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 Betreff des Beitrags: We can pretend otherwise, but it all comes down to Dak Presc
BeitragVerfasst: 07 Nov 2018, 03:40 

Registriert: 20 Jun 2018, 09:50
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After the Cowboys cooked upDalton Schultz Color Rush Jersey , a 40-burger on the Jaguars Sunday, there wasn’t as much analysis of what was wrong with the Cowboys offense. Naturally that should be the case, scoring 40 points will have that effect. It is worth revisiting all the things that were supposedly wrong with the offense previous to the Jaguars game. You can lump all that criticism into four major categories - Dak Prescott’s failures, Scott Linehan/Jason Garrett’s failures, poor blocking from the offensive line, and no real threats among the pass catchers. Looking back after this week, all of those things are still in play, and they all tend to interlock with each other so it is hard to separate them out. But if you’re looking for the offensive measuring stick, the answer really lies with Dak Prescott. The Cowboys offensive line hasn’t been terrible this year, in fact they have been rated a top-10 unit in several places. Scott Linehan/Jason Garrett may have had their rocky moments (the punt in Houston will never be forgiven), but they are essentially running much of the same offense they ran in 2016 and early 2017 when the offense rolled, and they were using that in the Jacksonville game, too. Yes, they are making some tweaks along the way, but they are essentially calling the same scheme. The receivers might not be all-world, but they are functional and have been providing opportunities for big plays. Simply put, this team’s fortunes rise and fall with the play of Dak Prescott. With Prescott, it doesn’t have to do with volume passing. He only threw for 183 yards against Jacksonville yet the Cowboys scored 40 points. With Prescott it comes down to efficiency, accuracy and his legs. When we talk about efficiency, we’re talking about taking advantage of the limited number of passes he usually throws in a game. In this game, he threw two touchdowns and completed passes on eight third-down plays. That is efficient.When discussing accuracy, it’s not just pass completion percentage. His 63% completion percentage on Sunday is just okay, but what we’re really talking about is hitting players with passes so they can do something with it after the catch, and so the ball doesn’t pop up in the air for an interception. We saw far fewer passes sailing high in the Jacksonville game , something Prescott does often when he is struggling in a game. Footwork and mechanics play a big role in that. Receivers were able to latch onto the ball without full-extension leaps, or body-contorting, or engaging in other acrobatics. They made easy catches and were able to run with the ball afterward, like when Beasley converted his first touchdown.Here is a snippet from ESPN that backs up the accuracy theory.Another big thing Prescott did in the game was use his legs. My colleague Cole Patterson discussed that in detail here. There is a stat for Dak Prescott that states when he runs the ball five or more times in a game, the Cowboys are 10-3. At face value that doesn’t mean a lot, you can’t just run Dak on the first five plays of a game and expect a win. What it does go to is all the good things that can happen when he does run. There are the direct benefits of Prescott running, like scoring a touchdown. In 2016 and 2017, Prescott has six rushing touchdowns in each season. This year he only has one, the one that came on Sunday. At this pace he wouldn’t even get to three on the season. There are also the first downs that come from his runs, and the fact that running can turn a potential sack into a positive play. Too often Prescott has danced around in the pocket and held the ball instead of just taking off. Maybe he’s trying to prove he can be a pocket passer, but he should forget about that and just do what is effective.Which leads back to the number of rushes in a game. Choosing to run on broken pass plays in one way he can achieve more carries, but being a little more greedy on the read-option is another. Too often Prescott defers to handing off to Ezekiel Elliott instead of pulling it back and taking off running himself. On film, he has misread this on several occasions. So it’s not just the play-caller giving him more opportunities to run, Prescott can take matters into his own hands. And he should run more, because Prescott is one of the most effective running quarterbacks in the NFL. Michael Strawn made that case this past offseason.So far this year, Prescott is fourth in rushing attempts by quarterbacks, but is number one among the top four in yards per attempt with a 6.0 average.Prescott running the ball also has indirect benefits. Once Prescott is effective running the ball in a game, it brings a spy for the defense into the picture. This ties up another defender. It also forces gap discipline on the defensive pass rushers, thus slowing them down and limiting their stunts. What do we always talk about when pass rushing Russell Wilson or other mobile QBs? Stay in your lanes and contain him. If you’re doing that, you’re not pinning your ears back and just heading straight to the quarterback.Finally, it also benefits Zeke. When teams now have to worry about Dak’s legs, they can’t just be heat-seeking missiles heading for Zeke. They have to respect the backside of the play where Prescott can take off running on read-options. It just slows down a defense. Sure, there is more opportunity for injury when Prescott runs, but he can mitigate that by running out of bounds when that’s available , or sliding and forgoing trying to pick up every extra yard unless the play is so important it requires him to fight for a little extra. Smart running can significantly limit the possibility of injury.The Cowboys now have a defense they can rely upon. They have Ezekiel Elliott, and they have an offensive line that while it is no longer the clear-cut number one unit in the league anymore, it is more than good enough to make this offense work. We can say we want more creativity from Scott Linehan, and while he is making some minor adjustments, we aren’t going to see wholesale changes. But we’ve seen this offense work in the past under this same scheme.It really comes down to Prescott. If he can be efficient, accurate, and put pressure on the opposing defense with his legs, the Cowboys will have more than enough firepower on offense to win. In the NFL, it always comes down to the quarterback, anyway.Cowboys hot topic: Is the offense really fixed? The offensive explosion by the Dallas Cowboys against the Jacksonville Jaguars was a welcome sight to Cowboys fans. In one game - one half, really - the team had success in almost every aspect they had struggled with. Third-down conversions. Red zone efficiency. Scoring. Quarterback confidence and decisiveness. Better offensive line play. Getting a receiver going. It all happened in just the first 30 minutes of the game, and it continued, although at a slightly less dominant level, all the way to the end. Combined with one of the best performances by what is emerging as a very good defense, and it was one of the most impressive wins by Dallas in years.It’s great. Just a tremendous job by all involved, including the beleaguered coaching staff. Now what happens in Washington? That, of course, is the real question. Was this a flash in the pan, one of those days when things just aligned in favor of one team and against another? Or was this a sustainable development that can carry forward? If it was the former, then we are in for a lot more frustration and angst this season. But if that 40-7 blowout (the biggest margin of victoryin the NFL for the week) is an indication of things to come, then the Cowboys may just be able to go head-to-head with any team in the NFL.It all depends on the offense, which, after five weeks when it was either just bad or marginally good enough, looked entirely different against what was supposed to be one ofthe best defenses in the league - they were number one in some statistical categories. The Dallas defense has been strong most of the season to date Dallas Cowboys Customized Jerseys , and now is second in points allowed per game, perhaps the most important stat. It is not surprising they held a Blake Bortles-helmed offense to only seven points. What made the difference was how the offense suddenly seemed to have it all figured out, and not just against some pushover. All along, there has been a lot of discussion about just where the problems lay with that side of things. The coaching, particularly the play-calling and game planning of Scott Linehan, was among the suspects. Execution by the players also was blamed by many, particularly that of quarterback Dak Prescott. The receiving corps was underwhelming, With a new left guard and a backup center, the offensive line was not the dominant unit of a couple of years ago. Only Ezekiel Elliott was performing at the level we expected, and that was not always enough as teams were at times able to completely ignore the passing game and focus on stacking the box to stuff Zeke.The multiplicity of concerns going into the Jacksonville game made the turnaround all the more surprising, but it also makes it very difficult to determine exactly what happened. Clearly the plays Linehan called were much more successful, and the Jaguars seemed befuddled at times - especially whenever Cole Beasley ran a route, because he looked to be open on almost every passing play. As has been noted earlier, Tony Romo made a point of discussing the creativity and effectiveness Linehan showed. The emergence of Beasley, who looked suspiciously like a number one receiver (despite where he usually lines up), was also a major factor. Suddenly there was that go-to guy for the quarterback, and Beasley delivered time after time, converting third downs and scoring touchdowns. He has been regarded as the best route-runner in Dallas for years, and he did nothing to dispel that evaluation. While he was the biggest story as far as targets for Prescott, there were a few other indications that cautious optimism about the receivers group may be warranted. Geoff Swaim continues to do a workman-like job at tight end. He was the only player besides Beasley to catch more than one pass, and he had one of the blocks that sprung Prescott for the first touchdown. Michael Gallup had one very impressive catch and almost a second. With Beasley catching fire, Gallup was relegated to helping clear coverages for him the rest of the game, but he bears watching. And Rico Gathers had another reception, and the way he was plowing through defenders after the catch shows us once again how tantalizing his potential is.Up front Dallas Cowboys T-Shirts , the offensive line looked better, and in their case, it is a bit more of a progression that makes sense. Working in rookie Connor Williams next to Joe Looney, himself filling in for Travis Frederick, was going to take some time. There were plays where Williams’ increasing level of comfort was observable. The blocking up front is the foundation of the Cowboys’ offense, and seeing them start to play more like we have seen in the past is one of the most encouraging and logical developments.But the real crux of just about any NFL offense is the play of the quarterback. For the most part, Dak Prescott was at his peak 2016 form in the Jaguars game. He was hitting his receivers, making good decisions, throwing and even completing some deep balls, and, to a greater extent than any previous game in the pros, he was getting things done with his legs and athleticism. Oh, and he had more than a little bit of luck on some near-turnovers. Whether or not he continues in this vein is the key. Here is how ESPN put it in their latest power rankings: So just what is the real key here? Sadly, after weeks of wrangling with just how this all fits together, we seem right back at the same place we started. It is not one thing, it is all of them and how they affect each other. Dak played much better, with help from Beasley and the line. That made Linehan’s plays work. And, lest we forget, Zeke just kept grinding until he broke through with an exclamation point of a touchdown.We will know if this is going to be duplicated on Sunday. That is really the only way we will know, if we actually see it. It is certainly encouraging that the Cowboys did get it all to work together for one game. That is evidence that they have the potential to be a good, perhaps even dangerous team. But they have to show that consistency they have failed to produce this season. Doing it against the division leader (by just half a game) would be an excellent place to start.
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