The Cowboys executive had a few things to say.
Jerry and Stephen Jones both confirmed that the slightest possibility of Zack Martin playing on Thursday remained after testing positive for COVID-19 last weekend. Stephen Jones said it was “still not out of the question” and they “haven’t ruled him out totally.” Martin would need to provide two negative COVID-19 tests and be symptom-free over the next two days in order to play. Jones said that, if Martin accomplished this after the team flies out to Tampa Bay, then “we could fly him in on Thursday.”
Jerry Jones said that in the possibility that Martin goes through the NFL’s protocol for COVID-19 and becomes eligible to play at the last minute, Jones wouldn’t be remotely worried about him starting without having practiced all week.
Stephen Jones also discussed Dak Prescott.
While Dak Prescott did not take a single preseason snap, Stephen Jones said that the quarterback is “100 percent ready to go” for Thursday’s game and said that he “looked outstanding” in practice. He also said that Prescott, who hasn’t played since suffering his ankle injury last October, does not have the expectation that he will be rusty, and Stephen Jones has “total confidence in Dak and how he feels about what he can do for this football team.”
Some keys to the game, including that Bucs pass rush.
Let’s rewind seven months to the last time Tampa Bay played a meaningful game. They dominated a transcendent Chiefs offense with one major issue: a seriously depleted offensive line.
With a major personnel advantage, Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles — known for creative and selective pressure packages — blitzed Mahomes on less than 10% of drop-backs, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Truth was, he didn’t have to. The Bucs got home over and over again with only a four-man rush, allowing Bowles to keep two safeties over the top and limit downfield throws. Shaq Barrett was a blur off the edge, racking up four quarterback hits and a sack against guard-turned-right-tackle Mike Remmers.
Watching it back, Barrett’s pressure on Mahomes just before halftime – chasing him backward for what seemed like 50 yards before the all-world quarterback heaved the ball out of bounds on third down, trailing 14-3 – summed up the entire game.
Again, that was February. This is September. And this is a talented Cowboys offensive line that should be mostly intact Thursday. It’s definitely the primary matchup to watch, though, because the line isn’t whole. And there’s a reason the Bucs tied for fourth in the league with 48 sacks last season: they’re also really good.
No more excuses: It’s time for the Dallas Cowboys defense to shut down or shut up - Calvin Watkins, DMN
The real thing is just about here for the Cowboys defense.
All the talking must stop now. There can’t be any more discussion about what Mike Nolan did or didn’t do with the Cowboys defense last year as the coordinator.
Scheme fit is no longer an excuse.
It’s time for the Cowboys’ defense to prove it’s a much better unit.
Welcome Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense in Week 1 on Thursday night. It’s a heck of a way to open the season for a Cowboys defense, which coach Mike McCarthy has said is ahead of the offense based on the practices and preseason games conducted this summer.
“My confidence is what I see every day,” McCarthy said. “I see a bunch that’s connecting come together. I think just the fact that if you take something as simple as the missed assignments vs. the mental errors breakdown, our defense has been ahead of our offense. I think a big part of that is they were able to practice almost daily with the same guys rolling in and out.”
Last season was atrocious. The numbers didn’t lie. This storied franchise with great defensive players such as Randy White, Bob Lilly, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Cliff Harris, DeMarcus Ware, Mel Renfro and Darren Woodson shook their heads as the 2020 team allowed a franchise-record 473 points. It gave up a franchise-record 57 touchdowns, the most since 1962.
Like the queen in chess, Micah Parsons is a very valuable and versatile piece of the defense.
The Cowboys didn’t merely draft a linebacker when selecting Parsons in April with the No. 12 overall pick. Based on what he has demonstrated in practice and the preseason, they added the ultimate piece, someone capable of lining up all over and changing the game with a swift strike.
The former All-American at Penn State played in the first three of the team’s four exhibitions, his preseason usage a preview of what’s to come. On Thursday, the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be the first to experience Parsons in non-friendly form.
On first down, he might be an inside linebacker stressing the offensive line’s protection plan when mugging the A gap. On second down, he could split to an edge defender, aligned outside a tackle or tight end. On third down, he might move to nickel linebacker, running sideline to sideline in coverage.
Of course, the options exceed that.
For the Buccaneers to believe that Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn showed his entire hand in August would be a blunder.
“I feel like I wasn’t able to fully go-go yet,” Parsons said. “I feel like the leash is still on, but we’re going to let it off soon. I’m kind of biting my tongue, because I know what we’re capable of.”
Simulating the 2021 NFL season: Projecting 285 games, biggest storylines and a Super Bowl winner - Seth Walder, ESPN
What does the computer simulation see for the Cowboys in 2021?
Late push from Cowboys wins them the NFC East
Through Week 13, it appeared as though Washington would win the NFC East. The Dallas Cowboys scuffled to a 6-6 start, while Washington had a two-game lead at 8-4.
But in Week 14, the tide turned as Dallas beat Washington in Landover, 27-20, then took care of business in East Rutherford a week later with a 17-10 win over the Giants. The Cowboys headed home and beat Washington for the second time in three weeks in a 38-10 rout before finishing off the four-game win streak with a 27-24 win over the Cardinals, sealing the division. Washington, for its part, closed out the year with six straight losses.
But as mentioned above, Dallas’ comeback and playoff berth yielded no postseason success, as it lost 24-16 at home to the Saints.
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