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Mailbag: Using Zeke In The Passing Game? Responding To Dak's Struggles?

JOHN SIROKI
FREELAND, PA
When will Scott Linehan start using Zeke more in the passing game? He needs more touches on screens and as an outlet for Dak on dump offs. That should have been a much bigger part of the game plan against the Giants and in general.

Rob:Well, I think you have to give Ezekiel Elliott a break at some point – he had all 24 carries from the running back position against the Giants – but he's shown what he can do with a screen pass (83 yards for a touchdown against the Steelers). Lance Dunbar had three catches for 12 yards Sunday night, but there's really not a situation where I'd rather have a different back than Elliott in the game: running, catching or blocking.

David:It's obvious the coaching staff values Lance Dunbar in the two-minute drill and other obvious passing situations. I'm not trying to knock Dunbar, but I just haven't seen the payoff to make me think it's worth it. We know Zeke can block, and he has made some electrifying plays as a receiver. Unless he just absolutely needs a break from a conditioning standpoint, I'd have him in there as often as possible.

DONNIE LEGERPORTLAND, OR
I'm sure you have received hundreds of questions on this matter, but what are your concerns moving forward for the remainder of this year with Dak? After the recent struggles should the Cowboys consider Tony Romo?

Rob:Hundreds might be on the light side. I get that this team has earned higher expectations with an 11-game winning streak, but the outside expectations for Dak have apparently grown out of control. Did anyone expect him to go the entire season without a rough patch? I get that this isn't a typical quarterback debate with a 10-year starter currently on the bench, but Prescott quarterbacked this team to 11 straight wins – and made a lot of critical plays in that stretch to get them there. The offense has sputtered the last two weeks, but given the way he has played and how he prepares each week, Prescott has earned patience here.

David:Not to say "I told you so," but didn't it always feel like this issue was bound to rear its head again? There's no denying Dak has struggled these past two games, and as a result the offense has followed suit. But to yank the guy you chose as your starter after two bad games – and only one loss, for the record – is awfully reactionary. He has earned the right to sort through these issues and correct them, and if the Cowboys didn't trust him to do so, I doubt they'd have kept him in place as the starter. Now, if the struggles continue against Tampa – that might be where the season takes its most interesting turn so far.

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