Writer's Blocks

Writer's Blocks: Dak's Big Opportunity


FRISCO, Texas – I've got to say, as wild as it was, last weekend was a nice change of pace.

I'm not talking about all the fumbles, the 20-0 hole or the anxiety-inducing comeback. But it was nice to start the home schedule out with a 12 p.m. kickoff. Covering the Dallas Cowboys typically involves a lot of late afternoon and night games. I'm very used to walking through the door of my apartment in the wee hours of the morning.

And while it was a nice change of pace, this is what it's really all about. The Cowboys are playing in the late afternoon window. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are calling the game, as per usual. Most importantly, every other late afternoon game – Jets-Colts, Panthers-Chargers, Lions-Cardinals and Buccaneers-Broncos – look absolutely lame by comparison.

The eyes of the football world will be on this showdown in Seattle. All feels right with the world.

1. The reason I bring that up is because I really don't think you can understate the opportunity in front of Dak Prescott.

Prescott is off to a wonderful start in 2020. He's sitting on 716 yards through two games, which means he has a real shot to hit 1,000 yards after just three weeks. He hasn't thrown an interception in six games. He made a statement leading the Cowboys back from certain defeat just a week ago.

That's all well and good, but now he's got a chance to put the league on notice. It's easy to argue that Russell Wilson is playing better than anyone in the NFL right now, and he's a huge part of the reason why the Seahawks are one of the most impressive 2-0 teams in the league. The guy has thrown nine touchdowns compared to just 11 incompletions through two weeks. He's just absurd.

Those of us that follow the Cowboys' every move know how good Prescott can be. But I don't think the rest of the world has woken up to the possibility that he is on that level.

I'm not saying it'll happen, but that would certainly change if he outduels Wilson on Sunday. If Prescott can build on his Week 2 performance in a win this weekend, he's going to rocket to the top of the league consciousness.

These are the types of games legacies are made of – no pressure, of course.

2. I'm choosing to view this as an "iron sharpens iron" type of situation for the Cowboys' secondary – and in particular, Trevon Diggs. Personally, I think Diggs has started his career in encouraging fashion. The clearly doesn't mean he's been perfect. He has given up some big plays in both of his first two games. But consider the competition. He started the season going against one of the deepest receiving corps in the league, and he followed that up with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.

Unfortunately for Diggs, it's going to get worse before it gets better. This week it'll be D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and after those two it'll be Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Oh, and he won't have help for Anthony Brown or Chidobe Awuzie for the time being.

Like I said, though: this doesn't have to be viewed as a negative. You throw a rookie quarterback into the fire so he can learn faster and be better prepared for the future. Diggs is going to have growing pains, but he has already flashed some serious potential. That can only help him in the future. And that's important, as he figures to be one of the foundations of this secondary moving forward.

3. Of course, Trevon Diggs landed himself on the injury report within two hours of me writing the above blurb. But I put so much thought into it, so there's no chance I'm deleting it.

I feel optimistic that Diggs will be available against Seattle, shoulder injury and all. I don't want to think about what happens if he's not.

4. This column runs on Thursday – roughly 100 hours after the Cowboys have played their most recent game. So what I'm not going to do is use this space to do a weekly weigh in on Mike McCarthy's most recent strategic decision. Every article, TV show and podcast we consume has already done that.

So rather than weighing into the two-point conversion conversation one more time, I'll just say this:

It absolutely rocks that McCarthy is being as aggressive as he said he would be when he got this job. Whether it's fourth down attempts, fake punts or two-point conversions, it's fun and fresh and exciting that he is trying to use the strengths of this team to his best advantage. It's not always going to work, and I'm not always going to agree with his thought process, but this is what forward thinking looks like.

To this point, my only qualm is that, if you're going to go for it when you're trailing in the fourth quarter, just throw the offense out there instead. With all due respect to Darian Thompson, he isn't making $50 million this season to move the ball downfield – but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper are.

5. Funny how this league can come full circle at times.

Heading into another highly-anticipated Cowboys-Seahawks matchup, I can't help but think about the last few times this team has traveled to CenturyLink Field.

It didn't count in the standings, but there might not be a bigger game in recent Cowboys' history than their preseason trip to CenturyLink Field in Seattle. After all, that was the game that saw Tony Romo injure his back, opening the door for Dak Prescott.

Less notably, it was also the first time we saw Zeke Elliott play NFL snaps – and he didn't disappoint, as he bowled over Pro Bowler Kam Chancellor on several occasions during the first drive of his career.

How fitting is it, then, that the Cowboys are headed up to Seattle to face a new All-World safety in Jamal Adams – a guy that this team coveted for a full year, fittingly enough.

Prescott has clearly come a long way since that 2016 season. He and Russell Wilson will undoubtedly dominate the headlines, as the winner of this game will surely become one of the early front runners to win NFL MVP. But man, the football dork in me can't wait to see Elliott burst into the second level with Adams there waiting to lay the wood. That's the stuff football dreams are made of.

6. It'll be fascinating to see how the Cowboys manage this offensive tackle situation as we move deeper into the season.

It's going to look pretty similar in Week 3, if I had to guess. Tyron Smith still looks like an iffy bet to play – to put it mildly. I tend to think they're going to give him another week to get right, especially going against a pass rush as lackluster as Seattle's.

La'el Collins is also on injured reserve until at least next week – and we don't know for sure when he'll be coming off.

Fortunately, that was an awfully encouraging effort from Brandon Knight and Terence Steele. It wasn't always beautiful, but the two backups handled themselves quite admirably.

One interesting thought. Both Knight and Steele mainly played right tackle during their college careers, so I was really curious how the coaching staff decided who to play where. I guess that's why I asked Mike McCarthy about it.

"We've had practice reps in training camp, there's a catalogue of whose played where," he said. "There is individual time that we're working both left side, right side but it definitely goes into what decision you make."

McCarthy said they opted to play Knight on the left side so they could keep the continuity with four of the five starters, rather than shuffling everyone around.

Going back to the original point. I wonder what that means when Smith or Collins – or preferably both – are available again. We could be watching an in-season competition to see who earns the swing tackle job once the starters return to the lineup.

7. I always believed the NFL had a better chance of playing during a pandemic than college football. There's fewer moving parts, a more organized governing body – and obviously everyone is getting paid.

So I can't quite wrap my head around the fact that the SEC season is finally upon us. Between the uncertainty and the postponement of the schedule until Sept. 26, I basically assumed something would go wrong before the big college teams ever had a chance to play.

Fingers crossed that it all goes well, but the weekend has arrived. The defending national champion LSU Tigers are going to play a game on Saturday. So do yourself a favor: mute me on every, single social channel there is. I'm going to be just a tad bit obnoxious.

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