After a poor performance in the game that eliminated the Dallas Cowboys from playoff contention, Dez Bryant has been one of the most talked-about players in Cowboys Nation. Understandably so. Coming into the season, our expectations around the chemistry we all thought Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant had developed were too high.
The truth is, they don't have said chemistry. The Cowboys found that out the hard way this season, as the passing game never got to be "good enough." Now, questions arise. Should Dallas get rid of Dez Bryant and his $70M contract? Is it all his fault? Is it all Dak's fault? What about the scheme, does he fit in this offense?
I will say this. As a young fan, Dez Bryant became one of my favorite players when watching the Cowboys play every Sunday. His passion, his big catches and the amazing moments he and Tony Romo made possible were captivating for me.
But I won't lie. I don't feel the same as before about 88. Times have changed. The Cowboys' QB position has changed. His production has changed.
Dez still has his moments every once in a while, though. His record-setting touchdown against the Redskins was one of them. His 50-yard touchdown catch versus the Giants was another one. But when you realize how many passes he's dropping, how many times he fails to get open... it gets tough. Last week, he wasn't able to catch a ball that despite not being a perfect pass, hit both of his hands and ended up being tipped in the air and intercepted by Seattle.
Earlier, he fumbled in a crucial moment of the game. It has come to a point in which we have to question, is Dez even worth the money he is being paid? I truly believe that he isn't.
The first thing that people argue at this point, is the fact that Dak Prescott is not the kind of QB who will throw a contested ball, which is where Dez excels. Well, they're right.
Dak has a long way to go. I think that Prescott, despite having a tough season, is the guy who will lead Dallas for a long time. This wasn't his best season, but at the end of the day he's a second year QB who missed his superstar RB for six games, almost got killed by his backup left tackles, and saw his defense crumble to pieces without Sean Lee.
He's the future. Yes, he deserves a big part of the blame. His play this year was far from great. That doesn't mean it's the end of his career though. It doesn't mean that the Cowboys have to move on. He's an NFL quarterback. It takes time. There is a learning curve.
Which naturally brings us to the inevitable Tony Romo mentions.
"He was good with Tony, so that means the problem is Dak, not Dez", some say. I understand that. Failing to recognize that Dak doesn't take the risks Romo once did would be foolish.
However, look at DeAndre Hopkins. Look at Larry Fitzgerald. The guys who throw them the ball are not even close to being "special QBs". Yet they continue to be elite WRs. Year after year. As I said before, I was once a huge Dez Bryant fan, but he's far from a top WR right now. Is it possible that his chemistry with Romo was actually that good?
It's been 21 straight games without more than 100 yards for Dez. I don't care who's throwing him the football, if he really was an "elite WR", he wouldn't be struggling this much. It's ridiculous.
Last year, it looked like Dez was still a very good receiver stuck with a rookie QB who wasn't taking many risks. Right now it just feels like Bryant isn't as good as before. It feels like the Cowboys could do better.
Number 88 had a lot to say on Wednesday when he met with the media, and frankly I don't know what to make of it. While Bryant is trying to offer reasons as to why he hasn't played at the level he's supposed to be, the only thing I can see are excuses.
Dez Bryant said he had been bothered by tendinitis since early November. Said he was surprised no one knew. It has never appeared on Cowboys injury report and he hasn't spoken about it until Wednesday.
This is what stuck out to me the most. Really? He's been injured since November and this is the first time we hear about it? NFL teams actually don't mind players being in the injury report because it messes with opposing teams' game-planning, but somehow we never heard of this?
At times, it feels like it's always something with Dez. There's always an injury we haven't heard about. Maybe I'm getting carried away, but I'm not buying it. I don't think an injury is the reason for his declining production.
Dez also mentioned that he planned to talk to Jerry Jones about the scheme. What? Shouldn't he be talking to his coach? What does he want to talk to Jerry about? I mean, I don't think his fumble and his drops last week had anything to do with a scheme.
I'm aware of his talent. I'm aware of the fact that he may just shake it all off and be the awesome WR he once was as soon as next year. He's a passionate player and things get on his mind. You don't know when he'll bounce back. From one second to another, his level can change completely.
But when you're paying a player the amount of money Dallas is paying him, is it worth it? Is it worth not knowing if he'll ever get back to being the amazing play-maker as before? Is it worth it if "things can get on his mind" in one of the biggest games of the season, an elimination game?
The Cowboys will need that cap space soon.
David Irving, Zack Martin, DeMarcus Lawrence and Anthony Hitchens are just a few names that this front office will have to look at pretty soon. Maybe the Cowboys should do something about Dez. At this point, I think he either takes a pay cut or he stops playing for the Cowboys.
I can't believe I'm saying this after years of idolizing him, but I wouldn't mind if Dez played his last game with a star on his helmet this Sunday. It's the scheme, it's an injury, it's things getting in his mind... or is it just excuses for a guy who isn't the same wide receiver he once was?
Where Does Dak Prescott Rank Among NFL Quarterbacks?
The quarterback position is one of the most difficult positions to evaluate in the NFL. As hard as it can be for a quarterback to understand and execute an offense against a defense that is trying to keep them off balance, it can be equally difficult to try and determine where each quarterback ranks compared to his peers.
Last week, The Sporting News attempted to do just that with their 2019 Quarterback Rankings. It's a pretty good list, and I highly recommend checking it out.
This was the criteria for how Vinnie Iyer,
"These rankings are based on how each QB performed last season and the upside of how each might perform in 2019. No matter how many Super Bowl rings or MVP awards a QB has won, or the number of efficient passing seasons he has posted in the past, history is a small part of the equation. We thought about where each QB ended up last season in terms of effectiveness, production and durability, and then we thought even more about how his talent and offensive support set him up for success (or lack thereof) this season."
Vinnie Iyer - The Sporting News
Dak Prescott came in at number 14 on the list, three spots behind NFC East counterpart Carson Wentz.
Here's what NFL Analyst Vinnie Iyer had to say:
"Prescott dazzled as a rookie in 2016 and slumped as a sophomore in 2017. Last season, he was closer to his rookie form in a year that largely landed between both extremes. Prescott got hot in the second half of the season once he clicked with new No. 1 wideout Amari Cooper, creating a trickle-down effect that should continue with more legitimate overall weapons in 2019."
Vinnie Iyer - The Sporting News
While these lists are rather subjective and it can be a difficult task, I think Vinnie's pretty close on where Dak Prescott sits in the NFL at this point in his career.
It's hard to argue with his top five. Each could have an argument for being the best quarterback in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes just won the NFL MVP, Tom Brady has won all the Super Bowls, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers put up ridiculous numbers year in and year out, and Russell Wilson was just made the highest paid player in NFL history.
While I think Dak probably sits in the 9-15 range, here are the five quarterbacks ranked ahead or Prescott.
9. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
11. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
12. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
13. DeShaun Watson, Houston Texans
I feel there's an argument to be made that Prescott is a few spots to low.
As an avid Oklahoma Sooners homer, I find it a bit presumptuous to have Baker Mayfield as one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL. Mostly because he's only played 14 games at this point in his NFL career. Mayfield had a tremendous rookie season and has given Cleveland Browns fans hope that the franchise is finally headed in the right direction. As much as I love Baker Mayfield and think he's going to be a great NFL quarterback, it's hard for me to put him in the top 10 at this point in his career.
Ben Roethlisberger is easily a top 10 quarterback. He has skins on the wall and over the last several seasons has been a prolific passer in the NFL. Some of the games he plays in the offseason talking about retirement aren't great, but it's hard to argue he hasn't had a borderline Hall of Fame career.
The most difficult argument I think comes when you compare Dak Prescott and DeShaun Watson. The two seem to be on similar career trajectories at this point.
Watson has a better passer rating, a slightly better completion percentage and has more total touchdowns per game than Dak Prescott for his career. If Watson had played as many games as Dak Prescott to this point, at his current touchdown rate, he'd have 108 total touchdowns. 23 more than Dak Prescott.
The two that I have the biggest issue with on this list are the two he gets compared to the most because they were taken first and second overall in the same draft that Dak Prescott was taken in the fourth round; Jared Goff and Carson Wentz.
Dak Prescott's thrown for near as many touchdowns as Carson Wentz, who leads the three, but if you consider how many touchdowns Prescott's rushed for in his career, he sits 13 total touchdowns ahead of Wentz and 16 total touchdowns more than Jared Goff. Dak Prescott has a better career passer rating than both of those quarterbacks and is right there in yards per attempt with both guys.
Dak Prescott can claim more team success than Carson Wentz. One could argue that Jared Goff didn't play his best on the way to representing the NFC in the most recent Super Bowl. Dak Prescott has started every game of his NFL career while Carson Wentz has missed eight games due to season-ending injuries each of the last two seasons. Durability is a huge issue for Wentz at this point. I'd rather have the guy who you know will be on the field.
If I were going to rerank Dak Prescott with the five quarterbacks ranked directly ahead of him, I'd go:
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
10. DeShaun Watson, Houston Texans
11. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
12. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
13. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
14. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Of course, this is my attempt to be as unbiased as possible and would completely understand if you wanted to rank them differently. There's no perfect way to rank players in the NFL and I applaud the Sporting News guys for giving it this effort. I can see arguments for Ben Roethlisberger, Baker Mayfield, and DeShaun Watson ahead of Dak Prescott, but that's as far as I'm willing to go.
Dak Prescott is a top 12 quarterback in the NFL and an ascending player in this league.
If you were going to rank the six quarterbacks listed above, how would you rank them? Let us know in the comment section.
Dallas Cowboys Should Pursue Recently Released DT Gerald McCoy
The Dallas Cowboys have been reinforcing their defensive interior all offseason and look to be in a good position as they get ready to begin offseason training activities and minicamp. Yesterday, I wrote about the possibility of trading for New York Jets Defensive Tackle Leonard Williams. Another defensive tackle has now become available, long-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Tackle Gerald McCoy.
Per a report from Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs are going to release McCoy after nine seasons with the club.
BREAKING: DT Gerald McCoy has been informed by the Bucs of their plans to release him after nine seasons. The team decided not to pay him the $13-million salary he was owed for 2019.
McCoy is the definition of a cap casualty as he was set to make $13 million on the cap this year. At age 30 in 2018, McCoy still had six sacks as the Buccaneers 3-technique defensive tackle.
Throughout his career, he's been one of the more productive defensive tackles in the league. From 2012 to 2017 he was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and was a first-team All-Pro selection in 2013.
Since 2012, McCoy's averaged 7.2 sacks, 36.8 total tackles, 9.85 tackles for loss, and 17.85 quarterback hits a season. Over the last three seasons, McCoy's averaged just under seven sacks a season. In 2018, he finished with 38 total pressures, which was 19th among all interior defensive linemen. Only Tyrone Crawford from the Cowboys had nearly as many total pressures on the interior with 37.
Though the Cowboys have brought in Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder, and Trysten Hill to fortify a defensive interior with Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and Tyrone Crawford, Gerald McCoy would make an excellent addition to their rotation. Mike Fisher of 247 Sports is reporting that the Cowboys currently have "very little interest" in the defensive tackle.
That's plausible. The Dallas Cowboys have a ton of depth on the defensive line at the moment, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't pursue a talented player such as Gerald McCoy. McCoy has been an excellent 3-tech but also has the size to contribute at 1-tech on passing downs if you need him to.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has a ton of depth and it may not make sense to bring in a guy like McCoy, but they should. Much like the trade for Robert Quinn, you're putting your eggs in the 2019 Super Bowl basket and trying to maximize the talent that you have on the roster this year. They're a team primed to make a deep run in January and McCoy can help them do that.
As in everything, it will come down to the price tag. However, given that the Dallas Cowboys currently have just under $20 million available on the 2019 salary cap, they can get a deal done with McCoy and continue working on the long-term contracts for their star core of players.
Gerald McCoy makes the defense better. He's another guy along the defensive line, in addition to DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn, that the offensive line has to think about. He makes things easier for everyone at every level of the defense and shouldn't cost a ton to sign on a one-year deal.
BREAKING: Ezekiel Elliott Handcuffed After Incident with Security Guard
TMZ has released footage of Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott being handcuffed and escorted by police after an altercation with security at a Las Vegas music festival over the weekend.
Elliott was not arrested and no charges have been filed.
Ezekiel Elliott handcuffed but not charged after incident at Las Vegas music festival https://t.co/NJQ6csGgnv
The video shows Zeke engaged in what appears to be an argument with a female companion. Elliott is seen following her through the crowd, and then security starts to get involved after Zeke moves his body to block her from walking away.
One of the security guards says something that attracts Elliott's attention, causing him to move in closer. The guard falls backward from minimal contact. It as soon after that police get involved.
There isn't much here that would cause trouble for the average player, but that's hardly Elliott's situation. He's one of the most prolific stars in the NFL and already has history with the league for domestic violence and personal conduct issues.
Remember, no charges were filed when the NFL gave Elliott a six-game suspension in 2017 after accusations from an ex-girlfriend of domestic violence.
We will have to wait and see how Roger Goodell chooses to treat this latest issue.
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