Before the season started I wrote an article about what games the Dallas Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott at quarterback? I broke down the first six games of the season before their bye week and had them finishing with a 3-3 record.
You have to remember Prescott was still an unknown commodity, but I think we can all agree that that is no longer the case since he has the Dallas Cowboys sitting atop the NFC East division with a 5-1 winning record.
I'm sure you've all heard by now that the Cowboys might have a quarterback controversy on their hands. So, I decided to do a follow-up post and break down the remaining opponents on the Cowboys 2016 schedule to see who gives the team the best chance to win between Dak Prescott and Tony Romo?
|Opponent||Can Prescott Win?||Can Romo Win?|
|@New York Giants||Yes||Yes|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Yes||Yes|
Do you Agree or Disagree with my assessment of these two QB's?
As you can see, whichever quarterback the Dallas Cowboys decide to go with shouldn't really matter. They should be able to make a strong push for the playoffs with either QB.
It may simply come down to who they believe gives the team the best chance to win or Tony Romo's health.
Having said all that, let me try to break it down further for you and explain my reasoning a little bit better.
Philadelphia Eagles - Week 8
It doesn't sound as if Tony Romo is healthy enough to take the field yet, so that means Dak Prescott has two weeks to prepare for the Philadelphia Eagles. If Romo was healthy however, I think he is more than capable of winning this game.
The Eagles started off hot, but in recent weeks they have struggled to maintain their intensity, especially on offense. The running game is pretty much nonexistent and they don't really have that go to wide receiver in the passing game. That puts a lot of pressure on rookie QB Carson Wentz.
Division games are always hard to to predict, but I think Prescott can do enough against the Eagles to come away with a victory.
@Cleveland Browns - Week 9
This could possibly be the first week we see Tony Romo healthy enough to be back on the field, but with the way Prescott is playing, it would be hard to justify making the change at QB given the momentum and winning streak the Cowboys are on.
This could be the most winnable game on the schedule for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, especially considering the injuries the Browns have suffered at the QB position.
There is nothing about the Cleveland Browns that scares me and I think the Dallas Cowboys should completely dominate this game in all three phases.
@Pittsburgh Steelers - Week 10
I think Tony Romo gives the Cowboys the best chance to win this game if he is healthy, especially if Ben Roethlisberger is back playing QB for the Steelers.
Don't get me wrong, Dak Prescott has been playing outstanding, but if Roethlisberger is playing this game, it will probably come down to whose offense can score more points. Prescott has been more of a game manager so far, but Romo has the experience to play in these types of games and has done so with success in the past.
If Ben Roethlisberger isn't playing though, I think Prescott is capable of winning this game, even in the hostile environment. But, given the choice I would feel much better with Tony Romo under center.
Baltimore Ravens - Week 11
The Baltimore Ravens seem like a middle-of-the-road team, but one that is capable of being sneaky enough to come away with a victory.
The Ravens don't seem to have a lot a star power on offense or defense, but have still managed to play in some really close games this season. They nearly beat both the Washington Redskins and New York Giants the last two weeks, and only lost by less than a touchdown.
I think Dak Prescott and Tony Romo are both capable of beating the Ravens, but I think this is the definition of possibly being a trap game. Luckily, the Cowboys will have the home-field advantage and that could be the difference maker.
Washington Redskins - Week 12
The Dallas Cowboys have already defeated the Redskins once this season on their home turf, and I don't see why they shouldn't be able to do so once again with the home field advantage.
The Redskins are on a four-game winning streak since losing to the Cowboys, but I don't think they are good enough to sneak a win away from Dallas.
I do think that this is a must win game for the Cowboys and could have huge implications as to who wins the NFC division. I expect a close scoring game, but in the end I have the Cowboys coming out on top with either Tony Romo or Dak Prescott leading the charge.
@Minnesota Vikings - Week 13
The Minnesota Vikings have absolutely had the best defense so far in 2016, and I don't really think there is a team close to challenging for that title. The surprising thing about the Vikings though is how well Sam Bradford has been operating the offense.
This is a game that I think Tony Romo's experience makes him the best man for the job in order for the Cowboys to come away with another victory.
The Vikings do a lot of things on defense to put added pressure on opposing QB's with not only their pass rush, but with their defensive coverages as well. It's one of the reasons why they have been so good this season.
Romo is outstanding at reading defenses pre-snap, and that is the reason I think he gives the Dallas Cowboys the best chance of winning on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.
@New York Giants - Week 14
Dak Prescott nearly did just enough in his first game in the NFL to beat the New York Giants earlier this season, but when time expired was on the losing end of the stick.
Although Prescott is more than capable of beating the Giants on their home turf, I think Tony Romo increases the odds of the Cowboys coming away with a victory on the road.
At this point of the year I think Romo's experience is an invaluable and he knows how to put his team in the best position to win these division rival games that seem to always come down to the last few plays.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Week 15
I know I said that the Cleveland Browns might just be the easiest team for the Cowboys to beat on their schedule in 2016, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are definitely a close second.
There is nothing on the offensive or defensive side of the ball for the Buccaneers that should scare the Cowboys, and this is another game they should completely dominate in all three phases.
I don't really think it matters if Romo or Prescott is in the lineup. This should be a cakewalk.
Detroit Lions - Week 16
The only thing really going well for the Detroit Lions seems to be their passing attack. This is somewhat surprising considering the fact Calvin Johnson retired and Matthew Stafford is operating the offense at a high level without Megatron for the first time in his career.
Dak Prescott is certainly capable of winning this game, but at this point in the season he would be playing the most football he has consecutively played in his entire career. College and high school seasons aren't as long as the NFL season, so you have to wonder if Prescott will hit a rookie wall.
Tony Romo is used to the long NFL season and I personally think he gives the Cowboys the best chance to win.
@Philadelphia Eagles - Week 17
The last game of the regular season is on the road against a division rival and this game could have major implications as to whether or not the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs. But, if Dallas continues to play the way they have, this game could also mean absolutely nothing.
Regardless, I stand firm in the belief that Tony Romo gives the team the best chance to win this late in the season. He has the experience and knowledge of how to handle these late-season games. That simply can't be discounted.
Are you Team Romo or Team Prescott?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions about which quarterback gives the Dallas Cowboys the best chance to win the remaining games in 2016.
Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip
Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.
After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.
The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.
Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.
But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.
Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.
The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.
Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program
Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.
After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.
Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire
While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.
It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.
Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.
That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.
But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.
Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.
For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way
In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.
This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.
A few Rams Passing Game Notes
- The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
- The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
- The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
- The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
- They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
- The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.
Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.
On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.
The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.
Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak
No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.
The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.
The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.
This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.
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