Welcome to Martin's 5!
I know what you're probably thinking, and yes Zack Martin does indeed still wear the number 70 jersey.
This is the first of what will hopefully turn into a weekly series of articles I will personally be writing about random thoughts, unanswered questions, and things I keep wondering about that I can't quite explain. Basically, the things I think about when I'm stargazing or randomly start pondering in regards to the Dallas Cowboys.
Each week I will share with you five random things that I just can't get out of my head and with the use of this platform open a discussion so that hopefully you (the readers) or the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can help me alleviate the unexplained that continues to nag at me.
Let's get started with five things I'm wondering about heading into the Week 2 match up with the division rival Washington Redskins.
One: I wonder if Dan Bailey is the reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is willing to play conservatively instead of trying to become more creative and taking more chances on offense, especially in the red zone? Bailey is near automatic when he steps on the field attempting a field goal and is probably the sole reason why Terrance Williams caught so much flak last week. If Williams would've run out of bounds with even a second left on the clock, Bailey would have had an opportunity to kick a 60+ yard field goal and a chance to win the game. Is Dan Bailey to clutch to allow the offense to take more chances?
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Two: I wonder if we are starting to see a declining player in Doug Free? Jason Pierre-Paul completely dominated the match up with Free last week. Free has struggled with injuries the past several years and some of those injuries have resulted in off-season surgeries. It's no secret that the older that NFL players get, the quicker their bodies start to break down. If that is what we are starting to see with Doug Free, then we should all be concerned because there are still questions surrounding the readiness of swing tackle Chaz Green.
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Three: We all know that Dez Bryant is an emotional player and probably isn't happy with the way he was utilized last week against the Giants. If he isn't involved early in the Redskins game, I wonder if we will see one of his sideline tantrums? The Redskins defense will certainly look to contain the running game and make Bryant as much as a nonfactor as possible. So, it will be up to offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to find the right mix of keeping Bryant happy and making sure he's not forcing the issue of getting him the ball.
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Four: I wonder why the offensive line seems to struggle the first few games of the season? I think we can all agree that what we saw from the Cowboys offensive line last week is not what we are used to seeing. The same thing happened last season and it seemed to take them a few games to get into a groove. Are they not benefiting from the off-season practices? Whatever it is, the Giants game could have gone an entirely different direction if there would have been a little better blocking up front for the running game.
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Five: I wonder if we will see Justin Durant take over the starting middle linebacker position? I'm a fan of Anthony Hitchens, but he struggled quite a bit against the Giants and was eventually replaced by Durant. Durant has the ability to play all three linebacker positions for the Cowboys defense and has the veteran experience to know how to avoid getting lost in the congestion in the middle. Unfortunately, injuries are always a concern with him. I hate to say it, but the Cowboys defense will certainly miss Rolando McClain's physical presence at middle linebacker.
Remember to take advantage of the comment section below so that you can provide your thoughts and opinions on this topic or to help me out by answering some of my random thoughts.
Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long
Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.
“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”
Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.
But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.
Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.
"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com
If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.
Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."
The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.
Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.
Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?
Who is the Cowboys best player?
As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.
"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein
Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?
For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.
Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.
Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.
I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.
So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.
Amari Cooper Says He’s Focused On Football, Not His Next Contract
It seems like all anyone has talked about this offseason is who the Cowboys should re-sign, and how they can go about doing so.
Wide receiver Amari Cooper, of course, is heavily involved in those conversations. The Cowboys used their 2019 first round pick to trade for the Pro Bowl wide out last season, and Cooper's emergence helped to turn their struggling offense around immediately.
In just 9 games with the Cowboys last season, he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. He quickly gained the trust of quarterback Dak Prescott, and exhibited a chemistry with the young passer that no one else really has to this point. Outside of maybe Cole Beasley in 2016, perhaps.
While the football world seems to be focusing on what Amari Cooper's contract will look like after 2019, the receiver himself claims to be solely focused on the upcoming season. Cooper spoke with ESPN's Todd Archer about this very subject, emphasizing where his mind lies at this time.
"I just handle my business...I'm more anxious about camp and actually playing football." - Amari Cooper.
Amari Cooper has just one year left on his contract as he plays under the fifth year option from his rookie deal. Cooper will make $13.9 million this season, putting him behind some of the league's other WR1s like Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and DeAndre Hopkins.
There had been speculation around whether any of the Cowboys left with just one year on their contract would hold-out through parts of offseason activity, but Cooper alluded that it never seemed to cross his mind.
"I just want to get better and I love football. That's why I'm here" - Cooper.
Of course, Amari Cooper will play a huge role in the Cowboys offense in 2019. Combining him with a second year version of Michael Gallup, and new versatile threats like Tony Pollard and Randall Cobb, will help make the Dallas passing game as multiple as it's been in years.
The Cowboys will eventually need to get Amari Cooper locked up long term, but for the time being it seems like both he and the franchise are more focused on what will happen on the field in 2019 than in the negotiating room next Spring.
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