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Dak Prescott’s RPO-Decision Not To Blame For Cowboys Loss

Kevin Brady

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AP Photo/Joe Mahoney

With the Dallas Cowboys down four and looking to score what they hoped would be a game winning touchdown, they faced a second down and one deep inside Packers territory.

The Cowboys had gotten here by punching the Packers in the mouth. Ezekiel Elliott looked like his 2016 self on this drive, running with a purpose over and through Packers' defenders. The offensive line was moving people, and seemed to finally be gelling.

After a nine yard first down play the Cowboys lined up in the gun for second and one. Everyone in the building expected Dallas to continue pounding the rock with Zeke and take more time away from a potential Aaron Rodgers comeback.

Instead, they decided to run a run-pass option in which Dak Prescott read the defense and threw an incomplete pass to Dez Bryant in the end zone. The Cowboys scored the very next play, but this incompletion proved costly in terms of time remaining for the Packers offense.

The thing is, Prescott made the exact right read when throwing the football.

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The Packers linebackers all bite on the play fake, as do both of their safeties. Seeing that the free safety has his eyes in the backfield, Dak immediately attacks the secondary and finds Dez Bryant in a one-on-one situation.

This is exactly how the Cowboys draw this play up. If you want to take away Elliott and this powerful run game, then we will exploit man coverage with our best receiver. Had their been five minutes left instead of just one, no one would be saying a thing.

With all of that said, I do think it is fair to criticize both Prescott and the coaching staff here. Why not just run the ball once again, chewing more clock and most likely picking up a first down?

At the same time, I don't subscribe to all of the outrage which has been directed Dak's way due to this incompletion.

On second and one, knowing you have three downs to get one yard, taking a chance at a touchdown to Dez Bryant is never really a bad idea. Plus, no matter how poor your defense has looked this season, the blame must be placed on that defense if they can't hold an offense out of the end zone with just a minute and change left in the game.

This loss is not on Dak Prescott by any means. And while he probably wants this one back, I don't believe we should be killing him for it the way that the internet is today.



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 am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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12 Comments
  • William Ballou

    You’re an idiot. How many times does Rodgers have to beat us in the last second for you to understand that that in-completion cost us the game? Instead of no timeouts and way less than a minute to play or one time out and way less than 30 seconds left to play, this one pass gave Rodgers 1:13 and a timeout to score. Duh! Dak read it correctly. Duh! The play should’ve never been called. Only a football moron throws a pass in that situation.

  • Wayne Young

    I didn’t agree with the call to throw it in that situation. They should have just handed the ball off to chew up more time. With that being said, they had another opportunity to kill more time off the clock with the next play. Nobody can fault Dak for scoring the touchdown afterwards, but even as he was running towards the end zone after picking up the first down, I found myself yelling for him to just slide. Anybody remember Westbrook for the Eagles doing that to us? I still do and I was hoping for Dak to do the same. It would have forced Green Bay to use their last time out and with the way we were running it down their throats there’s no way they would’ve kept Zeke out of the end zone with at least one or two more runs, which would have easily put the clock under a minute. That’s my take on it at least. Again, hard to place any blame for scoring a touchdown. That defense though…… PLEASE let Sean Lee come back. He’s only one guy, but our defense is a shell of itself when he’s not out there. If there’s blame to be given, it’s on that side of the ball.

  • Charles

    Very poor decision!! Everyone is quick to give Dak a pass in this situation whereas they would be ripping Tony a new one, but Tony would have been smart enough to not throw the ball in this situation. Dak also could have bled more time off the clock snapping the ball with 1 second on the play clock instead of 10 plus seconds. Reminds of the game where Romo beat the Giants because Eli was dumb enough to throw the ball in the red zone when he shouldn’t have.

  • XaqFields

    It’s not Prescott’s decision to throw that hurt the team, but rather the play call that led to it. In that situation against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, you are not looking to score with more than a minute left on the clock. No play should have been called at that time with the intention of scoring.

    Same with the next play that resulted in a score. Prescott did the right thing — it was just a bad play call.

    In that situation, you line up in the I-Formation and you call a run between the tackles. You’re not likely to score on that play, so the Packers burn a timeout to keep more time from coming off the clock. For the next play, you do the exact same thing. I-Formation, run Zeke between the tackles. Again, you’re not likely to get the score but you might get the first down. Heck, your instructions to Zeke should be “get the first down on this play but don’t take it all the way into the end zone.”

    At that point you have FOUR tries to punch it in, and the Packers can do nothing to stop the clock. You’ve got two time outs you can use to control the clock to make sure you don’t run out of time.

    It was just a horrifically mismanaged series. The players did nothing wrong. It was Linehan/Garrett not using smart strategy there.

  • Fatfan

    Linehan is NOT strategically minded…at all. The offense works because the scouts, Garrett, and management has gotten high caliber players. Consider how poorly Linehan has adjusted the offense after losing Free, and Leay, whom we knew we would be losing. However, it was because of the D that we lost, no the offense.

  • Ddenney1

    DEFENSE is the problem and HAS BEEN for 20 YEARS!!!

  • Dave

    Kevin, I’m not going to call you an idiot but you need to open your mind to the BIG picture here. Linehan should not have called the play. Prescott should have ignored the play called by Linehan. There was over a minute left in the game. 2nd and one. RUN THE BALL! RUN THE CLOCK! Hell, Prescott should have taken a knee on the three instead of scoring. Dallas would have had three downs to score a touchdown.
    RUN THE CLOCK! Don’t give the ball back to Green Bay. I don’t blame the defense. We all know what Green Bay can do on offense.

  • dennisg40

    This is the second year of a team of Cowboys with lots of rookies and we expect them to know everything. People calling the plays decide what they are going to do next. If anyone has noticed the whole NFL is discombobulated this year too with a team like Kansas City leading the pack and other long shot teams running high on the hog. Look at the Patriots they are having a hard time and then Hitler Jones decides to decide who plays next depending on the flag. He picked all the teams for twenty years past and coaches and look what a mess he made out of them. Now that he rigged it up to get in the Hall of fame he thinks he is GOD ALMIGHTY.

  • Gbear

    It’s called “situational football” for a reason. Coaches are responsible to tell the QB not to pass regardless of the defensive look when time is a factor. If Dak disobeyed that, then there’s your story, if it was left up to him completely, they should fire garrett.

  • will_50

    Really, in reality, most everyone is incorrect in their take on the game’s final minutes. You really can’t blame Dak for this loss, you simply can’t. If there is any fault to be placed, place it where it truly belongs, on that sorry porous defense. no way in hell should the Packers been able to come back to win that game and I don’t care if it was Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady at QB, no defense should be that porous as to allow a QB to throw and complete passing to wide open WR’s.

    The Cowboys defense is the one piece that will keep them from winning the East or even get to the playoffs. That defense is atrocious and they should be ashamed of themselves to let all that great play/performance go wasted that Dak put on! Dak is the one reason that Dallas was in the game to have a chance to win and you want to blame him…asinine and totally bogus.

    You score when you can, cause nothing says that their won’t be an ill timed fumble, sack or any turnover during those critical moments at the end. What if the ball was turned over while trying to kill extra seconds off the clock and the Boys didn’t score at all, what then! Dak was put in a no win situation, especially with all the whining so called football experts who call themselves fans of the Cowboys!

  • Gbear

    Had Dak slid, it is more than likely the D would’ve been instructed to let them score on the next play. A little more time off sure but plenty of mistakes were made and many things could’ve been done better. Garrett is a horrible game manager. We’ll never advance with him, you all should know that by now. I feel sorry for the long suffering fans who’ve had to put up with the Jerry Jones circus all these years. I feel sorry for the players because they have a cheerleader instead of a head coach.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Mistakes were made throughout the game. Dak getting into the end zone was not one of them. Seriously, if Zeke had not reached out on 4th down it would have been over. The overhead camera saved Dallas for another play. If T-Will hadn’t muffed the pass, then woulda-coulda-shoulda. If Jourdan Lewis would have turned a little sooner, then Davonte Adams might have had another contested pass in the end zone. If just one of the LBs had spied on Rodgers, then when Irving missed the tackle, a LB might have been there to tackle him, instead of watching Aaron high-stepping down the sidelines. If for all of that, we stopped Rodgers, then Crosby would have kicked a field goal and we would have gone to OT. Then what???….who won the flip of the coin?

Star Blog

Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?

John Williams

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Should the Cowboys Make a Trade for These Oakland Raiders?

The trade deadline on October 30th will be here faster than we know. It's the final opportunity that NFL teams will have an opportunity to make a significant upgrade to their roster. And if you're a frequent reader of the Dallas Cowboys, then you know that the Dallas Cowboys could use some help, especially on the offensive side of the football.

On Thursday, Marcus Mosher from The Raiders Wire on USA Today posed a hypothetical trade involving the Dallas Cowboys. In his scenario, he has the Dallas Cowboys trading for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and thinks that Cooper could net the Raiders a top 75 draft selection.

Amari Cooper is a good wide receiver, but he's not a receiver I would trade a top-75 pick for. Cooper is a player that has a lot of talent, but has struggled with drops and inconsistency. Even now, with the Raiders he's having a hard time getting consistent opportunities.

Cooper's second on the team in targets, but third on the team in receptions behind a tight end and a running back. Cooper's also third on the team in yardage behind the two guys that I'd be way more interested in trading for; Tight End Jared Cook and Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson.

Yes, these guys are on the wrong side of 30, but they are guys that have been around a long time and can help your offense this season. Both would be upgrades at the position, even at their advanced NFL age.

Jared Cook - Tight End

You've heard the adage, "if you can't beat em, join em." Well, this is the reverse of that. "If he always beats you, acquire him."

That's what Oakland Raiders Tight End Jared Cook is to the Dallas Cowboys. Point of evidence.

Game Winning Jared Cook Catch Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Uploaded by Kafin Walker on 2017-01-16.

That remarkable catch by Jared Cook still haunts me and many of you in Cowboys Nation. It was a perfectly thrown ball by Aaron Rodgers and Cook made an incredible catch along the sidelines that led to Mason Crosby's game-winning field goal at the end of regulation.

Jared Cook's Oakland Raiders team isn't going anywhere this season. They're already four games back of the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs and the AFC is looking deeper than it has in recent years. The Raiders and the Indianapolis Colts are the only teams in the NFC with less than two losses. That means there are 14 teams with better records than Jon Gruden's Oakland squad. This week the Raiders face a Seattle Seahawks team that beat the Dallas Cowboys and lost by only a couple of points to the undefeated Los Angeles Rams.

Cook has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL this season and would be a veteran presence that the Dallas Cowboys could add if they felt like they could make a run at the playoffs.

At 31, Cook is averaging six catches and 78 yards receiving per game. He'd give the Dallas Cowboys someone they could run on post, corner, and seam routes to challenge safeties deep. Something that they're lacking from the tight end position at the moment. Cook is leading the Oakland Raiders in targets, receptions, yards, and is second on the Raiders in touchdowns in 2018.

No offense to Geoff Swaim, who's been surprisingly good this year, but Jared Cook makes this offense better. He allows you to make Rico Gathers your TE3, which would allow Rico to continue learning the game without the responsibility of being a primary target on certain pass plays.

Jared Cook is in the last season of his deal, so you wouldn't have to be committed to him beyond 2018. The perfect rental who could step in and play pretty quickly.

Jordy Nelson - Wide Receiver

I know this team is allergic to adding veteran players, especially veterans over 30, but Jordy Nelson is another name that they should take a long look at.

At 33 years of age, Nelson leads the Raiders in receiving touchdowns and is second on the team with 15.9 yards per reception. He's also third in receptions and second in yards.

His numbers -- 20 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns -- would lead the Dallas Cowboys in all receiving categories.

Nelson's still got some juice left and he's always been a good route runner with good hands.

Here are some highlights from Jordy's week three performance against the Miami Dolphins.

Jordy Nelson Can't Be Stopped w/ 173 Yards & 1 TD vs. Miami!

Check out Jordy Nelson highlights, racking up 173 yards receiving! The Oakland Raiders take on the Miami Dolphins during Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season. Subscribe to NFL: http://j.mp/1L0bVBu Check out our other channels: NFL Vault http://www.youtube.com/nflvault NFL Network http://www.youtube.com/nflnetwork NFL Films http://www.youtube.com/nflfilms NFL Rush http://www.youtube.com/nflrush #NFL #Raiders #JordyNelson

Nelson doesn't have any guarantees left on the deal he signed this past offseason so if you cut him in the 2019 offseason, you'd get zero dead money added to your 2019 salary cap, but would get $7.2 million in savings.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Because of their age and the fact that they'd likely be one-year rentals, I don't imagine that you'd have to give up much more than a fifth round pick for either of these guys. And while I don't think the Dallas Cowboys would take a look at trading for either veteran, it's something they should do if they have aspirations of making the playoffs in 2018.

The Dallas Cowboys offense could use a boost.

What's the most you'd be willing to offer for either Jordy Nelson or Jared Cook?

 



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Star Blog

Cowboys’ Issues Are Deeper Than The Division Race

Kevin Brady

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Are The Cowboys' Players Unhappy With Their Playbook?
Louis DeLuca/The Dallas Morning News

Yesterday, Inside The Star staff writer Jess Haynie posed an interesting question: "could the wide-open NFC East help Jason Garrett's job security?"

The Dallas Cowboys started off their season a disappointing 2-3, but despite this rough start, they are right in the thick of things in the NFC East. The defending champion Eagles, who most expected to run away with the division, are now just 3-3. The lowly New York Giants are probably done at 1-5, and the Washington Redskins looked pathetic on Monday night, dropping to 2-2.

This division looks average at best, though I still somewhat expect the Eagles' talent to take over at some point and allow them to make a run. Still the Cowboys are alive, and if they can pull off the upset at home this Sunday, they may even be in first place come Monday morning.

So, Jess fairly asks, could this help Jason Garrett and the Cowboys' coaching staff keep their jobs? After all, it's rare you see an owner change coaches after remaining competitive within the division throughout most of the prior season. And given Jason Garrett's relationship with Jerry Jones, it might take an awful season to see any real change occur.

Here's the thing: this team could win the division at 9-7, and it would still be time for changes. Incompetence of others does not mean that you are competent, even if you are competent in comparison to those others.

The Cowboys have players openly questioning play calls, alluding to lack of trust in the quarterback, and pretty consistent drama swirling around the locker room. Yes, some of that is the media created Cowboy drama we always see, but there is disfunction within the organization without a doubt.

As a franchise the Cowboys need new blood in the building. To be honest, they could use a general manager separate from the Jones family name, but that is very unlikely to ever happen. So we focus on the coaching staff, specifically on the offensive side of the ball where the Cowboys have struggled the most.

Dallas is 29th in passing yards, 28th in passing yards per attempt, and tied for 26th in passing touchdowns through five weeks. Plainly put, they're horrible, and bringing back an offensive minded head coach and/or offensive coordinator who oversaw this terrible passing offense is counterproductive.

Regardless of where the Cowboys stand within this average division, they need to look themselves in the mirror this offseason. They need to be seriously comparing themselves to teams like the Rams (and not by lying to themselves like Jerry Jones did), not the 1-5 Giants.

The Cowboys should be striving for more than just being the best of a group of average football teams, and if that means cutting ties with Jason Garrett, then so be it.



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Star Blog

Opposition Outlook: Versatile T.J. Yeldon Too Much for Dallas Cowboys?

John Williams

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Opposition Outlook: TJ Yeldon Will be a Problem for the Dallas Cowboys

If you haven't heard the news yet, then let me be the first to tell you. Jacksonville Jaguars Running Back Leonard Fournette has been ruled out of this week's matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jaguars. Don't let his absence fool you, though, T.J. Yeldon is a back that can hurt the Cowboys in many ways.

T.J. Yeldon was the Jaguars second round pick out of Alabama in the 2015 NFL Draft and was expected to be a featured back for them. That never really materialized and the Jaguars then went out and selected Fournette early in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Yeldon is now more of a passing game back for the AFC South contender, but with Fournette out, he's getting an opportunity in a full-time role. He's not at all the same back as Fournette, as Yeldon has much more ability in the passing game.

Already in 2018, Yeldon's caught 22 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns, which is more than any Dallas Cowboys wide receiver this season. T.J. Yeldon's averaging 8.8 yards per reception to go along with his 4.4 yards per carry on the season.

He's averaging 90 total yards per game on 16 touches and a touchdown a game. Even when Fournette was active in weeks one and four, Yeldon still received 17 and 21 touches in those games.

He's not at all an afterthought in the Jaguars offense and shouldn't be as the Dallas Cowboys defense prepares to stop them in week five.

Here's how he ranks among running backs with at least 24 targets:

  • Tied for second in receiving touchdowns.
  • 11th in receiving yards.
  • 14th in reception percentage.
  • Eighth in targets
  • 10th in receptions
  • Fourth in yards per reception
  • Seventh in yards after catch
  • Fifth in yards after catch per receptions.
  • Sixth in receptions that led to a first down.
  • Second in drops.
  • He has the 10th highest quarterback rating among running backs when targeted.

T.J. Yeldon isn't the best back in the NFL, but as a dual purpose back, he's really good. He's 15th in the NFL in total yards and for two of those games he was sharing the load with a former top five pick.

The Dallas Cowboys have been really good against the run this season. They've allowed the 11th fewest rushing yards and their 3.4 yards per carry allowed ranks tied for second in the NFL. Where they've struggled is with running backs in the passing game.

Through five weeks this season, they've allowed running backs to go for 47.6 yards per game. In weeks one, two, and five, they allowed 66 yards receiving to Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Alfred Blue.

If there's an area where the Jaguars can exploit the Dallas Cowboys defense, it will be in targeting T.J. Yeldon in the passing game. Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and (hopefully if he plays) Sean Lee will be enough to slow him down and make Blake Bortles take chances down the field.



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