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.
Michael Jackson Could Make Things Interesting at Nickel Corner
In a passing league, you can never have too many bodies in your secondary. By the fifth round of the NFL Draft in April, the Dallas Cowboys had addressed both their offensive and defensive lines, as well as the backup running back position. It was time to add more depth at cornerback and with the 158th pick Michael Jackson was selected.
Currently Anthony Brown has the inside track to be the lead dog at that Nickel Cornerback, but his play has dropped off before in the past. Jourdan Lewis is right behind him still trying to find his place in the team's defensive system. Jackson is in the perfect position to make his move up the depth chart, and here are a few reasons why.
First, he has all the measurables needed to succeed in the Cowboys defensive scheme. At 6'1 210 pounds, with a 40.5-inch vertical, 32.5-inch arms and 4.4 speed he's definitely an early Christmas present for Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli, and more specifically Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. Long and physical corners are what built the infamous "Legion of Boom" in Seattle under his watch.
His ability to be effective in press coverage is a huge tool in his bag. He does an excellent job jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. So much so, that quarterbacks only completed 5 out of 18 passes on go routes against Jackson last season at Miami. Good for a passer rating of 54.4 and a completion percentage of 27.7, with no touchdowns allowed.
Lastly, his versatility brings his skill set full circle. In addition to playing in the slot, he can also line up on the outside. This gives the Cowboys insurance if something catastrophic happens to the team's starters Byron Jones and Chido Awuzie. It doesn't stop there, however, as his stature gives him the added bonus of transferring to safety if need be. So many possibilities to work with.
The rookie hasn't wasted time impressing Kris Richard as the preparations for the upcoming season have kicked off.
"Very pleased with him. Intelligent. Picks up a lot of things quick. I think he's got corner and nickel combo ability for us. Obviously, the more you can do, the more value you present for yourself," Richard said.
As training camp approaches, Michael Jackson has his opportunity to compete. Every snap must be played like it's his last if he wants to be a big contributor in 2019. There's no lack of skill, only experience, and reps, which he'll get plenty of in late July until the season starts. The stage is set for him to possibly add his name next to starting Free Safety Xavier Woods as another late round steal for the Cowboys secondary.
Michael Gallup is Primed for Breakout Sophomore Season
Heading into the 2018 season the Dallas Cowboys had big questions at the wide receiver position with the departure of Dez Bryant. They elected not to go for the flashy names like Maryland's D.J. Moore or Alabama's Calvin Ridley, but instead took Colorado State Wide Receiver, Michael Gallup 81st overall.
Even without the hype of other bigger named receivers coming out of college, Gallup's resume was enough to impress Head Coach Jason Garrett. "There's a lot to like about him. He's big, he's athletic, he plays the game the right way. He's been a productive player for them, doing a lot of different kinds of things. We feel like he has real upside, too. A lot of qualities that you want in a young receiver, in a developmental receiver. But a lot of production, too. He had opportunities there and took advantage of them throughout his career," Garrett said.
Once the season started, however, it was apparent that it would take some time to build the chemistry and trust with Quarterback Dak Prescott. The lack of a true number one receiver wasn't doing the first talent any favors as he tried to figure out his role on the team. Gallup would be targeted just 15 times in the first 5 games, only registering 6 receptions. But fortunately for the newbie, help was on the way.
During the team's bye week in October, they acquired Amari Cooper from the Raiders in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2019 draft, and it worked wonders for Gallup and his development. Weeks 11 through 14 saw him targetted 27 times. This was significant considering the Cowboys were in the midst of a 5-game winning streak after a 3-5 start. Prescott's trust and belief in Gallup were starting to come together as the team made a run at the NFC East crown and a playoff berth.
He would finish with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. Once the postseason rolled around Gallup had firmly established himself as the team's second option behind Amari Cooper.
Gallup would make his first playoff start in the divisional round against the Rams in Los Angeles. Although the Cowboys season wouldn't survive this contest, one of the positives was the play of the first year pass catcher. He finished with 6 receptions for 119 yards, and a tidal wave of momentum heading into 2019.
There's a major change coming to the Cowboys offensive philosophy this season, thanks to newly promoted Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore. The new puppet master of the offense has made it clear he's open to listening to suggestions from the players and staff on what they feel will take the offense into another orbit. "At the end of the day, work together with everyone. I think that includes the coaching staff, obviously coach Garrett and the rest of his staff. I think you also got to get some input from the players. It doesn't mean you have to go down those roads all the time, but I think it's important that when a player believes in something and they're pretty convinced on it, usually they find a way to make it work," Kellen Moore said.
With a season already under his belt with Prescott, and an open-minded first-year offensive coordinator willing to abandon the prehistoric ways of the Scott Linehan era, Gallup's development will only improve with each snap.
Unlike the beginning of his rookie season, Michael Gallup knows exactly what his role with the Cowboys is going forward. Amari Cooper is the main option, and with him drawing double teams regularly, the opportunities for Gallup to have a major impact in year two are endless. Not to mention, the added addition of Randall Cobb to the Cowboys passing game just made life even easier for him. Now teams not only have to roll coverage to Cooper, but the threat of Cobb in the slot creates a lot of one-on-ones on the outside for Gallup.
The size, speed, and athleticism are all there for this young man. Now, with a more innovative offensive scheme coming into play, and growing trust between himself and Dak Prescott, the 2019 season is shaping up to make Michael Gallup a household name.
Is Amari Cooper the Most Important Contract for Cowboys to Finalize?
Most of the offseason contract chatter, once DeMarcus Lawrence's contract was signed, began to focus on the next group of stars due for big-time money, most notably Quarterback Dak Prescott. For good reason as the quarterback is generally regarded as the most important player on the team. While Prescott has been important to the team's success over the last three seasons, few players made as much of an impact on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys than Amari Cooper.
The Dallas Cowboys front office is working on deals for Prescott and Cooper. Both will get new contracts at some point before they're scheduled to hit free agency in March of 2020, but one could argue that getting Amari Cooper's deal done is more important than Dak Prescott's.
Prior to the arrival of Amari Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys offense struggled and was inconsistent. In the seven games prior to the trade that brought Cooper to Dallas, the Cowboys went 3-4 and scored more than 20 points only three times. In wins over the New York Giants, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars they averaged 28.67 points per game, highlighted by a 40 point outburst against the Jaguars in week six. In their four losses on the season they averaged 13.5 points per game. Over the first seven games, they averaged 20 points per game.
In the nine games, the Dallas Cowboys played with Amari Cooper, the Cowboys averaged 22 points per game. They scored more than 20 points in all but three games; losses to the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts and a win over the New Orleans Saints.
If you remove the 40 point game against the Jaguars from the scoring average over the first seven games and the shutout loss to the Colts from the scoring average over the final nine games, the scoring average changes dramatically. Without the Jaguars game, the Cowboys only averaged 16.67 points per game in the other six contests, decreasing their scoring average by more than three points per game. Conversely, if you remove the shutout loss to the Colts from the scoring average over the last nine games, the Cowboys averaged 24.87 points per game. That's nearly a three-point difference.
Even if you remove the best (week 17 against the Giants) and worst (week 15 against the Colts) games of the final nine games from the scoring average, the Cowboys averaged 23.3 points per game. removing the best (week six against the Jaguars) and worst (week one against the Panthers) games from the first half of the season, the Dallas Cowboys averaged only 18.4 points per game in the other five games.
So Amari Cooper was worth between two and 4.9 points per game. That may not seem like a lot, but that's a huge difference in a league where so many games come down to a single score.
The impact offense as a whole is noticeable, but what about on Dak Prescott.
Dak Prescott only averaged 202 passing yards per game and had a passer rating of 87.4 with eight touchdown passes and four interceptions in the first seven games prior to Amari Cooper's arrival. Prescott only completed 62.14% of his passes in the first seven games of the season.
Over the final nine games of the season, Dak averaged 274 passing yards a game, threw for 14 touchdowns and only threw four interceptions. Prescott had a passer rating of 103 and completed 71% of his passes.
In the first half of the season, Prescott only had a passer rating over 100 two times, while he had a passer rating under 90 three times. Over the final nine games with Amari, Prescott had a passer rating over 100 six times and had only two games with a passer rating under 90.
Not only did Amari Cooper make a significant impact on the passing game, but the running game led by Ezekiel Elliott saw a dramatic increase in his production once Amari Cooper arrived.
In the first seven games of the season, Ezekiel Elliott averaged only 19 carries a game and 88.4 yards rushing per game. He was averaging 4.69 yards per carry. Through the air, Elliott caught 3.6 passes per game for only 25 yards with seven yards per reception.
After Cooper's arrival, Elliott got more opportunities and found more room to run as well. he averaged 21.5 carries per game, rushed for 101.9 yards per game. He more than doubled his receptions per game with 6.5 and averaged 49 yards receiving per game, nearly doubling his first half of the season totals.
It's no coincidence that the run and pass games saw increased production after bringing in one of the better young receivers in the NFL. The overall impact of Amari Cooper led to the Dallas Cowboys going on a 7-2 run to finish the season to win the NFC East. Prior to the trade, the team looked dead in the water. After the trade Dak Prescott looked like a completely different quarterback. The team was hitting big plays, converting on third downs, and scoring tons of points on the way to winning lots of games.
Dak Prescott is going to get his contract finalized, of that, I have no doubt. While I feel good about his upward trajectory as a player, I feel a lot better about it knowing that Amari Cooper is about to get a contract too.
Amari Cooper is an excellent talent. His route running precision makes opposing defensive backs look foolish and the separation he creates makes a quarterback's job that much easier. Cooper is like having Cole Beasley in Dez Bryant's body with sub-4.4 speed.
Just turning 25 years old, Amari Cooper is one of the bright young stars at the wide receiver position and is about to enter his prime. Unlike players like Dez Bryant, who rely on physicality and athleticism, Cooper is going to age much more gracefully as route running is one of those things that doesn't drop off near as quickly as athleticism. Just look at Jason Witten.
The Dallas Cowboys need to not mess around with Amari Cooper. Because having him for his prime and for the same timeframe that you are extending your franchise quarterback will make the next six years of their respective careers much more productive. The best way to take care of your franchise quarterback is to give him an offensive line to protect him. The second best way is to give him a wide receiver that can get open for him.
Amari Cooper is a quarterback's best friend and will be worth every penny he gets in a contract extension. In the Cowboys 2018 run to the playoffs, there were few players as important to that success as Amari Cooper. In this offseason of contract extensions and signings, few still, are as important to the Cowboys success as Amari Cooper.
Get him signed, so he can go play football.
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