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Dak Prescott has Been Brought Back Down to Earth After Fast Start, Still no Need to Panic

Matthew Lenix



Dak Prescott has Been Brought Back Down to Earth After Fast Start, Still no Need to Panic

The 2019 season couldn't have started any better for Quarterback Dak Prescott. Week 1 against the New York Giants saw him set a franchise record for passing yards in a season opener with 405 and toss 4 touchdowns en route to a dominant 35-17 victory. The next game against the Washington Redskins was a continuation of that amazing start as he went 26 of 30 for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns leading the Dallas Cowboys to 2-0 in a 31-21 win. Week 3 wasn't quite as impressive but it didn't need to be as All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and rookie Tony Pollard both rushed for over 100 yards. Prescott did, however, throw for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Cowboys improved to 3-0.

After three games Prescott had accumulated 920 passing yards and 9  touchdowns while completing 74.5% of his throws, and firmly placed himself in the early MVP discussion. Next, the Cowboys would travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in what was viewed by most as the Cowboy's first real test of the season. Unfortunately for Prescott, the Cowboys offensive line was dominated from start to finish as they held Elliott to only 35 yards on 18 carries. This would force the Cowboys offense to be behind the chains on second and third down throughout the entire ball game.

He did, however, have a perfect drive to start the second half going 6 of 6 as a Elliott touchdown run gave the Cowboys a 10-9 lead with just eight minutes to go in the third, but unfortunately, it would be the last points they put on the board. The Saints would add a field goal and pull out a close 12-10 victory.

He finished 22 of 33 for 223 yards but didn't produce any points through the air. That can be attributed to the fact that the Cowboys couldn't get the run game going which made their offense one dimensional, and in the NFL, that will get you beat in most games.

Last Sunday's matchup with the Green Bay Packers was supposed to be a heavy dose of Elliott to set up the play-action passing game considering the Cowboys were facing the league's 26th ranked run defense. There was one thing that prevented that, though, and that's turnovers. Prescott completed his first couple of passes as the offense gained 37 yards on it's first three plays, putting them very close to field goal position. The drive would stall however as Prescott was intercepted deep in Cowboys territory setting up the Packers first touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

After connecting with Amari Cooper for 46 yards Prescott had the Cowboys in field goal range again but a sack on a third-down killed any chances of a scoring drive. Now down 14-0, Prescott came out in rhythm completing his first two passes as the Cowboys were in field range for the third consecutive drive. Unfortunately, Prescott was intercepted for the second time just outside the red zone, again wasting a potential touchdown drive.

Once the Cowboys fell behind 24-0 in the third quarter Prescott started to pick apart the Packers defense. He went 11 of 16 on the next three drives including a 40-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup as the Cowboys put 17 quick points. With an opportunity to cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter Prescott threw his third interception of the game on a pass intended for Gallup, which caused some controversy due to an obvious pass interference call that was missed, leading to a Packer's field goal and a 17 point lead, essentially ending the game. Prescott would have one last shining moment with a 53-yard touchdown to Cooper, but the Cowboys took their second consecutive loss 34-24.

Prescott did finish with a career-high 463 yards passing but his interceptions were critical in setting up easy scoring drives for the Packers. He himself wasn't impressed with his numbers as he explained during a postgame media session:

“I don’t care how many yards I had or anything else like that," Prescott said. "I had three interceptions and a loss. None of that matters.”

The game against the Saints the Cowboys couldn't establish the run, making their offense easier to stop and Prescott's job a lot harder. In the Packers game, the Cowboys offense moved the ball down the field several times into Packers territory but untimely interceptions from Prescott took points off the board. In the NFL these types of games happen to every quarterback. Currently, he's still completing just under 70% of his passes while averaging 345 yards per game. The Cowboys are tied for first place in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles as a showdown between the two in Arlington awaits in two weeks, which will be for sole control of the division. So don't panic about a few bad games from Prescott, he still has this team in position to have a big year and his play should improve going forward.




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Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott Primed for Big Games vs Lions

Matthew Lenix



Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott Primed for Big Games vs Lions

The Dallas Cowboys were brought back down to earth this past Sunday in their 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. After dominating the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys got manhandled in the trenches on both offense and defense. Running Back Dalvin Cook had 183 all-purpose yards (97 rushing, 86 receiving) due to his offensive line opening holes bigger than the state of Texas. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott, however, was held to just 47 yards on 20 carries because his offensive line got bullied from start to finish.

This coming Sunday, the Cowboys will be looking to bounce back against the Detroit Lions and maintain their position atop the NFC East. The Lions defense is one of the worst in the league vs the run and pass which sets up the Cowboys two biggest offensive stars, Dak Prescott and Elliott to have huge games.

Prescott is currently second in the NFL in passing yards, third in passing touchdowns, and first in QBR. He will get every opportunity to improve on those numbers this Sunday going up against Detroit's 28th ranked passing defense. They've allowed four quarterbacks to pass for over 300 yards, Prescott has three games with such production himself in 2019.

He will be bringing with him a very explosive receiving core. Amari Cooper is currently third in the NFL in receiving yards with 848. He's coming off a game in which he had his second-highest yardage total (147) and tied his highest reception total (11) in any game this season. Michael Gallup has already equaled his reception total and surpassed both his yardage and touchdown totals from his rookie season in 2018. Randall Cobb had his best game by far as a Cowboy with six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown vs the Vikings.

With Prescott playing at a high level, his receiving core more together than ever, and facing the leagues 30th ranked defense I smell another big game for number 4.

Elliott had his second-worst game of the season vs the Vikings after three consecutive 100-yard performances. The chances of him bouncing back in this game are very high considering the Lions rank 26th vs the run. Seven of the nine teams the Lions have faced have rushed for over 100 yards, including three individual performances over the century mark.

The two-time rushing champion is tied for the second-most games over 100 yards this season with five, trailing only Carolina's Christian McCaffrey who has six. Also, the Cowboys offensive line will be looking to bounce back themselves after the Vikings defensive front took them to the woodshed this past Sunday. I wouldn't at all be surprised if Elliott has one of his biggest performances of the season after such a pedestrian outing last week. Also, having a motivated offensive line blocking for him doesn't hurt either.

The Cowboy's best formula for success is still establishing Elliott early to set up Prescott and the play-action passing game.

With the NFC East still firmly up for grabs, the Cowboys have minimal room for error for this rest of the season. Going up against a defense this bad could be just what the doctor ordered for Prescott and Elliott to dominate on the road. If this were to come to pass, the Cowboys chances at improving to 6-4 this Sunday will be extremely high.

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Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie Becoming a Red Zone Liability?

Brian Martin



Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie Becoming a Redzone Liability?

Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is arguably as talented as just about any defensive back in the NFL. He still young and has quite a bit he can do to improve his game, but there's no denying his talent. One of the things he may need to work on right now is his awareness and discipline in the red zone.

In back to back games No. 24 has been caught out of position and as a result surrendered points in the end zone. Just this last Sunday he gave up a two point conversion to Minnesota Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph. The week prior he gave up a touchdown catch to New York Giants Wide Receiver Cody Latimer.

Does this make him a liability in the red zone?

I know if I've noticed Chidobe Awuzie getting victimized in back to back weeks in the red zone opposing offensive coordinators around the league have done the same. As a result, they're going to test Awuzie to find out if they can have the same kind of success.

Chidobe Awuzie

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

If I'm Kris Richard I'm personally going to be working on making sure Chidobe is fully aware he needs to be more disciplined with his play, especially in the red zone. He's been caught out of position in back to back games and that can't be something that continues from here on out.

I'm sure Awuzie would tell you himself this is something he needs to clean up. He takes pride in his abilities and knows he can still improve. Hopefully he can take it to heart and better prepare for what's to come. Whether that means just executing his assignments better or maybe studying a little more film. It's up to him to figure out what he needs to do.

As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, they may need to start giving him a little more help over the top if this is something that continues. And if worse comes to worse, they can always see if Jourdan Lewis or Anthony Brown can be more consistent. I doubt it would come to that, but it is an option.

I for one am hoping No. 24 will just hunker down and figure out what he needs to do in order to take his game to the next level. If he can do that the Cowboys defense will be much better for it. I don't know about you, but I will be keeping a close eye on him for the rest of the season.

Do you think CB Chidobe Awuzie has become a red zone liability?

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Maliek Collins has a Breakout Opportunity Against the Minnesota Vikings

John Williams



Cowboys DT's Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods Primed for Monster Seasons

It's been a quiet 2019 for one of the Dallas Cowboys' preseason breakout candidates, Maliek Collins. Heading into training camp, and then the regular season, Collins was the healthiest he'd been at any point in his previous three seasons. That combined with another year in the NFL, led many to believe that Collins could become a dominant 3-technique defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. Collins has been good, but perhaps not as productive as many might have predicted.

On the year, Maliek Collins has three sacks, which is third for the Dallas Cowboys behind Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence. Per Pro Football Focus, Collins is tied for 17th in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. Tied for 17th might not sound very good, but when the league leader in sacks among interior defensive linemen has just six, Collins isn't far off from threatening for the league lead. In fact, Maliek Collins is tied with All-Pro Defensive Tackles Fletcher Cox, Chris Jones, and Geno Atkins in sacks.

In total pressures, Collins is tied for eighth in the NFL per Pro Football Focus with 27 along with Quentin Jefferson and Vita Vea.

Though he's not racking up a ton of tackle this season, Collins has been excellent as a pass rusher. On Sunday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings, he'll have a tremendous opportunity to build on his first-half numbers.

Against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football, Collins has an enormous opportunity. Among quarterbacks with at least 196 drop backs, Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been under pressure at the fourth highest rate in the NFL. His 40.8% pressure rate is only better than Daniel Jones, Russell Wilson, and Sam Darnold.

Vikings Guard Pat Elflein has allowed five sacks on the year, which is tied for the third most in the NFL this season among interior offensive linemen and his 20 pressures allowed is tied for eighth. When Maliek Collins gets an opportunity to line up across from Elflein, he's going to have a chance to get home.

With teams having to pay so much attention to DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, and newcomer Michael Bennett, Collins should be freed up to face more one-on-one blockers.

Collins hasn't had a bad season by any stretch of the imagination, but he hasn't necessarily been the dominant player we thought he could be after his strong preseason. That perception could change when the Dallas Cowboys play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football. The opportunity is there for Collins, he just has to seize it.

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