Machota: Biggest key to Cowboys’ success, plus the latest on Dak Prescott, Trevon Diggs, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence

Iamtdg

One-armed Knife Sharpener
Staff member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
95,250


MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - OCTOBER 31: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on as Cooper Rush #10 takes the snap against the Minnesota Vikings during the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

By Jon Machota Nov 2, 2021

FRISCO, Texas — There’s no questioning the talent on the Cowboys roster. It’s good enough to win against any NFL team. But talent alone isn’t the reason for the team’s 6-1 start. Dallas has had several talented teams over the past 25 years, but they have continued to come up short in the playoffs.

The thing that this team has done better than others in previous seasons, and might end up being the difference in January, is it has excelled at overcoming the loss of key members of its starting lineup.

Backup quarterback Cooper Rush is the latest example. Not many expected Rush to lead Dallas on a game-winning drive Sunday night against Minnesota, especially after a first half that saw him complete 10-of-17 passes for 110 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 53.6 passer rating. In the second half, he was 14-of-23 passing for 215 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 120.7 passer rating.

The saying “Next man up” is overused in sports. But this year’s Cowboys team has actually carried that out. The examples include Rush starting in place of Dak Prescott, Terence Steele stepping in for La’el Collins at right tackle, Cedrick Wilson being the team’s No. 3 wide receiver with Michael Gallup out, and rookie Osa Odighizuwa playing in place of Neville Gallimore at defensive tackle. The argument could even be made for how Randy Gregory has stepped up as the team’s top edge rusher since DeMarcus Lawrence broke his foot.

“It’s certainly a saying a lot of people use, and there’s a lot of evidence to it,” Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said. “I think guys build more momentum into being able to handle those situations. We’ve had a number of guys who have been able to step up in some situations where we lost other guys, and they’ve taken advantage of opportunities and potentially grown their own roles along the way. I feel like we’re in a great spot, our guys respond really well to this stuff.”

Here are some other Cowboys notebook items from the past two days.

• The plan this week for Dak Prescott is to go through a lighter-than-normal practice on Wednesday. The Cowboys have structured their schedule differently this week because of playing on the road Sunday night. If all goes well Wednesday, Prescott will be a full participant on Thursday. McCarthy didn’t talk to Prescott on Monday, but he spoke with associate athletic trainer Britt Brown, who was with Prescott earlier in the day. Brown told McCarthy that the franchise QB “had a really good day.” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday morning on 105.3 The Fan that they have “every reason to think he’ll be on the field” Sunday against Denver.

• The NBC cameras showed Prescott several times on the sideline throughout Sunday night’s game. What exactly was he doing? Perhaps he was gaining knowledge from a different perspective that could help him when he returns. “He got to be a coach,” Moore said. “Got to throw the headset on. He was awesome. He’s obviously still the leader on the sideline. I enjoyed it because he’s able to view things from a different lens and have those conversations with me.”

• The double-pass play late in the third quarter when Wilson rolled to his right and passed to CeeDee Lamb didn’t exactly go as planned. “I’m not going to lie, that wasn’t the exact design of the play,” Moore said. “It turned into a scramble drill.” Moore didn’t specify what was supposed to happen, but he was pleased with how Wilson adjusted and made an accurate throw that Moore said would have been impressive from an actual NFL quarterback. “I was about to get tackled,” Wilson said. “We go over scramble drills every day, but usually I’m the receiver. But that time, I was quarterback. CeeDee just kept working with me, and I found him down the field.”

Micah Parsons was the defensive star of the game, and that didn’t come as a surprise to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. The rookie linebacker was unhappy with how he played in the previous game at New England, so he started showing up earlier to The Star to get in extra work. “I come in pretty early, so I turned around and saw him walking in next to me,” Quinn said. “I said, ‘OK, what do we got going on here?’ And he said, ‘I’m changing some things.’ I said, ‘I love it, man.’ Learning, it never stops. And certainly when you’re a rookie, it’s always going to be there.”

• According to Pro Football Focus, Parsons had his best game of the season Sunday night in pass coverage and tackling. “I felt like this is probably one of my better games,” Parsons said. “When things aren’t going right, you got to prepare different. I think this week, came in with the mindset like Sunday night, got to be the it factor. I think it’s kind of like what I expected, what I wanted to do.”

• Quinn told the Cowboys’ defenders a story leading up to Sunday night’s game about former boxing heavyweight champion Ken Norton. Quinn is friends with former Cowboys linebacker and current Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., who said his dad had a saying for when he was involved in a fight that he knew would go the distance: “Get the ice bags ready.” Quinn expected the game against the Vikings to be the type of fight that went the distance. Quinn, who calls the game from up in the coaching box, said it was fun hearing the players yelling up to him on the headset during the game: “Q, we got the ice bags ready!”

• Mike McCarthy was pretty happy about eight-time Pro Bowl edge rusher Von Miller being traded from the Denver Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday. The Cowboys host the Broncos on Sunday. He’s not concerned right now with the possibility of the Cowboys facing the Rams in the playoffs. “I don’t have to worry about him this week,” McCarthy said. “That is definitely nice. Those long-term thoughts always take care of themselves.”

• Injury updates: CB Trevon Diggs (right ankle) was moving well on Monday. The Cowboys feel good about his chances of playing Sunday. LT Tyron Smith’s sprained left ankle has him questionable for Sunday. Rookie LB Jabril Cox is out for the season with an ACL injury. He will have surgery in the next couple of weeks. McCarthy said DE DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) is “getting close.” McCarthy got a “good report” on Lawrence on Monday. He’s probably another week or two away from returning to practice.

• How close is the current team? Here’s what the players were saying after the game. Safety Jayron Kearse: “I haven’t been around a group that’s been this tight, that’s on opposite sides of the ball that trust in each other. … Things weren’t always going our way (Sunday night) and guys never batted an eye. Guys were ready and stood up to the task at hand.” Right guard Zack Martin: “We’re close, offense, defense, special teams. I think that is very important to what we’re doing right now. We’re playing complementary football. We’re feeding off each other. We’re having fun. We’re finding ways to win on the road.”

• Jerry Jones on The Fan on the Cowboys’ postgame locker room Sunday night: “I don’t know that I’ve been in one where it was just almost uncontrollable passion, or just uncontrollable feeling of what they had just accomplished and what they were feeding off of. I’m talking about the players. It was quite an atmosphere in that locker room.”

• While talking about Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline on The Fan, Jones said he didn’t expect the Cowboys to be making any moves. He then shared the following thought about how NFL trades have worked out for him. “The things I’ve seen that were really outstanding and made the best sense was when the phone rings and they come to you,” he said. “That’s all the difference in the world. It is really hard to go get. You pay a huge price, a premium, when you go get. But if you’ll sit there and take it, and then something comes along that just happens to hit you right between the eyes, good, then that’s something to think about there.”

• Collins has not had any work at left tackle, so that’s why Ty Nsekhe replaced Tyron Smith on Sunday night. “Coach had already told me, if anything happened on the right side, I’m going in there,” Collins said. “I haven’t practiced much on the left yet. We’ll see what happens going forward.” That could certainly change this week as Smith is unlikely to do much, if anything at all, in practice. Collins has not played left tackle since college. He practiced last week at right tackle and left guard.


• Safety Damontae Kazee spoke for the first time after the game about his arrest and DWI charge during the bye week. “I apologized to my family, my teammates, my coaches and to the owner, who gave (me) a job,” Kazee said. “I’m happy the Lord helped me get out, I didn’t hit nobody, I didn’t hurt myself. Just thankful I’m here now.” Does he expect to hear anything from the league? “Whatever it is, is my punishment,” he said. “And I have to deal with it, own up to it.”

• Special teams coordinator John Fassel was sharing his list of backup specialists on the Cowboys’ roster when he surprisingly mentioned that Lamb can be an emergency long snapper. “That’s a fact,” Fassel quickly added. “That’s not a joke.” Fassel recalled being surprised by Lamb’s long snapping skills during a practice last year. He added that it’s highly unlikely they’d ever put Lamb in that situation during a game.
 

p1_

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 10, 2013
Messages
13,959
Some will not like this, but as this season goes on, the extreme makeover from the top of the org to the bottom has and is redefining the team. Resilience is maybe the singular key to this run, and to know that we are, to this point, never out of any game is such an unexpected change. I’m soaking it up while it lasts.
 

Cowboysrock55

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
40,181
Some will not like this, but as this season goes on, the extreme makeover from the top of the org to the bottom has and is redefining the team. Resilience is maybe the singular key to this run, and to know that we are, to this point, never out of any game is such an unexpected change. I’m soaking it up while it lasts.
For the first time in forever injuries don't seem to hold this team back. Seems like we really finally have a coaching staff capable of developing the entire roster and not just the few stars at the top.
 

ravidubey

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
15,275
Some will not like this, but as this season goes on, the extreme makeover from the top of the org to the bottom has and is redefining the team. Resilience is maybe the singular key to this run, and to know that we are, to this point, never out of any game is such an unexpected change. I’m soaking it up while it lasts.
Yeah, I mean what's not to like? Normally you'd only expect this kind of resilience from a Belichick-coached team.

We haven't experienced this since 2003
 

ravidubey

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
15,275
I can barely remember that period. I know it was transition from Campo to Parcells, but it was still Quinthy at the helm.
Just so crazy seeing that team with minimal talent go 10-6 and play defense and special teams so hard.

Even guys like Zuriel Smith and Randall Williams were just ready to play, where prior to Parcells we were used to seeing a standard of mistakes and underachieving.

We're seeing the same kind of unselfish play and deep preparedness from this team, and the huge difference from 2003 of course is the depth of talent.

This team can beat anyone, in fact you expect it to.

There's been times like 2007 where Dallas is more talented than everyone but still finds a way to underachieve.

This team is both uber-talented (arguably the deepest and most talented in the league) and really well-coached.
 

mcnuttz

Super Duper Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 2013
Messages
11,427
Just so crazy seeing that team with minimal talent go 10-6 and play defense and special teams so hard.

Even guys like Zuriel Smith and Randall Williams were just ready to play, where prior to Parcells we were used to seeing a standard of mistakes and underachieving.

We're seeing the same kind of unselfish play and deep preparedness from this team, and the huge difference from 2003 of course is the depth of talent.

This team can beat anyone, in fact you expect it to.

There's been times like 2007 where Dallas is more talented than everyone but still finds a way to underachieve.

This team is both uber-talented (arguably the deepest and most talented in the league) and really well-coached.
13 wins 13 pro bowlers, loss to wildcard Giants 😢
 

mcnuttz

Super Duper Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 2013
Messages
11,427
I’m most impressed by the halftime adjustment. It seems like they completely take the momentum.
So much has changed in such a short amount of time.

I'd rather defer, go ahead and let the defense get the ball back and we still get it back in the 3rd.
 
Top Bottom