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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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Star Blog

DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Star Blog

Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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