This is exactly what the doctor ordered. All-Pro Center Travis Frederick, who battled a shoulder injury and a scary battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome which forced him to miss all of 2018, will reportedly be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Frederick went from being a head-scratching pick by most in the 2013 draft to the best player in the league at his position. He's been a pro bowler every year he's been on the field (2014-2017), a first-team all-pro (2014, 2016) and a second-team all-pro (2015). A quarterbacks worst fear is pressure from the middle, and with Frederick on track for 2019, Dak Prescott can sleep a little easier.
While center is at the very bottom of positions people value, it's actually one of the most important. It's the "quarterback" of your offensive line, just like a middle linebacker on defense. Frederick makes the initial protection calls based upon the positioning of defensive linemen and linebackers. He's the eyes of the unit, and with fellow all-pro line mates Tyron Smith and Zack Martin with him, the Cowboys offensive line can get back to being the best in the NFL.
Even though he didn't see any field action in 2018, Frederick didn't let that stop him from advancing his game from a mental perspective.
“I see the game a little bit differently than I did before. A lot of times during the season you are so focused on your technique and focused on what it takes physically to get your job done, you don’t get a great chance to advance mentally. And a lot of times you do that during the offseason, you do your best to do that. But to get to see real live looks all the time and see the way defenses are disguising things and what kind of coverages they’re moving to using more normally, I think was really beneficial to me. And I’ve seen the benefits of that already in OTAs,” Frederick said.
The impact of Frederick effects several areas. First, as mentioned earlier, it keeps pressure from getting to Dak Prescott up the middle, which quarterbacks hate. Knocking a quarterback off his spot and forcing him outside the pocket sets up defensive ends to have a sack party at will. Your offense will not be able to gain any kind of rhythm in the passing game, putting most of the load on your running back. Being one-dimensional will get you beat every Sunday.
Next, having strength on the interior of your offensive line is vital in short yardage. When running backs are forced to bounce runs to the outside it sets them up to get creamed by linebackers, defensive ends, and corners. Ideally, the way you want to attack is up to the middle between the tackles with a short down and distance to go. So Frederick being dominate at center, and with help from all-pro Zack Martin and Connor Williams at the guard positions, Ezekiel Elliott can keep the chains moving on a regular basis.
Lastly, it disrupts the gameplan of both sides of the ball for the opposing team. Having a powerful offensive line that can keep producing first downs allows you to methodically wear down a defense. The longer they are on the field the more frustrated they'll become, and then the fatigue factor kicks in, both mentally and physically. Simultaneously, you keep the offense of your opponent on the sidelines. This eliminates any rhythm that could have been gained, virtually making them sitting ducks for your own defense. Frederick's value goes way beyond his own individual dominance.
Training camp will be the final test to see if Frederick is back to being the anchor of the offensive line. Film study and working out is one thing, but strapping on the pads is another. If he can do that, and that's still an if, at this point, the possibilities for the new look Cowboys offense increase tremendously.
Dallas has added more firepower to the offense with the trade for Amari Cooper in 2018, the return of Jason Witten, drafting Tony Pollard, and the signing of Randall Cobb. While those moves may get the headlines, having your all-pro center back, who's essentially the quarterbacks best friend, can't be valued enough. Football is a chemistry game more than any other, well class is presumably back in session, Professor Travis Frederick is at your service. Interior defensive linemen should be afraid, very afraid.
Where Does Ezekiel Elliott Stand in the 2019 Rushing Title Race?
The Dallas Cowboys finally looked like the team we've all expected them to be against the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday. They played a complete-game and absolutely dominated on both offense and defense. This is the kind of performance they needed heading into the bye week.
As stoked I am by the way the Dallas Cowboys played Sunday night against a divisional opponent, I was even more ecstatic to see Running Back Ezekiel Elliott look like the playmaker he has in the past. He showed excellent vision, speed, and burst, something I really haven't seen him do up to this point of the season.
I know quite a few of you may disagree with me, but No. 21 hasn't really looke2 like himself at any point this season. He did however look like the Zeke of old on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. It good to see and it actually started me wondering where he currently stood in the 2019 rushing title race?
Let's take a look…
I don't know exactly what I expected, but I was little surprised to see Zeke currently sitting at number five amongst the NFL's leading rushers. I don't know if I was expecting him to be a little higher or lower, but he currently finds himself within striking distance to claim his third rushing title in four years.
Ezekiel Elliott is only 123 rushing yards behind Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook right now. Unfortunately, that number will only increase in Week 8 with the Dallas Cowboys on their bye week. But, it could all even out since only Nick Chubb is the only RB ahead of Zeke whose team has also had their bye week. And with half of the season left there is still plenty of time to close the gap.
Ezekiel Elliott may be down right now, but he's definitely not out. He's going to play a huge role in the offensive game plan for the rest of the season and should be able to put himself into contention of earning his third rushing title in four years. But, it won't be easy. The Cowboys schedule only gets tougher from here on out.
What do you think? Will Ezekiel Elliott be the leading rusher in 2019?
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.
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