Welcome to this week’s edition of Martin’s 5!
Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys were unable to invoke that magic that has worked for them nearly the entire 2016 season last week against the New York Giants. It is only the Cowboys second loss of the season, but the second defeat from the Giants.
It’s funny how one single loss can create so many ?’s from a team that has been one of the best, if not the best teams in the NFL this year.
If you’re anything like me, then you have an abundance of things you’re wondering about heading into this week’s matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This isn’t the same Buccaneers team we have seen in years past. They are one of the hotter teams in the NFL right now and could give the Cowboys all they can handle.
The Cowboys recent struggles on offense and the fact there is a hot team up next on the schedule, has really overloaded the things I’m wondering about this week. Below are just a few of them that are running through my head.
One: I recently had a chicken and egg debate about whether the rookie wall is a real thing or not. Personally, I believe that it is and it really started me thinking about if we have seen Dak Prescott reach that point in his rookie season? Typically, a college players season ended about a month ago, so a lot of these rookie players in the NFL this year have already played in more games than they are accustomed to. That’s not even taking into consideration the long off-season they had just gone through. Think about it. They have finished their college season, began their draft preparation process, gotten drafted, gone through OTA’s/mini-camp/training camp, and are now winding down their first year in the NFL. They really haven’t had a break during that time span accept a short bye week. So, it’s only natural that these first-year players start to struggle a little bit later in the season. Prescott has struggled here the last few games, whether or not it is him hitting the rookie wall has yet to be determined. The remaining games left on the Cowboys schedule will ultimately tell the story.
Two: Let’s stay with Dak Prescott here for just a little bit longer, because I’m wondering how long Jason Garrett and the coaching staff will continue to stick with him as he starting QB if he continues to struggle? Prescott has really struggled these past couple of games and if that continues this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you have to think the organization starts to seriously consider reinserting Tony Romo into the starting lineup. The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the best teams in the NFL and have a really good chance of playing far into the playoffs, possibly reaching the Super Bowl. That might not happen if Prescott continues to play the way he has been. If Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones are serious about going all way this year, they might have to make a really tough decision, which might mean benching Prescott for Romo.
Three: The running game for the Cowboys offense hasn’t quite been the same since Geoff Swaim was injured and I wonder how they can fix it? The Cowboys have been using Gavin Escobar and sometimes even going to a heavy set with offensive lineman Joe Looney at times, but both players limit what the offense can do with either player on the field. Defensive coordinators should know by now that Escobar isn’t a very good blocker and Looney isn’t a threat in the passing game. That means they can really focus their attack on Ezekiel Elliott and try to shut him down. I recently wrote an article suggesting that the Cowboys should sign Brandon Pettigrew. I think Pettigrew could come in and instantly make an impact in this area.
Four: The Dallas Cowboys offense has had to square off against two pretty good defenses these last couple weeks, which has resulted in them not putting up as many points as they had been earlier in the season. What I’m wondering is if it is more of the defenses they are playing or if it is just the offense struggling to find their rhythm? Honestly, I think it’s a little bit of both, but the offense has to find a way to put points on the board regardless of the caliber defense they are playing. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the offense was firing on all cylinders when Cole Beasley was more involved. He is a matchup problem for anyone that is trying to cover him and I think he needs to become more a part of the game plan once again, especially in third-down situations.
Five: The defense for the Dallas Cowboys was supposed to be the weak link of this team, but last week against the New York Giants they were the ones keeping them in the game. I wonder if they can continue to play at a high level, because it would certainly help with the postseason just around the corner? Last week they were able to create several turnovers and get the ball back to the offense. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t able to capitalize. There were however a few missed opportunities that could have been game changers, but it is really encouraging the way this defense is starting to come together. Hopefully they can continue to play at this level, especially Sean Lee, who was a man possessed against the Giants.
Is there anything you are wondering about this week?
Use the comment section below to share with us what thoughts you might have stuck in your head this week.