Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
The Dallas Cowboys have a tough matchup this week when they hit the road to take on the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings got out to a hot start to kick off the 2016 season, but have really struggled here lately. A lot of that probably has to do with the injuries they have suffered, but they still could give the Cowboys all they can handle nonetheless.
Minnesota still has one of the best defenses in the entire NFL, so it will be really interesting to see how the Dallas Cowboys' potent offense stands up to the test.
Now, I do believe that the Cowboys will improve their winning streak to 11 games, but just because I think they win this game relatively easily, doesn't mean there aren't some lingering thoughts stuck in my head this week.
Fortunately, that's what this space was created for. I get to share with you what I'm thinking this week and hopefully you can help ease any concerns I might have.
So, without further ado, here are the five things I'm thinking about this week.
One: Voting for the players you want to see in the Pro Bowl is currently underway and that got me wondering if Cole Beasley falls into that category? Beasley has been the Dallas Cowboys best wide receiver this season and Dak Prescott learned early on that he is a quarterback's best friend. He is currently 33rd in the NFL in receiving yards, but those numbers are misleading considering the fact that he plays strictly out of the slot. It could be argued that he is at a disadvantage and can't possibly put up numbers like AJ Green or Julio Jones, so maybe the Pro Bowl should consider making a change to how we all vote for wide receivers. There are a lot of receivers in the NFL that just play in the slot, and I personally think Cole Beasley might just be the best of the bunch. It's unlikely that he gets voted in, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve it.
Two: Let's stick with the Pro Bowl theme here for just a little bit longer. I wonder just how many Dallas Cowboys players get voted in and make the trip to Orlando, Florida this year? Of course, we all hope that this doesn't happen because that means the Cowboys are playing in the Super Bowl, but it's still fun to speculate. I wrote an article yesterday predicting the Cowboys' 2017 Pro Bowl players and came up with eight that realistically have an excellent chance of being voted in. The better the team, the more players they usually have in the Pro Bowl. Now, eight players wouldn't shock me, but there aare also five or six others on the Cowboys roster that are playing at a Pro Bowl level. Could we possibly see a record number of Dallas Cowboys playing in the 2017 Pro Bowl?
Three: Coming out of Ohio State, Ezekiel Elliott, was regarded as one of the most complete running backs to enter the NFL Draft since Adrian Peterson. I wonder if he will be playing with any added incentive this week against the Minnesota Vikings with Peterson in attendance? Peterson and Elliott have nearly identical statistics through 11 games of their rookie seasons. Elliott has a few less rushing yards then Peterson, but has one more touchdown. Ezekiel Elliott might be playing with a little chip on the shoulder already seeing his alma mater tragically hit by a cowardly act a few days ago, so we might see him running a little bit more angry this week. That's certainly not good news for the Minnesota Vikings defense.
Four: It's no secret that the Minnesota Vikings have been decimated by injuries, especially along the offensive line. I wonder if we will see the defense in more of an attack mode this week or if defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will continue to focus on coverages? There isn't a lot to really worry about in regards to the Vikings offense. They are one the worst teams in the league running the ball and have very few consistent weapons in the receiving game. Sam Bradford is a pocket passer, so putting pressure on him could be the best way to disrupt the entire offense. The Cowboys defense hasn't been really good this year about getting after the opposing QB, but that could all change this evening against a beat up Vikings offensive line.
Five: Barry Church has been back at practice this week after missing several games with a broken forearm. His return couldn't have come at a better time with J.J. Wilcox likely to miss this game with a thigh contusion, but I wonder what kind of impact Church can have after missing so much time? Church is one of the better defensive players for the Cowboys, but is he still in game shape after missing several weeks? I don't believe the coaching staff would put Church back out on the field if he wasn't ready, but we could see Jeff Heath utilized little more just in case. I personally think Barry Church has an impact play this evening that changes the course of the entire game.
Is there any thing your wondering about this week?
Don't forget to take advantage of the comment section below to share anything you're wondering about this week.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
How Cowboys Could Regain a 2019 1st-Round Draft Pick
The Dallas Cowboys are currently without a 2019 first-round draft pick after acquiring Wide Receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders, but what if I were to tell you there was a way to regain another first-rounder? Well, with a little outside the box thinking I think there could be a way to accomplish just that.
It's completely hypothetical, but I think the Dallas Cowboys could possibly regain a first-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with little finagling and good luck. Everything would have to fall into place perfectly, but I think it's definitely doable.
Remember, this is completely hypothetical with a lot of "what if's" involved, but the Cowboys could regain what they lost acquiring Amari Cooper and come out of it no worse for wear. I think there are a lot of different scenarios that could accomplish this feat, but only one of them that doesn't hurt the team in my opinion and it centers around Right Tackle La'el Collins.
I know you're probably going to think I'm crazy, but I think the Dallas Cowboys could possibly land a 2019 first-round draft pick if they decided to trade away RT La'el Collins. Trust me, I wouldn't suggest this if I didn't think there was somebody capable of stepping in and playing just as well.
Enter Connor Williams.
I always believed Connor Williams' best position in the NFL was at right tackle, not on the inside at guard. And yes, I was one of those advocating for Williams to play RT and Collins to move back to LG before the 2018 season started. I thought that gave the Cowboys their best starting five.
Williams has been serviceable at LG this season, but has been overpowered at times. His athletic ability would've been much better served on the outside at tackle, which is where I would play him next season, making La'el Collins expendable.
Again, I know what you're thinking. If you move Williams to RT and trade Collins, there is now a void at LG. Well, that's where Xavier Su'a-Filo comes into play. He is coming off a fantastic performance against the Philadelphia Eagles and a lot of Cowboys Nation is already advocating that he remains the starter over Connor Williams.
If Su'a-Filo can maintain the same level play he did against the Eagles, he probably remains the starter for the rest of the 2018 season. If this is indeed what happens, he could end up being the starter once again next season, making my plan of trading La'el Collins more feasible.
Were you able to follow all of that?
Keep Xavier Su'a-Filo at left guard
Move Connor Williams to right tackle
Trade La'el Collins
Like I said, this is all hypothetical, but something that could feasibly happen. Now we just have to wait and see if Xavier Su'a-Filo can continue to play like he did last week, because without him sticking at left guard none of this is possible.
I told you it was some out-of-the-box thinking.
Would you go along with the scenario to regain a 2019 first-round draft pick?
Should Cowboys Stick With Xavier Su’a-Filo at Left Guard?
Don't look now, but we may have another Ron Leary/La'el Collins situation unfolding before our eyes with Xavier Su'a-Filo and Connor Williams. Who ends up starting at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the 2018 season is up in the air right now, but might not be for long.
Remember a few years ago when La'el Collins started the season at left guard for the Dallas Cowboys, but then had to miss time due to a toe injury. Ronald Leary took over during his absence and never looked back. It even earned him a big payday with the Denver Broncos.
Déjà vu anyone?
Yes, I'm talking about the hot topic of the hour as to whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should stick with Xavier Su'a-Filo at left guard or reinsert Connor Williams once he is healthy enough to return to the lineup? As with any debate, there are two sides of the coin.
Honestly, I can make an argument for both sides here. These are two different players and both have their own strengths and weaknesses. Su'a-Filo isn't as agile as Williams and relies more on his strength and power, whereas Williams is almost the complete opposite. Depending what the Cowboys coaching staff wants out of their LG, either player makes sense.
I could go into a long debate as to who I believe the Cowboys should start at LG moving forward, but I think that would be a waste of our time. I think this is a situation that will work itself out one way or another this week against the Atlanta Falcons.
Nothing is set in stone right now, but I have a hard time seeing Connor Williams being ready to play this week after having knee surgery. It would be unwise to rush him back before he's 100% healthy, especially after the way Su'a-Filo preformed against the Eagles. And if Su'a-Filo plays well once again, Williams may not get his starting job back.
See, I told you it was looking like a Ronald Leary/La'el Collins situation all over again.
This is a situation that many of us will be following closely this week and it may not only have ramifications on the rest of the 2018 season, but it could carry over into next year. Maybe Xavier Su'a-Filo remains at LG next year and Connor Williams moves to his more natural position (right tackle), making La'el Collins expendable. But that's a debate for another time.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should stick with Xavier Su'a-Filo at LG?
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