FRISCO, Texas – Back with three quick topics as the Cowboys inch closer to the NFC East title with plenty to be excited about, and plenty to improve on, at 9-4:
- Dak & The Offense
- The D-Line
this stat jumped out at me when reviewing the offense's recent struggles:
Dak Prescott's average passer rating was 117.4 when the Cowboys' run game reached its season peak. That would be a five-game stretch from Weeks 2-6 when they averaged 185.2 yards per game, topped 100 yards in all five games and surpassed 200 yards twice. (At that point, Dallas had the second-best run game in the league, averaging 164.3 yards.)
Prescott's average passer rating is 84.0 in his six starts since returning from a calf strain in early November. The offense has averaged only 114.0 rushing yards in this recent post-bye stretch.
Coincidence? Shrug emoji.
As Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, evaluating Prescott's play is a "multi-faceted evaluation" because the offense requires 11 guys completing individual assignments.
Prescott has been pressured 83 times and sacked 13 times in his last six starts, according to Pro Football Focus. In six starts before the bye, it was just 66 pressures and 9 sacks. And the run game, despite some progress the last two weeks, hasn't yet regained its early-season form. The rotating offensive line combinations and injuries to Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard haven't helped. And offensive coordinator Kellen Moore says there are some schematic things he can improve from a play-calling standpoint.
Everybody's had a hand in it. It'll take everybody to get back on track. Prescott's certainly part of that because, admittedly, he's left some plays on the field.
"I just think, as he's had to his entire career, he'll figure it out," Jones said.
beyond the sheer talent that's back on the defensive line, the group's overall depth might be its biggest strength moving forward.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn rotated 10 linemen against Washington -- 11 if you count Micah Parsons moonlighting between linebacker and defensive end. Here's the snap count:
- Parsons: 54
- DeMarcus Lawrence: 47
- Randy Gregory: 31
- Osa Odighizuwa: 30
- Neville Gallimore: 30
- Dorance Armstrong: 29
- Trysten Hill: 28
- Tarell Basham: 27
- Carlos Watkins: 19
- Chauncey Golston: 18
- Quinton Bohanna: 7
Quinn, who generally prefers a large rotation, was proud of the way the defense finished out Sunday's game with a strip-sack-fumble by defensive end Randy Gregory in his return from injured reserve.
"Doing that gives you a lot of confidence that you have been in that fight, you have been in that space, and you're able to do it when the time comes," Quinn said.
A fresh group of linemen probably factored into their finish.
I Have No Idea…
what the correct NFL player comparison is for Micah Parsons.
Lawrence Taylor is a popular one right now because Parsons has a chance to follow Taylor as only the second rookie ever to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But as Quinn said, typically you knew where Taylor was lining up. With Parsons, you have no idea.
As an edge rusher, Parsons' first step and closing speed reminds me of Von Miller. As an off-the-ball linebacker? I'll go with Cowboys senior defensive assistant George Edwards' comparisons,
Junior Seau and Lavar Arrington, because they could play multiple linebacker spots on first and second down and rush on third.
Maybe the answer is 'Micah Parsons.' Maybe he's that unique of a defensive talent.