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How The Dallas Cowboys Completely Lucked Into Their Backup Quarterback

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - How The Dallas Cowboys Completely Lucked Into Their Backup QuarterDAK

There's a word I've been using a lot this offseason pertaining to the 2016 Dallas Cowboys - arrogant.

The thing about arrogance is, if it's justified, it's not necessarily stupid. It's just pompous. The Dallas Cowboys have -- through one preseason game -- somewhat justified some of their offseason arrogance.

In 2015, Tony Romo had more collarbone breaks than the Cowboys did wins without him. Putting things nicely... that's pathetic. Dallas paraded the clumsiest, least coordinated, and most inaccurate people that have ever thrown a pigskin through the quarterback position last year, and do you know what lesson they learned from that?

Do it again.

Lesson Not Learned, Oh Well!

The Cowboys saw Kellen Moore's inability to win a game as the Cowboys QB and said, "Well golly, I bet he could do it in 2016... even though he's never done it before and nothing suggests he can... This makes sense... America's Team!" and we were all left stunned.

Imagine that you and I went out for a boat ride (I'll bring some fun music don't worry... hope you like the Cast of Glee) and the boat sank. That would really suck. It'd be a horrible experience. Now imagine one year later I asked you to come out again... and I had done nothing to fix the boat.

That'd be pretty stupid, right?

Cowboys Headlines - How The Dallas Cowboys Completely Lucked Into Their Backup QuarterDAK 1

Kellen Moore's injury, while unfortunate for him, could have very well changed the future of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys boarded the "S.S. Minnow Moore" when they headed out to Training Camp, intent on scribbling his name underneath Tony Romo's on their depth chart. When Kellen suffered an injury that will likely cost him his season, Dallas turned to their 4th Round Draft Pick - Mississippi State's Dak Prescott.

Thanks to Dak's great play (let's remember it is a preseason game, so we don't get carried away) in Sunday's preseason-opening loss, it looks like the Cowboys might have potentially struck gold. Weird.

Yes, assuming Dak's career will display some of what we saw this past Sunday, the Cowboys might have found Tony Romo's heir... but they did it totally, completely, and absolutely indisputably on accident.

The Road To Dak Prescott

Obviously the lone survivor from 2015's quarterback fiasco was Kellen Moore. He was the first option for the Dallas Cowboys to back up Tony Romo in 2016. Seriously. People sat down in a room, suggested this, and then agreed that it was a good idea. This really happened.

It should be noted that the Cowboys did learn a teeny bit from 2015. They potentially wanted Jared Goff or Carson Wentz with the 4th Overall Pick, but thanks to some pre-Draft trades, those options were taken away from them.

Cowboys Headlines - How The Dallas Cowboys Completely Lucked Into Their Backup QuarterDAK 2

It's only been one preseason game, but Dak Prescott has the Dallas Cowboys feeling like the future of the quarterback position is in good hands.

Never fear! Jerry Jones is here! The Owner, President, and General Manager of the Dallas Cowboys then set his sights on the consensus third-ranked quarterback in the available crop - Paxton Lynch.

After being unable to swing a trade to land a Star on Lynch's helmet, Jones & Co. decided to look elsewhere for a potential quarterback puppy; the 4th Round.

It was well-known the Cowboys were about to take Michigan State's Connor Cook with the 101st pick, until the Oakland Raiders bailed them out. Ultimately, the Cowboys took Dak at #135, making Prescott the eighth quarterback selected and -- seemingly -- the perfect one for us.

Better Lucky Than Good

The Cowboys "Luck'd" into the 2016 season when Lucky Whitehead took the opening kickoff to the house for a touchdown against the Rams. Where the Cowboys really got lucky was that everything they tried to do in terms of quarterback planning went awry and that it all led to a young man by the name of Dak Prescott.

Dak Prescott has us all excited. We'll see if he really is worth the hype.  But for now? He's our #QuarterDAK.

What do you make of Dak Prescott's road to the Cowboys? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

Tell us what you think about "How The Dallas Cowboys Completely Lucked Into Their Backup Quarterback" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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6 Comments
  • txpatriot

    FYI: I think the word you want is “awry” not “array”.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      … so true. Fixed. Thanks!

  • George Johnson

    RJ Ocha: Keep up the K Moore bashing if it makes you feel good, but you are wrong. K Moore was given a chance to be the 2nd team QB in 2016 because of his performance in 2015 and previous body of work. S Linehan who is a QB expert and experienced NFL offensive coordinator said he could play in the NFL and be a good backup for T Romo. You and many others may not believe this but you also refuse to attack S Linehan publically as incompetent. I will take S Linehan at his word. S Linehan has also explained why he thinks K Moore can play and has said his arm is strong enough and he compensates for his arm not being the strongest in the NFL, with his accuracy, timing and uncanny anticipation. K Moore in 2015 did not win any games but did fairly well considering it was his first time playing against first team defenses and he had limited reps to get ready to play. Before criticizing K Moore for his first two and one half games, compare him to any starter in the NFL, their first two or three games. I bet he did pretty well with this comparison. He moved the ball and did a lot of good things per S Linehan but also made too many mistakes. Based on K Moore’s previous body of work these deficiencies/mistakes seemed to be uncharacteristic for K Moore and I am confident the coaches and FO thought K Moore could improve on them with more experience/reps. He was made the 2nd team backup for good reasons. He would of also most likely done very well in the preseason Los Angeles game as Prescott did. Prescott was not getting a lot of pressure and made good decisions and had some easy throws mixed in with a few harder throws. He was composed/confident and very accurate, which are K Moore’s strengths. We will see how Prescott does in future preseason games with a lot more pressure and better defenses.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      It’s not that anyone thinks Scott Linehan is incompetent because he supports Kellen Moore, as you have mentioned. But as the team’s Offensive Coordinator, when speaking about an active player who is currently in good standing on a fairly classy team (drug suspensions and Greg Hardy hurt us a bit there), it’ll be a cold day in hell before he outwardly bashes one of his players. Whether justified or not, these coaches simply do not air negative opinions about their players. And that’s a great thing.

      But don’t be fooled. Linehan not saying that Kellen Moore can’t be an NFL quarterback does not mean he thinks he is the best man for the job, on the roster or not. His praise for Moore is not a put-down of Dak Prescott either.

      IF … big if … Prescott can continue to perform throughout preseason, then he will unseat Moore as the team’s #2 quarterback, and it will have almost nothing to do with positive or negative views of Moore.

      The big advantages Moore has over Prescott right now are experience and consistency. Give Prescott a little time and those advantages are called into question. But Prescott has to show that he can continue to make smart plays and remain in control, of himself and the game. We could debate how long he needs to do that before he closes in on Moore’s advantages, but I’d venture a guess that the Cowboys’ coaches are very willing to name Prescott the primary backup to Tony Romo if he performs well in preseason.

      Franchise quarterbacks are rare. They’re so rare that never has every NFL team had a legitimate franchise QB together in the same year. Backup quarterbacks are not so rare. There is competition for their job and personal feelings and attitudes play a part.

      But make no mistake, when push comes to shove, the most likable guy in the world will get benched in favor of upside, potential, and most of all, dollars-to-doughnuts performance; numbers, completions, percentages, yards, touchdowns.

      There are a lot of talented people on this offense. The #2 QB is going to come down to who can go out on the field and produce the biggest results with that talent. Jamiell Showers is a project player; I wouldn’t even say project quarterback with him, but overall player, so he’s not likely to get the nod, barring injuries to all of those ahead of him on the depth chart. At least for this year.

      Unfortunately, Kellen Moore is injured and must rely on previous performances to do his bidding. Cold, hard facts today — which could change each of the next three weeks — are that Kellen Moore hasn’t won anything more than Dak Prescott hasn’t won anything (Prescott has only had one opportunity, Kellen has had several). But keep in mind, Prescott had the team up 3 TDs when Showers came in the game. He did his job against the Rams.

      But there’s a lot of time left for Prescott to screw up and give your boy Kellen a shot to stand on precedence. I’m telling you now, though, If Prescott continues his play thus far throughout the preseason, I want Tony Romo, Dak Prescott, and Kellen Moore on the depth chart come Sept. 11. In that order.

  • George Johnson

    Bryson Treece: I agree with most of what you said. It has always been true that D Prescott has more upside potential than K Moore. They thought there was a chance he could replace T Romo some day when they drafted him. I don’t think they think K Moore is likely to replace T Romo some day because of his physical limitations. They do think K Moore could be a solid 2nd team QB and why he was the designated 2nd team QB going into 2016 with the idea D Prescott would most likely need 2016 for learning/development/adjustment. Also, it is not just what S Linehan has said about K Moore but also the fact they were willing to go with him at 2nd team for 2016 after the disaster last year that says they have quite a bit of confidence in K Moore. I think what is most likely to happen is they are still likely to bring in another more veteran QB and not be ready to make D Prescott the 2nd team QB for 2016. I have said all along that if D Prescott can earn the 2nd team QB in 2016 he is not only a quick learner/developer but also has a high probability of being the next franchise QB. I wish him the best in the rest of the preseason games.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Garrett has this thing about veteran backup QBs that I just don’t get. I understand it, and agree with the merits of the argument, but I can’t let that overwhelm the basic logic that with age comes experience, and with age comes limited capability. Sure, the vet might throw smarter, but can he make the smart throw?

      I liked the Kellen Moore last year because of that. He’s young and still has the capability to play, and he’s got a lot of learning under his belt.

      Personally, I don’t want to see a more veteran QB brought in. Not from what I saw Saturday. I’m definitely looking for more of the same in two days, next week, and the week after that. It’s my hope they will give Dak every opportunity to play during preseason, ceasing the opportunity to really test him under the guise of primary backup rather than evaluating players for the sake of evaluating players.

      I want that because I think, in 2016, Romo, Prescott, and Moore is a solid lineup at QB. Moore, once he’s healthy, can be that vet presence they like so much, and Dak can be ready for some experience.

      Now, if Dak collapses in the remaining preseason games, this all changes. But I like what I saw of the man in LA, and I grant that performance could’ve just been luck. But the way he handled himself wasn’t luck, that was character and character goes a long way at a lead-heavy position like QB.

      I always liked Kellen Moore. I shouted at my TV for Garrett to put Moore in when Cassel sucked and I was glad when they signed him, because I knew what he was. But I’ve never been able to give him more credit than I think he deserves. He’s a good #2 in a league where great #2s go on to start somewhere (B. Osweiler for example, and a bit of a stretch on the great part).

      Anyway, as ALWAYS, thanks for reading and commenting.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Coming into their week two match up against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys knew they could control the game with -- for the first time in years against Eli Manning -- their pass rush and strong secondary. Exposing a weak Giants offensive line went well beyond the Cowboys front four in this win though.

The Cowboys put Manning on the turf six times, with Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard relentlessly dialing up pressure. With the depth at linebacker to match up with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram, along with Byron Jones' efforts on Odell Beckham Jr., it's no secret how the Cowboys defense forced Manning to dump the ball to his running back for 14 receptions.

Barkley's longest catch going for ten yards, this was a nearly flawless game for Rod Marinelli's defense to even the Cowboys record at 1-1. Expecting much of the same from their front seven against a poor Seahawks OL, now is a good time to look back at some of the pressure packages the Cowboys used in week two.

With a core of versatile linebackers they can trust, the Cowboys deployed Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Damien Wilson, and Leighton Vander Esch all over the field to present the Giants with different looks. What made the Cowboys defensive play calling so successful was their LBs ability to cover ground quickly and create depth in coverage.

By doing so, the Giants could not take any chances down the field, their longest passing play going for 37 yards.

Blitz1

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

On this play, even with the Giants looking to get the ball out quickly, the pressure from Smith and Wilson disrupt the timing. Sean Lee, the only Cowboys linebacker not sent after Manning on the play, ends up rallying from his starting WILL position to get in on the tackle. The Giants did not have the numbers up front to block Damien Wilson attacking from SAM, although more impressively, Smith was able to rip through a partial block from the right guard and get ahead of Wilson on their rush.

Blitz2

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This next blitz shows off the Cowboys strong coverage downfield against the Giants. Cornerback Anthony Brown had his fingerprints all over this game in the back end for Dallas, but on this play comes out of the slot after Manning. Sensing the pressure at his feet, Manning steps up and actually puts himself in position to deliver a good ball, but is forced into yet another check down.

While linebacker blitzes are part of the "Richard effect" on the Cowboys defense, a well-timed slot blitz is a staple of Rod Marinelli's scheme. Using Brown a number of times in this role off the strong side, the Giants had no answers for the different pressures Dallas sent their way against Ereck Flowers at right tackle.

Blitz3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Even when Smith was picked up, as he was in the above play, the Cowboys capitalized on missed blocking assignments to get home with their front four. Taco Charlton the benefactor at RDE here, watch as Barkley rushes to keep Lee from having a straight run at his QB - allowing Charlton to do the same off the edge. Running untouched on the play, Charlton does a nice job taking a sharp angle to Manning and chasing him to the ground.

Blitz4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

As much as the Cowboys cornerbacks were a huge part of the team's confidence in sending pressure, their safeties also performed well in coverage. I wrote about the above play on Monday morning in my Sean's Scout that immediately follows every Cowboys game:

"That's a fantastic play by Jeff Heath to run across the field and tackle Evan Engram short of the line to gain on third down.

The Giants drive would continue with a fourth down conversion, but the Cowboys defense did eventually force a punt.

The Cowboys safeties were primarily called upon to play in run support in this game, a role Heath has struggled in previously. Showing off his strengths as an athletic and rangy defensive back on this play, Heath didn't get pushed up the field by Engram on his release, hunting him down after the catch in front of a fired up Dallas bench."

Heath picking up Engram is just one example of a Cowboys defender exceeding expectations in coverage. Smith was able to run with Beckham Jr., as was Charlton on separate plays later in the game.

Blitz6

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The only fitting way to conclude this film study is with a DeMarcus Lawrence sack. The Cowboys best individual defender, Lawrence had his way with Flowers as we all expected. Playing to another one of Tank's strengths here though, Lawrence rushes to the inside off a well-executed T/E stunt with Tyrone Crawford.

Also sending Brown at Manning again, the Giants pass pro leaves Lawrence unabated to the quarterback. Unlikely to escape the grasp of Lawrence on such a free rush, Manning does try to abort the pocket, but had Brown crashing down on him to collapse things.

Lawrence might not earn many easier sacks this season. None of the Cowboys starters on defense are more capable of using their own ability to get to the QB than Lawrence still, who is getting all the help he needs from Richard as his play caller.

Through just two games, the Cowboys commitment to forcing the issue on defense has potential to keep this team atop the NFC East as the offense comes into its own.

Depending on the development of their own passing game, this may have to be a defense that can win Dallas games. The only way to do so is with sacks and turnovers.

The latter is something Marinelli's defenses have always excelled at when at full strength (the Cowboys are expecting Randy Gregory back as early as this week and DT David Irving comes off suspension in week five). The former is something the Cowboys are creating with a deeply talented front seven, orchestrated by one of the best in the business.

The Cowboys will look to build on their nine sacks this season against the Seahawks on Sunday, a team that's allowed the most in the league at 12. Their timing to go after Russell Wilson will be tested more than it was against the Giants, with Richard also better positioned to aid the Cowboys against his former team.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Player News

Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys’ Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys' Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

In every game, whether it's a sporting event or a board game there is a path -- and sometimes more than one -- to victory. For the Dallas Cowboys, it's no different. As they get set to face a Seattle Seahawks team that is 0-2 for the first time since 2015, they'll have to win in several areas to bring home the W.

After starting out 0-2 in 2015, the Seahawks finished the season with a 10-6 record and won their wild card game over the Minnesota Vikings before falling in the divisional round to the Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks are one of those teams that you can get down, but can never count out. If the Dallas Cowboys want to come out on top in their trip to the Pacific Northwest, they are going to have to come ready to play.

In particular, these are the things that the Dallas Cowboys have to achieve to be the victors on Sunday.

Limit Big Plays

The Seattle Seahawks are a very interesting offensive case study. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but have invested very little in trying to protect their most important asset.

They rely on Russell Wilson's improvisational ability and penchant for big plays.

In 2017, Wilson had a quarterback rating of 100.9 on attempts greater than 20 yards down the field, per Pro Football Focus. He threw the ball "deep" 91 times, completing 31 passes for 1,134 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had the most deep attempts in the league last season and tied with Alex Smith with the most touchdowns on deep attempts. Wilson's yardage was nearly 200 yards more than the next best in the NFL on deep passing.

Wilson's going to take some deep shots. If you watched the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears, you noticed that even though Wilson was getting battered, it didn't deter him from taking shots deep down the field. Sometimes into unfavorable coverages.

The secondary has an advantage over the Seattle Seahawks group of wide receivers, but they'll have to stay disciplined and not allow the big pass plays to beat them.

In a game where they were being dominated for more than three quarters, the Seahawks were able to hang around and had a chance at the end because of their penchant for big plays.

Don't get beat deep.

Wrangling Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawks have allowed the most sacks in the league through two weeks. They've allowed six in each of their first two games this season. The Dallas Cowboys are going to have opportunities to sack Russell Wilson this week.

They have to take advantage.

Like Cam Newton in week one, Russell Wilson is a very elusive quarterback. Not only is he really good at making plays with his legs, he can be difficult to bring down. The Dallas Cowboys will have to work to keep Wilson in the pocket and finish when they get an opportunity to bring him down. He's not a physical presence like Newton is, but he's slippery and has some of that Tony Romo elusiveness to him.

If the potential tackler doesn't get Wilson down on first contact, it could lead to big plays both through the air and on the ground. Wilson averages 33.6 yards per game on the ground in his career and 5.7 yards per attempt. In order to get off the field on third down, they're going to have to prevent Wilson from using his legs to pick up third downs.

Establishing the Pass to Set Up the Run

At this point in the Dallas Cowboys offensive approach, everyone in the world knows what the Dallas Cowboys want to do on offense. They want to run the ball.

The Dallas Cowboys did a great job using this knowledge to their advantage on the first series of the game against the New York Giants.

On the first play of the game, they used a Run-Pass Option, with a clear out to the flat by Tight End Geoff Swaim, and found Allen Hurns on a slant to set up a second and short. Then after picking up that second and short with a run by Ezekiel Elliott, they used a straight play action out of a two running back, one tight end set, and hit Tavon Austin for the 64 yard touchdown.

Dak's willingness to throw the ball deep on a couple other occasions helped open up the run. The deep ball has to be a threat in order to back defenses off the line of scrimmage and do what you do best: Run the Ball. If they aren't going to back off, then you have to keep throwing it until you hit the deep ball enough that it forces them to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys were able to run the ball pretty effectively for the rest of the game, even if they didn't hit a lot of big plays. With the New York Giants interior defensive line, it was going to be tough sledding anyway. Getting things going through the air, helped out immensely.

The Seattle Seahawks are going to try to do what everyone does; put the ball in Dak Prescott's hands. If they're going to win on Sunday, it's going to be because Prescott had another efficient game throwing the ball.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

This game sets up really well for the Dallas Cowboys to improve their record to 2-1 and keep pace with the upper tier teams in the NFC. Every win matters, but these NFC games matter even a bit more. No game in the NFL is a cakewalk and this game is no different. If the Dallas Cowboys aren't able to do the above, it could be a long day for America's Team. 



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