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Cowboys news: Cowboys’ contender status depends on a Dak Prescott bounce back

Your Wednesday edition of news on America’s Team.

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Even top NFL QBs can struggle, but Cowboys’ contender status depends on a Dak Prescott bounce back - Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News

If the Cowboys want to bounce back, they’ll need their star quarterback to lead the way.

Understand, Prescott wasn’t the only offensive player to stink it up against Kansas City. The offensive line allowed five sacks, while being penalized four times, and his receivers dropped at least four passes. The Cowboys also played without left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle), and receivers Amari Cooper (COVID) and CeeDee Lamb, who suffered a concussion on the Cowboys’ final offensive play of the first half.

But the blame for a loss is always going to be directed at the quarterback. We know this. That’s why you have a portion of the fan base claiming Prescott can only win in the most pristine of situations, which is certainly not true. You also have a tiny segment of the Dak Hate Hive buzzing around talking about how the Cowboys can’t win a title with him at quarterback.

It’s all poppycock. Prescott is clearly good enough to win a title. Whether he will or not is a legitimate debate. The reality is Prescott needs to play better. Twice in the last three weeks, he’s looked much more like 2017 Prescott than one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. Prescott had two opportunities to make throws Sunday that could’ve changed the game, but each time he failed to execute.

Micah Parsons Keeps Climbing That Rookie Wall - Rob Phillips,

What an impressive season it has been so far for the rookie.

This time last year, Micah Parsons wasn't even on the field. He chose to forgo his junior season at Penn State as a COVID-19 opt-out. A little more than halfway through a long season, Parsons has shown no signs of slowing down.

"People always talk about the rookie wall, but I just keep climbing and climbing because I'm excited to see what's on the other side of that wall," he said. Climbing? More like busting through it.

Through 10 games, Parsons leads the Cowboys with 8.0 sacks as a part-time defensive end, most-of-the-time-linebacker. He has lined up as primarily an edge rusher in three games, including last Sunday's 19-9 loss at Kansas City, when he sacked Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes twice and tied DeMarcus Ware's franchise rookie record for most sacks in a season. "Well, when we drafted him, seriously, we made a big emphasis (of), 'Guys, now, I don't want to draft an inside linebacker here. Are we drafting a pressure player and can he pressure from the outside?'" Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. "The answer was a resounding 'yes' across the room. Resounding."

Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Cowboys & Raiders - Kyle Yoummans,

Taking a look at some storylines for this Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Raiders. Las Vegas is led by interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, a former Cowboys special teams coach who is now in charge with the Raiders, who have lost three straight games. The Raiders fell to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, 32-13, thanks to 16 unanswered points allowed in the fourth quarter. With just under 12 minutes remaining, a three play, 75-yard drive was capped off by a Derek Carr touchdown pass cut the Bengals lead to three. But Joe Burrow and the explosive Cincinnati offense took off with a touchdown pass to Jamar Chase and a score from Joe Mixon to put the game out of reach. Las Vegas was outgained by only ten yards but turned the ball over twice in the loss.

The loss continues a three-game losing streak dating back to the bye week in Week 8. Losses to the Giants, Chiefs, and now Bengals all come on the heels of one of the most trying seasons off-the-field for any team in sports. Prior to the bye week, the Raiders parted ways with head coach Jon Gruden after inappropriate and concerning emails were released in a New York Times report. During the bye week, former first-round wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was arrested for a DUI crash resulting in the death of a 23-year-old woman in Las Vegas. And about a week after that, they released first-round cornerback Damon Arnette after a video of him threatening a man with a firearm surfaced on social media.

Emotional Dallas Cowboys remember strength coach Markus Paul, who died a year ago - 'He's part of the building blocks of our culture' - Todd Archer,

Markus Paul left a lasting impact on this Cowboys team.

In 2020, Paul was promoted to strength and conditioning coordinator after serving as an assistant on Mike Woicik's staff since 2018. He spent 23 years as a strength coach for the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, New York Giants and Cowboys after his playing career ended. He earned three Super Bowl rings (three with the Patriots, two with the Giants). Running back Ezekiel Elliott said the meeting was emotional as McCarthy and strength and conditioning coordinator Harold Nash, who was one of Paul's assistants last year, addressed the team.

"[For] the guys that weren't able to be around Coach Markus, just shed light on the type of man -- not only was he a great coach but the type of man, father, brother, person he was," Elliott said. "And he's someone we definitely miss, someone we think about every day, and definitely miss Coach Markus."

Cornerback Anthony Brown said Paul was more than just a football coach. "His time was more just teaching me how to be a father, teaching me how to do things the right way, be respectful and how to go to work every day and do right," Brown said. "I'll never forget him. I always keep him in my prayers. I always keep him in the back of my head coming out here. I always think about him all the time."

Remember when the NFC East race was over? Dallas needs to play more like Philly to keep it that - Tom Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News

The Eagles seem much more like a threat now than they did a month ago.

The Cowboys need to be more like Philadelphia and commit to the running game … unless they want to get run down by the Eagles in Week 18.

Dallas hosts the 5-5 Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving, followed by a trip to New Orleans to play the 5-5 Saints, and it all eventually wraps up in Philly against the 5-6 Eagles. And if that all sounds like a bunch of mediocrity standing between Dallas and the playoffs, I won’t completely dismiss that perception. The only thing is that the Cowboys have lost two of three and will still be without their two best defensive ends, their two preferred defensive tackles and at least one prominent wide receiver when they host the Raiders. So, let’s not pretend that a team that has managed two touchdowns in two games against AFC West competition (both in garbage time) is a lock for anything.

Remember when we all declared the NFC East race over? When the Cowboys were riding high at 6-1 and the rest of the division hit the seven-game mark with a 2-5 record? Yeah, I don’t think anyone felt there was a race to be monitored. And, in particular, not a chase involving the Eagles who seemed more interested in how they might spend their three first-round picks next spring. When Dallas beat the Eagles 41-21 here in September, some of us noted that new Philly coach Nick Sirianni had produced a game plan that included three rushing attempts by running backs (for 29 yards) and that maybe the rookie coach might want to ease the burden on Jalen Hurts’ shoulders.

Crunching Cowboys stats: Signs of hope among the Chiefs game wreckage - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys

Looking at some small positives to come out of Sunday’s matchup.

A large part of that was a very bad day for the entire offensive line. One big headline for the game was that Tyron Smith would be held out again, forcing Terence Steele to hold down left tackle. He fared poorly, but it also was a sign that the coaches might have been too hasty in benching Connor Williams in favor of Connor McGovern. Williams certainly has had a problem with the excessive penalties called on him, although it can be argued that some were not very justified. Still, the team won seven games with him at left guard. The change had to have affected the all important chemistry on that side. Perhaps that should not have been so important in the run game for a team that is so right handed on the ground. But La’el Collins and Zack Martin did not do much better. There were also some missed blocks by tight ends and wide receivers that played a part.

The line’s inadequacies were noticeable running the ball. They were glaring when Dak Prescott tried to pass. He was sacked five times. Often that is on the quarterback, but in this game the pressure was coming almost immediately all game. Jones had 3.5 sacks himself, wreaking havoc all game. The middle of the line seemed to be in Prescott’s lap all the time, keeping him from climbing the pocket. Add in that he did not have clear space to roll out most of the game, and there was little he could do.

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