Connect with us

Star Blog

Dak Prescott, Not Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys Most “Indispensable” Offensive Player

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Dak In Time: Cowboys Need Prescott to Return to Rookie Form 1

Hello, angry mob. Welcome.

No, by the way, the headline is not clickbait.

NFL.com named the most indispensable offensive players in the league, placing Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott third on that list. High praise for a running back who has led the league in rushing two of this first three seasons, and is regarded as one of the best backs in all of football. Adam Schein excluded quarterbacks from this list, but he still had an interesting statement about Dak.

The paragraph on Elliott begins like this: "Zeke makes Dak. Never get it twisted."

This, of course, is the popular fan sentiment around the league. As the national media discusses a contract extension for Dak Prescott, with annual value creeping well into the $30 million range, some other fanbases laugh at the Cowboys for valuing Prescott that high. Or, honestly, for valuing Prescott at all.

But in a league where it's universally agreed upon that quarterback is the most important position, and a league where the best teams consistently have the most prolific passing (not rushing) offenses in the league, and a specific team which has experienced the loss of their starting quarterback mid-season before, Dak Prescott remains undervalued. Underrated. Under-appreciated. All of that.

Prescott's win-loss record as the Cowboys' starting quarterback speaks for itself. His leadership qualities and intangibles speak for themselves. But unfortunately the perception of him around the league is that he is carried by the offensive line and running game.

The fact of the matter is, however, this is simply not true.

After the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper and Prescott was given a legitimate receiving threat on the outside, he completed 71.3% of his passes, threw 14 touchdowns, just 4 interceptions, averaged 7.7 yards per attempt, and won 7 of the 9 games played.

It's true that Prescott struggled during the first three games of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension in 2017, but that was more due to Tyron Smith and Zack Martin being banged up than it was Elliott missing. To be honest, the Cowboys raw rushing numbers didn't look all that different without Elliott for those six games. Sure, his presence matters, but losing him was not the disaster many have interpreted those three games to show.

While perception remains that Prescott is an average quarterback that is carried by his supporting cast, the reality is that he is a good quarterback who was held back by a putrid supporting cast (due to both injury and suspension) for a handful of games in 2017.

Quarterback is more important than running back. It's just the way the sport is. Plus, in general, your passing game means more than your rushing game, and despite the old sayings, your effectiveness on the ground does not correlate strongly to the effectiveness of the play action pass.

This does not mean that Elliott is worthless or that running the football is a waste of time. In fact, I highly value having a quarterback that makes the defense account for all 11 players on offense. In other words, while I do believe that running the football can "matter," it's also true that QB runs are far more effective and debilitating than traditional running back handoffs.

Dak Prescott brings that rushing threat on every snap.

I'll leave you with this. If Ezekiel Elliott were to miss the 2019 season, the Cowboys could likely find a replacement level running back that could mimic enough of Elliott's production to piece together a useful running game week in and week out.

If Prescott were to go down? The Cowboys offense would likely be a disaster until he returned. That's the nature of the quarterback position in 2019.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

Advertisement
Comments

Star Blog

Tony Pollard, Supporting Cast or a Co-lead with Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin

Published

on

How Much can RB Tony Pollard eat Into Zeke's 2019 Workload?

Since the Dallas Cowboys drafted Running Back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the first-round of the 2016 NFL Draft he's been the star of the show. Any of their other offensive weapons have been nothing more than supporting cast the past three years, but rookie RB/WR Tony Pollard could prove to be more than just supporting cast and become more of a co-lead in Zeke's show.

Suggesting Tony Pollard has a chance to be more than just supporting cast with Ezekiel Elliott is a lot to put on a rookies shoulders, but that's the kind of hype he's receiving already. He hasn't even put on the pads yet with the Dallas Cowboys, but he's already receiving Alvin Kamara type comparisons due to the versatility he's expected to bring with him to the NFL.

Living up to those Alvin Kamara comparisons might be even more difficult than becoming anything more than just an extra behind Zeke anytime soon, but it's doable. After all, Kamara immediately stepped in as a rookie and became a costar with Mark Ingram in New Orleans. It's certainly feasible to think Pollard can do the same.

Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard

There's of course only one problem with this way of thinking. Mark Ingram is no Ezekiel Elliott. And, no RB on the depth chart behind Zeke the last three years has been good enough to cut into #21's heavy workload. Is the hype surrounding Tony Pollard justified? Is he talented enough to cut into Zeke's playing time?

Those are some really big questions we don't have an answer to as of yet. Training camp could help determine the type of role Tony Pollard will have with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 and beyond, but even that can be thrown out the window once games start to matter in the regular season.

Personally, I think Tony Pollard will be part of a supporting cast behind Ezekiel Elliott this year. I just don't think he's ready to step in and costar with Zeke just yet. I think he will be more of a comedic relief that will be used from time to time to keep things interesting. That's not necessarily a bad thing though considering his versatility to contribute in the running or passing game.

In time though, Pollard could prove worthy of an increase in playing time and become more of a co-lead with No. 21. It may very well be in his rookie season, but he's really going to have to prove himself and that will need to start this week when the Dallas Cowboys kick off their training camp in Oxnard, California.

What do you think? Is Tony Pollard supporting cast or a co-lead with Zeke?



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Extremely Formidable

Matthew Lenix

Published

on

Randy Gregory can Make the Perimeter Pass Rush Formidable

Randy Gregory showed flashes last season of the potential he has as a pass rusher. Even though he only managed one start he did see action in 14 games. Had registered 6 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 7 tackles for loss and 15 hits on the quarterback. That's very good production with limited opportunities. Now, this sets up the Dallas Cowboys on the edge getting to the quarterback, and here's how.

The Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn via trade from the Dolphins back in March. He is set to start at right defensive end opposite All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence. Gregory, who lines up on the right side as well, can potentially make said side a huge problem for offenses on 2019.

Let's just take a typical season from Quinn which is between 8-9 sacks. If Gregory can give at minimum what he did last season, that's around 15 sacks just between the two of them alone. Now, as we all know, Lawrence can be penciled in for double-digit sacks routinely at this point. So given this information that's a potential 25-30 sacks just from these three players. This is without including guys such as Taco Charlton, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, and rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks (assuming they make the final roster).

Why is Gregory's potential impact so important? For me, it's simply where he lines up at defensive end, on the right side. Most quarterbacks are right-handed, which means when they drop back to pass they face left side defensive ends, with their backs to defensive ends coming off the right side. If you can consistently pressure a quarterback from his blindside the opportunities for sacks and fumbles increase. Regardless of how skilled a quarterback is you can't avoid what you can't see.

Of course, this all depends on what the NFL does regarding the reinstatement of Gregory. He was suspended indefinitely in February for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, a situation he is all too familiar with. My guess is Gregory and the Cowboys will ask for a conditional reinstatement like he was given by the NFL in 2018. What this would do is allow Gregory to participate in meetings and condition work until he's a full participant. He is set to apply for that reinstatement within the next few days.

The only thing Randy Gregory can do now is play the waiting game. The league is currently considering the possibility of softening their stance on marijuana use. If they are serious about it I can see Gregory getting reinstated even if it's on a conditional basis. If this is granted the Cowboys will be getting big-time pressure off the edge with Lawrence, Quinn, and Gregory in 2019.



Continue Reading

Star Blog

CB Jourdan Lewis Getting Ready For Bounce-Back 2019 Season

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Seldom-Used CB Jourdan Lewis Could Play Big Role Against Saints

For a third round pick, cornerback Jourdan Lewis sure did come to Dallas with his fair share of hype.

In fact, much of Cowboys Nation was more excited about Lewis joining the Cowboys than they were about either of the team's first two selections in that same draft, Taco Charlton and Chidobe Awuzie. But while Awuzie has soared to starting cornerback levels with Dallas during his first two seasons, Jourdan Lewis has been forced to take a back seat.

After a promising rookie season, Jourdan Lewis didn't get much playing time at cornerback in 2018. Anthony Brown took over as the starting slot corner, while Byron Jones and Awuzie manned the outside. This left Lewis as the odd man out, despite what many consider to be impressive cover skills.

Lewis is not allowing this down season to eat away at him too much, though. While speaking with the media last week at SportsCon in Dallas, Lewis gave his thoughts on how his year spent behind the other young Cowboys corners is only fueling him for the future.

 "As a competitor it's always tough, especially as a rookie and you're playing all of the time. It's definitely when you take a step back it humbles you. Sometimes you gotta understand that you have to wait your turn and work on your craft. Understand that you always have to stay a professional no matter your situation. And that's what I learned last year."

Considered undersized by the standards typically used by Cowboys secondary coach Kris Richard, some have argued that Lewis was never given a fair shot to earn playing time once Richard took over in 2018. Whether or not this is true can't ever be said for sure, and the level of play Anthony Brown exhibited from the slot in 2018 didn't leave much room for substitutions either.

Still, Jourdan Lewis says he appreciates that time he spent on the bench, and he hopes that it will only drive him towards bigger and better things down the road.

"I appreciate the time that I sat last year honestly...Because it made me a better player, maybe a better person honestly."

The Cowboys cornerback situation didn't get any less crowded this offseason. Not only is Dallas bringing back all three of the aforementioned starters from a year ago, but they also drafted Miami's Michael Jackson in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.

That cornerback room is full of talent. Not only does this create a luxury for the Cowboys at one of the league's most important positions, but it also breeds immense competition between the corners come training camp.

Which, if you didn't know, begins on July 26th.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending