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Reel Talk: Why Dez Bryant Needs To Be The Best WR On The Field Against Washington

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Reel Talk: Why Dez Bryant Needs To Be The Best WR On The Field Against Washington

Who's ready for some Thanksgiving football? The rivalry between the Cowboys and Redskins is back, and two hungry teams with explosive offenses will go at it to decide the future of the NFC East.

For the Cowboys' rookie-led offense, you've heard all about RB Ezekiel Elliott and QB Dak Prescott. There has also been plenty of talk about Dez Bryant - through some rough stretches and, more recently, dominant performances.

Bryant's most clutch performance of the season came back in week 2, as the Cowboys won their first of nine straight (!!!) in Washington against these Redskins. As we'll soon take a look at with some film, Scott Linehan helped his young QB with play calling that allowed Bryant to run wild for 7 catches and 102 yards.

I also studied Bryant's most recent performance against Baltimore, where a similar game plan saw #88 haul in 6 passes for 80 yards and two decisive touchdowns.

The team with the most points wins today's anything-can-happen NFC East showdown. I expect the winning point total to be a high one, and for Dez Bryant to have plenty to say about this.

Before you enjoy eating on Thanksgiving, let's see how Dez Bryant has been able to eat opposing defenses:

 

This first clip is a perfect example of how dangerous Bryant can be as a weapon all over the field. Often used simply to get the Cowboys into favorable running formations, this play shows Bryant motioning across the field to line up on the inside of a trips set against DeAngelo Hall. With no safety help, and the Redskins linebackers scrambling to drop into the middle of the field, Jason Witten clears a path for Bryant to run free along with Cole Beasley exiting to the flat.

Prescott delivers a strike for an easy first down. We'll need to see more of this in what projects to be a high-scoring affair later today.

 

Dez Bryant has a physical advantage against any defensive back he lines up against, and Dallas has been able to do a better job at consistently recognizing this and getting him his targets.

Working on an island against Breeland here, all Prescott has to do is make a simple read of the safety that jumps in front of Witten - and deliver a strike to Breeland where Bryant can catch it over a recovering Breeland.

When we get to the tape from the Raven's game, we'll see a lot more of this with Bryant capitalizing on single coverage.

 

As mentioned, Bryant is often used in the Cowboys' offense to set up the rushing attack, leading to even better opportunities for him in the play-action game. As Prescott fakes the ball to Alfred Morris, who also had his best game with his new team here against the Redskins, Bryant's defender gets caught looking into the backfield and loses just enough contact at the top of the route for Prescott to deliver another dime.

 

 

Above is another example of Bryant benefiting from pre-snap motion, as a creative design sees Ezekiel Elliott split far out wide from the backfield. All the rookie has to do is turn towards Prescott to fake a screen pass, and he draws a Redskins defender away from Bryant, who gets an easy 6 yards.

 

 

Thankfully, the "Dak Prescott cannot get the ball to Dez Bryant" narrative has died off ahead of Dallas' second meeting with Washington, primarily because of what this combination was able to do back in week 2.

As the Redskins try to drop into coverage to slow down the Cowboys passing attack, a miscommunication allows Bryant to slip past a defender and once again control the middle of the field.

Dez Bryant Against the Ravens:

A combination of all of these elements that led to Bryant's success in the first meeting against the Redskins were also on display in the Cowboys' most recent win over the Ravens. Playing without top corner Jimmy Smith, Baltimore simply had no answers for affecting Prescott in the pocket, and ultimately stopping him from finding his top target.

 

One recurring pattern you should be noticing in all of these clips is that Bryant is thriving on in-breaking routes. Plenty of fans out there in Cowboys Nation have been quick to call out the lack of such routes being thrown to Dez, but I don't see that being a problem the rest of the way out.

With Lance Dunbar lined up inside of him in the above clip, Bryant is Prescott's second read - using his size and athleticism to create separation for a well-anticipated throw.

 

Of course, when Bryant fails to create ideal separation, he can always take advantage of single coverage by high pointing the football with some of the league's best. That is exactly what he does here, on a throw that lacked some zip from Prescott, but still found a way into the strong hands of #88.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Welcome to defending the DAL offense 2 Rules: 1. You're not going to get to our quarterback 2. You're not going to be able to cover 88 https://t.co/cFBsEzo1iO

It is no secret that the Cowboys are built as a team around their offensive line. With that, Prescott has had the luxury of an incredibly clean pocket for most of his drop backs - something rookie quarterbacks rarely get to see. This allows him to comfortably scan the field while allowing Bryant to set up defenders - which he does here, coming up with another big reception.

Throw up the X:

We'll conclude this Reel Talk by looking at Bryant's two touchdowns against the Ravens. This first throw should fire up plenty of Cowboys fans, as Prescott finally connects with Bryant on his signature goal line fade for the score.

 

This second play is also not too bad to look at, as Bryant finds the painted rectangle on another in-breaking route, this time abusing single coverage off the slant.

 


I again expect this to be a very high-scoring game (our full Inside The Star Staff Predictions can be found here), and the only way the Cowboys will come out on top is with Dez Bryant establishing himself as the best wide receiver on the field. If he can dominate, the Cowboys offense as a whole will fire on all cylinders - keeping the ball out of Kirk Cousins' hands.

For a Washington offense that loves to throw the ball deep to the likes of DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, and Jordan Reed, the best defense Dallas will have against this attack will be their own offense.

With all the credit in the world to Rod Marinelli, his secondary that will not feature Morris Claiborne or Barry Church (who made the play of the game in week 2 with his interception of Cousins) in this match up is best fit to be on the sidelines while the Redskins secondary searches for answers against Bryant.

You better practice throwing up the X at your Thanksgiving table, because when the lights come on and the Cowboys kick off, we'll be seeing it a few times from Dez Bryant.

Happy Thanksgiving, Cowboys Nation! Let me know what you think of this article by leaving a comment below, or email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com with any feedback! Enjoy the game!

Tell us what you think about "Reel Talk: Why Dez Bryant Needs To Be The Best WR On The Field Against Washington" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury

Sean Martin

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Should Cowboys Start Negotiating a Contract Extension With Rod Smith?

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.

https://twitter.com/thejaylonsmith/status/964606764619624453

This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.

It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.

The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.

He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.

Tell us what you think about "Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott

2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.

But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?

Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.

A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.

According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.

Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.

Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.

Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.

It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.

Tell me what you think about "Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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