The Dallas Cowboys have pretty much rolled out the red carpet for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, at least until Tony Romo returns to 100%. That's not exactly bad news considering how well Prescott has exceeded expectations and performed on the field during the first three preseason games for the Cowboys.
There is still a lot of optimism surrounding this Cowboys team, even though their projected starter (Tony Romo) and backup (Kellen Moore) are both dealing with injuries causing them to be out for an unspecified amount of time.
Normally, we would hear a lot of talk about tanking the season in order to have a top draft pick, but things have changed. And that has everything to do with the belief Dak Prescott can keep this high-powered Cowboys offense firing on all cylinders.
Tony Romo is said to be out anywhere from 4-8 weeks to 6-10 weeks. Because of this I decided to breakdown the schedule with Prescott at the helm to determine what the record might look like heading into their Week 7 bye.
By then, we should know if Romo could possibly return after the Cowboys bye week, or if we will see more of Prescott.
Here is a quick look at the Dallas Cowboys' opponents over the first six weeks of the 2016 season and my win/loss prediction.
|Opponent||Could Dak Prescott win?|
|New York Giants||No|
Would you be satisfied at .500 heading into the bye?
Well, that's how I see things possibly breaking down, as of right now, if Dak Prescott continues to play the way he has been.
It's always tough to predict NFL matchups because there is so much turnover year after year; it's really hard to figure out what the team will look like based on what they have been able to accomplish in the preseason.
Having said that, let me try to break this down a little further by examining each individual opponent.
New York Giants - Week 1
When the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants face off against one another, you can pretty much guarantee that the outcome will come down to the final seconds on the clock. I don't predict that to change any, not even with Dak Prescott leading the Cowboys' offense.
The Giants used the offseason to try to upgrade their defense and spent heavily to bring in some of the top free agents to accomplish that. Whether it pays off or not is still the question, but I think they'll throw everything (including the kitchen sink) at Prescott trying to confuse/harass him.
I do, however, think the Cowboys can win this game if they can find success in the running game and control the clock with Ezekiel Elliott.
Ultimately, I give a slight advantage to the Giants, which unfortunately means Dak Prescott loses his first regular-season game in the NFL.
@Washington Redskins - Week 2
I don't know who was in charge of coming up with the 2016 schedule, but they didn't do the Dallas Cowboys any favors by scheduling back-to-back division opponents in the first two weeks of the season.
Fortunately, I think the Cowboys match up really well against the Redskins, and even though they're playing their first away game of the season, I see them coming away with their first win in 2016.
Kirk Cousins played surprisingly well in 2015, but whether he can have a repeat performance has yet to be seen. Even the Redskins are waiting to see what he does before they offer him a long-term extension, so you can read whatever you want to into that.
This game will be particularly interesting because we'll get to see Dez Bryant and Josh Norman face off against one another. I think the Cowboys will impose their will with their offensive line and running game.
Chicago Bears - Week 3
The Dallas Cowboys will play their first non-division game at AT&T Stadium against the Chicago Bears in Week 3 of the 2016 season.
The Cowboys' and Bears' 2015 seasons were oddly similar and they both finished last in their respective divisions. But fortunately for the Cowboys, they aren't really in a transitional phase like the Bears.
Head coach John Fox is entering his second year with the Bears and he is still transitioning his defense from the 4-3 to the 3-4. I think the high-powered Dallas Cowboys offense will be too much for the Bears' defense, and quarterback Dak Prescott will have his best professional game in prime-time on Sunday night.
If there is a must-win game during the first six weeks of the season for the Cowboys, I believe this is the one. This game alone could have huge playoff implications and for that reason I think the Cowboys' coaching staff will do everything in their power to ensure a W.
@San Francisco 49ers - Week 4
There is absolutely nothing about the San Francisco 49ers that scares me, not one bit, and I think this could possibly be the safest bet for the Dallas Cowboys to win with Dak Prescott playing quarterback.
On both offense and defense, the 49ers really lack players that can make a big difference in the game. New head coach Chip Kelly has yet to make the kind of impact in the NFL that both he and everyone else might have expected.
The Dallas Cowboys know what to expect from Chip Kelly and should come out and completely dominate this game in all phases. I fully expect the Cowboys to have their highest scoring game of the season and come away with their third win of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals - Week 5
The Cincinnati Bengals are perhaps one of the better balanced teams on both offense and defense in the entire NFL.
They are projected to make a strong push to make the playoffs in 2016 and could possibly be the toughest defense that Dak Prescott has faced to this point.
On offense, the Bengals have the play-makers to make the game miserable for the Cowboys defense. Andy Dalton throwing to AJ Green will really test the Cowboys secondary, but the Bengals also like to be physical at the point of attack, and will try to be dominate up front with the running game, led by Jeremy Hill.
This is going to be a really tough test for the Dallas Cowboys, in all phases of the game. Unfortunately, I don't think Dak Prescott can do enough to come away with a victory at home.
@Green Bay Packers - Week 6
Any team traveling to Lambeau Field and secure with the thought they can come away with a victory are either delusional or know something I don't. Lambeau Field is arguably the toughest venue to play at and that doesn't bode well for the Dallas Cowboys in their Week 6 matchup with the Green Bay Packers.
A Packer offense led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers is always dangerous, but after an injury-plagued 2015 season, Jordy Nelson should be back to 100% to pick up where he left off pre-injury. This should make the Packers' offense one of the best in the NFL and is the sole reason why I think they beat the Dallas Cowboys.
As talented as I think Dak Prescott is, I don't believe he can match Aaron Rodgers touchdown for touchdown. And I don't even want to think about how the Cowboys defense will look against the Packers offense at home.
If you're stoked about Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop just got his jerseys in. Check it out, and get your new Dak Prescott jersey today!
Can Dak Prescott do better than 3-3 before the bye week?
Please take advantage of the comment section below and tell us your prediction of Dak Prescott's win/loss record in the first six weeks of the 2016 season.
Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
The Dallas Cowboys are not only breathing in playoff contention, but they're now the favorites to crown themselves as the NFC East champions in 2018. It's pretty impressive how the tables can turn so quickly in the NFL. Dallas played very well against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and we learned quite a bit from them as they bounced back to .500. Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday! Enjoy it as much as you did Brett Maher's game winning field goal a couple of days ago.
Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
Despite taking steps in the right direction, it's impossible to compare this offense to units like the Chiefs, Saints and Rams. However, it's the Cowboys' defense that could be labeled as a championship unit. Facing an offense with such a strong WR core, allowing only one touchdown on the road is impressive.
The Cowboys sacked Matt Ryan three times and were constantly causing pressures. Byron Jones was great once again, allowing only two catches in passes thrown in his direction. And of course, the kid who's been impressing us all, Leighton Vander Esch continued to play out of his mind. He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner at this point.
The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the NFL right now, and any offense will have a tough time facing them. It'll be intriguing to see if they can take the next step and stop a high-powered unit like the Saints in a few days.
Offensive Line Woes Are Gone
The offense has improved a lot the last couple of games. Although there is still a lot to work on, they're not struggling as they were in the first half of the season. The offensive line is a huge part of this. With Marc Colombo at OL coach, things have looked very different in Dallas.
Ezekiel Elliott: "I feel great. I feel fast. I feel physical. I feel very comfortable with the running schemes. We just got to keep rolling. That's what's important. We just got to keep rolling.
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a roll the past two weeks and his comments regarding how he feels about the running schemes shouldn't go unnoticed. The offensive line wasn't playing as well as they are right now earlier in the year. Dak Prescott is noticeably more comfortable in the pocket.
It's intriguing to know what will happen at left guard for the Cowboys. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Su'a-Filo has done a good job filling in for him. Williams has the upside, but should Dallas mess up the mojo this OL has lately?
Dak Prescott: Clutch QB
Dak Prescott continues to be criticized by fans while he keeps proving us why it's not that easy to move on from him. The guy is far from the perfect passer, yet he's been clutch time and time again. This time he did so on the road on an impressive two minute drill.
With 1:46 on the clock, Prescott marched his team down to the Falcons' 24 yard line. He managed to give his team another game winning drive in consecutive weeks. The Cowboys' young quarterback needed a confidence boost and this is perfect for him. He needs to keep it up if the team is going to finish the season as the NFC East champions.
Since entering the NFL, Dak has 12 game winning drives. As frustrating as his play is at times, he will not be easy to replace if the Cowboys decide to move on from this guy down the road. Hopefully, they don't have to. I, for one, believe Dak can be way better with a proper coaching staff. But that's a discussion for another day.
Now, it's time to celebrate the Cowboys' victory and get ready for a short week as the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Geoff Swaim Needs Surgery, Should the Cowboys even use a Tight End?
Well, the injury woes continue to mount for the Dallas Cowboys with news coming down this evening that Tight End Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist in the 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The injury will need surgery which will mean Swaim will be out a while, if not for the rest of the season.
Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist yesterday and is going to need surgery. Sounds like it might not be season-ending, but he won't be available Thursday #cowboyswire
In previous seasons this wouldn't be much of a blow to the offense, but Geoff Swaim has been the only tight end that the Cowboys have ben able to rely on this season. Dalton Schultz is a rookie, Blake Jarwin's been inconsistent, and Rico Gathers still isn't fully trusted. With the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's insistence on using a tight end, it seems there's a huge hole at the position heading into Sunday's first place showdown with the Washington Redskins.
But in reality, is there?
For weeks, I've been screaming for this team to use more 10 personnel (one running back and zero tight ends) as its primary passing formation because it gets their best pass catching weapons on the field at the same time. Swaim has been solid and consistent in his first year as a starter, but the rest of the tight end group has disappointed. So why even run a tight end out on the field.
The Dallas Cowboys have options that could replace the tight end in the passing game without actually using a tight end.
First, they could use Noah Brown as the de facto tight end. He's been one of the best blockers on the team in his first two seasons with the team and this is the type of role he's made for. Split him out wide and motion him in tight when you want to run. He can be a threat down the seem and in the red zone with his athleticism. He'd be a mismatch for the linebackers that try to cover him and could open space underneath for Cole Beasley. Brown is also a really good run blocker, so having him on the field doesn't negate what you want to do in the run game.
The other player the Cowboys coaching staff could work into more of the tight end route responsibilities is Allen Hurns. Hurns is a really good route runner, especially in the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys haven't received a lot of production. You can put Hurns in as the fourth wide receiver and split him a couple of yards off the tackle to give him a cleaner release than a TE might get and have him run "Y-option," shallow post routes, or drags. He can be a threat in the passing game if put in situations where he can excel. See below for something Allen Hurns does really well.
In fact, by going four wide receivers with Brown or Hurns on the field, it's possible the opposing defense is forced to run more of dime packages against the Dallas Cowboys 10 personnel.
Why would you want to get teams into dime packages?
Most NFL teams have two pretty good linebackers that they can deploy in nickel situations, but teams rarely have four corners that they can put on the field and feel really good about. So, if you can force teams to remove one of their 11 best players for a backup corner back or safety, you are already winning that matchup.
That matchup would also get you into much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. Even if the opposition put seven or eight in the box, it would be against smaller personnel like corners and safeties instead of a second linebacker.
Running 10 personnel as their base offense moving forward would be unconventional, but with an opportunity to take control of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving, now is not the time for conventionality.
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on Personal Leave; Team Offers Support
Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup suffered a personal tragedy on Sunday, being informed that his brother committed suicide. He is now on personal leave away from the team, and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have given their full support to Gallup during this difficult time.
According to reports, Gallup was unaware of his brother's death until immediately after the Cowboys' win over the Atlanta Falcons. Michael did not return with the team to Dallas and remained in Atlanta to be with his family.
A formal statement was made by owner Jerry Jones yesterday regarding Gallup:
“Our team and our entire organization are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s loss. His family is our family. We share in the grief and pain that comes with something so personal and tragic. We offer our support, care and comfort for Michael, and we ask that all of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters join us in keeping Michael and his wonderful family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Throughout his time owning the Cowboys, Jerry has built a reputation for personal loyalty and compassion with his players. His head coach is no different.
As he addressed the media Monday, Jason Garrett did not get into football matters when addressing Gallup's situation:
“This is a very challenging time for him. We’ll take it moment by moment, day by day, and give him all of our love and all of our support.”
While Michael is certainly dealing with something far more important than football, his availability for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins does come into question.
The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for Washington, and Gallup has started their last five games. If the rookie has to sit, which seems probable given the timeframe, we can expect more playing time for Allen Hurns and Noah Brown.
Whatever happens happens on that front. Our focus is on Michael Gallup during this sad time, with him and his family in our collective thoughts as Cowboys fans and fellow humans.
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