Depending on who you talk to, Dak Prescott is a bit of an enigma right now as a professional quarterback in the NFL. Some people believe he is already the Dallas Cowboys franchise QB, while others still need to see more from him before he gets anointed with that title. It's a debate right now with no clear answer, which is why Year 3 will be a big season one way or another for the young QB.
I don't know where you personally stand on this topic, but I think I'm a little on the fence. I like Dak Prescott, but I would like to see more consistency from him than I've seen so far. As a rookie he was simply fantastic, but last season he seemed to take a step back. That may not be entirely his fault, but before I anoint him as Dallas' franchise QB, I would like to see someone who can carry this team when the chips are down.
With all of this rolling around in my mind, I started wondering what would happen if Dak Prescott isn't the Dallas Cowboys franchise QB? What would that mean for the Cowboys moving forward and what would be the ramifications in the short term?
Obviously, nothing good would come if Dak Prescott isn't the real deal. But, let's dive into this little deeper. Below are a few of the short-term ramifications I think would happen if Prescott falters this season.
Jason Garrett Gets Fired
I think the first thing that would happen if Dak Prescott fails to become the Dallas Cowboys franchise quarterback is Jason Garrett would likely be fired as the head coach. We all know that Garrett is walking on thin ice right now with the Cowboys, so how the team performs in 2018 probably correlates with his job security.
Garrett went all in with Prescott in 2016. At first he didn't have much of a choice because his options were limited when Tony Romo was hurt in preseason and again when Kellen Moore sustained his untimely injury. But, he decided to stick with the rookie all season, even when Romo returned. You can't really fault him for that decision, but it definitely impacted the future of the organization.
I think as Prescott's 2018 season goes, so does Garrett's. Garrett's head-coaching job may not entirely depend on Prescott's success this season, but it could have a huge impact on whether or not his coaching career continues in Dallas.
New QB Search Begins
Again, if Dak Prescott proves to not be the long-term franchise QB, the Dallas Cowboys once again have to try and find someone who is. We all know how long it took them to replace Troy Aikman, and I doubt any of us want to live through that nightmare again.
Unfortunately, it's hard to believe that either Cooper Rush or Mike White are the long-term answer right now. Neither have really proven anything in the NFL and no one is really for sure if they can even be successful as Prescott's backup this season. There is more questions surrounding them then No. 4.
To makes matters worse, there aren't a lot of veteran QBs around the league they can snatch up. Even if there were, that would likely be a short-term solution. The best way to find a franchise QB is to draft one. But, the Cowboys aren't likely going to have a draft pick high enough to select one of the top QB prospects. That means they would have to move up in the draft, which would require a lot of draft equity. Even then, nothing is guaranteed.
Cowboys Take Giant Step Back as a Franchise
If Dak Prescott is indeed a bust, this would severely set back the Dallas Cowboys as a team and franchise. This may be a young team, but they are built to win a championship relatively soon. They have all of the pieces to do so, if Prescott is the real deal.
They have one of the best offensive lines and running backs in the league, but without a quarterback to operate the offense, it means diddley squat. That's why the quarterback position is arguably the most important one in the NFL. It's why they are drafted so highly and paid an extraordinary amount of money.
This would really set the coaching staff back as well. Like I mentioned earlier, Jason Garrett and his coaching staff would likely be looking for another job, which means an almost entirely new set of coaches would be coming in. Unfortunately, new coaches rarely succeed right away in the NFL. It takes them a few years to not only put their system in place, but to get their players to buy into it as well.
Let me hear what you think. Do you believe Dak Prescott is a franchise QB?
PFF Ranks Cowboys Run Defense 13th In The NFL
The Cowboys duo of young linebackers took the NFL by storm in 2018.
Rookie Leighton Vander Esch and former second round pick Jaylon Smith played well above expectations, as for the first time in years Dallas did not face a significant drop off in defensive production when Sean Lee was out and injured.
These young linebackers are the cornerstone of a run defense which should be among the league's best going forward, and Pro Football Focus agrees. Well, somewhat agrees.
PFF ranked all 32 run defenses heading into the 2019 season, slotting the Cowboys 13th overall. Better than half the league, but not quite top 10.
PFF's reasoning behind this ranking certainly makes sense, as they credit the young linebacker duo without mentioning much of what will be in front of them helping to stop opposing running games.
"The Cowboys’ run defense begins and ends with the league’s best young linebacker duo. Leighton Vander Esch ranked third in run-stop percentage as a rookie while Jaylon Smith checked in at 29th."
The playoff loss in Los Angeles has left a bad taste about the Cowboys' interior defensive line in a lot of mouths, but I do think they've improved the unit this offseason. Signing Christian Covington and drafting Trysten Hill was a nice start to do so, but having Maliek Collins healthy and Antwaun Woods back for a full season will also go a long way.
Interestingly enough, two of the Cowboys divisional foes came in ranked above them on this list. Washington was slotted as the 12th best run defense, while Philadelphia was placed at number 8. Both teams' units deserve respect, of course, but this further highlights how difficult it could be to run the ball in the NFC East this season.
While I hate simply throwing this term around, analytics suggest that passing is what wins games in the NFL. Passing and stopping the pass, I should say.
With strong run defenses in their division, the Cowboys will need to maximize their passing game efficiency if they want to repeat as NFC East champions.
3 Reasons Amari Cooper is Primed for an All-Pro Season
Amari Cooper changed life for the entire Dallas Cowboys offense in 2018. Finally, Quarterback Dak Prescott has the number one option at wide receiver he's desperately needed since his rookie campaign. Now, after half a season and multiple playoff games under his belt in Dallas, Cooper is set to have a monster year. Here are three specific reasons why.
Head Coach Jason Garrett has established a certain way of doing things in Dallas since taking over in 2010. His constant search for the RKG or "Right Kinda Guy" as he puts it has the culture in the locker room at a very positive and productive place. As criticized as he is, justifiably or not, he has his team all on the same page. This is something Cooper has been trying to find since he entered the league in 2015. An organization with the right mindset in order for him to perform and maximize his skill set. After being traded to Dallas, Cooper opened up in November about being unhappy during his days in Oakland.
"I wasn't really happy in Oakland or anything like that. But when I sat and thought about it [Monday} night, I thought about the fact that they traded me away. I don't know how to feel about it," Cooper told Yahoo Sports.
This may seem small to others considering these players make millions of dollars right? Well, it doesn't change the fact that they're human. When you feel unappreciated you don't play to the best of your abilities. Shortly after the trade, Cooper talked about how he's been different since putting a star on his helmet. "I feel like it did change me, as far as having that chip on my shoulder. Not that I wasn't passionate before, but playing with more passion, trying to intentionally have fun out there. It definitely has changed me, in terms of me going out there and just having fun with it," Cooper said. A change of scenery was just what the doctor ordered for Cooper and the Cowboys.
2. The other weapons around him
The Cowboys aren't just Amari Cooper or bust at the wide receiver position. Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb provide more challenges for defenses on a weekly basis. Gallup has firmly locked down the number two spot on the depth chart. It took a while for him to establish chemistry with Dak Prescott, as they would misfire on several big plays during the first half of the season. Nonetheless, by seasons end things started to pick up, and he finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the playoffs, he scored a touchdown in the Cowboys Wild Card win over Seattle. The next week against the Rams he performed well even in defeat, with 6 receptions for 119 yards. He's got speed, size, and versatility. Now with a full season and two games of playoff experience under his belt, I look for even more production from Gallup, as a possible breakout star.
Randall Cobb is a much-needed upgrade in the slot for the Cowboys. Unlike former receiver Cole Beasley, Cobb can line up inside or outside. Giving new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore a bigger bag of tricks at his disposal. Now, he can lineup Cooper inside or outside and play with a plethora of different looks, keeping defenses off balance because of the uncertainty of how the Cowboys will attack through the air.
Then, of course, there's Ezekiel Elliott. The two-time rushing champion is the tone-setter on offense and dictates how defenses will attack. With Cooper being such a threat in the air you basically have to pick your poison. 8-9 man fronts against the run can make you vulnerable to play action down the field or quick slants with Cooper's exceptional route running. The more productive Elliott is the more honest it keeps opposing defenses, opening up more opportunities in the passing game. Averaging 101.2 yards per game for his career, second all-time to Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Elliott can make create even more opportunities for Cooper in 2019 with a full season of playing time together.
Amari Cooper is currently looking to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys. Preferably, both sides would like to get this deal done before the season starts considering he's in the last year of his rookie contract that is set to pay him 13.9 million in 2019. However, it isn't just a new deal that motivates Cooper heading into the new season.
"It's kind of a weird situation, just being that I've never been in this situation before, talking about a contract. But also, I'm under a fifth-year option, so I'm not too familiar with it. I really don't ask my agent many questions. I'm not really worried about it that much. I'm more focused on actually playing and really earning the respect and then the contract," Cooper said.
Being motivated by earning respect is a very mature approach from Cooper. Now, add that to the fact that I'm sure he wants to firmly put his name alongside Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, and Michael Thomas as the best receivers in the game, you have a fully motivated number one option heading into the new season.
Amari Cooper has already made three pro bowls, but now there's another level for him to reach. In just nine games last year with the Cowboys he caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 6 touchdowns. Also, he caught another 13 on 18 targets in the playoffs for 171 yards and a score. He's in the right culture, he has a number of other weapons around him and he has multiple reasons to be motivated heading in the new season. With a full offseason of building chemistry with Dak Prescott, I see Cooper taking that leap to the All-Pro level in 2019.
Is La’el Collins Playing For A Contract On A Different Team?
How good is La'el Collins?
This is a question that Cowboys fans have disagreed on since his rookie season. Collins, who originally joined the team as their left guard replacing an injured Ronald Leary in 2015, moved out to right tackle in 2017, starting all 32 games there the last 2 seasons.
Collins' play has been somewhat up-and-down, as should be expected when a lineman not only switches from guard to tackle, but from the left side to the right side as well. Still, he's been a solid right tackle and a stable presence for a Cowboys offensive line which has struggled with major injuries at other positions over the last couple of years.
While Collins has not been the "elite" level player fans had hoped for when signed after the 2015 draft, he's been a solid player nonetheless. Dak Prescott has faced more pressure from the right side of the line than the left, but a good portion of that pressure has to do with him struggling to sense pressure from that right side.
The Dallas Cowboys seem rather undecided about La'el Collins' future with the team themselves, though. Dallas went out and draft guard Connor McGovern in the third round of the 2019 draft, starting the whirlwind of rumors that McGovern will be the starting left guard in 2020. This would kick second year player Connor Williams out to right tackle, allowing Dallas to let Collins walk without too much worry.
While this is well and good on paper, on the field the transition will likely not be as smooth. We've already seen how tough it is to move from left guard to right tackle in just one offseason, even if you were a college tackle once upon a time. Connor Williams could face these same struggles, despite possibly even anticipating the change a year out.
Regardless, La'el Collins is now in a contract year and is playing for that new deal come 2020. Dallas may not be looking to extend him, mostly due to the plethora of new deals they'll be handing out to other players, but he will be a hot commodity come free agency if and when he hits the open market.
Collins could very well be playing for a new contract elsewhere this season, as his days in Dallas look to be numbered.
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