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Cowboys Road Game in Houston a Chance for Perspective on QB Dak Prescott

Sean Martin



Cowboys Road Game in Houston a Chance for Perspective on QB Dak Prescott 1
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The Dallas Cowboys "travel" to Houston this weekend for a Sunday Night Football match up with the Texans. The Cowboys are coming off a win they desperately needed at home against the Lions. Now, they'll get an equally desperate team in the 1-3 Texans, fighting for relevance after managing their first win of 2018 in overtime at the Colts last week. The Texans previously three losses were all by one score, with Quarterback Deshaun Watson doing everything he could despite being sacked 17 times this season.

A similar chapter in Dak Prescott's Cowboys career was written last year, though in different circumstances to Watson's rookie year - lost to an ACL tear after six dazzling games, hardly the 17 game stretch that Prescott carried into the playoffs in 2016.

The week-to-week, or even minute-to-minute nature of the NFL had some Cowboys fans ready to move on from Prescott just three weeks ago when the Cowboys opened their season in miserable fashion at the Panthers. Thankfully, those at The Star making decisions for the Cowboys are much more rational, and the same can be said about the club in Houston.

Difference being, the Texans' faithful are all-in on Watson for year two, and despite coming out of the gates a bit slow he's hardly been the reason Houston is 1-3.

NFL draft fanatics can even reckon back to this soundbite from Watson before the 2017 Draft, where the Clemson prospect jokingly hints that the Cowboys should trade both Prescott and Tony Romo to call his number behind center.

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Remember when Deshaun Watson jokingly told the Cowboys to trade Dak Prescott and Tony Romo so that they could draft him?

Quickly approaching his first head-to-head match up with Prescott, Watson can take solace in the job security he's earned on a team that's been a carousel for quarterbacks. Four different QBs have started a game for the Texans since 2016, and ten since 2014.

The same was said about the Cowboys prior to the Romo era, and Dallas seems determined to not let it happen again under Prescott.

QB Dak Prescott Switches Agents Prior to Crucial 2018 Season 1

Dallas Cowboys Owner/GM Jerry Jones, QB Dak Prescott

Dak was able to reward some of the Cowboys faith in him last week by playing one of his most efficient games. The Cowboys ran the ball well, protected Prescott in the pocket, and gutted out a home win. It's these performances that need to be appreciated for Prescott.

While the Texans still have the advantage of being in a developmental stage for their quarterback, making his 11th career start on Sunday night, the Cowboys must hope they continue to see steady progress from Dak.

From a fan that takes pride in keeping the Texans as an afterthought in professional football in Texas (while representing Cowboys Nation from out of state), I urge all of you to enjoy the ride with Prescott. As you've read from me before, "life comes at you fast in the NFL," and it just may be true that Houston is much closer to quarterback mediocrity than the Cowboys.

Saying such a thing in the second half of the season a year ago would have been incredulous. While Watson wasn't playing, Prescott was a shell of himself along with the rest of the Cowboys offense, playing without Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott.

Prior to the Cowboys "burning of Atlanta", Prescott was on pace for 32 touchdowns to just eight picks based on his first eight games. It took Watson just seven career games to turn the ball over eight times, throwing three interceptions against the Seahawks in his final game of 2017.

Should Dak have been left in Seattle after the Cowboys week three loss there, surely some in DFW would be celebrating right up until this upcoming meeting with Watson and the Texans.

Cowboys Road Game in Houston a Chance for Perspective on QB Dak Prescott

For a slew of reasons, many of which having little to do with football, teams around the league envy the Dallas Cowboys. If Prescott and the Cowboys can roll into Houston and emerge at 3-2, dropping the Texans to 1-4, the latest reason out of NRG Stadium may very well be because of Dallas' quarterback.

Imagine that.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Road Game in Houston a Chance for Perspective on QB Dak Prescott" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

1 Comment
  • dallas1966

    Sean, I appreciate your excitement for the Cowboys against the arch rival the Texans .
    My gut feeling is that the Cowboys will come out flat against the Texans, causing the Cowboys to look like the Cowboys who played against the Panthers, and Seahawks. Predictable and no energy . Dak will look like a practice squad player with no potential of being THE franchise quarterback for the Cowboys.
    Looking at how the Cowboys organization has performed under Garrett, in the past. The Cowboys will probably be overwhelmed , and produce below average skill rate. Texans 24 Cowboys 17.
    Cowboys fall to 2-3.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie



Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin



Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.

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