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Cowboys vs. Lions mailbag: “Does KaVontae Turpin deserve more snaps?”

Every week, we answer your questions about the Dallas Cowboys.

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Every week, we will be taking questions on Twitter about the upcoming Dallas Cowboys game and other questions surrounding the team. This week it’s the Detroit Lions game, so let’s get right into it. I have to agree.

@Kf5stkDonny - “What was the point of signing Turpin to a 3-year deal when he barely gets any snaps on offense? Wasn’t the point to use his speed?”

Brandon: I do agree that he should be used on offense more. Getting him the ball on sweeps or screens shouldn’t be hard. When I talked to his USFL quarterback De’Andre Johnson, he told me that Turpin is an explosive return specialist but didn’t lead the USFL in receiving for nothing. This is his first season in an NFL offense, so think of him as someone like Jalen Tolbert: A rookie trying to figure it out. I think there will be more plays on offense with Prescott coming back. The three-year deal was based on what he could be and not fighting other teams in the offseason. Based on Turpin’s performance so far, I think it was a smart move for little money.

Mike: Last week in the mailbag I mentioned about using KaVontae Turpin more on some jet sweeps and screens. But the issue has been having a backup quarterback. That means less time practicing these short, quick reaction plays. Less time practicing the timing on these passes, and throwing in the backfield on these plays presents a high risk if it all goes wrong. With Dak Prescott coming back maybe some more Turpin is on the way.

@CMart_091 - “Are they going to practice more running plays, Screens, Slants, and adjusting their techniques on how [to] avoid a ton of penalties? Thanks”

Brandon: The quick passing game does limit the potential risk of penalties, but the Cowboys are not a good screen team right now. The Eagles offense tore up the Cardinals defense a few weeks ago using screens. However, many of them were called back because of ineligible linemen downfield. That’s the risk Dallas can run into if they don’t become more disciplined. As for slant throws, Prescott has looked more comfortable throwing those routes than Cooper Rush. Hopefully, CeeDee Lamb will be used more in the slot to get YAC. That’s why he had so much success in 2021.

Mike: The Cowboys are calling a run play on 45.8% of their drives, that ranks ninth most in frequency. And as for the screen game, Dak is looking to play this week, so expect some more screen plays to be called. In 2021, Dak had 92 passes behind the line of scrimmage, that’s ninth most. And with that, Dak managed to get 29 first downs on screen passes, which is the fourth most among quarterbacks. So history shows us that the screen pass should be something we see more in the future.

@Claudia23661600 - “Do we go out and get a receiver? Is Jerry willing to gamble on these receivers and potentially wasting this top defense”

Brandon: A trade might be made if Prescott comes back and they are not clicking on offense. I would just wait and see how he performs with who they have at receiver. Cooper Rush has limitations that didn’t always help the receivers he was throwing to. This group is much better than Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Deonte Thompson from 2018. It’s the chicken or egg conversation. Do better quarterbacks make better receivers, or do better receivers make better quarterbacks? The front office has time to see how Prescott performs before the trade deadline. With James Washington hopeful to come back at some point, that might be as good as a mid-season trade to Jerry and Stephen Jones.

Mike: It’s true the offense does lack some receiving options. Noah Brown has five targets in his last three games, CeeDee Lamb hasn’t received double digit targets in the last three games either, but how much of these issues are down to Cooper Rush and the play-calling being held back to be more simplified? James Washington will come back in the next few weeks, which will add more depth and another set of hands to play with, so the demand to go out in the wide receiver market and find an addition isn’t high on the Jones’ to do list.

@chrisatx2 - “[@dak] is 0-1 this season. With all the hype of returning…You guys forgot he struggled first game! Is it unrealistic to think Dak is gonna come in and save the team much less the season?”

Brandon: The Cowboys are 4-2 in an NFC conference where their record is better than Tampa Bay, Green Bay, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles. All of those teams are usually better than their records indicate. Cooper Rush exceeded expectations, buying Prescott time to get back and healthy. Look at the defense from Week 1 to Week 6. They are much better than they were against the Bucs, so why shouldn’t we give Prescott the same leeway? Tampa Bay is also a top-five defense right now, just like they were in Week 1. If Prescott doesn’t look good against the Lions or Bears and comes back to underwhelm against the Packers, then we can sound the alarms. For right now, it’s like a whole new season for the Cowboys.

Mike: Does this team need saving? The Cowboys just went on a four-game winning streak, and theoretically could be 0-6. Do I think that with Dak coming back will make the offense better, yes absolutely. Dak proved last year he can operate the offense on a high level, and he finished by helping the team have the highest scoring and most productive offense in the NFL. As for Week 1, that was a strange anomaly. Nothing about that game was what we are used to from Dak, and it’s true we have to temper expectations a little this week in what we will get from Dak. He is going to have some rust out there, and he will be lacking game fitness. But to have to play the Lions first game back, that’s allowing the most points on defense, it should be a good game to help chip the ice off his shoulder.

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