‘Relentless!’ Why Cowboys’ Dak Prescott ‘Feels Bad’ For Opposing QBs - Adam Schultz, Sports Illustrated
Dak Prescott understands that opposing quarterbacks who face the Dallas Cowboys are in an unenviable position. Facing the Dallas defense is a tall task and Prescott acknowledges the tough challenge that is Dallas’ dominant defense.
Dak is crediting his own defense for helping the Dallas offense improve throughout the offseason and into the first week of the regular season.“It was truly iron sharpens iron, they damn sure made me better, made this group better,” Prescott said. “You saw how relentless our guys are rushing the passer.”
After going against the likes of Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler, and Osa Odighizuwa for the last few months, Dak and the offense got a reprieve ... but the Giants offense felt the full force of the latest version of the Cowboys’ “Doomsday” defense. Standing on the sidelines of a rain-soaked MetLife Stadium and watching the defense seize the soul of the Giants’ offense was a sight to behold for Prescott.
“It was awesome,” Prescott said. “It was awesome to see somebody else back there and at times, late in the game, felt bad for Daniel [Jones, Giants QB], but that’s what those guys do, they hunt. When we get the lead, they are able to pin their ears back and go do that. And we got great secondary guys and they are going to make it tough on whoever we play.”
It appears the Cowboys will be down one receiver on Sunday as Brandin Cooks is not expected to play.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brandin Cooks, listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, is not expected to play, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday night.
Cooks, 29, suffered a slight sprain of the medial collateral ligament in one knee in a 40-0 victory over the New York Giants in Week 1. In his first season with the Cowboys (1-0), Cooks had two catches for 22 yards in his debut. He played 34 of 58 offensive snaps — fourth most among Cowboys receivers and running backs.
Cooks did not practice last week, going through rehabilitation off to the side. On Wednesday, though, Cooks said he was fine, adding, “if I’m out there, there’s no limitation.”
Looks like the Jets will have a new kicker.
Entering the game this weekend, there has been some uneasiness in facing the New York Jets’ defense. That side of the ball for the Jets is formidable and deserves the reverence they have received in recent days. However, the Cowboys may have a way to attack a very good defense and counteract their depth.
The Cowboys know firsthand the best way to stop a rotation is to prevent substitutions in between plays. Opponents have done it to Dallas occasionally over the years and it’s forced the Cowboys to keep tired personnel on the field for longer than they would have liked.
If offenses stay on the field and line up instead of huddling, they will prevent the defense from swapping in fresh players. If the Cowboys can catch New York with a mismatch of personnel, they could gain an advantage by sticking with it for an up-tempo drive.
With a veteran quarterback like Dak Prescott under center, they can easily make their play calls at the line of scrimmage. And at home, Prescott can clearly communicate from under center since crowd noise will be in his favor. Once they’re at the line they can use the play-clock to its fullest. The point is they will prevent the Jets from substituting.
In Week 1, eight Jets defensive linemen logged 20 or more snaps. And that number should jump to nine when Carl Lawson makes his way back into the lineup. Standout star tackle Quinnen Williams took the most snaps at 52, but everywhere else the line rotates early and often.
The Cowboys saw significant success playing out of 12 personnel against the Giants in Week 1. Two-TE sets could be the key to success again in Week 2. The Jets cycle their defensive line but don’t adjust much in the back-seven. Based on snap counts, they played 56 of their 69 plays in nickel. If the Cowboys can catch them in a mismatch with 12 or 13 personnel, they may want to stick with it, play hurry-up, and prevent the Jets from substituting.
Juanyeh Thomas and Markquese Bell have been pleasant surprises since being given more sizeable roles on defense. After a terrific game for both last week, they have their sights set on much more.
Everyone played a role in the 40-0 demolition of the New York Giants in Week 1, and that includes two second-year safeties — namely Markquese Bell and Juanyeh Thomas — both playing like seasoned veterans as they did their part in putting on a show at MetLife Stadium, but now come the New York Jets looking for an upset in Week 2.
“You have to burn it into your brain to stay neutral,” said Thomas of staying on level ground, mentally, after the historic outing against New York’s other team. “I’m not even thinking about that game now. I’m thinking about the Jets and what kind of plays I can make against them. [Every week] will be the same [mentality].”
For both Thomas and Bell, who were both undrafted and spent the a lot of time on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2022 working to level up (Thomas made his NFL debut against the Giants while Bell was active in five games last season but logged only 53 total defensive snaps), what happened a MetLife Stadium was largely a coming-out party. ”Anybody can have a good preseason,” said Thomas. “The question is can you translate that over? That was something weighing heavy on my brain ahead of [Week 1]. I’ve shown up in preseason but, now, can I show up in a big-time game? I burned that into my brain. Every time I stepped out there, I told myself, ‘Make a play. Make a play. Make a play.’”
All eyes have long turned to the Jets, in a week-to-week league that has always proven it’s about what you do this week, and not what you were able to achieve or not achieve in the week prior. That’s a lesson the young Cowboys’ safeties are already bought into, thanks to Quinn and the veteran leadership in the locker room, so expect an equally strong effort from them against Gang Green.
In what Parsons has described as a “battle of the defenses” this coming Sunday, and with there being a chance Donovan Wilson is again absent as he works to return from a calf strain, Bell and Thomas will be asked to take center stage alongside the other playmakers in Dallas.
Presently, the Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFC East, in sole possession of first place. Here’s a clearer picture where things stand on the morning of today’s games.
Washington Commanders (1-0) @ Denver Broncos (0-1)
The Commanders, led by their new commander-in-chief Josh Harris, won their first game under the new regime. While the Arizona Cardinals put up more of a fight than expected, it was always a game Washington should have won.
However, the first-year starter at quarterback, Sam Howell, put his team in unfavorable positions by fumbling a ball that gave Arizona seven points and throwing an interception. There were bright spots, like his rushing touchdown in the red zone, but it looks more of the same as what they had in Taylor Heinicke. If things keep going the way they are, there could be a change at quarterback if the team believes Jacoby Brissett gives them a better chance to win games. Right now, they are not at that point.
The Commanders are traveling to face a desperate Denver team that seemingly can’t afford to start 0-2 after so much promise of change this offseason. The advantage should be in Washington’s favor, they have a better overall defense and a pass rush that could make Russell Wilson extremely uncomfortable in the pocket.
New York Giants (0-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
The Cowboys were always favored to win their opener against the Giants, but New York was never projected to lay the city-sized egg that they did. Luckily for Brian Daboll, the only way to go is up from that performance. There won’t be another point in the season that should feel that bad. If there is, then the fan base may revolt against ownership.
The Giants should win in Arizona, but one forgotten wrinkle in this matchup is the Cardinals’ head coach, Jonathan Gannon, who played New York a ton while he was in the NFC East. He was also the defensive coordinator who stonewalled the Giants in the playoffs a season ago.
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