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Defense Wins Championships, Prescott Not to Blame

Bryson Treece

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Don't Blame

The Dallas Cowboys have already seen their share of struggles in this still young 2017 season, and that increasingly means blaming QB Dak Prescott for any shortcomings. An errant pass here and a high throw there are seen as more than just a receiver not being on the same page as his QB and Dak throwing under pressure. It’s seen as losing the game, on a few passes.

The truth is, the issue is so much bigger than just Dak Prescott.

Even though NFL football lines have the Cowboys favored by 2.5, that’s low for the home team. The reality is that many analysts and fans alike have the Green Bay Packers beating the Dallas Cowboys this week. Some don’t even have the ‘Boys close.

Dak Prescott may be the QB, and the defacto leader of this team, but I think we need to tap the breaks a little before stringing him up for a few bad passes. Prescott was never a super accurate passer, though he has the accuracy for most any throw asked of him, because his game is bigger than just the pass.

It includes read options that he is gifted enough to turn into a fresh set of downs, without throwing the ball.

Last week, against the Los Angeles Rams, Prescott led the way to 30 points and did so with only a slightly below average completion percentage. He also had three touchdowns, one interception, and was sacked twice for a total loss of one yard.

You have to consider the conditions the QB faced during the game, and in that game he was under pressure with tight coverage on his receivers. A lot of quarterbacks would have a 55.6% completion rate under those conditions. But like I said, it’s far bigger than just Dak.

The defense gave up 35 points to the Rams. You’re gonna be hard-pressed to win games when your defense is consistently allowing opposing teams to score more than 20 points a game.

Currently, through four games, the Cowboys defense has given up an average of 24.25 points per game. Maybe you’ve heard this before, or not, but there’s a reason that they say “defense wins championships”.

To demonstrate, let’s look at the seasons of the last four Super Bowl winners and their defense’s average points per game during the regular season:

  • 2016 Patriots defense – 15.6 points per game
  • 2015 Broncos defense – 18.5 points per game
  • 2014 Patriots defense – 19.5 points per game
  • 2013 Seahawks defense – 14.4 points per game

And you’ll find similar results to that no matter how far back you go.

The fact of life in the NFL is that you’re not likely to win as much if your defense can’t hold opposing teams to under 20 points consistently.

Prescott is certainly no Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but he doesn’t have to be either. Not with this team, because the Cowboys currently average 23.5 points per game on offense.

Care to see the offensive scoring totals for the same teams/seasons above?

  • 2016 Patriots offense – 26.9 points per game
  • 2015 Broncos offense – 22.1 points per game
  • 2014 Patriots offense – 29.2 points per game
  • 2013 Seahawks offense – 26.0 points per game

Nothing outlandish there, just more points than their opposition. And that’s all it takes.

If the defense is giving up more than 20 points per game, the offense has to score more, on average, to win out. Three touchdowns a game should be enough in this league, but our defense is simply not up to the challenge.

The bottom line is this, don’t put the failure to stop teams from scoring on Dak’s shoulders. All he can do is lead scoring drives.

He cannot go out and defend passes or sack the other team’s QB. He’s young, and still learning so much about this game and this team and his own abilities, so don’t make matters worse by deafening Frisco, TX with moans and decries about a new quarterback.

Instead, look at the defense. They’re the ones keeping us at .500 right now. Back the QB.



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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10 Comments
  • Donny King

    doesn’t really help the defense when the offense doesn’t play 4 quarters, look past the giants, when did the offense as a whole play a complete game, the defense needs the offense for 4 quarters the offense needs the defense for 4 quarters creating turnover which isn’t happening, the Dallas defense had 7 chances to pick off Carson Palmer

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      That’s the beauty of the score, doesn’t matter when it comes, as long as it does. 23 points a game is fine when the defense does its job.

      • Donny King

        how can the defense do it’s job when the offense can’t sustain a drive with x amount of 3 and outs, that’s my point, look I get that not every drive is going to result in a TD or field goal, but take some time off the clock so the defense can rest

  • Saul molina

    I disagree with that article saying ease off of dak look I’m a huge dak fan I was yelling at anyone who would listen draft dak but he has not played that great this year but that’s only a small part offensive line needs to play better scandrick looks washed up brown looks bad heath is a back up Jourdan lewis is our best corner Xavier woods needs to be opposite Byron Jones and someone needs to help out Lawrence

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Dak has played as well as he did last year, was my point. He’s not playing particularly bad, not for him, he’s doing what he always has done. But as you mention, the offensive line and defense are not playing at the high level they were last year. Basically, you can’t put a team’s record entirely on one guy when there are problems on both sides of the ball. Thanks for reading.

      • Saul molina

        If they don’t get better on defense they won’t be shit I don’t care what anyone says point fucking blank

        • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

          Which is exactly what the article says… Glad we agree on something! Yesterday just showed it again, the defense must step up.

  • Stephen L. Holley

    “Still say it should have been “T.J. Watt” at middle linebacker with Sean Lee on one side and Jaylon Smith on the other!!!! ” Talk about stopping the run with “MANSTER II” in the middle!!!! Crash blitz T.J. on passing downs with three down linemen and five DB’s!!!!!! Taco has done nothing and T.J. is tearing it up!!!!!

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Yeah, idk wth is/was going on with Taco. I trust the Cowboys to know what they’re doing, like taking Jaylon last year, but Taco just doesn’t seem to be anything more than a pad filler at this point.

  • Saul molina

    No way has he played as good as last year he has missed a lot of throws

Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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Star Blog

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

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Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The Dak Stats

Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.

Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.

When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.

Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.

Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.

Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.

Questions Still Loom

This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.

But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -167
  2. Dallas Cowboys +350
  3. New York Giants +650
  4. Washington Redskins +750

NFC East Week 1 Predictions

The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.

The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.

The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.

The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.

This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.



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