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Feed Dak: Cowboys Not Utilizing Prescott’s Greatest Strength

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

For years we've seen the transition of offenses in the NFL to offenses that resemble more what a college offense looks like. We're seeing a rise in the use of spread formations with 11 personnel becoming the personnel of choice across the league. Teams are using more read-option running schemes and run-pass options in their offenses. More and more teams are using their quarterbacks running ability to their advantage and it's becoming a sought-after trait among quarterbacks drafted at the top of the draft. For some reason though, the Cowboys haven't quite figured out how to harness Dak Prescott's running ability.

You look around the league and you'll begin to notice that teams are designing plays for their quarterbacks to be a ball carrier. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have always been the premier example of what you can do with a running quarterback. The Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills are putting Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen in situations where they can use their athleticism and running ability. Both Jackson and Allen have run for more than 100 yards in recent weeks and Allen did it in consecutive weeks.

But for some reason the Dallas Cowboys seem to be going in the opposite direction from the rest of the league.

Ed Werder on Twitter

Some defensive coordinators believe Dak Prescott's ability as a runner is his strongest asset as a QB. But the shutout loss to the #Colts marked the first time this season - and just third time in career - that Dak had no rushing attempts. #Cowboys are 1-2 in such games.

One of the biggest critiques of Scott Linehan at this point is his apparent in ability to adapt his offense to fit the talents and skills of his most important players. Dak's lack of running over the last several weeks may not all be on Scott Linehan, but he definitely has a voice with Prescott, so if he's encouraging Prescott to hang in the pocket longer as opposed to run, then it's a problem.

In the game against the Indianapolis Colts there were several times that Prescott appeared to have an opportunity to run, but opted to throw the football instead. Since carrying the ball 11 times against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week six, he's only carried the ball more than five times in two games and hasn't topped six carries a game since. Obviously, during the five game winning streak, you don't notice the flaws as much because their winning. When the Cowboys get shut out in a game that had playoff clinching implications and the offense struggled to get into scoring range, it stands out.

Let's look at some numbers.

Per Pro Football Focus, Prescott is ninth in the NFL in rushing yards this season. He's only ran the ball on a non-scramble attempt 38 times, which is way behind Lamar Jackson (102) at and Cam Newton (75) for third in the NFL. Even on scrambles, Prescott is only 8th in the NFL, behind Jameis Winston who has only played in nine games this season.  Since week nine, the first week that Amari Cooper played for the Cowboys, Dak has only scrambled eight times, which is 15th in the NFL and he's only run the ball on a designed run 19 times, fifth in the NFL in that time span.


One reason why they aren't running it as much with Dak is that they haven't been as good at it over the last seven weeks.  Over the first seven weeks of the season, Prescott averaged 5.9 yards per carry. He was second in attempts and second in scrambles during that period of time. His 5.9 yards per carry, the first seven weeks of the season, ranked fifth in the NFL among non-running backs with at least 10 carries. He was third in the NFL in the first seven weeks in rushing yards among quarterbacks with 236 rushing yards. He gained 78% of his season total in the first seven games. Since week nine, he's only gained 67 yards at 2.5 yards per carry. On designed runs, Prescott's only gained 0.84 yards per carry over the last seven games, but is gaining 6.37 yards per carry on scrambles.

So, while the designed runs haven't been good, he's still been a very good scrambler, though he hasn't scrambled as much. In the first seven games of the season Dak scrambled 20 times, in the last seven games, he's only taken off on pass plays eight times.

Why isn't Dak running as much? Is Dak Prescott's hesitancy to run similar to his hesitancy to throw? Is Dak's unwillingness to run come from the indecisiveness we sometimes see in the pocket when going through his progressions? Are they linked? Is Prescott being told to be a pocket passer and look to throw first? Possibly all of the above.

Regardless of who is at fault for Dak Prescott scaling back on his scrambling, it's severely handicapping the Dallas Cowboys' soon-to-be-paid franchise quarterback by not using his best asset. His running ability is something that gets the team going. When he's running it, you seem him playing with a lot of confidence. Like in the New Orleans game when he broke several tackles to pick up a crucial third down late in the game, it gave a lift to the entire team and they were able to close the deal.

A quarterback who can run can really help bail the team out when the offense isn't playing well and moving forward, Dak needs to find his swagger when running the ball. When Prescott is a threat to run the football, like he can be, it puts a ton of stress on the defense, which opens up so much more for the offense. If defenses have to think about Dak running the ball, it makes the game more 11 vs 11 instead of 10 vs 11.

The Dallas Cowboys have to figure out a way to use his legs more and more efficiently moving forward. Dak Prescott needs to get more aggressive as a scrambler moving forward. Yes, when the opportunity to make a pass on the move is there for him, he should take it, but if it's a 50/50 proposition, he needs to go with the thing he does best, and that's running the football.


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Cowboys’ Tight End Marcus Lucas with Huge Opportunity vs the Houston Texans

John Williams

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Cowboys' Tight End Marcus Lucas with Huge Opportunity vs the Houston Texans

With only two preseason games remaining, opportunities to make a statement are growing thin. The Dallas Cowboys have very few spots on the roster available, especially at the tight end position where Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz appear to have the depth chart locked down. The problem is, Jarwin and Schultz have been dealing with injuries and missed the second preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams and probably won't play against the Houston Texans tonight.

Enter Marcus Lucas.

Marcus Lucas hasn't been a member of the Dallas Cowboys for very long, but he's already made an impact.

In his first preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys, Lucas caught four passes on four targets for 20 yards. His receptions went for two, seven, five, and six yards for an average of five yards per reception. He did have a holding penalty that cost the Dallas Cowboys 10 yards on a first down play that didn't go anywhere anyway.

Though Lucas has bounced around NFL practice squads, he's never really found a home. After going undrafted in 2014, Lucas was signed by the Carolina Panthers in May of that year but wasn't able to stick on the 53-man roster and was released and placed on the practice squad. In 2015, he was on the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears practice squads. In 2016, the Panthers brought him back in the summer after the Bears released him from their 90-man roster. That September after cut-down day, the Seattle Seahawks signed Lucas to their practice squad where he spent all of 2016. From 2017 to the end of 2018, Lucas spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, the Seattle Seahawks again, and the San Francisco 49ers. He was with the 49ers in 2019 before joining the Dallas Cowboys about two weeks ago and will get an extended run in these final two preseason games.


At Thursday's practice, Lucas was the only tight end available with Jason Witten getting a rest day and Jarwin, Schultz, and fellow Tight End Cody McElroy dealing with injuries.

Todd Archer on Twitter

With Jason Witten getting a day of rest, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and Codey McElroy injured, the Cowboys have one tight end practicing today: Marcus Lucas, who has been with the team for about two weeks.

It's possible that Lucas may get an extended amount of playing time tonight with an opportunity to show the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL that he's ready to land on a 53-man roster. With likely only Jason Witten being the only other tight end active for the game against the Houston Texans, Lucas will get a lot of playing time. If his last preseason exposure is any indication, he'll get the chance to display his receiving prowess.

At 27, Lucas likely has few opportunities left to make his mark for an NFL franchise. On a team that proclaims the "next man up" as a battle cry, after Witten, Lucas is the next man up for tonight and depending on his performance could make the Dallas Cowboys front office or another front office around the league take notice.

Depending on the long-term health of the Dallas Cowboys' tight end position, Lucas may find his path to a roster spot simply dependent upon the health of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. Though a job may not come with the Dallas Cowboys, tonight is an extremely important audition for his next suitor. How he performs tonight could land Marcus Lucas a job after the Dallas Cowboys trim the roster to 53 next week.

They say "preseason games don't matter," but to Marcus Lucas, this might be the most important game of his career.


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REPORT: Signs Point to Elliott, Cowboys Finalizing Contract Extension

Jess Haynie

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Will No Preseason Work Hurt Ezekiel Elliott's Early Season Production?

Our long Cowboys National nightmare may close to ending. According to Kevin Turner of 105.3 The Fan, there's news coming in that points to Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys soon reaching an agreement and ending Zeke's holdout.

The following was just tweeted this morning from Turner's account:

Kevin Turner on Twitter

BREAKING: Hello, talented media personality KT here, same source tells me Zeke is booked to return from Cabo tomorrow. Another source tells @Shippyfunsports the Cowboys and Zeke were in contact late last night, and that a deal could come together over the weekend. @1053thefan https://t.co/hdiGHoaiVb

We had just heard yesterday that Dallas offered Zeke a deal that would make him the second-highest paid RB in football behind Todd Gurley. Was that enough to get Elliott to sign, or perhaps the basis that Zeke's team used to make a final counteroffer which Dallas agreed to?


Hopefully we'll find out all those details very soon. For now, we can just take hope in these signs of light at the end of this contract dispute tunnel.

The Cowboys aren't the same team without Ezekiel Elliott. With so much at stake in this 2019 season, it's time to get this deal done and get ready to win.


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Report: Cowboys Offer Ezekiel Elliott a Contract to Make him the NFL’s Second Highest-Paid RB

Matthew Lenix

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Report: Cowboys Offer Ezekiel Elliott a Contract to Make him the NFL's Second Highest-Paid RB

Negotiations are picking up in Dallas. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, the Dallas Cowboys have offered All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott a new contract that would make him the second-highest-paid running back in the NFL.


Ed Werder on Twitter

Sources: The most recent offer in negotiations between holdout Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys came from the team. Elliott has been offered a contract making him one of the NFL's 2 highest-paid RB. That would suggest team offering more than LeVeon Bell and less than Todd Gurley.

This would put Elliott just below Todd Gurley's four-year 60 million dollar deal and just ahead of Le'Veon Bell's four-year 52.5 million dollar deal. He's currently set to make 3.9 million in 2019 under his current contract. Deadlines make deals and it appears the Cowboys understand this. More to come.


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