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Film Review: How Has QB Dak Prescott Looked During Preseason?

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down An Outsider's View of Cowboys Training Camp 2
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As is typical for Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks, Dak Prescott has been the number one story surrounding the team all offseason. After an incredibly impressive start to his young career, Prescott struggled greatly down the stretch in 2017.

Without players like Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith around him, Prescott appeared to hit a wall, and he never really recovered the rest of the season.

Now, the Cowboys have to decide if Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future or not. And, of course, that will come down to his performance this upcoming season.

Prescott has played in four drives thus far in the 2018 preseason, clearly not a large enough sample size to draw any serious conclusions from. But in those four drives we have seen both reason for excitement, and some of the same causes for concern.

Let's jump into the film and analyze what Dak Prescott has done thus far.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Opening drive game 2. CIN brings 3rd down pressure and Dak immediately snaps his eyes outside and gets it out to Gallup. Think we're seeing some trust forming there https://t.co/Iz46yKrZ4A

Hey, let's start with the good. Dak Prescott and rookie wide out Michael Gallup are developing quite the rapport thus far during the preseason, and that continued during last week's loss to Cincinnati. On their opening drive of the game the Cowboys faced a 3rd down and three.

They came out in an empty set, but recognizing the cover one blitz look, Prescott brought in Rod Smith to help pass protect. Smith does a nice job of picking up the free blitzer, but Prescott's trust in Gallup shines through here.

Prescott immediately snaps his eyes down to Gallup and finds him on the quick slant. Clearly, he trusts Gallup to get a clean release and beat man coverage here, and his trust is rewarded with a completion and a first down.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

3rd and 10. Gallup's motion indicates man coverage, MIKE floats outside with Rod Smith and Dak takes it for a first down. Benefits of a mobile QB, play 11 on 11 and make the defense wrong. https://t.co/n5XsQqVF7K

One of the things which makes Dak Prescott so valuable is his mobility. While he may not have "Tony Romo improvisation" levels, his athleticism and mobility are even more impressive. Prescott's feet force the defense to play 11 on 11, and give him the chance to make them wrong: even when they are initially "right."

On this third down and long Prescott shows this ability off. Once again he recognizes the cover one, man coverage look. The 49ers middle linebacker is locked up with Rod Smith, and as soon as he swings out to the right, the defender is forced to float outside of the tackle box.

Once that backer flips his hips and gets outside, Prescott turns it up and runs for the first down. Plays like this will force defenses to utilize a spy or play zone coverage, which the Cowboys offense can then exploit. It's imperative for Prescott to use his legs more this season, especially on key downs like this one.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

not much to gif from this game but here's one of the better deep balls we've seen Dak throw in quite some time. https://t.co/6ECvAGilka

Later on in that preseason opener, Dak Prescott threw his first touchdown of the season. And, ironically, it was on a throw many have questioned if he can even make. The 49ers come out in a single high safety look with man coverage on the boundary.

Only rushing four, Prescott knows he can trust his protection and be patient for the downfield routes to develop.  After the snap his eyes quickly snap to the near side, looking at the near-side slot receiver's out route.

Prescott quickly works back to the other side of the field, though, and trusts Michael Gallup to beat man coverage on his fly route. With how quickly Prescott worked back to Gallup, it's fair to assume that was his plan all along, and the initial look underneath was an attempt to freeze the MOF safety.

Prescott then delivers one of the better deep balls we've seen from him for an easy touchdown.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Dak missed Jarwin twice during the 1st two drives. First wide outside the numbers then here high. Good coverage but this could've been dangerous with 22 over the top. https://t.co/4MFIdGBXXL

Now let's get into some of the not-so-good. On the Cowboys first scoring drive a week ago, Prescott missed Blake Jarwin for what could've been a huge completion. He actually missed Jarwin on back-to-back drives. First, he missed wide on a curl route. Then, on this play, he missed high after scrambling a bit.

Prescott initially looked down the field on the near-side, but the Bengals executed their cover three look successfully. He then dropped his eyes underneath, looking to dump it off to Rod Smith. He thinks better of it, though, when he notices the flat defender sitting right there ready to meet Smith for next to no gain.

I like how Prescott looked to extend the play and try to create something big, but he would've been better off taking off and running rather than trying to force it to Blake Jarwin. Prescott has the angle on the defender tasked with defending the far flat, and could've come up with a big gain had he taken off with it. Due to the inaccurate throw, however, this could've been picked off.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Bengals stay home on the play action roll out and he shoulda thrown this one into the stands https://t.co/T85T0n8Vys

Ironically, the two negative plays I've highlighted for this post include Dak trying to do too much. He's often criticized for being too conservative or dumping the ball off too quickly, but on these plays he should've taken the conservative route.

The Bengals stayed home on the Cowboys typical play action roll out here, forcing Dak to keep extending and waiting for something to come open. Clearly, nothing came open, but he tried to force the ball anyway. Prescott trusted Gallup a little too much here, and was lucky that this was only an incompletion.

Overall, despite some negatives, Dak Prescott has had a successful preseason thus far. He's been willing to use his feet, has developed some trust with rookie Michael Gallup, and has been getting the ball to Rod Smith out of the backfield effectively. While his yards-per-attempt numbers are rather low, this has more to do with play design and philosophy than it does Dak not being "willing" to create the big play.

Still, he and this offense are going to need to create explosive plays through the air if they expect to win anything meaningful going forward. Hopefully he can continue to develop a connection with these young receivers, and the offense can get back to where it was in 2016.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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1 Comment
  • Cowboys Fan

    Pretty sure Dak has not been the “number one” story surrounding the cowboys all offseason… Just off the top of my head – Earl Thomas trade, Dez Bryant cut, David Irving debacle.. hell even TWill has been in the news more than Dak. Don’t do Dak like that. He has done a great job staying out of the media. At least give him credit for that.

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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