Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!
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: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
The Dallas Cowboys are not only breathing in playoff contention, but they're now the favorites to crown themselves as the NFC East champions in 2018. It's pretty impressive how the tables can turn so quickly in the NFL. Dallas played very well against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and we learned quite a bit from them as they bounced back to .500. Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday! Enjoy it as much as you did Brett Maher's game winning field goal a couple of days ago.
Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
Despite taking steps in the right direction, it's impossible to compare this offense to units like the Chiefs, Saints and Rams. However, it's the Cowboys' defense that could be labeled as a championship unit. Facing an offense with such a strong WR core, allowing only one touchdown on the road is impressive.
The Cowboys sacked Matt Ryan three times and were constantly causing pressures. Byron Jones was great once again, allowing only two catches in passes thrown in his direction. And of course, the kid who's been impressing us all, Leighton Vander Esch continued to play out of his mind. He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner at this point.
The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the NFL right now, and any offense will have a tough time facing them. It'll be intriguing to see if they can take the next step and stop a high-powered unit like the Saints in a few days.
Offensive Line Woes Are Gone
The offense has improved a lot the last couple of games. Although there is still a lot to work on, they're not struggling as they were in the first half of the season. The offensive line is a huge part of this. With Marc Colombo at OL coach, things have looked very different in Dallas.
Ezekiel Elliott: "I feel great. I feel fast. I feel physical. I feel very comfortable with the running schemes. We just got to keep rolling. That's what's important. We just got to keep rolling.
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a roll the past two weeks and his comments regarding how he feels about the running schemes shouldn't go unnoticed. The offensive line wasn't playing as well as they are right now earlier in the year. Dak Prescott is noticeably more comfortable in the pocket.
It's intriguing to know what will happen at left guard for the Cowboys. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Su'a-Filo has done a good job filling in for him. Williams has the upside, but should Dallas mess up the mojo this OL has lately?
Dak Prescott: Clutch QB
Dak Prescott continues to be criticized by fans while he keeps proving us why it's not that easy to move on from him. The guy is far from the perfect passer, yet he's been clutch time and time again. This time he did so on the road on an impressive two minute drill.
With 1:46 on the clock, Prescott marched his team down to the Falcons' 24 yard line. He managed to give his team another game winning drive in consecutive weeks. The Cowboys' young quarterback needed a confidence boost and this is perfect for him. He needs to keep it up if the team is going to finish the season as the NFC East champions.
Since entering the NFL, Dak has 12 game winning drives. As frustrating as his play is at times, he will not be easy to replace if the Cowboys decide to move on from this guy down the road. Hopefully, they don't have to. I, for one, believe Dak can be way better with a proper coaching staff. But that's a discussion for another day.
Now, it's time to celebrate the Cowboys' victory and get ready for a short week as the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Geoff Swaim Needs Surgery, Should the Cowboys even use a Tight End?
Well, the injury woes continue to mount for the Dallas Cowboys with news coming down this evening that Tight End Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist in the 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The injury will need surgery which will mean Swaim will be out a while, if not for the rest of the season.
Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist yesterday and is going to need surgery. Sounds like it might not be season-ending, but he won't be available Thursday #cowboyswire
In previous seasons this wouldn't be much of a blow to the offense, but Geoff Swaim has been the only tight end that the Cowboys have ben able to rely on this season. Dalton Schultz is a rookie, Blake Jarwin's been inconsistent, and Rico Gathers still isn't fully trusted. With the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's insistence on using a tight end, it seems there's a huge hole at the position heading into Sunday's first place showdown with the Washington Redskins.
But in reality, is there?
For weeks, I've been screaming for this team to use more 10 personnel (one running back and zero tight ends) as its primary passing formation because it gets their best pass catching weapons on the field at the same time. Swaim has been solid and consistent in his first year as a starter, but the rest of the tight end group has disappointed. So why even run a tight end out on the field.
The Dallas Cowboys have options that could replace the tight end in the passing game without actually using a tight end.
First, they could use Noah Brown as the de facto tight end. He's been one of the best blockers on the team in his first two seasons with the team and this is the type of role he's made for. Split him out wide and motion him in tight when you want to run. He can be a threat down the seem and in the red zone with his athleticism. He'd be a mismatch for the linebackers that try to cover him and could open space underneath for Cole Beasley. Brown is also a really good run blocker, so having him on the field doesn't negate what you want to do in the run game.
The other player the Cowboys coaching staff could work into more of the tight end route responsibilities is Allen Hurns. Hurns is a really good route runner, especially in the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys haven't received a lot of production. You can put Hurns in as the fourth wide receiver and split him a couple of yards off the tackle to give him a cleaner release than a TE might get and have him run "Y-option," shallow post routes, or drags. He can be a threat in the passing game if put in situations where he can excel. See below for something Allen Hurns does really well.
In fact, by going four wide receivers with Brown or Hurns on the field, it's possible the opposing defense is forced to run more of dime packages against the Dallas Cowboys 10 personnel.
Why would you want to get teams into dime packages?
Most NFL teams have two pretty good linebackers that they can deploy in nickel situations, but teams rarely have four corners that they can put on the field and feel really good about. So, if you can force teams to remove one of their 11 best players for a backup corner back or safety, you are already winning that matchup.
That matchup would also get you into much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. Even if the opposition put seven or eight in the box, it would be against smaller personnel like corners and safeties instead of a second linebacker.
Running 10 personnel as their base offense moving forward would be unconventional, but with an opportunity to take control of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving, now is not the time for conventionality.
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on Personal Leave; Team Offers Support
Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup suffered a personal tragedy on Sunday, being informed that his brother committed suicide. He is now on personal leave away from the team, and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have given their full support to Gallup during this difficult time.
According to reports, Gallup was unaware of his brother's death until immediately after the Cowboys' win over the Atlanta Falcons. Michael did not return with the team to Dallas and remained in Atlanta to be with his family.
A formal statement was made by owner Jerry Jones yesterday regarding Gallup:
“Our team and our entire organization are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s loss. His family is our family. We share in the grief and pain that comes with something so personal and tragic. We offer our support, care and comfort for Michael, and we ask that all of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters join us in keeping Michael and his wonderful family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Throughout his time owning the Cowboys, Jerry has built a reputation for personal loyalty and compassion with his players. His head coach is no different.
As he addressed the media Monday, Jason Garrett did not get into football matters when addressing Gallup's situation:
“This is a very challenging time for him. We’ll take it moment by moment, day by day, and give him all of our love and all of our support.”
While Michael is certainly dealing with something far more important than football, his availability for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins does come into question.
The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for Washington, and Gallup has started their last five games. If the rookie has to sit, which seems probable given the timeframe, we can expect more playing time for Allen Hurns and Noah Brown.
Whatever happens happens on that front. Our focus is on Michael Gallup during this sad time, with him and his family in our collective thoughts as Cowboys fans and fellow humans.
Star Blog6 days ago
Should Cowboys Stick With Xavier Su’a-Filo at Left Guard?
Star Blog6 days ago
How Cowboys Could Regain a 2019 1st-Round Draft Pick
Player News1 week ago
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
4 Best Candidates for Cowboys’ Next Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Next Day Rant: Dak Prescott Shows Big Flaws in Big Win
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Is Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones to be Trusted?
Player News5 days ago
Travis Frederick Regains Strength in Hands, Influence in Cowboys OL Room
Star Blog1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time