The Dallas Cowboys have unfortunately been on the losing end of the stick in the past three games and are clearly struggling with both their confidence and on-field performance. No player has been as visibly off their game these last several contests then quarterback Dak Prescott.
Life without Ezekiel Elliott seems to be affecting Prescott's play more than anyone could possibly foreseen. The entire Cowboys offense has just one touchdown in the last three games, which is simply unacceptable for a unit that has so much talent. Something needs to be done, and I think that starts with Dallas' young signal caller.
I personally believe Dak Prescott is capable of putting the offense on his back and carrying the team. I think his confidence is shaken right now and the Cowboys coaching staff hasn't done enough yet to help get him back on track. Luckily, I think there are three simple ways to get Prescott back to the player we are accustomed to seeing on the field.
Continue to read below to find out how I would help Dak Prescott get both he and the Cowboys offense back on track.
Less is More
It's no secret that Dak Prescott had a fantastic rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys. Despite that though, many of us were really looking forward to Scott Linehan opening up the playbook heading into the 2017 season. Cowboys Nation really wanted to see how much more effective Prescott would become with the entire playbook at his disposal. But, I think it might be time to dial things back a little.
Linehan needs to find ways to build Prescott's confidence back up in the passing game. That might mean going back to a more simplistic game plan in order to find easier completions. Sometimes less is more, and I think that's a good start to get Dak back to the player we are accustomed to seeing.
Right now, Prescott's confidence is shot and he is trying to force things too much. Dialing back the playbook and simplifying the game plan is a good place to start for the Cowboys offense and Dak Prescott. They can always open things back up once they get their confidence back and become more consistent as a cohesive unit.
Shrink the Field
One of the things I've noticed over these last three games about Dak Prescott is that it seems as if he's not getting through his progressions fast enough and holding on to the ball too long. This needs to change, and one way of doing that is for Scott Linehan to shrink the field for him to limit the amount of reads he has to go through.
Prescott simply isn't seeing the entire field as well as he typically does. This is causing him to hold onto the ball too long and allow the opposing defenses pass rush to get to him. Cutting the field in half would be another way to build Prescott's confidence back up and allow him to get through his progressions more quickly.
Of course, this also helps the opposing defense a little bit as well. They no longer have to cover the entire field, which means Linehan would have to get creative with his playcalling. But, shrinking the field actually ties into my next way of getting Prescott back on track.
Pocketful Of Sunshine
I'm sure the majority of you have heard the song "Pocketful Of Sunshine" at some point in your lives. Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys pocket in pass protection has been more doom and gloom here lately then sunshine. Fortunately, I think that's an easy fix.
It's time the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff get back to using Prescott's best asset, his legs. With the way Prescott is struggling in the passing game and the protection issues the offensive line is having, it's time to move the pocket and take advantage of #4's mobility. That means much more designed rollouts, bootlegs, and run/pass option plays inserted into the game plan.
It's what worked for him in his rookie season and should work once again. We have seen how dangerous Prescott is when he actually tucks the ball and scrambles. He used his mobility last week for what should have been a touchdown, unfortunately called back due to a holding penalty. Prescott's mobility really puts the opposing defense at a disadvantage, but helps the Cowboys offense immensely.
Do you think these changes will help Dak Prescott?
Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense
For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.
Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.
He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.
During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.
Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.
With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.
Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.
Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018
For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.
After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote
As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.
Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.
Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.
His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!
David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.
In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.
There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.
While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.
Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.
Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.
In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.
Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.
Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.
At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.
The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.
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