Why give rise to the Dak Prescott dink-and-dunkers?
8:30 AM CT
ESPN Staff Writer
FRISCO, Texas -- Welcome to the first playoff version of Five Wonders.
Just about everybody is wondering if the Dallas Cowboys can beat the Green Bay Packers on Sunday to advance to their first NFC Championship Game since 1995. But thereís more to wonder about than just that.
Away we go:
ē I wonder where do people get this dink-and-dunk stuff with Dak Prescott? Heís not a dink-and-dunk quarterback. He averaged 8 yards per attempt. Tony Romo is at 7.9 yards per attempt for his career. Is going deep what Prescott does best? No, but the Cowboys had 38 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Not all 20-plus plays are equal, but did you really see a West Coast-type offense with short, quick passes? If you did, I saw a different offense all season. I think what has happened is some in the media have given voice to a small segment of fans who truly believe this even when presented with facts that state otherwise. Why give them a voice at all? And why get upset about it if you know itís not true? If the Packers want to believe Prescott just throws underneath, then the Cowboys will be glad.
ē I wonder if the Cowboys are happier to see the Packers than New York Giants. Iím not being a masochist. I understand how well Aaron Rodgers is playing at the moment, but I believe the Cowboys would rather be in a game in which they have to rely on their offense. Rely might be too strong, since they will rely on both units, but had they played the Giants, you can be sure the ghosts of 2007, the 2011 season finale and the two losses in 2016 would be talked about. The Cowboys scored 26 points in two losses to the Giants. They would not have been scared to face New York by any stretch, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did a great job against Prescott twice. The Green Bay defense is without its top two corners. They have injuries at linebacker, too. The Giants had chances for big plays in the wild-card round and missed on too many of them.
ē While I wonder many things, hereís something I donít wonder about: I donít wonder if the Randy Gregory saga will alter the Cowboysí approach with off-field issues. Maybe it should, since he is looking at playing only 14 of the first 48 regular-season games of his career, but I donít think it will. There is nothing Jerry Jones loves more than the art of the deal. Gregory was a calculated risk as a second-round pick in 2015. He was a first-round talent available at the end of Round 2. Jones couldnít resist, especially when he felt he had a team that would have him picking in at least the late 20s in the first round for years to come. Jones believes he -- and his organization -- can help troubled players even if they donít find success as much as you would think.
ē I wonder if the Cowboys look into a long-term deal for David Irving. Nothing huge, mind you, but potentially a deal that could buy out his first year or two of unrestricted free agency. Because he was not drafted in 2015, the Cowboys can sign him to a multi-year extension. Irving is set to be an exclusive-rights free agent, which means he canít sign anywhere else unless the Cowboys pass on tendering him a contract. Thatís not going to happen. Irving will be a restricted free agent after the 2017 season, which means the Cowboys would have the right to match any offer made to him. With the way he closed the season you would think he would receive the second-round tender after next season. In the past they have done these kinds of deals with soon-to-be restricted free agents, such as Jeff Heath and Chris Jones. Irving makes some sense. It would be the buy low, sell high kind of deal Jones loves.
ē I wonder if the Cowboys leave the roster spot created by Gregoryís suspension vacant for the time being. They already have used one of their four roster moves available in the postseason by signing Jonathan Cooper. Perhaps they add a player from the practice squad, but I donít see someone who would be active on game day. To me, the best way to handle the spot is to leave it until Laíel Collins is ready to play. He isn't ready now, but his 21-day practice window has started. If they add a practice-squad player, they could lose him if/when they choose to add Collins, who is on injured reserve, to the active roster. The Cowboys need seven inactive players each week. With only 52 spots on the roster filled, thatís down to six. They can roll with 52 for now.