Source: Cowboys to bring in free agent QB Brett Hundley for a workout this week - Calvin Watkins, Dallas Morning News
The Cowboys have been doing some work to beef up their quarterback room in recent weeks but haven’t actually made a roster transaction. They’re talking to yet another quarterback, Brett Hundley, who already has a connection to Mike McCarthy.
Hundley spent the 2020 season in Arizona and was inactive for all 16 games. He’s got familiarity with Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy having spent two seasons with him in Green Bay. Hundley started nine games for the Packers in the 2017 season when Aaron Rodgers was out with a collarbone injury. In 18 career games, Hundley has completed just 59.1 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Last week, the Cowboys hosted J.T. Barrett and Brady Davis for tryouts during the rookie minicamp. The Cowboys didn’t sign either player. As it stands, the Cowboys have Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci as the backups to Dak Prescott.
NFC East burning questions: Can Dak Prescott return to form? Will Daniel Jones step up? Four key storylines - Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports
The Cowboys’ rookie minicamp brought the news that Dak Prescott is expected to be at full health for OTA’s this year. That’s good news considering Prescott’s return to form from injury is going to be a huge indicator for how the Cowboys’ season goes.
A lot of people are making a couple of big assumptions about the Cowboys: 1.) That Prescott, who was on pace to be an MVP candidate before breaking his ankle in 2020, will have a seamless transition back into the lineup; and 2.) That Dallas’ talent on paper will translate to on-field results. The latter is seemingly an annual issue in Arlington, where the Cowboys have struggled to hit their perceived ceiling regardless of who’s manning the sidelines. But the biggest X factor regarding the 2021 team remains Prescott.
The defense may or may not be improved under new coordinator Dan Quinn, who comes in with a high-energy centerpiece in first-rounder Micah Parsons. And Dallas still owns one of the NFL’s best skill groups, with Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb giving them elite play-makers. But none of it matters if Prescott isn’t himself after a long recovery from the ankle injury.
Not only that, but he’s also got to stay healthy behind an aging offensive line. There’s still the matter of whether video-game production from Prescott even equates to consistent victories (see: early 2020), but the best chance Dallas has at finally living up to first-place hype is keeping No. 4 upright and comfortable.
Before his injury last year, Dak Prescott was playing as well as any quarterback in the NFL and seemed to be well on his way to being in the MVP conversation. But does he belong in the top tier of NFL quarterbacks?
La Canfora ranked Prescott in his second tier, titled “top pros, proven winners,” alongside Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield. “Dak may have already made the leap to Tier 1 had an injury not wiped out almost all of his 2020 season,” La Canfora writes. “But I also worry about that offensive line and run game and am not ready to anoint anything pertaining to the 2021 Dallas Cowboys just yet.”
Prescott is about seven months removed from an Oct. 11 ankle surgery to repair an open fracture he sustained against the New York Giants. He also underwent a second surgery in December to further stabilize the ankle. Prescott is poised to be a full-go for the start of training camp.
Entering his sixth season, Prescott will try to return to the elite trajectory he appeared to be on. In 2019, he threw for a career-high 4,902 yards and was on pace to far surpass that in 2020, throwing for 1,856 yards in just five games.
Dan Quinn came to Dallas with a reputation for being an energetic and hands-on presence, and that became very clear during the rookie minicamp when the new defensive coordinator began participating in drills.
Quinn, who replaced Mike Nolan in January after six seasons as the Atlanta Falcons’ head coach, spent time working directly with the four defensive linemen in camp: three draft picks (Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Golston and Quinton Bohanna) and undrafted tackle Austin Faoliu.
And when the rookies went to team drills Saturday, the 50-year-old coach jumped in at nose tackle for a couple plays until Bohanna returned from a tweaked shoulder. “Coach Quinn looked good, looked like he was ready to get in there,” Bohanna said.
Moments like Saturday are why Quinn never really considered taking a year off when he and the Falcons parted ways in the middle of the 2020 season.
“The time on the field, that’s the best part of the week for me in the preparation phase,” he said during NFL Draft weekend. “I like teaching in the classroom, but the on-the-field work, the in-the-drill work. That part is priceless for me because you can give instant feedback to somebody about their technique, about where they’re at. And having that energy, that’s the best.”
One of the hotly anticipated coaching additions to last year’s Cowboys staff was former Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards as a senior defensive assistant. But this year it appears that Edwards is getting a bit more involved than before.
Now, the 2021 rookie minicamp is underway and the majority of eyes are back on the defense as the club added eight defenders with their eleven selections in an attempt to improve their bottom-five returns from a year ago. Quinn is focused on the defensive line as his specialty and now the LBs have a new leader as well. George Edwards is now in charge according to the Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill Jr.
Edwards is no stranger to coaching defense, and more specifically linebackers, at the NFL level. In fact, this isn’t even Edwards first stint as the Cowboys linebacker coach, as he manned the role for Dallas from 1998 through 2001.
The Cowboys linebacker room is full of young players that will be pivotal to Dallas’ success over the next few seasons. It is crucial that the Cowboys have the right coach working with the likes of Micah Parsons, Jabril Cox, and even Leighton Vander Esch, who is still on his rookie contract. Edwards’ experience could be vital in helping these talented players reach their potential.
Second-round pick Kelvin Joseph is expected to become the starting cornerback opposite Trevon Diggs, but the success rate for second-round rookie corners is a bit discouraging. Can Joseph follow in Diggs’ footsteps as one of the rare rookie corners to see success in year one?
In 2019, Byron Murphy, Rock Ya-Sin, Sean Bunting, Trayvon Mullen, Joejuan Williams, Greedy Williams, and Lonnie Johnson were all drafted in the second round. This especially deep cornerback class offered talent of all types, with some eventually playing inside at the slot, and other moving out to safety.
One common trait of these second rounders? None of them were all that good in Year 1.
According to Pro Football Focus’ grading, not one of them finished inside the top-50. Understanding there are about 64 starting boundary CBs in the league – that’s not exactly great to hear. Also worth keeping in mind, the top ranking rookie second rounder, Sean Bunting, played primarily inside in the slot.
Last year there were just three cornerbacks taken in the second round: Jaylon Johnson, Trevon Diggs, and Kristian Fulton. Diggs graded 58th, Johnson 84th, and Fulton failed to even meet the minimum snap requirements for a grade.
Dan Quinn and the Cowboys defense: Trying to sort through the general plan requires guesswork - Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Dan Quinn has an extensive body of work as a defensive mind, but his recent comments of seeking to tweak his established defensive scheme has brought up questions about what it might look like in Dallas.
The concerns went first, but now allow me to take the remainder of this piece to give you a definitive look at the choices that were made over the five-year span for his defenses. Yes, I realize that some of these choices were made because of injuries and form. But, with broad strokes, here is what Quinn told us he is about from his days running his own show:
• The Falcons ran Cover 3 zone 47 percent of the time, then Cover 1 man 29 percent for a total of 76 percent of the coverages snaps over a five-year span. These are both “single-high” coverages and conversely, the split-field coverages totaled roughly 15 percent total.
• On first and second downs, Cover 3 was used 57 percent of the time and Cover 1 26 percent for a total of 83 percent. Split-field calls dropped to 10 percent.
• Third downs flip as we would expect. Cover 1 at 38 percent (man), Cover 3 34 percent (zone) and two-high man is 9 percent. So, again, every way you slice it, just like Dallas from 2017-18, we expect single-high and then man or zone on roughly four out of every five snaps.
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