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Dallas Cowboys Week 5 Power Rankings Round Up

John Williams

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Detroit

After the big win against the Detroit Lions this week, the Dallas Cowboys improved their 2018 seasonal outlook by getting back to .500 and staying close to the division leading Washington Redskins (2-1). Not only did they improve their record, but our opinion of them improved some as well.

The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott finally got their passing game going "for he first time in forever."

Sorry, when you have a two-year old daughter you get Frozen songs stuck in your head. 

But seriously. How different do we feel about the Dallas Cowboys passing game heading into week five than we did heading into week four. They finally got some things clicking downfield. Dak Prescott showed some really good accuracy going 5/8 for 113 yards and a touchdown on passes greater than 10 yards down the field. Including a couple of bombs to Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott.

I know one week doesn't erase all of the negative things that we saw over the last half of the 2017 season and the first three games of 2018, but it will go a long way toward proving that Dak Prescott is the quarterback we saw in 2016 and the first half of 2017.

We weren't the only ones who thought the Dallas Cowboys looked better on Sunday. As we take a stroll through the national football media, let's round up some weekly power rankings to see where the Dallas Cowboys made the jump after week 4.

USA Today: For the Win

Last Week: 21
This Week: 21

"I thought about putting the Cowboys higher on this list after an encouraging performance by the offense on Sunday. Then I remembered Sean Linehan is still in charge of getting this unit to play well so I’ll just leave them here."

Steven Ruiz - For The Win: USA Today

Perhaps this week the mind-meld of Sean McVay and Scott Linehan called the plays and that is why the Dallas Cowboys were so effective on offense in their week four win over the Detroit Lions. I had to double check that Mr. Ruiz actually wrote "Sean Linehan" several times before I felt comfortable leaving it in the quote above.

NFL.com

Last Week: 24
This Week: 22

"The Cowboys evened the score on the season, putting them in a second-place tie with Philly and just a half-game behind the Redskins in the NFC East. Dak Prescott had much to do with Sunday's outcome, making the accurate throws in small windows that Dallas fans have been waiting for -- especially that nine route to Ezekiel Elliott on the game's final drive. Elliott went off, rushing for 152 yards on just 25 attempts. At center stage, though, should be the offensive line, which gave Prescott plenty of time to make those throws, and paved the way for Elliott. Key for Dak moving forward: maintaining this level of performance against teams that can bring more heat than the Lions, and doing it consistently, week in and week out. The Cowboys are sure glad they don't have to play Golden Tate every week. Good grief."

Elliott Harrison - NFL.com

Ain't that the truth. Golden Tate was a nightmare for the Dallas Cowboys secondary. Elliott hits the Dallas Cowboys' proverbial nail on the head. If they can get performances out of Dak Prescott similar to what they received on Sunday, they're going to be very difficult to beat.

ESPN.com

Last Week: 22
This Week: 21

"Rookie snaps leader: OL Connor Williams, 230 snaps out of 230 (100 percent). The Cowboys' five-man offensive line has not missed a snap in the first four games. Williams is one of seven rookies (all OL) who have not missed an offensive snap."

Vince Masi - ESPN.com


This week, ESPN.com highlighted a rookie from each team in their power rankings by snap count. Obviously Connor Williams has played the most out of the rookies this season and has improved his play since the week one outing vs the Carolina Panthers.

The Washington Post

Last Week: 26
This Week: 18

"The Dallas offense showed some signs of being functional  and, even with their early-season issues, the Cowboys are only a  half-game out of first place in the NFC East."

Mark Maske - The Washington Post

It was a huge game for the Dallas Cowboys to be able to keep pace with their division rivals. Just as important as the win were the losses by the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants putting the Dallas Cowboys in second place behind the idle 2-1 Washington Redskins.

CBS.com

Last Week: 23
This Week: 16

"They got back to running the ball with Ezekiel Elliott against the Lions. That's something that they have to do more of coming up."

Pete Prisco - CBS.com

I don't think Pete was going out on a limb with this one. It's evident since 2014 that the Dallas Cowboys want to run the football and if they're going to have any success, they are going to have to continue to have success running the football. However, they never went away from the run game. Game script dictated that they pass more and they were effective in the run game when they ran it. The big difference in week four is the passing game showed signs of life for the first time since late in the 2017 season.

Pro Football Focus

This Week: 18

"The Cowboys needed some late-game heroics from Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to beat the Lions at home. Prescott has been less than impressive to start 2018, and while some of the blame can be attributed to his receivers, he still has the third lowest adjusted completion percentage among current starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Our model pegs their playoff chances at 32% with a 20% shot of winning the division."

Eric Eager and Ben Brown - Pro Football Focus

So you're saying there's a chance? A 32% shot at making the playoffs sounds great after how we felt about this team following the loss in Seattle. The Dallas Cowboys are right in the thick of the NFC East Divisional race and can reassert themselves in the conference with a win against the Houston Texans on Sunday.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

With the win on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys certainly turned some heads as they rose in every power rankings save for one. But that guy doesn't know the offensive coordinator's first name, so we are going to give the team a pass for not climbing in his rankings. Who knows what he's thinking.

Power rankings are completely subjective, but it's good to get an idea of how the Dallas Cowboys are viewed by national observers from time-to-time, even if it appears the national observers aren't observing very closely. Looking at you Pete. 


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Maliek Collins on the Verge of a Breakout Season

Matthew Lenix

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Maliek Collins on the Verge of a Breakout Season

Maliek Collins has never lacked any ability on the field just the ability to stay on it. Foot and knee injuries have always seemed to get in the way when he's been on the brink of reaching his potential.

2019 is a contract year for Collins which means it's the most critical season of his young career. He hasn't wasted any time, though, showing what he's capable of when he doesn't have any physical limitations.

https://twitter.com/HelmanDC/status/1159533781188956161?s=19

John Owning on Twitter

Maliek Collins beats Connor William's with a swim move in 2v2s https://t.co/prL9GsG1rY

In the first video above, Collins gets a great burst off the line of scrimmage while he simultaneously gets his hands on Connor Williams first. He controls and pushes him right into Dak Prescott's face, forcing a throw out of bounds. On the next video, he again explodes off the ball and uses a great swim move to beat Williams again in 2 on 2 drills.


His dominance hasn't been limited to training camp practice, however, as evident in his performance this past Saturday in albeit a short amount of action.

These next two plays stand out for me specifically. In the first, he uses a very physical spin move that knocks the left guard off balance and puts him right in the quarterback's face. In a league that focuses on quarterbacks getting the ball out quickly, the sooner you can provide pressure from the interior the harder it is for a quarterback to stay in the pocket and throw effectively. In the next play, he utilizes a swim move after a quick jump off the line and is right in the face of the runner as he and Jaylon Smith combine for a TFL (tackle for loss).

John Owning on Twitter

Beautiful TFL for Maliek Collins. Swims inside the LG on the zone concept to get penetration. Quickly flattens, latches onto Henderson's jersey and drags him to the ground. Outstanding grip strength #Cowboys. https://t.co/6ZnpKSVsRv

Collins performing at a high level in 2019 doesn't just benefit him but also rookie Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. While he's still acquiring the tools needed for the pro level under the guidance of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli he can watch and learn from Collins as he'll be right behind him as the team's backup 3-technique defensive tackle. Hill is probably still a year away from being a big contributor with Collins looking so refreshed and healthy so this is a great time to gain all the knowledge he can from a veteran. If that learning process comes along quickly, the Cowboys will have a very solid one-two punch alongside Antwaun Woods, the starter at the 1-technique.

Health, at least so far, seems to be on the side of Maliek Collins heading into the 2019 season, which is all he's ever lacked. Motivated by the opportunity to maximize his dollars for 2020, and a rookie being drafted at the same position, I look for Collins to not only have a breakout year but one that could garner a pro bowl nod, or at least be heavy in the conversation, which would mean great things for the Cowboys defensive front.


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Cowboys Nation Mailbag: What about Taco Charlton and Ezekiel Elliott?

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: El Reto VS Texans, Porque Bryant No Volverá

The 2019 regular season is now less than three weeks away and now is the time when we start getting down to the nitty-gritty. The "dress rehearsal" game is coming this Saturday as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Houston Texans and a lot of the 53-man roster will likely be decided after that game.

As we inch closer to the regular season, the contract status for the Dallas Cowboys' newest version of the triplets and the construction of the 53-man roster will have even greater emphasis in the news.

Thanks for your questions this week. Let's did into this week's Cowboys Nation Mailbag.

I guess it depends on what segment of Cowboys Twitter you're talking about.

Contract situations and hold outs always create some tension within the fanbase. They expect players to show up for work as they do. You hear people talk about Elliott fulfilling the agreement of his contract. But what people don't understand is that rookie contracts and the rookie salary scale was negotiated by players already in the league to avoid rookies making Sam Bradford type money. The veterans and to some extent the owners didn't like the idea that rookies could hold out of training camp to negotiate their first contract.

So, when Ezekiel Elliott was drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, he was locked into a contract length (including a team option for a fifth season) and a salary and bonus for the length of that contract.

The other thing to consider is that Elliott is doing exactly what the collective bargaining agreement allows him to do. Though the Dallas Cowboys can fine him, Elliott is permitted by the CBA to seek a contract extension after the third season of his rookie contract, just like you saw Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints do earlier this summer.

I get that fans are frustrated by the idea of a player "not honoring his contract," but in the NFL, that's the way football goes. The owners don't always honor the contracts they've agreed to, cutting a player with guaranteed money left on his deal because his play might have dropped off or simply because he doesn't warrant the cap hit.

But as Mike Leslie of WFAA recently pointed out on Twitter, our jobs aren't like NFL jobs.


There are a lot of folks that understand that there is a business side to all of this. The players, the coaches, and a large segment of Cowboys Nation all understand where Ezekiel Elliott is coming from. Even the "running backs don't matter" truthers aren't throwing Ezekiel Elliott under the bus for holding out for a new contract.

As I've said before, don't get mad at Ezekiel Elliott or even the Dallas Cowboys for the current state of his contract negotiations. Get mad at the Los Angeles Rams for setting a precedent that Ezekiel Elliott is attempting to take advantage of.

Ezekiel Elliott is only doing what's permitted by the CBA. Though the negotiations continue to drag on, there's still three weeks left till the start of the regular season, which is plenty of time to get a deal done.

Until this holdout lasts until the regular season, you shouldn't worry.

Taco Charlton has done some nice things in the preseason thus far. He's been able to create pressure, and by Bobby Belt's splash metric, Taco Charlton is leading the team.

Obviously, this isn't the only way to evaluate talent, but it does give an indication that Taco Charlton has been good this preseason. I've long believed that Taco was going to make the 53-man roster for the sheer fact that he was a first-round draft pick. That may not be a good enough reason for some, but he's a player that the Dallas Cowboys won't give up on lightly. He's doing enough at this point in the preseason to warrant another year.

Cutting Taco Charlton in 2019 actually costs you money. It would cost the Dallas Cowboys roughly $3.5 million in 2019,  but they could save $1.3 million in 2020. It's not likely that the Cowboys will pick up his fifth-year rookie option, which would be for 2021. Financially, the only move that would make sense is a trade, which would cost the Dallas Cowboys only $1.3 million in dead money.

While I think Taco Charlton is a player that is destined for the 53-man roster, with reports that DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford are about to be activated from the physically unable to perform (P.U.P) list, it may come down to a numbers game at defensive end.

Players like Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, Kerry Hyder, and even Jalen Jelks may have something to say about Taco Charlton's spot on the 53-man roster, but I believe they give him another year to prove he's worth retaining.


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PFF Ranks Dak Prescott As Tier 3, 17th Overall Quarterback

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott Clutch in 4th Quarter & OT in Win Over Eagles 3

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the subject of constant debate around the football world. Now that it's getting time to pay him, those debates are even hotter.

As I discussed last week, Prescott has been much better than he's often given credit for, though the narrative continues to be that he is carried by his offensive line and rushing attack.

Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks heading into the 2019 season, placing them both in tiers, and in traditional order as well. Prescott clocked in at 17th overall on their list, listed as a tier 3 NFL starting quarterback.

"Tier 3: Volatile or conservative quarterbacks whose production will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and play calling. Tier 3 quarterbacks can post top-10 production in any given year in the right situation."

The other quarterbacks listed in Prescott's tier include Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Cam Newton, all ranked in front of him. Prescott is ahead of a couple of tier 3 passers as well, though, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr.


"Even with his added rushing ability, Prescott has settled in as a mid-tier quarterback whose production is more dependent on his supporting cast, and this will be a big year to see if he can get back to his rookie levels of efficiency."

Personally, I'd rank Prescott ahead of a decent number of those tier 3 quarterbacks, such as Stafford and Cousins. Overall, though, it's tough to have too big an issue with their assessment of Prescott and the Cowboys offense. He has been somewhat up-and-down during his time as the Cowboys starter, and saw a big spike in his play when given Amari Cooper as a weapon in the passing game a year ago.

While the entire fanbase is hopeful that he will improve on his mechanics and decision making under new leadership on offense, we can't bank on that happening just yet.

Still, Dak Prescott has looked excellent this preseason, and should be poised for a career year in 2019. I think there's a good chance he finds himself closer to Wentz and Watson on these types of rankings than Carr and Stafford by this time next season.


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