Welcome to this week’s edition of Martin’s 5!
The Dallas Cowboys were able to come away with an overtime victory over the division rival Philadelphia Eagles, even though it was one of their sloppiest performances of the season. They will now go on the road to face a winless, although talented, Cleveland Browns team.
This should be a good game for the Cowboys to get back on track and correct some of the things that went wrong against the Eagles last week.
Having said that though, this is in a game they can’t overlook. They have to come out and dominate in all three phases the game and show everybody why they are currently ranked as the second best team in the NFL behind only the New England Patriots.
After narrowly escaping the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, there are a lot of things that I’ve been wondering about and hope to get the answer to this week when the Cowboys head to Cleveland in hopes of improving their record to 7-1.
Below are the five things I’m wondering about this week heading into the matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
One: I wonder if Jim Schwartz and the Philadelphia Eagles provided a blueprint for teams how to fluster the Dallas Cowboys rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott? The Eagles made things difficult for Prescott last week and they did it by bringing continuous pressure. It seemed to throw Prescott off his game a little the majority of the night, but he was able to rally at the end and lead the Cowboys to an overtime victory. We all know that this is a copycat league, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see opposing defenses try to throw Prescott off by making him have to make quick decisions due to the pressure they are providing. Maybe Dak Prescott just had an off game, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if defenses try to fluster him with added pressure in the future.
Two: I was really excited about Dez Bryant‘s return to the field and how he would help open up the offense for the Dallas Cowboys in both the passing and running game. I know it was just one game, but I wonder Bryant’s return actually hurt Cole Beasley‘s involvement in the game plan and his production? I know I’m not the only one that noticed that passes were kind of forced to Bryant and that Beasley was pretty much an afterthought against Eagles. The entire Cowboys offense kind of struggled the majority of the game, but was finally able to put things together when Dak Prescott started to spread the ball around and get Beasley and the rest of his receivers more involved. Beasley without a doubt has become one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and absolutely has to be utilized more because he is virtually unrecoverable.
Three: Morris Claiborne and Barry Church could be out several weeks due to the injuries they sustained against the Eagles Sunday night. Unfortunately, this is a big hit for the Cowboys defense and I wonder how they’re going to try and fill the void left by them in the secondary? Both players have been playing some of the best football of their entire career in the NFL this season and they are a big reason why the defense for the Cowboys has been exceeding expectations. The next man up mantra is good and all, but defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will definitely have his work cut out for him until #24 and #42 are healthy and can get back on the field.
Four: Let’s stay on the same train of thought here for second. J.J. Wilcox will likely be the one replacing Barry Church for the time being, so I wonder if we will start seeing opposing offenses targeting him more the passing game? To his credit, Wilcox has been playing pretty well this season, but he is more of a box safety and struggles when playing in space covering receivers. He has made some key plays in 2016, but he will be asked to start now and has some big shoes to fill with Church out of the lineup. The Dallas Cowboys definitely need him to step up his game if they are going to continue to find success and remain competitive on the defensive side of the ball.
Five: I don’t know about you, but I’ve started to get a little anxious (not in a good way) every time Lucky Whitehead is back to receive a punt or kickoff. Last week against the Eagles, Whitehead nearly fumbled away the opening kickoff and then a little later in the game made a poor decision by fielding a punt inside the Cowboys 10 yard line. I wonder if we will see the Dallas Cowboys start to use someone else handle the return duties until they can fully trust Whitehead once again? Special teams turnovers and mistakes are a quick way to end up on the losing end of the stick, so it’s important to find a solution to this problem as soon as possible.
Is there anything that you are wondering about this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to provide your thoughts and opinions on this topic.