It is not easy for rookie quarterbacks to come into the NFL and win games, but somebody forgot to tell that to Dak Prescott through his first seven games as the Cowboys starter.
Though he is 6-1, with his team sitting atop the NFC, its certainly fair to say that Prescott has made his fair share of rookie mistakes and gone through some struggles as the league catches on to his weaknesses.
Perhaps no team has frustrated Prescott more this season than the Philadelphia Eagles, who most recently held him to 287 yards and a 48.7% completion percentage. Prescott persevered for another victory, and led a clean game-winning drive in overtime, but a deeper dive into the tape from this game revealed that the score may not have been as close with Tony Romo at quarterback.
Forcing the Rookie to Beat Them with His Arm Strength
While watching this game live, it looked like the Eagles brought some of their signature pressures to try to confuse Prescott as they have done to so many quarterbacks this season.
On the Cowboys' opening drive, the Eagles faked most of these blitzes, opting to drop into coverage and trust their defensive front.
Feel the need to say once again that I love 4. 9 completes this pass to 11 all day.
With tons of bracket coverage, Philadelphia wanted to see Prescott make tough throws that we have become accustomed to seeing Romo toss with perfection, but plenty of Prescott's passes were far from perfect. In the above picture, Prescott was incomplete to Beasley, on a throw that has become a staple of this offense - running Beasley hard underneath a deep clearing route by Dez Bryant.
A lot of Prescott's struggles were because of his footwork and mechanics, but when he did shore these things up we saw dimes like these to Dez Bryant.
Single high safety, LB drops into flat, get the ball to 88. Good footwork too. https://t.co/cOq2oPdD01
In single high coverage, Prescott gave his best play maker a chance to go get a ball, and Bryant did just that.
Not so good footwork, ball thrown short to 83.
Inconsistent, Prescott's footwork took points off the scoreboard a number of times in this game, as you see above on a missed throw to Terrance Williams. Again, it is important to note that the Eagles gave Prescott some clean pockets to throw from - ones that we typically see Tony surgically tear apart defenses from.
Unfortunately, we cannot drop Romo into this vacuum and watch him throw against these exact defenses, but I still do believe that Dallas could have separated from Philadelphia by a wide margin on the scoreboard with #9 under center.
How Dak Prescott Won This Game
The deciding plays in this game from Prescott and the Cowboys offense came because of his mobility, a factor of Romo's game that we expect to be limited when he does return to action.
There was also the read option and play option designs that Scott Linehan used to play both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to their strengths.
Someone is going to win their fourth game of the #WorldSeries tonight. Here is #4 being #good. https://t.co/SLrToUCZqD
Prescott held off a safety on this throw with his eyes down the seam, before stepping into a strong throw that was on time to Bryant. Later in the game, we saw more of the poise and athletic ability that Prescott has won Cowboys Nation over with, especially with plays like these:
Elliott picks up the blitz in the face of Prescott, allowing him to patiently climb the pocket and get the ball to Williams with a chance to run after the catch. Few rookie quarterbacks ever get to play in an offense as complete and talented as this one, and when Prescott has been at his best, he's played like a young QB that realizes this at all times - distributing the ball around and allowing his guys to win for him.
Plays that Romo DEFINITELY Makes
For another film breakdown piece a few weeks ago, I watched every single drop back and throw from Tony Romo in 2015, and offered a realistic analysis of what the aging quarterback is still capable of in Reel Talk: What Can Tony Romo Still Do? The Answers From His 2015 Tape.
You can decide for yourself if Romo makes throws like these:
With 9, 88 is throwing up the X here. You know it, we all know it.
If 4 hit 11 in stride here...
The ball to Bryant could have ensured that this game never went to overtime, and a better throw to Beasley would have resulted in a field-position-flipping run after the catch.
Getting the Job Done: Dak Comes Through in the Clutch
In the end, Dak Prescott won this football game, which is is undeniably the most important thing to remember through all of this analysis. As long as Prescott continues to win games, he will deserve the praise and accolades he receives.
This Dallas roster has been built to compete for some time now, but the last contending Cowboys team we saw was the 2014 Romo-led America's Team. For now, we have the Prescott-led 2016 Cowboys, and wow have they taken us on quite the enjoyable ride.
Overtime @Dak was #good. Sauce. https://t.co/dGMJS0tyV9
The only remaining question for this team is whether or not Tony Romo can also make this team just as successful this season. After studying Dak Prescott against the Eagles, I think Romo can make them even better.
Romo can make a 6-1 team being led by two rookies even better, and once he comes back and does, Prescott will be patiently waiting in the wings to get another shot to lead this team.
The Chicago Cubs won the World Series while I wrote this. ANYTHING is possible.
Weigh in, Cowboys Nation! Leave a comment below to share what you saw from Dak Prescott in Week 8, and if you believe that Tony Romo is still the best QB to carry this team? You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog18 hours ago
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Star Blog2 days ago
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Do the Dallas Cowboys Have Any Trade Assets?
Star Blog1 week ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?