The Dallas Cowboys open up their 2018 pre-season schedule Thursday night when they take on the San Francisco 49ers. Training camp has been in session for two weeks, and questions are starting to surround America’s Team. One growing issue is not only the comments made by Dak Prescott in regards to the National Anthem, but his overall play on the field as well. The Cowboys’ offense has long been the superior unit on the field, but so far this training camp, the young, athletic and emerging defense has seemingly had their number day in and day out. He’s had his solid moments at times, but continues to struggle with the deep ball and overthrowing his targets.
“I have been okay,” Prescott said. “I have made some good throws and some not so good throws. Taking chances here and there. But definitely improving. It’s never as good and it’s never as bad as you think it is when you go back and watch the film. I’m hard on myself so when I go back, I’m being super critical of myself of the throws, of the placement, of where I should have gone with the ball and when I should have gone there with the ball. I’m tough on myself. I take my notes and I move forward. So when I go back tonight, all of that was OK, it’s got to better and this is why it’s got to better. And I take my notes and I move forward.”
With all the questions surrounding Prescott on and off the field, he still isn’t one of my top concerns for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. There are some old and new issues surrounding this historic franchise that will need to be answered sooner rather than later.
Tight End Void
In his two seasons as Dak Prescott’s main safety valve, Jason Witten hauled in 138 receptions for 1,292 yards and 9 touchdowns. 62 of those catches resulted in first downs. Witten shocked the franchise when he decided to hang up his cleats and take his seat in the broadcast booth, leaving the Cowboys with Geoff Swaim as their only tight end on the roster with a reception in an actual game – 9 in total for his career. They drafted Dalton Schultz out of Stanford in the 4th round, whom they really like for his blocking ability. There is also the interesting athletic enigma in Rico Gathers. He’s shown a couple flashes in camp, and is someone I’ve always been high on. With his basketball stature in physique and athleticism, he serves as a big target for Prescott, especially in the end zone.
Rico Gathers pic.twitter.com/cVie33keVu
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 30, 2018
You just have to wonder if the Cowboys will go with a tight end by committee approach or if they truly feel that one particular player can do just enough to give Prescott that option to go to when things break down.
That was a question you never had when #82 was lined up on the offensive side of the ball with you.
Sean Lee’s Health
Ahh yes. The topic we head into every season with. What’s the over/under on how many games General Lee will suit up this season? When he’s on the field, he’s one of the top linebackers in the game and someone this defense rallies behind. When he’s not, it’s very noticeable. With Witten no longer serving as the teams leader, Sean Lee figures to take over in his absence. He also figures to have some extra help with him this season. Jaylon Smith seems to be near full recovery from his knee injury and they will also have the Cowboys’ 1st round draft pick, Leighton Vander Esch rounding out their linebacker unit.
Watch Jaylon Smith cover Cole Beasley deep: pic.twitter.com/Dw7wbjtQPA
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) August 5, 2018
Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and franchise touchdowns leader Dez Bryant wasn’t bashful about the coaching staff he played under in his time with the Cowboys.
“Y’all know what the real problem is … garbage ass play calling.. Everybody lined up in the same spot for 17 weeks.”
I’ve been a fan of Jason Garrett for his ability to be a players coach. The team loves to play for him and seem to rally around him, but my main issue is I’m not sure what else he exactly does. Scott Linehan calls the plays. Rod Marinelli runs the defense. If he’s truly in charge of keeping the team engaged throughout, then look no further than last season on where you need to address some things. The Cowboys lost three of their games (Rams, Packers, and Seahawks) when they were up at halftime. The issue I have with Garrett and the rest of the coaching staff as well is their inability to make adjustments. The opponents figure out what they need to change, and it seems as if our staff just keeps riding the same thing.
This is a big season for Garrett and Linehan as well. Last season they had the excuse that Ezekiel Elliott was dealing with off-field issues throughout the year and they had some banged up personnel on the offensive line – most notably Tyron Smith.
Another season filled with lackluster effort could result in big changes ahead.
All signs are pointing upwards so far in camp, but one has to wonder what defense we will see when the games are for real. The Cowboys are loaded with some intriguing young studs in the secondary, but look at the quarterbacks they will have to face this season:
- Carson Wentz TWICE
- Alex Smith TWICE
- Cam Newton
- Matt Stafford
- Russell Wilson
- Deshaun Watson
- Matt Ryan
- Drew Brees
- Andrew Luck?
- Eli Manning TWICE
I am high on a few guys like Chidobie Awuzie and Xavier Woods.
This had Cowboys DBs coach Kris Richard yelling "great close" to Chidobe Awuzie: pic.twitter.com/nebhrgAJdQ
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) July 31, 2018
Xavier Woods wins vs. Geoff Swaim: pic.twitter.com/Gd2TG5QxZh
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) July 31, 2018
I’m not sure the Cowboys will put up the kind of points we are used to seeing. Can Kris Richard motivate his secondary enough to limit the opponents from moving the ball down the field and keep the rock in Zeke’s hands for a majority of each game?
I know he’s had a relatively quiet off-season, for his standards, at least. When on the field, he’s one of the top running backs in the game and can literally carry the offense down the field on his back. However, over the last week or so, you are starting to hear more and more rumblings off the field surrounding his name. First there was the report of him being sued for $1 million for a car wreck back in January of 2017 and now you hear the reports of his father Stacy Elliott taking part in the rally for Ohio State University Head Coach, Urban Meyer.
While these are two instances that aren’t necessarily “current” issues surrounding Elliott’s actual behavior, you just have to wonder if the issues that have plagued him through his first two seasons in the league are over just yet.
I think it was quite evident what it did to this team last season, and they can ill afford to go through it again.
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