Troy Aikman on why he thinks the Cowboys’ offense can get back on track, how he worked out of slumps - SportsDay Staff, Dallas Morning News
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offensive slump has been much discussed in recent weeks. During a recent interview on 96.7/1310 The Ticket, Troy Aikman shed a little light on what it’s like for a quarterback during such stretches and how he personally had to work his way through it.
Aikman: “Yeah, there are stretches probably in every year. Not necessarily long stretches ... where you just don’t feel like you’re seeing the field very well or you don’t feel like the ball is coming out the way that it should. For me, typically, to just narrow it down to its most simplest form would be ... whenever I was going through those kinds of slumps, it would generally be to my footwork just not being where I felt that it needed to be. And I would feel that, I’d feel uncomfortable, I’d feel a little bit off balance and you wouldn’t be able to see it from the naked eye but I would feel those things and start working a little more on that. But, I’ve been a part of some offenses to where we just weren’t clicking and things weren’t happening for whatever reason. I also know that it can change really, really quickly.
“Confidence is an interesting thing. As an offense, you can be playing really well like the Cowboys were and for whatever reason, whether it’s Dak missing that game or they’ve had a lineman here or here who hasn’t played, that disruption is real. But, I also know that can happen and then come back really quick, within one series or sometimes one play. So, I just feel this offense is too explosive, I think they’ve got too many good players and I seem to be saying this each week for the last few weeks, but I still think that this offense is going to get it together and is going to play really good football and be a big reason as to why they win.”
The 2020 Cowboys were the first Dallas team since 1989 not to send at least one representative to the Pro Bowl. The 2021 Cowboys are sending at least five, including Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, and Bryan Anger, Tryon Smith, and Zack Martin. Hopefully, though, they won’t need to play in the game as Dallas will have far bigger stakes in their immediate future that week.
It’s not terribly surprising to see a bounce back this season. After all, the Cowboys are 10-4, sitting on the cusp of an NFC East championship and are currently tied for the NFL’s second-best record, as only the Green Bay Packers have more wins.
What is new, though, is the makeup of their Pro Bowl lineup.
For much of the past decade, the Cowboys’ Pro Bowlers have mainly been offensive players, due to the strength of their offensive line and skill positions.
This year, however, they boast two of the most impressive defensive playmakers in the NFL, as Diggs and Parsons have both been named to their first Pro Bowl after breakout seasons.
With the defense producing to such a tremendous degree in recent weeks, it’s incredible to consider how little time it’s actually spent together at full strength. Getting Osa Odighizuwa back from the COVID/Reserve List this week is another very useful tool in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s belt as Dallas looks to cinch up the division and book its playoff ticket for the first time in three years.
As the team pursues their fourth-straight win and a 5-0 record within the division, they will have one of those pieces back when they attempt to do so. Odighizuwa has been taken off the COVID list and can resume practicing but the Cowboys will be cautious in their approach in getting him back to action. Hill, however, will have to wait a little longer as he is still under league protocols.
Osa Odighizuwa has been removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Mike McCarthy said the Cowboys will ease him back to work after he did not play last week vs. the Giants. The only player remaining on the COVID list is Trysten Hill.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) December 22, 2021
We all know this Cowboys’ defense is forcing turnovers at an insane rate after years of famine in that category.
The Cowboys’ defense forces turnovers on 17% of drives and only allows a touchdown on 19% of drives. Those are truly staggering numbers. This means the Cowboys are almost just as likely to force a turnover as giving up a touchdown at the start of the opposing teams’ possession.
In the last three years, the Cowboys didn’t force more than 23 turnovers in any season. In recent years the Cowboys have had trouble generating interceptions with a high of only ten interceptions in one season over the last three seasons.
In total, the Cowboys had 26 combined interceptions from 2018-2020. This year through 14 games, they already have 23 interceptions. Through 14 games last year, the defense had created only seven interceptions.
We get some more details on the bet between the offense and the defense, and what the payoff is for the winning side.
Other than practice, you don’t really see a competition between the Cowboys’ offense and defense.
But this year, as we get closer to the end of the regular season and the playoffs, both sides of the ball have engaged in a friendly wager.
Simply put, the offense and defense are keeping score – touchdowns vs. turnovers. And here lately, the defense is winning the battle.
“Just a challenge between fellow teammates,” said defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who seems to be the ringleader for this bet. “A little competition won’t hurt, Figured it was give it a good try to see if the offense can beat us on turnovers vs. touchdowns and, you know, defense, won this one. See what they got this week.”
So what does the winner get? D-Law had the answer.
“A trip. The whole group gets the trip.,” Lawrence said. “Yeah, the defense is going to have pay for the offense’s trip or the offense is going to have to pay for the defense’s trip. So yeah we’ll see how that goes.”
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