As I sit here just minutes removed from arguably the most devastating loss in this franchise's history, it's hard to put the raw emotions aside and look at the bigger picture. I don't have to tell you what happened tonight, if you're reading this you know all too well how the Divisional Playoff game went down.
3rd and 20, Aaron Rodgers in his own territory. And somehow, someway, he found a way to rip out the hearts of thousands of Cowboys fans. The 2016 Cowboys season is now over, and as dejected we all feel right now, it's important to recognize what is happening at The Star in Frisco.
The Dallas Cowboys are building something special. Sure, that's been said a hundred times about this team and others before them, but it is truly the case of these Cowboys.
They have found their future at quarterback.
Dak Prescott was a rookie tonight. A rookie. But there was no way to tell it by watching him play. Over 300 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, two fourth quarter game-tying drives, and an 18 point comeback against one of the NFC's best.
Our rookie stood toe-to-toe with the best quarterback in all of football, and did not blink. Down 21-3 and with hope fading in the stadium, he dropped an absolute dime to Dez Bryant for a touchdown, to get his team right back into the game. After Micah Hyde intercepted him, Prescott answered back with 18 fourth quarter points.
Dak Prescott is special, there is just no way around that, and he is going to be here for a long time.
The rest of the offense is pretty great, too.
Ezekiel Elliott was damn near unstoppable tonight. The numbers look great, 22 carries for 125 yards, but not even they can tell the whole story.
Zeke ran with an attitude, and when the team fell behind big, he only ran harder. Zeke doesn't just want, he needs, to put the team on his back and bring them to victory. He, like Dak Prescott, is going to be around a while, and is going to be a problem for the rest of the league.
Dez Bryant is still an elite receiver. When given the targets, he has nights like he did tonight: 9 catches, 132 yards, and 2 huge touchdowns. There is no wide-out in the league better at 50/50 balls, and like the Cowboys other two triplets, Dez rises to the biggest occasion.
Oh yeah, and this offensive line will be intact next year as well. Ronald Leary will likely be gone, but in his place will be La'el Collins. Not much of a drop-off at all.
Help is on the way for this defense.
Okay, I get it. This defense gave up 34 points tonight, and allowed the Packers to walk over them for much of the first half. But don't let one bad game take away from what this unit did all year.
Rod Marinelli had this group playing way above their heads every week, finishing as the number one defense against the run in the NFL. Sure, the ability of the offense to put up yards and points early has to do with this, but it's still impressive nonetheless.
Potential stars on this defense emerged. David Irving is not a fluke, and has a chance to develop into a very good defensive end when given a full offseason to work at it. When healthy, Morris Claiborne proved he is one of the better corners in all of football. Yes, I said it.
Byron Jones continues to improve every week, and Sean Lee is still a certified beast. And with all of that being said, the Cowboys get Jaylon Smith back next year and a chance to draft pass rush and secondary help. Plus, this draft is super deep with pass rushers like Charles Harris out of Missouri (pictured below).
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They are going to be okay, trust me.
Tonight stings, I know it does. I am angry, upset, and dejected, but some perspective is necessary. The Dallas Cowboys are building something special at The Star, and with another year for these football minds to draft and work the free agent market, they will be back and better than ever in 2017.
So courtesy of Dak Prescott, QB1 in Dallas for 10-15 more years: we'll see you in the playoffs next year, NFL.
Could OC Kellen Moore Be More “Vanilla” Against Dolphins This Week?
The Cowboys are sort of in a no-win situation this Sunday.
If they come out and dominate the openly tanking Miami Dolphins, they'll have done exactly what they should do. But, if they lose to this putrid roster or lose one of their key players to injury, then this week three game would be considered a disaster.
So how should the Cowboys approach the Miami Dolphins?
Something tells me that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore may look more "basic" than usual this week. Heralded for his creativity over the first two games, Moore may not want to show too much against the lowly Dolphins. Especially if the Cowboys can simply impose their will, a la the 2016 offensive gameplan.
Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard should expect a lot of inside and outside zone opportunities this week, with each having a chance to have their best individual performances of the season. Tight end Blake Jarwin and wide receiver Devin Smith could see a lot of opportunities through the air as well, as the Cowboys may want to avoid putting Amari Cooper in situations which could cause injury.
Kellen Moore may want to come out firing with Dak Prescott and this dynamic passing game at first to get a quick lead, and then look to shorten the game as much as possible with his running game.
Honestly, as much as Cowboys Nation may not like it, I wouldn't be shocked if Miami covered this lofty 23 point spread. Dallas could look to get up a couple touchdowns, then proceed to sit on the ball and just look to get out of the stadium alive. Especially considering that the schedule gets much more difficult in the weeks following this Miami game.
With key NFC matchups against the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles looming large, health is the most important factor this week against the Dolphins.
Well, health and winning, of course.
#DALvsMIA: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Dallas and Miami could not be in more different modes heading into this week's game.
At 2-0 the Cowboys are looking to take the next step and earn themselves a Super Bowl ring. At a historically bad 0-2, the Dolphins are looking to go 0-16 and get a shot at drafting the top quarterback in next year's draft.
Vegas has this game at a ridiculous 21 point spread, which should rightfully scare gamblers away. But, both the Ravens and Patriots have beaten the brakes off Miami already this year, and Dallas seems primed to do so as well.
Cowboys -21. O/U 47.5 Points
The Cowboys are off to their best start since 2015, and they certainly expect their next 14 games to go much better than they did during that 2015 season. Dallas' offense is as dynamic as any in the league through two weeks, and quarterback Dak Prescott is playing like a legit MVP candidate.
Defensively, the Cowboys have been a bit disappointing thus far, but they have to be feeling like Sunday is the perfect opportunity for a "get right game." Defensive end Robert Quinn returns from suspension to take on his former team, and DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be getting his legs under him after missing all of training camp.
Prescott's favorite target during the opening victories, Michael Gallup, is set to miss this game with an injury, but I don't expect it to matter much against the Dolphins.
Where to even begin with the Miami Dolphins.
After trading for former first round pick Josh Rosen this offseason, the Dolphins decided to start journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Then they traded their own former first round left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a slew of high draft picks. Then, most recently, they traded another former first rounder in Minkah Fitzpatrick for even more picks.
Miami is doing everything they can do to hoard draft picks, ensuring they'll have their pick of the top quarterbacks over the next two draft classes. In the end, this tanking strategy could very well work for the Dolphins, but in 2019 they are going to look really bad.
They've been dominated and embarrassed both weeks thus far, and most expect that embarrassment to continue Sunday against the Cowboys. Operation Fish Tank is in full effect.
- The Dolphins are 0-5 against the spread their last 5 games.
- The score total has gone over in 4 of Miami's last 6 games.
- The Cowboys are 6-0 outright their last 6 home games.
- The score total has gone over in each of the Cowboys' last 5 games.
If it were to happen, this would be one of the worst losses I could ever remember in Cowboys history. Luckily, I highly doubt the Cowboys don't take care of business on Sunday.
Miami is downright trying to lose football games, and it's hard to imagine this group coming into Dallas and beating such a talented bunch. I'll take the Cowboys big, but I don't have the guts to bet any team -21 in the NFL.
Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need
It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.
Let's dive into this week's takeaways!
We Need Robert Quinn Back
The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.
Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need
Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.
Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.
Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen
The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.
Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It
Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).
All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.
He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.
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