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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

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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