The National Football League is a team game, perhaps the ultimate team game. It takes 53 players and coaches to have success, have it consistently, and have it at the highest levels. The defense can't control what the offense does and vice versa. You've heard people say, "teams win games." It's a true statement. Not one player can "carry a team." And while the NFL is a team sport in the truest sense it also remains a quarterback-driven league.
You don't have to look any further than the salaries being paid out to quarterbacks this offseason to see just how valuable quarterbacks are to the success of an NFL franchise. You get a good to great one and you have a chance at having consistent success over the course of their career. You get stuck with an above average or average quarterback and your team will be just good enough to finish middle of the pack most seasons, but never good enough to contend and never bad enough to draft the top quarterback in the draft. Finding yourself in the quarterback churn or quarterback purgatory is a terrible place to be as a franchise. The 2000-2006 Dallas Cowboys know that feeling all too well.
Teams win games, no doubt, but no position has as much impact on the outcome of football games than the quarterback position.
In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys face some of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game on their regular season schedule. Let's look at the top five quarterbacks the Dallas Cowboys will face in 2019.
1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Like Tom Brady, Drew Brees is in his 40's but continues to have a ton of success for the high scoring New Orleans Saints. Brees put up the highest completion percentage of his storied career at 74%, which led the league, and his 8.2 yards per attempt were the highest he's had since 2011 (8.3). His 9 air yards per attempt were second in the NFL only to NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. Only Aaron Rodgers had fewer interceptions than Drew Brees five among players who played all 16 games.
Though the Dallas Cowboys dominated the Saints at home on Thursday Night Football in 2018, playing in New Orleans is going to be a much different story. I'd be absolutely floored if they were to hold the Saints under 20 in that game in week four.
Drew Brees has some of the best pass catchers in the NFL to throw to in Wide Receiver Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The addition of Dallas Cowboys killer Jared Cook makes their offense look even more dangerous.
Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been a match made in offensive heaven for 13 seasons and there's no reason to believe it's going to slow down in 2019.
Brees gets the nod over Brady, because I think he's playing at a higher level right now and will be a tougher game for the Cowboys in 2019.
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
In 2018, Tom Brady finished with a passer rating less than 100 for the first time since 2014. It was only the third time since 2010 that the six-time Super Bowl champion has thrown for fewer than 30 touchdowns.
It may have been a down season by Tom Brady's standards, but he still finished the season seventh in passing yards, 10th in passing touchdowns, and ninth in QBR.
Tom Brady will be 42 when the Dallas Cowboys travel to New England in 2019, but he's found a way to stave off the age-related decline that befalls most NFL players and especially quarterbacks. As long as Tom Brady and Bill Bellichek continue to represent the New England Patriots on an NFL sideline, you are going to be in for a tough contest.
Brady isn't going to have future Hall of Fame Tight End Rob Gronkowski this season as his favorite pass catcher went off and retired after winning the Super Bowl. On the flip side, the Pats should get back Josh Gordon, if the league does, in fact, change its stance on marijuana as an adjunct therapy for pain and mental health.
Gordon combined with James White and Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman give the Patriots some really good weapons in the passing game. Throw in first-round pick N'Keal Harry and this group of pass catchers might be one of the best they've had in a while.
The Dallas Cowboys will be in for a test and the Patriots game is one of the toughest games on their schedule as we sit here in July. Limiting Brady's impact on the game will be the most important factor to the Cowboys success.
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
There are some who argue that Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback of all-time. It's easy to see where they're coming from on that, though I'd disagree. He's been amazing throughout his career. It's a testament to Tom Brady and Drew Brees that Rodgers ranks only third on this list.
Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have had a down couple of years as they've finished outside the playoffs and with a losing record in two straight seasons. Those two straight losing seasons and the frustration that accompanied them led to the firing of Head Coach Mike McCarthy this offseason.
Despite a down season, Rodgers did throw for 4,442 yards and had a 25:2 touchdown to interception ratio. It was the first time that Rodgers had thrown for fewer than 30 touchdowns when he's played all 16 games since 2008. That was his first full season as a starter.
During the regular season, the Cowboys have had mixed results against the Packers going 1-1 since 2016. The 2017 loss was a 35-30 shootout. It was one of two games that season where the Cowboys scored 30 points and lost.
The Cowboys have had difficulty getting to the elusive Rodgers in years past, but with an upgraded pass rush and secondary, the Cowboys will have a really good chance to get a win against the Packers at home the first Sunday in October.
4. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
"You like that!!!"
Kirk Cousins is an interesting quarterback to rank. He had a good season in 2018 for the Minnesota Vikings, but was ultimately disappointing as the Vikings missed the playoffs. This after being a couple plays away from going to the Super Bowl the previous year with Case Keenum at quarterback.
Cousins was second in completion percentage and finished ninth in touchdown passes. His 7.1 yards per attempt was 24th in the NFL, which leaves a lot to be desired.
Consistency at the end of games was the biggest issue for Cousins in 2018 and the Vikings hope that he'll improve in that area. They've invested a lot in Cousins to be the guy to get them to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history.
The Cowboys will have a lot to deal with when they play the Vikings this season. Cousins has an excellent group of weapons to throw to in Stefon Diggs, Adam Theilen, Kyle Rudolph, and Irv Smith, Jr. The running game, led by Dalvin Cook, should continue to improve with the improvements they've made along the offensive line.
5. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles (Twice)
Dak Prescott vs Carson Wentz aside, Wentz is still a really good quarterback. Sometimes, that fact can get lost in the Cowboys-Eagles rivalry and the quarterback debate.
Wentz was having an MVP season in 2017 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Nick Foles took over the team and led them to the Super Bowl. Again in 2018, Foles had to replace an injured Wentz and was able to lead them to the playoffs.
Yes, the Eagles played better when Foles came in and that could say more about Foles leadership than Wentz's ability. Remember, like Dak, he's still a young quarterback and despite the interceptions has the ability to put up some big numbers. As we saw in 2017.
Though the Cowboys have Wentz on the schedule twice this season, if the past two seasons are any indication, he may not play in both games.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
After Wentz, the next best quarterbacks would be Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, Mitch Trubisky, and perhaps Ryan Fitzpatrick (if he's still the starter at that point). The rest of the schedule is filled with first and second-year players at the position or Eli Manning.
Unlike most seasons, this year isn't necessarily a murderer's row of quarterbacks for the Cowboys to face. They'll have their challenges throughout the schedule and it will take some work to get to 10 or 11 wins, but if they can come out on the winning side of the ledger against these five quarterbacks, that will go a long way to getting them where they want to be.
Hoisting that sixth Lombardi in February.
Urban Meyer Says He’d “Absolutely” Take Cowboys’ Head Coaching Job
Typically, when a coach is asked about a potential future coaching job that is currently occupied, he'd never openly admit to eyeing that position. He'd dodge the question, lie, and say he's enjoying his time away from the game at the moment.
Former college coach Urban Meyer, however, was extremely clear in how he feels about the potential opening at head coach in Dallas with the Cowboys.
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd asked Urban Meyer outright if he would take the job if offered, and Meyer made no mistake about it.
While it feels to me like Meyer is breaking some sort of unspoken code between coaches with these comments, it wouldn't be the first time he operated in shady waters.
But I digress.
Of course, Urban Meyer had incredible success at the collegiate level. He won multiple national championships and did a lot of winning at multiple programs. In addition, he was the college coach of Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who the team just extended with a monster contract. Meyer also won with quarterbacks who can utilize similar skill-sets to Cowboys starter Dak Prescott, something Jerry Jones and company would want to see in any potential head coaching candidate.
With all that being said, though, it's important to mention the Cowboys head coaching job is not open. At least not yet.
Jason Garrett's contract expires at the end of this season, and unless he can make sure that he continues coaching this team through January, it's seeming increasingly likely that this will be his final contract with the team.
Garrett's Cowboys face their biggest test of the season on Sunday night, with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to Arlington and looking to take first place from their grasps.
This will be the first step of many that Garrett will need to take if he wants to keep the Urban Meyers of the world from coming for his job.
QB Dak Prescott Confident Cowboys Can Right The Ship Sunday
Dak Prescott is a warrior.
The Cowboys starting quarterback has spent his entire NFL career proving doubters wrong. From fourth round compensatory pick to Pro Bowl quarterback and the leader of America's Team, Prescott has come a long way in just four years. And he hasn't gotten here by giving up nor giving in.
This week, to put it lightly, Prescott's Cowboys are in a tough spot. Having lost three straight games the Cowboys have fallen back to earth quickly, and now sit tied for first place in their division with this week's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. They're also only a game up of the 2-4 New York Giants, who are favored at home against the Cardinals this very Sunday.
Dallas has to have this one at home. And despite the team's recent struggles, Dak Prescott remains confident that his bunch can get it done.
"We're right there," Prescott told the Dallas media Thursday, "We’re a good team that hasn’t been getting it done."
Prescott certainly isn't incorrect in his evaluation. He and this offense were flying high the first three weeks, and although they've taken a step back in recent games they still sit 2nd in offensive DVOA this season.
They have gotten off to slow starts in each of their last two losses, however, scoring just 9 points over their last 4 first half quarters. This first half output is unacceptable, but Prescott remains confident that the Cowboys are going to get things right on Sunday.
The biggest factor holding the Cowboys back? According to Prescott, it's themselves. Dak also told the media that the offense just needs to "get out of our own way," referring to the penalties, sacks, and general mistakes this team has made in seemingly every key moment during this losing streak.
Luckily for Dak Prescott, he should be getting some reinforcements to protect him from the Eagles fearsome front. Both La'el Collins and Tryon Smith have been active at practice this week, and even wide receiver Amari Cooper remains optimistic despite not practicing yet since his quad injury.
It feels like Cooper will likely be out on Sunday, but increasing their help across the offensive line will be a massive boost for this offense.
Still, in the end, it's the Cowboys defense which needs to step up and play better than they have on Sunday. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense have been strong in recent weeks, and they are looking to take over first place in the NFC East in primetime.
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Status de Jason Garrett
Estamos aquí de nuevo. Con los Dallas Cowboys y un récord de 3-3 después de seis semanas y tres derrotas consecutivas, el Head Coach Jason Garrett es la conversación principal entre aficionados de los Cowboys. Tras iniciar con el pie derecho esta temporada, las cosas han tomado un giro muy desafortunado para el equipo.
Desde que se convirtió en el head coach del equipo en 2010 (cuando se volvió el head coach coach "interino"), los Cowboys de Jason Garrett tienen un récord de 80-62 (56.3%) en temporada regular y un triste desempeño de 2-3 en postemporada. Tiene un premio de Coach del Año en 2016. No hay manera de negarlo... Algunas cosas han sido buenas durante la era de Garrett.
Sin embargo, no ha sido lo suficiente. Los Dallas Cowboys siguen buscando su ansiado regreso al NFC Championship Game y por supuesto, al Super Bowl. Año tras año, el equipo "se ha quedado corto." De todas las estadísticas que pueden definir lo que ha sido Jason Garrett en Dallas, mi favorita es la siguiente: En la era de Garrett, los Cowboys no han estado en los playoffs en años consecutivos. Insisto, buenos, pero no lo suficiente.
Este 2019, los Cowboys están en riesgo de perderse los playoffs esta temporada. Este domingo pelearán por el liderato de la división contra los Philadelphia Eagles en lo que debe de ser uno de los duelos del año. Ambos equipos tienen talento y han decepcionado tras sus primeros seis partidos. Los dos tienen una oportunidad de remediar sus defectos. A pesar de que empezaron con una marca de 3-0, Cowboys se encuentra en modo de pánico rumbo a la semana 7.
Tras perder contra los New York Jets - quienes no habían probado la victoria antes de enfrentar a Cowboys - la afición vaquera llegó a conclusiones a las que ya ha llegado anteriormente. "¡Jason Garrett se tiene que ir!" "Ahora si no terminará esta temporada en Dallas." Y más.
Pero, ¿en qué riesgo está realmente Jason Garrett? Los Cowboys han estado en situaciones similares antes, solo para mantener a Garrett a la cabeza del equipo. El año pasado, Dallas llegó a tener un récord de 3-5 antes de terminar la temporada con diez victorias y un pase a playoffs. Una y otra vez, la directiva ha confiado en Garrett.
Pero ahora la diferencia es fácil de identificar. Este año, los Cowboys tomaron una decisión a consciencia de no extender a su head coach. El simple hecho de estar bajo contrato de un año significa que está en el denominado "asiento caliente." No importa lo que los Jones digan en la radio. Las acciones dicen más. Si Jerry Jones dijera la verdad cuando dice que ni siquiera ha pensado en ello, Garrett tendría un contrato más amplio.
No hay que cuestionar la culpa que tiene Jason Garrett de la situación actual del equipo. La planeación de juego ha sido claramente un problema, con un plan ofensivo que cambió drásticamente tras las primeras tres semanas, renunciando a la agresividad y al play-action que tanto les había funcionado. El equipo una vez más ha demostrado no estar preparado para cada partido, iniciando lento en cada uno de ellos esta temporada. Y por supuesto, no han sido capaces de superar la ausencia de jugadores clave como Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith y La'el Collins. El coacheo ha sido incapaz de compensar la falta de estos jugadores.
De que hay un problema en la cabeza del equipo, la hay.
Pero en caso de que Jason Garrett fuera a ser despedido, ¿cuándo llegaría la noticia? Sería una sorpresa que ocurriera como muchos lo han sugerido: a media temporada tras una derrota ante Eagles. Por supuesto que aún no sabemos quien se llevará la victoria este domingo por la noche, pero asumamos lo peor por un momento.
Si bien caer a un récord de 3-4 sería difícil de superar, los Cowboys aún tendrían esperanza. Si la tuvieron hace un año con tres victorias y cinco derrotas, también la tendrían esta temporada. Más aún si consideramos que sus jugadores terminarán por sanar y regresar a la alineación. En tal caso, el talento será mucho como para quedarse sin victorias.
Mientras los Cowboys tengan vida esta temporada, muy probablemente Jason Garrett continuará con el control. A pesar de las frustraciones de muchos respecto al head coach de Dallas, no veo al equipo renunciando a Garrett a media temporada. Menos aún considerando que no hay una opción para reemplazarlo en seguida.
Y finalmente, aún queda otra alternativa. ¿Qué si los Cowboys terminan jugando en enero? Al final de cuentas, no es nada descabellado. Este equipo podría darle la vuelta a su temporada rápidamente y llevarse la división, incluso si no ganan contra Philadelphia. Pero digamos que terminan en playoffs, ¿cuánto es suficiente para que Jason Garrett se gane el derecho de quedarse al mando? Sin duda alguna, su trabajo esta en riesgo. Pero contar con que lo perderá si los Cowboys caen en la semana 7 parece prematuro.
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