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Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems

No one expected the Dallas Cowboys to lose to the New York Jets, but that's precisely what happened when they left the field at MetLife Stadium last Sunday. So far, it's been the most painful loss of the season given it was supposed to be a great opportunity for a "get-right" game. But what happened in New York?

Let's get to this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday. I promise you there's a couple of positive ones.

Dak Prescott's The Least of Cowboys Problems

When an NFL team isn't playing well, there are two specific persons fans will go after. The head coach and the quarterback. In the Cowboys' case, Dak Prescott is far from the problem. On his contract year, Dak is playing at a high level. The box score might not tell you that, but the tape will. He's far from an elite QB, but he's a guy you can win big with.

Perhaps his biggest issue is the inaccurate throws he can make from time to time. But just as that happens once in a while, Prescott has the ability to throw some pretty good balls in tight situations. He can throw on the run, move around in the pocket and remain calm under intense situations. He showed that versus the New York Jets - playing without his two starting tackles and #1 wide receiver - when he was constantly under pressure and still managed to throw the football around.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Cowboys 4th drive of the game Dak.... 3rd & 2 - Ridiculous throw to Cedric Wilson for big gain. 3rd & 8 - Getting hit by Q Williams completes to Austin for a big gain. Then they go 4 straight run plays and turn it over. Let your QB score your points please.

In a game where he lacked key players around him, he managed to get Cedrick Wilson and Tavon Austin a combined 10 catches for 110 yards, as Staff Writer Jess Haynie pointed out. 

Right now, Dak's a good quarterback with the potential to grow into an even better one. A great one. The Cowboys have plenty of things to clean up, but Dak Prescott is not one of them.

Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems 1

Injuries Will Be Tough On This Team

Many fans are turning against the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff after a three-game losing streak. One of the main reasons why is how this football team is being overwhelmed with injuries and failing to execute without key players. This time, the Cowboys played without their two starting offensive tackles and their star wide receiver, Amari Cooper. It's not easy to win a game on the road that way.

Yet, the New Orleans Saints beat the Cowboys without their staring QB Drew Brees. The Green Bay Packers didn't have WR Davante Adams when they traveled to Dallas. And the then 0-4 New York Jets didn't have LB C.J. Mosley and TE Chris Herndon when they hosted the Cowboys last Sunday.


Can this team overcome injuries going forward? They didn't prove it against a bad New York Jets team. This Cowboys team is too talented to lose when healthy, but issues will likely continue if injuries do.

Play-Calling Impossible To Figure Out

One thing is to lose three straight games. Another thing is to completely change what was working for you offensively when you scored over 30 points in each of the first three games. The Cowboys seemed to have a new-look pass-first offense playing RPOs, play-action, throwing deep in early downs and looking like a modern NFL offense. The Scott Linehan days were over... until they came right back.

Tom Downey on Twitter

The Cowboys ran play-action on 39.4% of passes (2nd-highest) in the first 3 weeks. It's down to 17.2% (Tied for 3rd-fewest) in the last 3. Game script obviously a key factor there but wow. (All per PFF, Min. 20% of team dropbacks, btw) https://t.co/PhsFaefxGv

Versus the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets specifically, the Cowboys went back to running on a huge amount of first downs. Last Sunday, Dallas run the ball 17 times on first down, only to average 2.9 yards per carry. Many have speculated that Jason Garrett has been an influence on Kellen Moore's play-calling but there's no evidence to back that up.

Kellen Moore's play-calling has worked under one approach and failed under another. How long will it take the Cowboys to stick to the successful one? Going into week 6, they were the #1 offense by DVOA. They clearly can make it work. Are they afraid of being on the road or what is the reason they're not sticking to what's working?

Cedrick Wilson Had a Nice Game

The Boise State product didn't have a lot of opportunities to prove himself, but he had a fairly decent game. With Amari Cooper sidelined, Wilson had five catches for 46 yards. One of them was a highlight reel catch on third down.

Tom Downey on Twitter

Cedrick Wilson pulls down the 3rd down catch from Dak Prescott. Really nice placement by Dak and a nice job to make the catch by Wilson. #DallasCowboys https://t.co/CVTDQ9mUlv

Wilson's five catches were the first of his career. He was pretty solid versus the Jets and if the Cowboys are without Cooper next weekend, he'll have plenty of opportunities to build on a strong performance. Wilson was a complete receiver in Boise and has the potential to fill a ton of roles for the Cowboys if called upon.

It was promising to watch him play well after missing his entire rookie season in 2018.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Dak Prescott The Least of Cowboys Problems" 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!


I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

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Game Notes

The Brady Report: Cowboys Defense Run Over In Primetime Loss

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: Cowboys Defense Run Over In Primetime Loss

Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings was a tough one to take for the Dallas Cowboys. They could easily be sitting here today at 7-2 or 6-3, comfortably ahead of the Eagles for first place in the division and fighting for a first round bye in the postseason.

Instead, they are barely over .500 on the season and face de facto must win games each week from here on out. Obviously they let this one slip away, but there's a whole seven games to go before we know the fate of the 2019 Dallas Cowboys.


Let's discuss what went wrong (and right) last week during the Cowboys 28-24 loss.

  • What more can we say about Dak Prescott? The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible yet again on Sunday night, having arguably his best game to date even in defeat. Prescott was in complete control of the offense, and showcased his mastery by bailing the Cowboys out with some big third down throws. Prescott finished with 397 yards and 3 touchdowns, and continues to force the hand of the Jones family to break out the checkbook this offseason.
  • Much like Dak Prescott, I'm running out of adjectives to describe the play of wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper has been a God-send for this Cowboys offense over the last calendar year, looking like one of the best wide outs in the league week in and week out. Cooper went for 147 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, and should have been given a chance to win the game on the team's final drive.
  • Alright, that's enough praise in defeat. Let's talk about the negatives. The defensive tackles were flat-out awful. No matter who it was - Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder - anyone who was asked to defend the run at the 1 or 3 technique position had some very low moments against the Vikings. Minnesota bullied the Cowboys upfront on both the sides of the ball, en route to over 150 yards on the ground for this Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offensive line won this game, and the Cowboys interior defensive line needs to be better if they hope to actually compete against good teams.
  • The defensive tackles were bad against the run Sunday night, but let's not let the linebackers off the hook. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are each immensely talented, but neither has been as consistent as a run defender as they need to be going forward. Smith looked flat-out dis-engaged at times during this one, and both linebackers were run over by interior offensive linemen getting to the second level. I've often praised Smith for his versatility and what it does to unleash this defense, but he was plain bad last week.
  • Of course, we can't let the coaching staff off the hook for this loss either. Head coach Jason Garrett made several questionable fourth down calls down the stretch of the game, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was determined to pound the ball on first down despite achieving next to no success. On the defensive end, Kris Richard's defensive backs were toasted. Chidobe Awuzie continues to look like a liability opposite Byron Jones, and the safety spot next to Xavier Woods has been a massive hole all season. And, while both Jones and Woods have been mostly good this year, neither was particularly impressive either during this loss. It was a total and complete defensive failure. This team needs to get better fast, and it all starts at the top with the coaching staff.


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Game Notes

Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s Status Still Unknown for Cowboys Game

Jess Haynie

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Matthew Stafford, Lions

The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Detroit this Sunday for a Week 11 meeting with the Lions. As Dallas tries to get back to winning games, they may get a boost from the absence of Lions' Quarterback Matthew Stafford. After missing last week's game with a back injury, Stafford's status for this week remains unclear.

Stafford was a limited participant in practices all of Week 10 for Detroit and went into their game with the Chicago Bears as a game-time decision. He was ultimately ruled out due to fractures in his back; the first start Stafford's missed for the Lions since the 2010 season.

Jeff Driskel got the start as the Lions fell in Chicago. He is 1-5 as an NFL starter overall, going 1-4 in games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.

The Lions are now 3-5-1 on the year and at the bottom of the NFC North. They are also far behind in the Wild Card race, which leads to speculation that they could shut Stafford down for the season to preserve his long-term health. Based on Matthew's contract, the earliest Detroit can easily get out from his contract is after the 2020 season.

For his part, Matthew Stafford has said he has no plans on staying out this season as long he's medically cleared to play. He certainly would love to be active this Sunday against the Cowboys, the team of his youth, after playing his high school football in Dallas.


Even if Stafford plays, Dallas has done solidly overall against opposing quarterbacks in 2019. They are sixth in passing yards allowed per game and 14th in opponent passer rating.

Detroit is fourth in passing offense right now in the NFL but that was based on eight games with Stafford at QB. Jeff Driskel will not perform at that same level, and the Lions' rushing attack has been very weak since Kerryon Johnson went on injured reserve.

We'll see in the coming days if Matthew Stafford is at practice for Detroit and to what extent. But even if he does practice some, as he did last week, it could once again be a last-minute decision for the Lions if Stafford actually plays on Sunday.

With the Cowboys desperate for a win, they'll take all the help they can get.


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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Turned Their Back on Prescott’s MVP Performance

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Turned Their Back on Prescott's MVP Performance

The Dallas Cowboys have lost games to the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. Last Sunday Night, the Cowboys hosted the Vikings on primetime and lost in a game that went down to the wire. It felt like the toughest loss of the season. Why? Let's dive in to this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday.

Cowboys Turned Their Back on Dak Prescott's MVP Performance

Cowboys Nation was shocked with the Cowboys' play-calling late in the game and for good reason. After starting the drive backed up at their own five, Prescott completed six of seven passes for 79 yards. Then, on second down and two to go, the Cowboys ran the ball with Ezekiel Elliott for no gain. On a short yardage down, that was comprehensible. Maybe not ideal, but understandable. On third down, though, they handed it off again to Zeke.

In the game in which Dak Prescott was playing at an MVP level, with less than two minutes on the clock, the Cowboys took the ball away from him to put the game on the star running back who was having a rough day with less than 50 yards against a stout Vikings defense.

Now granted, the play on third down seemed to be an RPO concept with Jason Witten as the pass option. But why are you giving Dak one pass option when he's dominated all night? Why are you instead trusting Elliott in a game in which he failed to average three yards per carry? Prescott was unbelievably clutch, throwing for almost 400 yards, three touchdowns and a 100% conversion rate on 3rd & 7+.

This was by far the number one reason why the loss to the Vikings was so frustrating to watch. The Cowboys have a franchise quarterback. But they need to learn to trust him as such and put the games on his hands when needed. Not on their running back, regardless of how much they pay each.

Coaching Staff Must Improve If Cowboys are to Reach Their Goals

Jason Garrett Must Be More Aggressive in Fourth Down Decisions

It's easy to say this in retrospective, but I believe the Cowboys didn't make the right decisions when facing fourth down last Sunday night. The first notorious decision came in the second quarter, when the Cowboys faced 4th & 4 with the ball on the Vikings' 40 yard-line. Being behind 14-0, they decided to punt.

It turned out fine for the Cowboys in the end, tying the game 14-14 later in the second. But the analytics trend in the NFL really has evidence to back up the fact that Dallas should've gone for it in such a critical spot.


In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys decided to kick the field goal being on their opponents' five. Down 21-28, Brett Maher went out to kick the field goal, which put the Cowboys behind by four points instead of seven. They still needed a touchdown to take the lead with ten minutes left on the game.

Kevin Brady took a deeper look at the Cowboys' win probabilities on this article for Inside The Star.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

was working on a post for @InsideTheStarDC on this last night. here's the estimated WP for each scenario on that fourth and goal.

The Baltimore Ravens are taking the league by storm using analytics and making the right decisions in fourth down. Yet, some teams in the NFL are not catching up. The Cowboys are one of those teams.

Cowboys Defense Exposed Again

The main reason the Cowboys lost to the Vikings was coaching and that's clear. But defense earned the second place. Kirk Cousins played a good game versus Rod Marinelli's unit, despite the box score suggesting otherwise. He made a couple of impressive throws at AT&T Stadium while Kyle Rudolph finished night with two touchdown catches and a two point conversion.

Dalvin Cook, one of the toughest offensive weapons to face in this league totaled 183 yards last weekend. It's not easy to face Cook and limit him and the Cowboys failed to do so. The linebackers had a very rough day overall and there wasn't a single performance to point out as a positive.

Slow Starts Won't Stop

Every week. Every week we talk about how this Cowboys team started slow against any opponent. In six games, they haven't scored a TD in the first quarter. Not even at the beginning of the season, when they went 3-0 against poor teams did they start a game on the right foot. Who to blame? Both players and coaches, but I'd lean toward coaching first.

Bottom line, there's a huge problem with the way this football team prepares for gameday and the Cowboys need to figure it out fast. Their backs are against the wall and playing from behind every game costs games. At 5-4 and headed toward tough opponents in the second half of the season, it's time to put an end to such starts.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Turned Their Back on Prescott’s MVP Performance" 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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