Dallas Cowboys Armchair GM: Dak Prescott’s Contract

Over the last year and a half Dallas Cowboy fans have expressed how Dak Prescott is worth being paid among the elite QBs in the NFL. We have seen the comparisons to Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson and even Tom Brady. He has the 2nd most wins in the NFL over a 4 year period yet the question remains… Is Dak Prescott among the NFL’s elite at the quarterback position??

Many point to Dak’s leadership and demeanor in playing the most demanding position on one of America’s most visible teams. Well is he a Press Secretary or Quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys??

Did you know that Dak Prescott was 0-5 against playoff teams in 2019? Wasn’t this his make or break year to prove he was among the elite of his sport and earn that franchise contract? I keep seeing graphics by Cowboys superfan Cornelius Thorn pleading Dak is worth a large contract by virtue of his wins. Wins against who??

Lets look at the last 3 years in totality then… his 2018 campaign had him sweep the defending champion Eagles to go 3-2 against playoff teams in the regular season. He edged the Seahawks 24-13 in a home wildcard game before a bad loss to the Rams in the divisonal round 30-22. That playoff loss to the Rams is a microcosm of Prescott’s career with the Cowboys. We’ll come back to this…

In 2017 Dak led the Cowboys to a 2-2 record against playoff teams with one of the wins a 6-0 victory over the Eagles who were resting their starters for the playoffs in the season finale. They had homefield advantage and went on to win the Super Bowl. Dak’s other win came against the Kansas City Chiefs 28-17 while they were quarterbacked by Alex Smith.

In this same time frame Patrick Mahomes has risen from being on the bench that day to setting records (50TDs as 1st year starter) & ’18 NFL MVP the following season. Then ’19 Super Bowl MVP and champion earlier this month to showcase his growth.

Didn’t I just tell you that Dak was 0-5 against playoff teams in 2019?? This is not trending in a direction for someone seeking $40 million per year in compensation. He had 1 win against a depleted Seahawk team in a wildcard and has a 5-9 record against playoff teams over the last 3 years.

The bottom line is Dak Prescott is a Beta QB and not an alpha signal caller.

The alpha infuses confidence in his football team through his leadership and play. His teammates are inspired through his verve, spirit, and fight which in turn raises their level of play to meet his.  You can see the confidence in their eyes when the game is tight. This is what every coach wants and covets each year in the NFL draft. He doesn’t shrink when games are on the line or when the team is up against a superior opponent. This description is everything Dak isn’t.

Earlier I referenced Dallas 30-22 loss in the 2018 playoffs as a microcosm for Dak’s reign under center down in JerryWorld. What happened in that game? After taking a 7-3 lead Prescott goes 4-11 during the competitive phase of the game while the Rams balloon their lead to 23-7 halfway into the 3rd quarter. Then with a greater than 2 touchdown lead and playing vanilla defense Dak compiles impressive numbers while losing.

You look at the stat line and 20 of 32 for 266 yards and 1TD looks like he kept Dallas in the game. Sorry but the eye ball test if you watched the game was his 4 of 11 for nearly half the game which sank the Cowboys season.

Isn’t this exactly what his 2019 8-8 season looked like? He went 0-5 against playoff teams while completing 388 of 597 for 4,751 yards 30 TDs and 11 picks. Did any of these yards or touchdowns come against top competition while the game was on the line?  The answer is no… If he was going to mature into a great QB he would have done so by his 5th year

Both these players are “fools gold” down in Dallas. The team should move on from both.

He is a beta QB that is the second coming of Tony Romo….as for $40 million? The answer is hell no… let Dak go test the free agent waters. Look to draft a 1st rounder and sign a free agent vet in Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, or even a Tom Brady that can win now for you. As for the 1st round draft pick you have 1 1/2 years to get him ready if you believe this is a Super Bowl ready team.

Go grab a Jalen Hurts in the 1st round and his top receiver in the 2nd round. You have to stop this Tony Romo / Dak Prescott good story guy at quarterback. Its pyrite….fools gold. Go draft an alpha and use that $40 million on an alpha in their latter stage of their career that can win for you now.

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2019 NFC East Previews & Predictions

Last year’s NFC East race was one that showed that football is a marathon not a sprint. Last year when the green and white crossed flags were waved the Redskins were dominating the division with a 5-3 record. By season’s end it was a resurgent Cowboy team that dominated winning 7 of their last 8 games. They leaped right over the defending champion Eagles and won the NFC East.

Yet here goes Jerry  Jones again with all the angst surrounding the contracts of Zeke, Dak, and Amari Cooper. How will this affect the team’s psyche at the outset of the season?? With Elliott holding out and Jerry Jones drawing a line in the stand, this stalemate will go into the season. Who will Jones sign first?? Will Jones sign all three??

This team has several young quarterbacks coming into the division in Dewayne Haskins in Washington and Daniel Jones in Gotham with the Giants. Each were 1st round selections which should be clipboard holding rookies although there were grumblings in NewYork wanting to see more of Jones after 1 exhibition game.

2019 NFC East Predictions

  1. Philadelphia Eagles 11-5 *
  2. Dallas Cowboys 9-7
  3. Washington Redskins 6-10
  4. New York Giants 5-11

One season removed from their Super Bowl championship, the Eagles find themselves a team with a lot to prove. Can Carson Wentz fulfill the promise of his #1 draft status?? Many pundits credit the miracle playoff run of Nick Foles for the Super Bowl LII championship although Wentz had led the team to a 11-2 record before his injury. Speaking of which can Wentz finish the season upright?? Wentz has been knocked out ending the last two seasons on the sideline.

The Eagles lacked muscle and attitude in the running game once they lost LaGarrette Blount to Detroit. However the Iggles may have pulled a coup stealing RB Jordan Howard from the Bears in an offseason trade.

Entering his 4th season he has already rushed for 1,000 yards (1,313 yds & 1,122 yds) in ’16 and ’17 respectively. He fell out of favor with Bear Coach Nagy whose gimmicky offense didn’t allow Howard to get into a groove. He’s a power back who will move the chains and keep defenses honest. Expect a 1,200 yard season in ’19.

Carson Wentz will be the benificiary of defenses being bludgeoned by Howard and have a rebirth with All Pro Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffrey and the resigning of deep threat DeShawn Jackson. This team will win the division going away.

Conventional wisdom has Colt McCoy headed to become the Redskins starting QB over 1st round pick Dewayne Haskins this season… conventional wisdom will get Coach Jay Gruden fired if it plays out this way. McCoy hasn’t passed the eye ball test since he was knocked out of the National Championship Rose Bowl vs Alabama.

Last year he was 0-2 in his starts completing just 34 of 54 for 372 yards 3TDs and 3 ints. This was on a team that started 6-3 where Lazarus (Peterson) rose to rush for 1,090 yards and a defense that finished 17th. Washingon’s defense gave up less than 20 points 6 times in their 1st 9 games then only once over the final 7. McCoy couldn’t win with or lift his team’s spirits then there is no chance of doing it now. Haskins has to play. McCoy’s NFL ceiling is that of a second string QB… Haskins?? Can become a Pro Bowl player if he gets in camp and shows he wants it.

A murderous 0-3 start facing Philadelphia on the road, then Dallas and Chicago at home should do the trick. Haskins would then start against the moribund New York Giants (24th ranked defense) with a bye week to follow. Haskins has these next 6 weeks to save Gruden’s job. Why not now with a veteran laden group and a power runner to take the pressure off??

Over in New York it’s hard to watch Eli Manning age and fall into a QB controversy as 1st round pick Daniel Jones. The heir apparent should wind up holding a clip board all year as Manning has his final season where Jones can learn on the sideline. Unlike the situation in Washington, this team is in a complete restructure where playoff aspirations are out of reach.

The only talent in The Big Apple is Saquan Barkley who may have to dial it back a bit to keep from being overworked. A super back out of the Walter Payton/ OJ Simpson mode. Tremendous talent on a team where he is the sole focal point of an inept offense. The future isn’t now in New York…next year once they add some players they can make a move and insert Jones.

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Return of The Over The Hill Gang

One of the most interesting 1st place teams during this opening stanza of the 2018 season is the Washington Redskins. In the Nation’s Capital this team has foraged out to a 4-2 record and first place in the NFC East.  On Sunday they knocked off Dallas 20-17 one week after the upset of the Carolina Panthers 23-17 as CB Josh Norman gained a measure of revenge against his former team and nemesis Cam Newton.

You’ll remember these two were teammates on the 2015 NFC Champions that went 15-1 before losing to Denver in Super Bowl L. That season began with a heated fight between Norman and Newton in the preseason. Now everyone said the right things after it was over however you could tell from some of the taunting and talking on field Sunday, time hasn’t healed all wounds.

The spirit Norman played with in an emotional 23-17 victory where he picked Newton off once and forced another fumble, helped thwart the favored Panthers. Cam Newton’s bunch believes they are back among the league’s elite. A perch they haven’t sat since Norman took his talents to DC after signing a 5 year $75 million deal.

Peterson is one of history’s finest runners and ran for 99 yards Sunday v Dallas.

Now off the win over Dallas this team is gaining notice nationally as they have thoroughly outperformed what prognosticators, including yours truly, thought at the outset of this season.

Yet look around this roster. Its not necessarily the group George Allen put together in the early 1970’s but this team has retreads off the scrapheap leading the charge.

Peterson is running as though it’s 2008.

Adrian Peterson (438 yds / 3TDs), who was signed after losing 2 RBs to injured reserve and he runs as though he has found the fountain of youth. Good for 9th in rushing although he was signed in week 3. At 33 he’s averaging 109 yards per game. Not bad after a lackluster season in Arizona after being released by the Saints.

What about 34 year old QB Alex Smith?? Twice shown the door in Kansas City and San Francisco, has been the safe/cautious QB (1,373 yards 7 TDs v 2 ints) that may get you in trouble in the playoffs, however he never leaves the NFL’s 5th best defense with a short field to defend.

Do you realize Alex Smith has ridden this formula to the NFL playoffs 6 of the last 7 years??

Along with Pro Bowl TE Jordan Reed he has 34 year old former 49er Vernon Davis to make a clutch catch when needed. Remember it was Smith to Davis, The Catch III, with :09 to go to beat New Orleans 36-32 in the playoffs to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  Although he isn’t as explosive as he was then, he’s able to take over for 4 or 5 games should Reed get injured. However if Reed can stay healthy its hard to focus and account for a 2nd TE on a ‘backer in pass coverage from a run heavy offensive set of 2 TEs.

This team is coming downhill and gain a measure of physicality on their opponents behind Peterson running the football. It fires up and gets the Offensive Line in a nasty mood and does so to their top 5 defense. They held the big bad Dallas front 5 and Ezekiel Elliott to 33 yards on 15 carries after holding Christian McCaffrey to 20 yards on 8 carries in subsequent weeks.

Scheduling brings the Giants (18th in Defense), Falcons (30th), Bucs (29th), Texans (9th), before a rubber match with the improving Cowboys. It’s plausible this team could be 7-2 or 8-3 going into this encounter.

In 6 weeks, this team takes on the reeling World Champion Eagles with supremacy of the division at stake. If this team can continue to lay physical dominance over their opponents and Peterson keeps running like a man possessed, they could wrap up the division right after Thanksgiving. He is already the runaway winner of “Comback Player of The Year” as he is on pace to rush for more than 1,400 yards despite missing the first 2 games.

Aside from injuries it is hard to derail a veteran laden team playing with something to prove. When it’s fueled by a series of veterans playing with something to prove, the sky is the limit.

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Legendary Days: Clint Longley Saves Dallas On Thanksgiving

Within every team there are players harboring Walter Mitty fantasies about answering the call and stepping off the bench and having a great game in the absence of a star player. Yet rarely does it happen and even less so in an important game. Enter Clint Longley…

Clint Longley lets one rip.

In 1974 the Dallas Cowboys were a team in transition. This was the twilight as the stars faded from the team known as “Next Year’s Champions” and developing shooting stars which would see the Cowboys be anointed “America’s Team.” Running backs Calvin Hill & Walt Garrison, Hall of Fame DT and 1st draft pick in team history Bob Lilly, SS Cornell Green were all in their final season in Dallas. Even former starting QB Craig Morton who had been embattled in competing for the starting job for years with Roger Staubach had been dealt away in week 6.

The football gods would have Morton and Dallas meet again in an upcoming Super Bowl …*ahem* but that is another story for another time.

Yet this aging team staggered into their annual Turkey Day Bowl where they would face NFC East nemesis Washington. George Allen’s “Over The Hill Gang” was 4-3 with Tom Landry’s group dating back the last 3 years. One of which Dallas was Super Bowl VI champions and they split with the Redskins then. Where was the 1 win lead by Washington gained?? Knocking off the defending champion Cowboys in the 1972 NFC Championship Game 26-3.

So this team had Dallas number and they knew each other inside and out. In fact the Redskins had beaten Staubach and company 2 weeks before this fateful match-up.

When you look back this could have been the most important game in Cowboys history. Having leaned on a rookie that was one of Gil Brandt and the Cowboys’ brass “finds”, did it lend to a more relaxed attitude toward younger players?? Remember it was the next season in 1975 where they threw caution to the wind and they went into the season with 12 rookies on the roster. “The Dirty Dozen” and they made it all the way to Super Bowl X. This was when names like “Too Tall” Jones, Henderson, Randy White and Harvey Martin stepped to the fore leading to 3 Super Bowls in a 4  year period where they became known as “America’s Team.”

Another reason this game was so important in Cowboys history, the very next year Dallas found themselves in a hopeless situation in the ’75 playoffs in Minnesota. After converting a 4th and 17 to the 50 yard line with :44 left. Staubach hit Drew Pearson with “The Hail Mary” to win that game 17-14. Why are we mentioning this here?? Well Staubach asked Pearson to adjust the “16 route” to the same “in and up” referring to this famous touchdown the year before between Longley and Pearson. With this 2nd miraculous playoff finish (1st the comeback in 72 against San Fran) Staubach was now known for them and ascending to legendary status.

Upon further review, another of Gil Brandt’s finds came across this where you can see Longley must have been a special player at Abilene Christian. He was on the AP Little All America 2nd team right next to Walter Payton

Notice all the future Cowboys that came off this All America team from small schools.

Yet for one brief moment when America was watching, Clint Longley had one of the most improbable rags to riches individual Cinderella games in NFL history.

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Legendary Days: The 1981 NFC Championship Game – The Birth of Camelot

With Dwight Clark’s passing a few weeks back it was nearly impossible to not think back to his signature play and this game. The Catch ushered in an era where the 49ers became the NFL’s signature franchise and brought Dallas down a notch. A win 2 weeks later in Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac gave Bill Walsh the platform to showcase his genius, The West Coast (Paul Brown’s) Offense, and launch an era he coined “Camelot”. Joe Montana became one of the NFL’s newest faces and would dominate the decade.

Dwight Clark as he will appear forever in the minds of fans everywhere.

Going into the ’81 NFC Championship the 49ers were an organization that not only hadn’t won a championship in their 36 year history. They were 0-3 against Dallas in the postseason. Even worse is they had left 2 NFL Championships on the table by celebrating victory prematurely then succumbing to huge comeback defeats.

In 1957, Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny and the Million Dollar Backfield bolted to a 27-7 3rd quarter lead in a playoff with the Detroit Lions. Detroit battled back and won 31-27. Then in ’72, a revenge minded 49er team fresh from back to back defeats in the first two NFC Championship Games to Dallas jumped to a 28-13 3rd quarter lead. Amid the taunts and trash talk Landry replaced ineffective QB Craig Morton for Roger Staubach. In another classic meltdown Dallas stormed to win 30-28.

Each of these losses crippled the franchise as they went into a tailspin for a decade both times.

Now here was a 3rd trip to the summit for an organization fighting for respect. Why would this generation’s group get over the hump where previous teams had failed?? This was the dreaded Dallas Cowboys they were 0-3 against in the postseason.

chancellor.coop

The Chancellor & former 49er Earl Cooper at PFHoF ’16

At the time Hall of Fame Coach Tom Landry was the Bill Walsh / Bill Belichick of his era having taken the Cowboys to the postseason 15 of the last 16 years. Not only had he won 2 Super Bowls, his teams was playing in a championship game for the 10th time with this tilt out in Candlestick. The NFL up to this time hadn’t seen this type of extended success. Not nearing 2 decades worth. Well a berth in Super Bowl XVI was at stake and all he had to do was get past this bunch of no names out in California. Consensus at the time by the national media cited that he would:

 

Eric Wright’s clutch tackle on Drew Pearson saved the game but Dwight Clark’s catch remains it’s signature. Prestige is much like momentum. You can’t exactly define it yet you know it once you feel it and see it. The mantle of prestige and esteem the Cowboys held transferred to the 49ers the moment Clark came down with the football. From that point on the buzz from NFL media in print and television began with Bill Walsh and his organization. His West Coast offense became the dominant offensive approach for the next four decades.

Epilogue:

For those of us old enough to have watched this game and remember those years it was a unique time in NFL history. A young Chancellor of Football was watching this frozen in -63 wind chill in Columbus, Ohio. These were bigger than life characters that were shaping how I viewed the game and learned of all those making history. When we lose Dwight Clark, who was one of those figures, a piece of us go with them. Things won’t be the same but thanks for the memories. Thankfully former 49er Coach Steve Mariucci shared this on Twitter.

Mariucci was a beneficiary of the prestige borne of The Catch. They were a well oiled and running dynasty 16 years in when he succeeded George Seifert in 1997. Hmmmm…isn’t that the same 16 year mark when Landry had the Cowboys in San Francisco back in ’81?? For irony…. Mariucci and the 49ers also lost the NFC Championship Game that year. Yet that story…can be told at another time.

WalshMontana

Joe Montana and Bill Walsh are linked forever in football lore.

Thanks for the memories Dwight Clark. RIP (January 8, 1957 – June 4, 2018)

Dedicated To The Memories of: Dwight Clark, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry,  Freddie Solomon, Bob McKittrick, John Ayers, Fred Quillan, Keith Fahnhorst, Ernie Stautner, Larry Bethea, Harvey Martin, Ron Springs, narrator Harry Kalas, Ed Sabol & Steve Sabol

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An Overshadowed Classic: The 1966 NFL Championship Game

When you look back at the rich history of the Green Bay Packers, we focus squarely on the Lombardi era teams that won 5 NFL championships in the 1960’s. While the most iconic of these championships was The Ice Bowl for the 1967 title, a more gripping affair in the classic sense took place for the 1966 crown. While every championship has its importance this was the 2nd in a row which set the Packers up for the chance at winning 3 straight.

Bart Starr standing amidst a charging George Andrie (66) Bob Lilly (74) and the late Willie Townes (71) attempting a pass.

With the merger between the NFL and the AFL signed, each league would send their champion to play in a world championship game called the Super Bowl. While the sporting press sided with the traditionalist NFL there were revolutionaries who sided with the new guard if you will. The American Football League was established in 1959 and began play in 1960.

The new league had a flashier style of play and took to the air in a way that aside from the Baltimore Colts and Johnny Unitas, the rest of the NFL and traditionalists scoffed at. It was 3 yards and a cloud of dust over here. Evidenced by the perennial champion Packers’ signature play… the power sweep. If I were to tell you to close your eyes and picture the Lombardi Packers, the image of Jerry Kramer and Fuzzy Thurston leading either Jim Taylor of Paul Hornung would come to mind vividly.

The founder of the AFL was Lamar Hunt of Hunt Bros. Oil and a Dallas, Texas resident. He had been thwarted in an attempt to buy the St Louis Cardinals a decade previous and wasn’t taken seriously when asked about NFL expansion to Dallas. So once he started the American Football League with his Dallas Texans as a flagship team (now the Kansas City Chiefs), the NFL scrambled and put a team down in Dallas which was then named the Cowboys. Each began play in the 1960 season.

Over the next few years the AFL and NFL waged war for the top college athletes. The Cowboys took several seasons to learn how to win under the guidance of Head Coach Tom Landry. Yet in spirit because they had been borne out of expansion and were the new kids on the block, the Cowboys were AFL kindred spirits residing in the NFL. They had a new way of scouting and evaluating talent much like the AFL and although Coach Landry had been the defensive coach (the term coordinator didnt’ exist until 1967) for the New York Giants in the 1950’s, he pioneered several offensive formations and sets to undo the 4-3 he brought into prominence a decade earlier.

It took a few years to gain footing however Landry finally had a team that could challenge for the NFL Championship by the ’66 season. He would take on his old nemesis Vince Lombardi in The Cotton Bowl to decide who would go on to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I.

Why was Lombardi a nemesis?? Lombardi was the Offensive Coach (Coordinator) of the New York Giants in the 1950’s before moving on to Green Bay. His offense used to sharpen Landry’s defense and vice versa for a great Giants team.

Another side note to this iconic championship it was Dallas’ Tex Schramm who stepped across league lines with Lamar Hunt to discuss the merger in the 1st place. It happened at Love Field and they met at the Texas Ranger Statue. So not only were the establishment Packers going to Dallas for the championship, they wanted to give the traitorous Cowboys their comeuppance. When you think of the city of Dallas from a national perspective, keep in mind we are only 3 years removed from JFK’s assassination there….and Lombardi was a Kennedy Democrat

Into this cauldron Lombardi and his team stepped…

With Tom Brown’s desperation last second interception to conclude the ’66 NFL Championship, the Packers survived and were off to Los Angeles for Super Bowl I. Tom Landry would go on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of the greatest coaches in history. His team wasn’t ready to carry the mantle of league champion yet but they would come back to win Super Bowl VI as the 1st of Landry’s 2 championships.

It was Vince Lombardi’s team who defended their ’65 NFL championship’65 NFL championship and would go on to win Super Bowl I. There they would defeat Kansas City to win their 4th overall league title. Now looking back they had to actually beat two upstarts to win it all originating from the city of Dallas to crown themselves as Team of the 60’s. This would be the last with the Hall of Fame backfield duo of Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung. It was quiet Bart Starr who elevated his play with a record 4 TD passes in he win down in Dallas. Out in L.A. he was even better carving up the Chiefs to win the 1st MVP of the very 1st Super Bowl.

Super Bowl I Trophy sits in the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame.

Another championship loomed in 1967 but it was the prime time finish of the ’66 championship at night that pushed the Packers into NFL lore.

As for the trophy won out in Los Angeles, The Chancellor visited it in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame just two weeks ago.

Today this rivalry renews as the Packers are down in Dallas to take on the Cowboys in Jerry World. Hopefully this look back helps in explaining the rivalry began here which will enrich The Ice Bowl memories created a year later.

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Keep in mind we’re still campaigning to assist Jerry Kramer to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and you can help. Lend your thoughts as well by writing in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to the address below. Please be respectful and positively lend your voice:

Please write & nominate #64
Send letters to:
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Attention Senior Selection Committee
2121 George Halas Dr NW, Canton, 
OH 44708