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Reliving Dak Prescott’s NFL Debut In LA

Sean Martin

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Reliving Dak Prescott's Preseason Debut In LA

The future of the Dallas Cowboys was altered greatly on August 14th, 2016 as rookie QB Dak Prescott made his NFL preseason debut in the bright lights of the Los Angeles Coliseum against the returning LA Rams. Football was back in the city of angels this night, but so was America's Team - and not because of Tony Romo.

With Romo harmlessly sitting out the first of Dallas' four preseason contests, Prescott took full advantage of the opportunity in front of him, elevated to QB2 in training camp after Kellen Moore suffered a broken leg.

Prescott attempted just 12 passes, completing ten of them for 139 yards and two touchdowns, but even re-watching this game last night captured the magic that Dak put together with some surreal accuracy, poise, comfort level, and confidence as the quarterback for the Cowboys.

With the Cowboys back in LA on Saturday, I thought I would help all of Cowboys Nation relive the moment that this 135th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft emerged as the eventual NFC East winning quarterback.

Beasley_First_Down - Streamable

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Early on, Prescott's connection to Cole Beasley looked in mid-season form as Dak comfortably targeted #11 on plays dialed up by Scott Linehan very similar to the throws he was asked to complete in the spread at Mississippi State. Even still, it is the decisiveness and dead-accurate throw from Dak that jumped off the tape in his first game and foreshadowed a career year for slot receiver Cole Beasley in 2016.

Beasley_Middle_Catch - Streamable

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Hitting Beasley in stride again here, Prescott quickly made the world forget he was just a rookie expected to take a red shirt season on ESPN by reading the linebacker against Geoff Swaim up the field before knowing the football should go to Cole. I can't remember ever turning on the tape to study a player and being as excited while watching as I was viewing the game live, but even seeing simple plays like these again had me on the edge of my seat.

Butler_Sideline_Catch - Streamable

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Dak proved pretty quickly as well that there was more to his game than the short and intermediate reads, as he not only hit on two memorable deep throws for touchdowns, but drove the ball with strength and accuracy to the likes of Brice Butler above. Play action passes like these became a key element to the Cowboys' offense in 2016, not just because of Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line but because of Prescott's ability to sell his fakes, climb the pocket, and deliver the ball with zip.

Seven quarterbacks were drafted before Dak Prescott, for those scoring at home.

Another surreal part of rewinding to the tape of this game was seeing players no longer with the Cowboys make an impact. Fortunately for Dak Prescott, the Dallas offense will have a scary amount of continuity carrying over into his sophomore season, but there was still plenty of Darius Jackson, Lucky Whitehead, and of course the forever-awkward imagery of Tony Romo with a headset on the sidelines.

Bryant_TD - Streamable

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The above moment might as well have cemented #4 as a fixture for the Cowboys for years to come though, as Dak nailed the back shoulder throw to Dez Bryant - who hauled in both Prescott's first preseason TD and regular season score against the Bears.

This touchdown is best described as electric, as the buzz of Prescott driving the Cowboys down the field right from the start of this game had silver and blue minds running wild with imagination - salivating at the very fact that the Cowboys were back on TV. A touchdown to Dez Bryant on a spectacular catch was a euphoric moment.

Williams_TD - Streamable

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Rational thought was very likely nowhere to be found in Cowboys Nation as Prescott's magic unfolded into the second quarter, but the amazing thing about this performance was how much room he showed for further development. Improvement would become evident with Prescott after each and every week, as he'll likely tell you himself this touchdown strike to Terrance Williams needed to be led farther into the end zone to hit Williams in stride.

However, I let the tape roll after the reception to show some emotion from Dak - who was otherwise just cool, calm, and collected on this night and every Sunday for the Cowboys. It was almost as if, in this moment, Dak Prescott realized that all he needed to do was give his guys a chance to make plays and they would come through for him - something this cast of receivers did to the tune of 13 wins and a division title a year ago.

Smith_Screen - Streamable

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It is likely that Dak Prescott will see some action again against the Rams to start his 2017 preseason on Saturday night after sitting out the Hall of Fame game. Nothing he can do will be able to top his jaw dropping NFL debut, but Prescott has publicly set very high goals for himself and his team this season.

A year later from the LA Coliseum, it is time for the very same Dak Prescott to make good on performing to these standards - and is there anyone really doubting him now?

Tell us what you think about "Reliving Dak Prescott’s NFL Debut In LA" 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 Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

For many years, Linebacker Sean Lee has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys defense. However, that's quickly changing. The young duo consisting of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken over the linebacker position by dominating the field from sideline to sideline with their explosive talent. As a rookie, Vander Esch filled in for Lee at the weak linebacker position when the veteran went down injured and never gave the job back.

Currently, uncertainty surrounds Sean Lee, who took a pay cut earlier in the year to stay with the franchise he's played for since the beginning of his professional career in 2010. What will his role be in a young fueled defense in the upcoming season?

As we've all been able to see throughout his career, Sean Lee is one of the best in the game when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's not very often. His injury proneness led him to a position change years ago, when he was moved from the MIKE (middle linebacker) to the WILL (weak side linebacker) position. Now, those two spots are taken care of.

Where does this leaves Lee? The main question is whether or not he'll move to the strong side. Many question if this would be the correct call, given that he could be at even more risk of suffering yet another injury in a position that leads to more contact. The other option would be for him to be Vander Esch's backup at WILL.

Wish List for Dallas Cowboys 1st Preseason Game

Dallas Cowboys LBs Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee

Lately, it seems like the Cowboys will indeed move him to the strong-side. After all, it only makes sense to have your best three players on the field at the same time. On minicamp, the Cowboys have been playing the veteran at SAM, letting him get reps and grow comfortable in what seems to be his new job.

But even if Sean Lee starts lining up on the strong side, what can we expect from him next season? The way the NFL offenses operate now leads to teams sending their nickel packages to the field more often than not. For the Cowboys 4-3 defense, that means three cornerbacks, two linebackers. When that's the case, it will be Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who we see out there, not Lee.

Damien Wilson was the team's "starter" on the strong side, and he only managed to get 286 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That represents 28% of the team's total snaps. Even if Sean Lee becomes the starting strong side linebacker, we likely won't be seeing him as much.

Even still, I'd expect Sean Lee's experience to play a big factor when the team needs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to catch their breath. Lee could jump in and play a few snaps at any LB spot and do a good job at it.

After all, we can't forget that despite his injuries, Lee is a remarkable player on defense. He should still be one of the smartest linebackers with extraordinary instincts. There's a reason why, before Vander Esch arrived to America's Team, the defense crumbled without him. Last year, despite losing the starting gig, Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and an interception. The longtime veteran can still play.

It will be odd for Cowboys Nation to watch Lee on a completely new role. It's also hard to put the finger on what his production will look like at the end of the year. If there's one thing we know though, is that the veteran will work hard every practice trying to get the most playing time he can. We should be excited about the team's top three linebackers.

Tell me what you think about "What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

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.



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Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

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.



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