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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 have been with ITS since 2016.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. William Ballou

    October 9, 2017 at 11:32 am

    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.

  2. Wayne Young

    October 9, 2017 at 11:41 am

    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.

  3. Charles

    October 9, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    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.

  4. XaqFields

    October 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    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.

  5. Fatfan

    October 9, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    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.

  6. Ddenney1

    October 10, 2017 at 8:19 am

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

  7. Dave

    October 10, 2017 at 9:27 am

    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.

  8. dennisg40

    October 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    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.

  9. Gbear

    October 10, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    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.

  10. will_50

    October 10, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    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!

  11. Gbear

    October 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    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.

  12. EverybodyTalks

    October 15, 2017 at 12:41 am

    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?

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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