Building the All Under-23 Offense in the NFL

 

 

 

QB: Dak Prescott, Cowboys, 23 years old

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There is no doubt that Prescott is a candidate for ROTY, and he might even be the leading candidate. His poise in the pocket along with his ability to pose a threat with his legs is more than enough for him to make my team. Carson Wentz was also in consideration, but I was pretty much splitting hairs with this decision.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 21 years old

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Elliott has been running like mad man so far this season, with over 700 yards in only six games so far. He hasn’t rushed for under 130 yards in his last four games. ‘Nuff said. Todd Gurley was also in consideration, but in my opinion, he is a little too overrated, and he hasn’t been finding the holes this season like he did in his rookie season.

WR1: Odell Beckham Jr., Giants, 23 years old

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I promise that I’m not just choosing players from the NFC East! That division just has a lot of young talent at these skill positions. Odell Beckham Jr. is on track to become the best receiver ever, just look at the stats. He is so quick in and out of his breaks and he can stop on a dime. The only way to cover him is to get in his head and get him frustrated.

WR2: Jarvis Landry, Dolphins, 23 years old

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The other LSU receiver that was drafted in 2014, Jarvis Landry should really be one of the top 10 wideouts in the league, but playing for a lackluster Dolphins team has brought his hype down the last two years. Landry caught 110 balls last year for over 1,100 yards, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

WR3: Amari Cooper, Raiders, 22 years old

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I so badly wanted to put Mike Evans or Allen Robinson here, and I was considering Will Fuller, but he hasn’t proved enough yet. I just couldn’t leave Cooper off of this list. He broke the 1,000 yard mark for the Raiders last year, and he is already more than halfway there through six games so far in 2016. Cooper hasn’t put up Odell Beckham Jr.-like production, but being The Guy in your rookie season has to say something. Cooper is a fantastic route-runner, and while he won’t blow you away with speed, he is a very balanced receiver.

TE1: Hunter Henry, Chargers, 21 years old

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There are about no tight ends worth mentioning who are 23 years old or younger. Hunter Henry and Eric Ebron are about the only ones. I went with Henry mainly because he has posted over 300 yards in only six games, and he is still playing behind Antonio Gates for the most part. Also because, you know, it’s Eric Ebron.

 

 

The Work-In Progress: Dallas Cowboys Week 2

The Dallas Cowboys squeaked out a win against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.   It would be proper to thank the Redskins organization this week for not picking Alfred Morris’ contract up and for their center, who with his ten second run-off sealed the game for the Cowboys.  Although it wasn’t a pretty win, it was a win none-the-less and the Cowboys remain a work in progress.

The offense actually found the redzone more than once this week.  It was nice to see Dallas not relying on the foot of Dan Bailey.   Dak Prescott got his first NFL touchdown by rushing for 6 yards and rookie Zeke Elliott had a rushing touchdown.  The touchdown that really burns Redskins fans is the Morris one, where the offensive line opened up a wide hole and he walked on in to seal the go-ahead touchdown.

While the offense for the most part clicked on all cylinders, the defense was still wishy-washy at best, however, when it counted the defense dug deep and found a way to make big plays and stops when it needed.

Overall, this game was a much better team effort than last week’s one point lost to the Giants. 

Dak went deep, but in order to crown him the next best thing, he has to show that he can consistently go deep and connect on long passes.  This way, the defense can’t completely stack the box against the run for fear of being burned by the long pass.  He has proven that he has what it takes to play in high pressured games and keep his composure.

There was also someone missing in action all day yesterday.  There was a lot of Butler sighting but Terrance Williams was MIA.  Dallas could have used Williams to help kill time on the final drive, after all he proved he was good for that last week against the Giants. 

Dez Bryant showed up to do more than play tickle tag.  For only the second time in Bryant’s career he had over 100 yards against the Redskins.   Not only did Dez show up, he also caught the ball.  It’s the small things that count.

On offense, the chemistry is beginning to show through, slowly but surely.  The more these players work with Prescott as their quarterback, the more trust they have as an offensive unit.  It can only get better from here.

My only bone to pick here is with Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan.  I am still unsure as to why they would attempt an on-side kick with the lead.  It was a huge fail and good thing it didn’t lead to a touchdown.  It’s still mind boggling as to why Garrett has a job still.

The Cowboys are still a work in progress, but slowly but surely they are finding their chemistry on offense and in survival mode on defense.  This team should keep fans on their roller coaster ride, but that’s nothing fans don’t expect from this organization.

The Laughing Stock of the NFL

The Dallas Cowboys once again became the butt of NFL jokes this weekend.  As the season starts on Thursday night, Dallas signed veteran backup quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Sanchez will be backing up rookie Dak Prescott.

Sanchez is infamous for his butt fumble fiasco against the Patriots when he once played for the Jets.  The Cowboys needed a veteran backup but they really went to the dirt beneath the bottom of the barrel for Sanchez.


Although people will point out that Mark has more playoff wins than the Cowboys have had in the last decade, it doesn’t help that ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been poking fun at this move every chance he gets.

Now, as Dallas focuses for the beginning of the season against the New York Giants, one has to wonder and hope that Prescott isn’t made of glass and Sanchez does nothing more than ride the pine while getting suspended for eating hotdogs out of complete boredom.

In all seriousness though, the Cowboys have also put their foot in their mouths once again with the whole Tony Romo on injured reserves.  Romo was projected to be out 6-10 weeks with his newest injury.  Dallas refuses to put him on IR at the moment because that would force him to be out for the first 8 weeks of football.   Now Math has never been my strongest subject, but it would make sense to put him on IR since he’s predicted to be out at least 6 weeks.

Dallas will rush him back though of that I am certain.  It seems to be the trend when it comes to Romo and Dallas.  They both hurry back and it runs the risk of a more serious injury.

Finally, don’t expect Dallas to win the first game against the Giants.  There is no way the NFL will allow that on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

For the Cowboys, hopefully this Sanchez move will be the final move that causes Dallas to be laughed at by the NFL experts, analysis and other teams’ fans.  The Cowboys have gone from a top tier respectable organization to the laughing stock of the NFL.  Thanks Jerry, on behalf of all fed up Cowboys fans!

Dallas Cowboys: Evaluation Game # 2

By Kim Dunning

 

The Dallas Cowboys played their second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Friday night.  They were much improved in some areas but there is still a lot of work needed to be season ready.

With veterans, Tony Romo and Jason Witten playing for a few series, the Cowboys offense once again came out as a powerhouse offense.  Alfred Morris, a gift from the Washington Redskins treating him wrong, has proven that he can definitely be the workhorse of the offense.There should be no issues when it comes to the offense for the Dallas Cowboys.  They are proving that even with their backups, they have a shot to continue to compete.  


Dak Prescott, once again is showing he could potentially be the steal of the draft, much to the Cowboys haters chagrin.

Special teams are looking good and Dan Bailey continues to show that he is an intricate part of this team.  Bailey made a 51-yard attempt to close out the half for the Cowboys offense.  Bailey is so good, that the announcers even said during the game, why do they even make Bailey kick anymore.  It’s a logical question because Bailey is the best kicker ever in the league and he currently stands at making 90% of his kick and never missed an extra point in his career.  This is pretty good for an undrafted kicker.

The good news is the bubble players stepped up and protected the lead last night.  This shows that they want to make the team and will do what is necessary to make it.

The problem with the Cowboys still lies in their defense.  Their defense did look better last night and much improved from the first game.  Practice makes perfect, but they are still taking bad angles on tackles and their secondary with the exception of Morris Claiborne and Bryon Jones are still looking shaky.


The other thing with the Cowboys is they need to really watch their penalties.  The penalties are killing drives and could continue to be a problem with keeping drives going in the regular season.   Jason Garrett needs to emphasize the fact that they need to be more disciplined.  He would be well served not to clap on the sidelines when they get these bonehead penalties.

All in all, there is a vast improvement from the evaluation game 1 and evaluation game 2.  However, Dallas really needs to work on penalties, defensive tackling, secondary and the defensive line.  If Dallas can put in the hard word, my preseason 8-8 record could go up, but with Garrett at the helm, it’ll be difficult to do.

Dallas Cowboys: Evaluation Game # 1

By Kim Dunning

Don’t get too excited Dallas fans, even if Dallas had a dominating first half against the Rams on Saturday night.  The team ended up blowing the lead only to lose a meaningless game 1 of the pre-season.

 The team itself seemed to gel during the first half of the game with the potential starters and backups playing. This isn’t in anyway a precursor to how the season for the Cowboys will be. Pre-season never is.

Tony Romo and Jason Witten sat this game out, as they should have, especially Romo with his injury history. Dez Bryant was expected to sit out, but he had a few moments of playing time, and thankfully he caught the ball for a touchdown.
All in all, the first half, Dallas looked poised and ready for the NFL season.  Here is my personal take-away from the game.

The Good

Dallas may have actually found a backup quarterback who can complement the Romo friendly team.  Dak Prescott working with the first team looked amazing.  He has picked up the playbook well enough to be serviceable.  Amazingly, Dallas may have the steal of the draft with Prescott. 

Dez Byrant looked pre-big contract Dez.  He was the playmaker that fans alike were hoping he would become.  The Prescott to Bryant touchdown pass was one that sent chills up longtime fans spines.  It looked right.

Lucky Whitehead made a spectacular kick return on the very first play of the drive.  I referenced Lucky in my last article saying he was definitely one to be keeping an eye on.  I’m glad my peers were accurate that he was and is currently a huge standout for the Cowboys this year.

The offense as a whole looked like a complete unit, even without Romo at the helm.  It really didn’t look like they had missed a beat.  This was a completely different look.  Even the play calling itself seemed to be creative and complement the players that were on the field at any given time.

The Bad

 When will Dallas learn the discipline that Garrett has been talking about for years?  It is still an issue even in the first pre-season game.  Drive killing penalties were still an issue and yes, it is the first meaningless pre-season game, but this has been something that has always been an Achilles heel for the Cowboys.

The bubble talent did not prove their worth in this game either.  They let a big lead slip away and ended up losing the game.  Again it is a meaningless game but still, if you are wanting to impress and make a team at least as a depth or practice squad player, you should definitely not let the lead slip away like that.

The Ugly 

The defense, the ugliest and yet most neglected by the Cowboys.  The suspensions of three of the four defensive lineman has really put Dallas in a bind defensively.  The players who are available to take the spots while they serve their time are a bunch of no names that we know cannot play all three downs.


Dallas’ best hope for a successful season will be to keep the defense off the field.  These guys still do not know how to tackle and take proper cuts.  One would think after so many seasons they would get it.  However, after watching the first game of their season, they haven’t learned from their mistakes.  Maybe by the end of the season they will know what it takes to play defense.

Again, this is just an evaluation of the talent and depth that Dallas needs to maintain a team throughout the 2016.  We all know pre-season games are meaningless.  Dallas has done well in pre-season only to end up in last place and they have done awful in pre-season and made the Super Bowl.

I stick firm by my 8-8 prediction, because defenses win championships and Dallas doesn’t have a defense.  Onto the next evaluation game that means nothing!