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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 have been with ITS since 2016.

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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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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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