Preseason is kicking off this Thursday and the Dallas Cowboys' season opener is only a month away. It's an exciting time, but it's also time for us to have a serious conversation, Cowboys Nation. Dak Prescott is heading into a defining third year in his career. What happens in 2018 could determine his future in Dallas and in the NFL. A dominant, solid season would probably result in a juicy long-term extension for the young field general while a poor performance will leave the Cowboys' coaching staff and front office thinking about how to address the quarterback position.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's talk strictly about the 2018 season. Through 32 starts, Dak Prescott has yet to win over a large portion of Cowboys' fans. After last year's 9-7 campaign, #4 has many doubters.
Playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys comes with a spotlight so bright that not even a 22-10 record through his first 32 games will convince some fans that he deserves to be this team's definite starter. In fact, some have even gone as far as suggesting taking a closer look at Cooper Rush and Mike White, and giving them an opportunity to fight for the starting job.
I'm not going to say this is surprising, because it's not. Heck, some fans will only remember Tony Romo as the guy who botched the snap in Seattle. After more than 20 years without a ring, it's very hard to satisfy some in Cowboys Nation.
I will say, however, that Dak Prescott is and should be the 2018 Dallas Cowboys' unquestionable starting quarterback. Forget about any "QB controversy" taking a hold of the team's quarterback room. He's earned the right to prove himself.
2017 was tough, sure. It was for the entire team. Ezekiel Elliott was suspended, and Dak had to play without his offense's most dangerous weapon. Tyron Smith's injury forced him to deal with pass rushers without his premium bodyguard, playing constantly under pressure.
That said, Dak deserves the criticism. There is no denying that he did, in fact, suffer from a sophomore slump, regardless of the circumstances. That doesn't mean that there should be controversy at the QB position in Dallas. It means something much, much more simple.
Dak Prescott needs to get better.
He needs to work on his game and get ready to operate an offense with a lot of new wide receivers and tight ends. He has to be able to prove he can take it to the next level when his team needs him to do so. While 2017 was barely a winning season and one that didn't result in a playoff berth, Dak improved in various areas of his game, even while the team as a whole struggled.
There is no reason to believe he won't continue to improve in 2018. There is a learning curve for NFL quarterbacks. Even guys like Peyton Manning - who threw 23 interceptions in 2001 - go through this.
Dak deserves the opportunity to play with a secured starting job in 2018 for him to prove he's the franchise quarterback the team is looking for. Forger about Cooper Rush and Mike White for now. This year is all about Dak Prescott.
If Dak fails to deliver and has a disastrous season, then the team should start thinking about how to proceed in 2019. In that case, the position should be seriously evaluated. But now? Why move on from a quarterback who just two seasons ago saved the Cowboys' season after Romo went down in preseason? All because he struggled during his second season? I mean, there is a reason why the "sophomore slump" term even exists.
Don't forget how hard it is to find capable quarterbacks in this league. Prescott is not a top 10 QB in the NFL. He's not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. But he has the potential to be the franchise quarterback the Cowboys need to get the much desired sixth Lombardi Trophy.
2017 will serve Dak Prescott as a humbling experience. For him, it's all about returning America's Team to its glory and put them in position to make a Super Bowl run. Before discussing benching him for a guy who has played three preseason games, let Dak show what he's got in his third season in the NFL.
Cowboys Nation, it's high time we all trust #4.
Brett Maher’s 62-yard FG Gives Cowboys 6-0 Halftime Lead over Eagles
Brett Maher drilled a 62-yard field goal, a new Dallas Cowboys record, to give his team a 6-0 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles at halftime.
A holding penalty by Tyron Smith seemingly took the team out of field goal range, but Maher bailed him out with the monster kick.
The lead could be bigger it not for some Dallas mistakes. Dak Prescott threw an interception on an otherwise strong drive, and Maher ended another drive with a missed field goal.
However, the Eagles have also struggled. A strip sack by Tyrone Crawford ended their last drive of the half. Randy Gregory also got a sack on Carson Wentz earlier in the game.
Overall, though, Philadelphia just isn't converting downs and being stifled by this exceptional Cowboys defense. They only have 70 total offensive yards at the half.
Ezekiel Elliott is putting together a big day, already with 72 rushing yards and another 20 yards receiving. Rod Smith also has 24 yards of offense, adding to the major production from the RB position.
Speaking of position production, the Cowboys tight ends have already accounted for six catches for 37 yards. Blake Jarwin has four of those receptions, which is a new career high.
The Eagles will get the ball to start the second half.
Cowboys Vs Eagles Leads NFL in Playoff Leverage for Week 14
The Dallas Cowboys are certainly playing like a playoff team as of late, but aren't in the clear yet when it comes to holding off Sunday's opponent -- nor the Washington Redskins -- in the NFC East. At 7-5, the Eagles and Redskins sit a game behind the Cowboys with identical 6-6 records.
The Cowboys going 5-0 from their first win at the Eagles in week 10 to their third divisional game of this stretch would go a very long way in cementing the Cowboys mid-season turnaround. As has always seemingly been the case in this division though, the same is said of the defending Super Bowl champs.
With a loss, the Cowboys stand just over a 50% chance at the postseason. A win would add 42 percentage points to this figure, setting up the Cowboys favorably through a December schedule that features the Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants.
NFL playoff leverage week 14
The only team with more at stake today is the visitors of AT&T Stadium. The Eagles gain 47 percentage points on their playoff hopes with a win, though even this marginally moves the needle over 50% for them. An Eagles loss all but ends their chances of repeating as NFC East winners.
Though the Redskins are reduced to their third quarterback in Mark Sanchez, their early kickoff at the 4-8 Giants provides hope that they'll remain in contention through the regular season. In a division that will be dictated by the moves made at the trade deadline, it sure feels like the Cowboys and Eagles are pulling away however - with Dallas in prime position to lap the competition starting Sunday.
If the Cowboys and the Giants win today, Dallas would have to lose out, and the Redskins or Eagles would have to win out in order for the Cowboys to lose the division. In other words, Dallas and NYG winning today would mean one more victory and the Cowboys clinch the NFC East.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper has made a bigger difference than Dallas could have ever hoped for. With the Eagles secondary banged up again for their meeting with the Cowboys, a home team with sights set on playoff football could begin to fine tune their offense to match a defense that set the tone against Philadelphia last time out.
National pundits may be forecasting a "classic" late season collapse for the Cowboys, but fans know better than this. It was in fact early season losses that dug the hole the Cowboys are viciously fighting out of. Asking for this opportunity against the Eagles is as good as it gets for Jason Garrett's young team, once 3-5 after eight weeks that feel like ages ago.
So does any dominant stretch of football from the Eagles, though the Cowboys shouldn't be quick to find out just how much Philly wants to play spoiler.
Cowboys Wishlist: Dak Prescott Exploits Eagles’ Secondary
It's rivalry weekend for the Dallas Cowboys as they get ready to host the Philadelphia Eagles. It will undoubtedly be a special game since the Eagles are practically playing to save their season this time around. Tables have turned for these two teams with now the Cowboys as home favorites for this fun matchup.
As always, here's this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist. Enjoy!
Wish #1: Get Jourdan Lewis Playing Time
Cornerback Jourdan Lewis did a fantastic job versus the New Orleans Saints last week and I'm intrigued to see if the Cowboys will continue to find a job for him and get him on the field. Lewis had an interception and some other key plays in just eight snaps. Lewis has been an interesting narrative this year.
He's a good player and getting him more involved could result in good things for this team. We'll see if the Cowboys use him in this important divisional game.
Wish #2: Get The Early Big Lead, Rest Elliott
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has done an amazing job for the Cowboys over the past four weeks. Both in the passing and running game, Zeke has been able to consistently move the chains as he's received a huge workload to carry the offense and control the time of possession. He currently leads the league in touches per game.
If the Cowboys are able to get a big lead early, I wish we get to see a lot of backup RB Rod Smith. As much as we all love to watch Zeke be fed, this time Cowboys Nation should appreciate seeing him on the sideline a bit more than usual. For that to happen, though, an early considerable lead is required.
Wish #3: Improve on Red Zone
So far, the Dallas Cowboys have been able to efficiently move the ball and get first downs. What they have struggled with though, is the red zone. Many times, we've seen the offense settle for three instead of getting seven.
This Saturday I argued why, if the Cowboys are able to improve on red zone, this could be a playoff caliber unit. This team shouldn't struggle as much in this area. With Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, Amari Cooper lined up and a mobile QB, Scott Linehan's squad simply needs to do better.
Wish #4: Dak Prescott Gets 300 Yards
The Philadelphia Eagles have placed CB Jalen Mills on IR. With Ronald Darby out already, the Cowboys are about to face a very injured secondary. Philadelphia ranks 26th in passing defense. Dak Prescott's stats have greatly improved since week 7.
However, a big 300-yard performance has yet to occur. I wish he gets just that against the Eagles. For this, he'll certainly need help from his receivers, including Amari Cooper, who has been outstanding with a Star on his helmet.
What are your wishes for this week's matchup versus the Eagles?
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