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The Unique Reason That The Dallas Cowboys Should Re-Sign Mark Sanchez
It's often said that the most popular player on a team is the back-up quarterback.
This was probably the case for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, of course that's contingent upon who you asked. It seemed like the Dak-or-Romo conversation reared its ugly head in new and unique ways every week across the season, and there were a lot of people questioning the team's decision even on a game-by-game and sometimes quarter-by-quarter basis.
If it was sometimes said that the most popular player on a team is the third-string quarterback then this would be the article for those people, because I'm about to pound the table for the Dallas Cowboys to bring back the legendary Mark Sanchez. That's right, folks. Buckle up.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Dak!
There once was a quarterback that, as a 23-year-old rookie, had significant success as the quarterback of a team in one of the most visible sports markets across the United States. While this sounds like the story of Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, it's also the story of Dallas Cowboys QB Mark Sanchez.
The legend of "The Sanchize" in his early days as a New York Jet are some of the most successful that that franchise has seen, but to be fair we're talking about a team that still clings to a 1968 Super Bowl Championship Team.
In all seriousness, Mark Sanchez went to the AFC Championship Game in his first two NFL years and did it in the New York market. That, while now six and seven years ago, it something that Dak Prescott knows a little bit about.
Maybe this is why across the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season we saw Mark and Dak become close. Maybe it's because until Tony Romo returned from injury, Mark was Dak's primary back-up. Or maybe it's just because they're two guys who simply gravitated towards one another.
Here's the video of Al Michaels talking about Dak and Mark's relationship back from when the Cowboys beat the Bucs. https://t.co/dBALUOzNjZ
We'd heard rumblings of the Dak-and-Mark connection, but it even took its place on the national stage when during a Week 15 Sunday Night Football contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth discussed the two's relationship.
It's fair to say that we all wanted Dak Prescott and Tony Romo to be buddies, and for all we know they were. Maybe it was only this particular story that's been told that we know about. It's worth mentioning - because it's somehow questioned - that just because Dak is close with Mark does not mean that Dak is not close with Tony. In fact young Prescott has continually and publicly thanked Romo for all of his guidance and wisdom.
The truth of the matter is that it's simply a matter of time until Tony Romo is no longer a quarterback on the Dallas Cowboys roster. If he's playing football in 2017 it is going to be for someone else... but what about Mark Sanchez?
Mark Sanchez Seemingly Means A Lot To The Cowboys
Mark Sanchez is what he is but @dak has a relationship with him. The one time Dak was ever seemingly scared (Bailey's FG)... he was with Mark.
When Dan Bailey was attempting to tie the game at 31 against the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday, Dak Prescott couldn't bring himself to watch. He had his back turned, and this is is a disposition that is extremely uncommon for Dak. 'Ol number four is the epitome of cool, so it's interesting - and extremely understandable - that he'd be nervous about a big-time kick. What's even more interesting is that in his moment of vulnerability he wasn't with his buddy Ezekiel Elliott, he wasn't with his star receiver Dez Bryant, and he wasn't with Gold Jacket Jason Witten.
Dak Prescott chose to be next to Mark Sanchez, and even relied on Mark's reaction to Bailey's field goal before ultimately pumping his arms in celebration. I'm not a psychologist nor am I proposing that this suggests Dak and Mark have matching best friend bracelets, but this does say a lot about who Dak Prescott turns to in big moments.
I can't imagine what Sanchez is telling @dak in these initial moments. If that relationship is meaningful to Dak then Mark needs to be back.
As soon as Mason Crosby ended the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season FOX showed an image that's going to sit with us for a long time this offseason - Mark Sanchez consoling Dak Prescott. Dak, hands on his knees, can be seen glaring intensely at the field... perhaps trying to digest the pain of the moment. Mark Sanchez, left hand on Dak's back, has his right hand over his mouth (presumably so his lips can't be read) and is very obviously telling something to Dak.
Only Dak Prescott knows what Mark Sanchez said in these initial moments, but we can assume it was something about encouragement and letting Dak know that he'd likely be back in these types of games later on in the bright career that lays before him.
Mark Sanchez, as we discussed earlier, knows a lot about this situation. As a young-in in the NFL he experienced the heartbreak of losing the game before the Super Bowl... twice. In a row. In a gigantic media market. As its most visible face. And he never attained that level of stardom again.
Tony Romo is a far more accomplished quarterback than Mark Sanchez, and for all we know Romo had a similar discussion with Dak... we just weren't privy to it. But no other quarterback that's available knows this situation like Mark Sanchez and, unfortunately, Dak Prescott.
The Available Quarterbacks
We'll be discussing free agents that the Dallas Cowboys should keep, let walk, and try and bring in across the next few weeks and months (something I did on Wednesday's episode of OchoLive), and one of those is Mark Sanchez.
The Cowboys also have quarterback Kellen Moore that they have to make a decision on. Many people that saw Sanchez in Philadelphia during Week 17 and Kellen Moore across the final stretches of the 2015 will say that they need to look elsewhere for the back-up - Dak-up? - to Dak Prescott.
If you haven't looked, this list if courtesy of OverTheCap.com, the crop of free agent quarterbacks is... well I'll say that it's not good.
Kirk Cousins will obviously be back with the Washington Redskins, but seriously... name a guy on here that you like more than Mark Sanchez. Of course the option exists that the Dallas Cowboys could trade for a back-up option, but is that the route that you want to go?
Mark Sanchez's chemistry with Dak Prescott may be the advantage that earns him another back-up quarterback gig in 2017. If all things are equal amongst him and the competition - and looking at the current competition then it certainly seems that all things are at the very least equal - then this should play a huge role in Sanchez's return to Dallas.
If Dak Likes Mark, We Like Mark
Ultimately the decision about a back-up quarterback will rest within the braintrust of the Dallas Cowboys - Will McClay, Jason Garrett, Stephen Jones, and Jerry Jones. I'm not advocating building a football team specifically around the preferences of its starting quarterback, I'm advocating taking those into serious consideration.
Dak Prescott and Mark Sanchez seemed excited about the win https://t.co/x7gZuc5EGA
If I'm the braintrust of the Dallas Cowboys then I want to bring Dak Prescott in and ask him just how much Mark Sanchez really does mean to him. Was Mark helping him break down film, adjust to reads, and understand specific coverages? Or is Mark just his bro that he enjoys hanging out with and sometimes whips up on Madden? The answer to that question could potentially help mold Dak's sophomore season in the NFL.
Dak Prescott is the franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. If he likes Mark Sanchez, then we all like Mark Sanchez.
Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark
When the Dallas Cowboys took the field last Sunday against the New York Giants, they did so very differently than last week, starting with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to connect with WR Tavon Austin in the third play of the game. Although there are still many things this team must continue to work on, they looked like a very improved unit in week 2.
Here are my main takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' first win of the year. Let me know what yours are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL and let's talk football!
Cowboys' Secondary Capable of Holding Top WR
If there was one player who could've changed the outcome for the New York Giants, it was WR Odell Beckham Jr. Widely recognized as one of the best wideouts in the nation, Beckham was the biggest challenge the cornerbacks, led by Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, have had in the first two weeks.
None of them followed Beckham all over the field, each stayed on their side of the field and still managed to limit him to four receptions for 51 yards in nine targets. The Giant's offense is not known for being one of the best in the league, but it's the fact that this defense was able to limit exactly the player they needed to. They did their job.
Also, props to the defensive line for keeping the pressure on Eli Manning.
Taco Charlton Was Dominant VS Nate Solder
With Randy Gregory ruled out for the game, Taco Charlton had a golden opportunity to stay on the field for more snaps. He took advantage of this, as he finished the night with three tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Charlton still has a long way to go in order to prove he was worthy of a first round pick, but we can't deny he hasn't stopped developing. It will be interesting to see how he does now that Gregory is expected to return for week 3.
Dak Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Needed Spark
One of the things I liked the most about the Cowboys' game versus the Giants was how Dak Prescott was utilized. Criticized after a poor performance in Carolina, Prescott came out with a chip on his shoulder.
We've been talking a lot about how Scott Linehan must play Prescott to his strengths and that's precisely what he did by letting Dak run for 45 yards in seven carries. It's completely understandable if the Cowboys don't want to run him as much as the Panthers do with Cam Newton, but the truth is, if #4 hurts defenses with his leg, Ezekiel Elliott won't receiver all of the defense's attention.
Also, shoutout to how they used Tavon Austin. With Elliott, Prescott and Austin being a threat on option plays, this offense could take a step on the right direction.
Rico Gathers Will Be Used
The Cowboys' Rico Gathers project is moving in the right direction. The 2016 sixth-round pick was active for the first time in his career last Sunday. The first question that popped into our heads was whether or not he'd be actually used in the game. He was.
He even managed to get open in the end zone in a play that could've been TD but Prescott didn't throw a good pass. However, the mere fact that he was able to get open and that the coaches actually put him on the field told us a lot about his future. Cowboys Nation should be excited to see him involved.
Dallas Cowboys vs the New York Giants: Stock Up and Stock Down
The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in a big way against the New York Giants in week two. Several players bounced back as well after struggling a bit in week one against the Carolina Panthers. Other players continued to struggle or saw a drop in play from week one to week two.
Here are the Dallas Cowboys who saw their stock rise and some who saw their stock fall this week.
Jaylon Smith, Linebacker
Jaylon Smith has been really good to start the season and had an excellent game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Every day Smith is removed from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final game at Notre Dame is a day closer to realizing the elite play that many expected of him before the injury.
Pro Football Reference credited the starting middle linebacker with seven solo tackles and three assists. Pro Football Focus had Jaylon Smith with 3 stops -- plays that were a "loss" for the offense -- while becoming a stabilizing force for the linebacker position.
Byron Jones, Cornerback
The fourth year player who has made a successful move from safety to cornerback, Byron Jones has been everything the Dallas Cowboys hoped he'd be when they made him their first round pick back in 2015.
Shame that it took so long to get him to cornerback.
Against a potent New York Giants receiving corp, Jones only allowed one reception on five targets on Sunday night. He also had six solo tackles and three stops, per Pro Football Focus.
The one reception that Pro Football Focus credited to Byron Jones was by Running Back Saquon Barkley and that catch went for zero yards.
So on the night, Byron Jones allowed zero yards into his coverage areas. He's really good at cornerback and is taking to Kris Richard's coaching quite nicely.
Dak Prescott, Quarterback
After much gnashing of teeth after the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott rebounded with a strong, confident performance in the Dallas Cowboys week two win over the Giants.
He completed 64% of his passes for 160 yards and ran for 45 yards on seven carries. The passing yardage isn't huge, but on a night in which the defense was absolutely dominant, Dak Prescott made the plays that needed to be made for the Dallas Cowboys to win the game.
He was great in the read-option on Sunday night, perfectly executing it for several really good runs.
The throw to Tavon Austin on the third offensive play from scrimmage was a great throw that set the tone for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the night. His yards per attempt and passer rating were both improved from week one and he just looked better.
If Dak Prescott can continue to put together performances like this, the Dallas Cowboys will win a lot of games this season.
Connor Williams, Left Guard
After getting pushed around for much of last week's game by Kawann Short, rookie Connor Williams rebounded with a really nice game.
Williams didn't allow a pressure all night and the offensive line was much better as a whole. The unit didn't allow a sack against the New York Giants.
According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott's biggest run of the night came behind Connor Williams at left guard.
Williams is an important piece to the puzzle and if he's playing well, it will provide better pockets for Dak Prescott.
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver
After seeing only 10 snaps in week one, Tavon Austin was on the field for nearly twice as many and made them count as he ended with two receptions for 79 yards and had one rush for 15 yards.
That's 94 total yards on three touches. The "Tavon Effect" was in full force last night as the team used his speed to their advantage. Even when the ball didn't go his direction he had an effect on the game.
Damien Wilson, Linebacker
Seemingly the odd man out after the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Damien Wilson had an excellent game in his limited playing time.
Wilson played 17 defensive snaps and 22 snaps on special teams and was credited with three solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He's was excellent on Sunday night in the snaps he was given.
It's unlikely that we'll see a big snap increase for him with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart, but he provided very valuable snaps when given the opportunity.
Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver
Terrance Williams who has been a starter for several years now with the Dallas Cowboys, and even started week one, saw his snap count drop from week one to week two. After seeing 19 snaps against the Carolina Panthers, he was onlyon the field for 10 snaps in week two.
There's been speculation as the Dallas Cowboys have resigned former Wide Receiver Brice Butler that Terrance Williams could be the odd man out of the wide receiver room. That snap count is either an indication of his status on the team or the game plan they had against the New York Giants.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Williams moving forward.
La'el Collins, Right Tackle
A week after allowing four pressures, most along the offensive line, La'el Collins allowed three more pressures on Sunday night against the New York Giants. He was the only offensive lineman to allow multiple pressures and appeared to struggle with the Giants blitz and stunt schemes.
The New York Giants had rushers go unblocked at times on Sunday night.
Dak Prescott wasn't sacked against the Giants, but he had to avoid some pressure on that side to throw the ball away.
Collins has to be better against the pass rush going forward to keep Dak Prescott clean and able to play better.
Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends
The Dallas Cowboys' tight end group of Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers did not have a single catch to their name on Sunday night. There were opportunities that were missed, like the Dak Prescott overthrow to Rico Gathers in the end zone. However, not being able to come up with a single catch against the Giants is a bit surprising.
Speaking frankly, their isn't a receiving threat on the TE depth chart. They need to become a factor at some point to help take pressure of Dak Prescott and give him another option in the passing game. The Dallas Cowboys prefer to run most of their formations with a tight end on the field. They need to be a factor
The Cowboys Nation Twitter account asked David Helman from DallasCowboys.com to look up when the last time the Dallas Cowboys tight ends finished a game without a reception.
Mark Lane from WFAA.com and the Texans Wire found the information.
@HelmanDC @CowboysNation @SullyBaldHead @Marcus_Mosher @CHQ_Jordan @FO_ScottKacsmar When you do, Dave, tell them that Mark Lane found it at 1:15 a.m. Central Time. It was Dec. 1, 2016 at the #Vikings. https://t.co/XS3FVrWhT8
It's unbelievable that there was a game played in which Jason Witten was around for that he didn't have a reception, and yet, there it is.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Were there any players that moved the needle in either direction for you?
Let us know in the comment section.
Will Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Return This Week?
The Dallas Cowboys have been without one of their defensive starters for the first two weeks of 2018; safety Xavier Woods. A preseason hamstring injury has kept him in street clothes so far, but Woods could make his season debut this week against the Seattle Seahawks.
The positive update on Woods' status was provided by Owner Jerry Jones in his regular radio appearance this morning.
Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said it appears Randy Gregory (concussion) will be available to play Sunday at Seattle. Jones also thinks Xavier Woods (hamstring) has a chance to play this week after missing the first two games
Gregory has already played this year, suffering his concussion and leaving the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Even in his absence last week, the Cowboys got six sacks on Eli Manning in their victory over the Giants.
That's not to say getting Randy back isn't noteworthy, but the real news here is the potential for Xavier Woods to take his place as the team's starting free safety.
While Woods has been out, Jeff Heath has been the free safety while Kavon Frazier has started at strong. The plan going into 2018 was for Heath to play strong safety, putting him closer to the line of scrimmage where his skills are best suited.
Xavier was one of the team's most exciting rookies last year, flashing the potential to be a game-changing presence.
Woods' upside is one of the reasons some fans haven't been as desperate about the Earl Thomas situation. While Thomas would be an upgrade in almost any defense, including the Cowboys, the chance to see what Xavier has mitigated disappointment over not acquiring the All-Pro safety.
If Woods can provide what the team hopes for at free safety, it has a positive ripple effect for the roster. Not only do you upgrade at FS, but Heath moving to his ideal role at SS is another improvement.
It also moves Frazier, who's been solid in his playing time, into a valuable bench role. It gives Dallas depth at safety which, up til now, they've lacked in Xavier's absence.
The loser in this deal would likely be either veteran backup Ibraheim Campbell, who Dallas signed two weeks ago to deal with their depth issues, or undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson. Robinson has been with the team since they signed him immediately after the 2018 NFL Draft.
With talk that the Cowboys are looking to bring back WR Brice Butler, a roster spot will be needed. Xavier Woods' return could allow for that spot to come from safety rather than receiver, where Dallas is hesitant to part with any of its current players.
In the end, all we have right now is a "maybe" about Woods' status. But with Dallas' defense already performing well this year, the thought of getting even better is enticing. With the tough road environment of Seattle and Russell Wilson coming up this Sunday, getting Xavier back could be timely.
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