboys’ offensive weapons. Getting Gallup back out there will only further exasperate and demoralize opposing defenses

Speaking of security, getting La’el Collins back is another huge boon. While Terence Steele deserves high praise for his play and improvement from 2020, he’s not one of the best right tackles in football. Collins had emerged as a top-graded player and Pro Bowl snub by 2019. But a hip condition forced him to miss all of 2020 and then a suspension took him out for the last five games. Week 8 will be only the second game that La’el has played so far for Mike McCarthy.

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