Welcome to this week’s edition of Martin’s 5!
The Dallas Cowboys really have absolutely nothing to play for this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, so the most important thing to them should be protecting their players from suffering any kind of injuries that would put them in jeopardy of being available for the playoffs.
It is no secret that the Eagles absolutely hate anything and everything about the Dallas Cowboys. They will be doing their best to finish the season on a high note, just like they did last week against the New York Giants.
You could say that the Eagles pretty much dominated the New York Giants last week, the only team that has beaten the Cowboys, a fact I’m sure the Eagles are well aware of.
Another dominating win over a division foe could go a long ways in building the confidence of the organization for next season, especially since they could be the only team in the NFC East to miss the playoffs this year.
So, you can bet the Philadelphia Eagles will be on their “A” game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Having said all that, here is the five things I’m wondering about this week. I hope you enjoy.
One: Although it was several seasons ago, Jerry Jones and even Jason Garrett still have that 2007 season fresh in their minds about the disappointing early exit from the playoffs. That is why they have said that they plan on playing their starters in hopes of carrying that momentum into the postseason. What I’m wondering is how much we will see Dak Prescott and other key members of the team play against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend? The offensive line will already be without Tyron Smith because of a MCL sprain he suffered against the Detroit Lions last week, so that leaves Prescott’s blindside a little bit more exposed. If I’m Jason Garrett and the coaching staff, I’m keeping a close eye on how the protection is holding up for #4 and whether or not he is taking unnecessary hits. I’m not going to risk him getting banged up for a meaningless game. I would honestly treat this like a preseason game by getting the starters a little work, but closely monitoring who might need a little extra rest.
Two: As much as I wanted to see Ezekiel Elliott challenge Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record, it unfortunately doesn’t seem as if it is all that important to him or the Dallas Cowboys. The coaching staff decided to give the majority of the second half carries to Darren McFadden against the Detroit Lions, even though a few more big gains by Elliott would have put him within range of legitimately breaking Dickerson’s record. I wonder if Elliott will end up regretting not being more adamant about trying to break the record? I know he is saying the right thing right now by focusing on the team goals, but to fall short of a record that has stood for so long after being so close has to weigh on his mind just a little bit. I don’t expect Ezekiel Elliott to receive very many carries against the Philadelphia Eagles this week. I think Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris will handle the majority of the workload. I expect Elliott to receive 10-15 carries at most.
Three: The Dallas Cowboys announced that Mark Sanchez will be the backup for Dak Prescott this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s not all that surprising if you consider that they have been pretty adamant about protecting Tony Romo against injury so that he is available in the postseason if needed. But, what I’m wondering is how much different the offense will look with Sanchez at QB? Sanchez has some mobility, but nothing like Prescott. It will be really interesting to see how offensive coordinator Scott Linehan tries to play to the strengths of Sanchez, especially against the Philadelphia Eagles who have been pretty good about getting after opposing QB’s. I’ve heard several people who would like to see Mark Sanchez return next season to be the backup QB to Dak Prescott, so this could give us a glimpse of the future the QB position.
Four: Mark Sanchez might not be the only one auditioning for a roster spot with the Dallas Cowboys in the future. Emmett Cleary, the Cowboys swing tackle the season, could also make a case for continuing his career with the organization. Cleary is in his second season in the NFL out of Boston College and will be playing left tackle in place of the injured Tyron Smith this week against the Eagles. This will be a tough task for Cleary, because the Eagles have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL. I’m sure the Cowboys will give him a little extra help, but there will be times where he will have to win some one-on-one battles. If Cleary performs pretty well, he could earn a future roster spot with the Cowboys, which could be a big bonus for the organization because of the lack of depth at the position. Doug Free is signed through 2017, Chaz Green can’t stay healthy, so Tyron Smith is the only one that can really be counted on in the future. Don’t be surprised if this is a position of need once the draft comes around.
Five: The Dallas Cowboys have secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, but I’m wondering how much of an advantage the hometown crowd can give the Cowboys? We have seen in the past that the crowd isn’t always dominated by Cowboys fans. This could be the year where season-ticket holders don’t sell their tickets and are actually attending the games. This team has been exciting from the get-go and Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott have a lot to do with that. Teams around the NFL hate going on the road and playing in places like Arrowhead Stadium and CenturyLink Stadium because of the crowd noise. Maybe with the excitement surrounding this year’s team the Cowboys can turn their stadium into one of those types of venues. We can only hope that is the case, because it could go a long ways in helping the Dallas Cowboys hold an advantage over their opponents.
Is there anything you are wondering about this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share anything you’re wondering about this week.