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Stephen Jones Talks Dak Prescott, Malik Hooker, and Where the Cowboys Defense Should Rank in 2021

The Dallas Cowboys are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 6-10 campaign in 2020. Not only did they have to deal with a condensed offseason program due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the Cowboys were ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, and never got any consistency going. All signs point to that being different in 2021 with a revamped coaching staff and defensive upgrades, but it will all hinge on if they can stay healthy.

When team Executive Vice President Stephen Jones joined the G-Bag Nation on 105.3 The Fan recently, he spoke about several topics, and one was Dak Prescott. He’s currently nursing a shoulder strain but there’s no concern with his availability for Week 1, and Jones mentioned how much Prescott is wanting to return to the field.

“We’re about to have to incarcerate him, I think,” Jones said. “He’s that ready to go. In his mind, he’s ready to roll, so, like I said, we almost got to protect him from himself, but in a good way. He’s such a fiery competitor and wants to be out there working, and sure you saw bits and pieces of it; get the feel for it off of ‘Hard Knocks,’ but he wants to be out there and working like that. He’ll be just fine. Just do it our way and this thing is going to work out perfect for us.”

Prescott was on a record pace before his ankle injury last season. He became the first quarterback in league history to have 450 yards or more for three consecutive games and had career highs in completion percentage (68), yards per attempt (8.4), and QBR (78.7). Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb were all on pace for 1,000-yard seasons before Prescott’s injury as well. With a full season together in 2021 that could very well happen.

The safety position has been a major topic of discussion when it comes to the Cowboys for years because of their unwillingness to address it. Donovan Wilson showed he was the team’s strong safety of the future with his breakout performance in 2020, but who would play opposite him going forward was still a concern.

In an attempt to put upgrades on the roster the Cowboys first signed Keanu Neal in late March but he has transitioned to linebacker. Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse were added as well, but another addition received the most buzz, Malik Hooker. When Jones was asked if where the Cowboys had him ranked before the 2017 NFL Draft made them comfortable with signing him he agreed and also mentioned his progress from his Achilles injury.

“Absolutely,” said Jones. “We had him right there where everybody else had him, top-10 type defensive player, a playmaking, and it’s just been unfortunate. He’s had a lot of injuries in his career, and he’s coming off an Achilles, and they’ve held him back some. But we certainly see what made us like him coming out in practice. Now that he’s working back into practice, he’s going to get some good work in the game tomorrow against the Texans, and then hopefully even more work against the Jaguars. Feel good about him.”

Hooker’s problem has been availability, not talent. Before tearing his ACL and MCL as a rookie, he snagged three interceptions and four pass breakups in the seven games he played in. The 2018 and 2019 seasons were where Hooker showed that he was an elite talent at safety. He combined for 95 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries in 27 games.

Kazee and rookie Israel Mukuamu won’t make it easy for Hooker to earn a starting role. However, if he gets back to anything close to what he was he’s the better player of the three and should eventually take the lead.

The Cowboy’s defense was a disaster last season. They finished 28th in points allowed (gave up a franchise-worst 473 points), 31st against the run, and 23rd in total defense. When the NFL Draft rolled around, the Cowboys used eight of their 11 picks on defense which included each of their first six picks in the first four rounds.

Several of them are already showing that they will contribute in 2021, and when adding that to the talented veterans on the roster, the Cowboys should be much improved defensively in 2021 right? Jones thinks so.

“I don’t see any reason why it can’t be top-half of the league,” Jones said. “Where that falls in the top half, that’s yet to be seen. But, as I said all along, I think it starts with our coordinator, who’s just brought a lot to the table in terms of his energy, his communication skills. It’s made its way to the assistant coaches down to the players in terms of how they communicate with one another in terms of coaches and players, and then player to player on the field. Communication is outstanding, love for the scheme, the players are playing fast.”

The Cowboys, if health is on their side, should win the NFC East and make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018. However, that’s easier said than done, especially in the NFL which is arguably the hardest professional sports league to have success in with only a small number of games. The talent is there for the Cowboys, but it will be interesting to see how it all comes together and if that will lead to a postseason birth.

What do you think?

Matthew Lenix

Written by Matthew Lenix

I write dope stuff about the Dallas Cowboys and what not.

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  1. They will be better then last year. I’ve heard down at the occult level most of what should be the starters have pledged their souls directly to Satan himself! Three of them balked at first but they have one more chance to catch up with Satan or one of his minions while their in Houston today. Sources tell me they have had a change of heart. Let’s hope so!

  2. Y’all do remember that DAK was 1-4 and the one was a gift before his injury and also that was before all the O- line went down not much of a record pace

  3. Actually Collins never played and Smith was already hobbled the few games he played. I believe 4 of the first 5 games were against playoff opponents. By the way it’s a team game so actually the team went 1-4. The defense was much better later in the year and the quality of competition was much weaker as well.

    U don’t like Dak thats fine, but maybe keep things in context and critique the team as a whole. It’s short sighted to hold one player responsible for wins/losses.

  4. For all the gaudy stats that are repeated ad nauseam about DP being on “record” pace last year, we could have easily been 0-5 in his games.
    So IMO, he can throw for 1000 yards a game, if we don’t win the game, what the hell good is that.

    When your down by 35-40 points in the third or fourth quarter, one has to ask how does that happen. Sure you can blame the defense to some degree, but also after you’re opponent scores, do you not get the ball back with a chance to also score and equalize. Where was this assumed “record” breaker then???

    In short, you’re playing a different kind of defense when down by forty late in games. A prevent defense that keeps everything in front of them, to “PREVENT” long QUICK TDs. This let’s the QB PILE UP YARDS with short to medium type passes. This is what happened primarily with DP. A lot of empty calorie yards, that makes for “record breaking” fodder, but produced a 2-3 record for the team. BTW, Dalton bailed him out vs Giants, where he was struggling, then got injured, and AD threw the long pass late in the game to Gallup to set up the winning FG. And don’t forget that pathetic Falcon MELTDOWN.

    AGAIN, EASILY COULD HAVE BEEN 0-5.

    I understand Jones’ kid wants to minimize whatever injury DP has/had and pump up his image with the “fiery competitor” rhetoric, after JUST OVERPAYING HIM STUPID MONEY. But frankly to get to this level probably EVERY PLAYER IN THE NFL is a “fiery competitor”.

    But they have “no concerns about his availability game 1”, after this long layoff without a single snap in a game since OCT 2020, AND this mysterious injury that keeps him “limited” throughout camp and PS games. Not to mention his leg injury from last year, that may have set off this latest.

    You think we should have maybe invested in a real QB2, just in case. Or are we all in with just DP?

    26 LONG YEARS and counting!

  5. Gary b, I get that it’s a team sport, and not being confrontational, but critiquing him at the MOST IMPORTANT position on the team, and as the so called leader, should not be off the table IMO. He just got paid $160 million, time to PRODUCE, certainly more than one playoff win in his NEXT five years.

    I don’t dislike him, I just don’t think he can get us to another SB. And if this turns out to be correct, it obviously was not a good investment. IMO, Its about wins, not stats. BTW, former Cowboy players are wondering what is going on with this INJURY situation.

  6. VAM- Ur concerns are certainly not without validity. A lot of questions to be answered moving forward on many fronts with this team. Dak is the most important player on the team, and we are obviously counting on him and needing for him to play at a high level. But it’s gonna take much more then him playing well to make us a contender. He could play lights out but if the rest of the team sucks, it doesn’t matter. This team has question marks in many areas. I know the QB position is always the most scrutinized and for good reason, They have the biggest impact on the game. But again this team needs to improve in several areas to be serious contenders.

  7. Give Dak a decent defense and a rejuvinated Zek along with a healthy offensive line and this team will be much better than last year. Last years dumpster fire was a worst case scenario on all levels. We need to stop thinking about last year and be positive and move on to the future. We will see

  8. I love reading this inane banter from people who love to regurgitate the comments of others trying to sound as if they actually understand what they are talking about.

    I have to wonder, judging by the thoughtless commentary. Are most of you talking this garbage about DP racist Hillbilly clowns that believe you aren’t, or flat out KKK members!

    Fact, the O-Line was decimated from the start. That is why we weren’t scoring. No blocking, no time, no presence on the field. PM learned what it was like not having protection the hard way, but miraculously people knew it wasn’t his issue. I guess other teams have smarter fans than we do! Try harder. Thinking clearly isn’t your strong suit, stick to cow tipping, it will work out better! Also, last I checked QBs don’t block, catch passes, run the ball exclusively, return punts, etc.. Get my drift, or am I speaking too intelligently for your pea brains to understand.

    Pick another team, you don’t belong here clowns. AD bailed DP out, you really are stupid! Last I checked it was DP that put the points on the board with the team that made kicking the FG possible genius! A guy leads one drive down the field for the final points, a field goal, and he is the hero! You’re a racist , and not worthy of this banter, but anyway.

    Football is a “Team” sport, for all the sub-humans commenting on here. DP wasn’t perfect, but no one was. He gave up his body trying to over compensate for terrible play from other guys. That is how he got injured, and you clowns are taking shots at the one constant we have.

    Having to teach idiots is exhausting!!! And there is no reward because despite my best efforts, and those of others you will remain the same idiots!!!

  9. Wow Charles, “KKK”, “Hillybilly clowns”. You certainly used some stereotypical racist names for White people with impunity. Unfortunately, that seems acceptable in this current woke climate, while the opposite would be swiftly condemned. Then you added some other generic derogatory names to boot. Great, good job.

    So people who may have an opinion that you don’t agree with or you don’t like, are “racist” or “stupid”. Calling people “racist” while using racial epithets to do so, usually doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that seems to be the easiest, nonsensical route.

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