Heavily armed on offense with Pro Bowl-level, and often young, talent at every position, the Cowboys must turn their attention to the other side of the ball if they are to match up with a new crop of NFC East receivers in Brandon Marshall, Terrelle Pryor and Alshon Jeffery. That’s before even thinking about contending in the postseason with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and, just maybe, Tom Brady buying time in the pocket.
Dallas’ “plan”, as Crawford puts it, should then be to target corners, defensive linemen and outside linebackers in the late first round and build through the draft. Then, hope they develop and flourish in Marinelli’s system in time for a Super Bowl run.
While the Cowboys are in the market for a veteran quarterback to back up rookie Dak Prescott with Tony Romo sidelined for two months, they are not interested in Sanchez at his current $4.5 million salary, per Slater.
Now that Trevor Siemian has won the Broncos’ starting job, Sanchez has been rendered expendable. General manager John Elway is shopping the veteran quarterback around the league, hoping to collect a late-round draft pick rather than releasing Sanchez outright.
Bright lights are nothing new for Rayne Dakota Prescott. He led Haughton (La.) High School to a district championship as a junior, sealing the title game by driving his team 80 yards in 47 seconds, without using a timeout. As a senior, he led his high school to its first ever undefeated season and another district title. Playing with a torn MCL in the championship game and unable to run, Prescott saved his best for last, throwing for 366 yards with three touchdowns with dozens of college recruiters watching from the stands.
At Mississippi State, he was a three-year starter in the nation’s toughest conference. In 2014, he led the Bulldogs to nine straight victories to open the season, including three in a row over top-10 opponents that led to the school’s very first No. 1 ranking. He won 20 games in his final two years in Starkville, setting nearly every school passing record along the way. Currently he sits third on the SEC’s all-time list for passing yards and wholesale jerseys and fourth in total touchdowns.
The Cowboys’ biggest weakness on paper all season showed up on the field against Green Bay. The Cowboys had to blitz to get any pressure on Aaron Rodgers and it wasn’t enough. Perhaps mammoth defensive end David Irving is a future star — like the broadcast analysts insisted — or perhaps he was a two-game wonder who hasn’t otherwise stood out in his career.
Jones and family have tried to address this problem in recent drafts, but Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and defensive tackle Maliek Collins aren’t enough. Don’t be shocked if the Cowboys get loose with some money in free agency. (Jason Pierre-Paul? Melvin Ingram?) Their tricky salary-cap situation can always be solved with some accounting creativity. Jones has done it before and could convince himself a prime pass rusher is the one missing piece to splurge on.
The Vikings’ defense took advantage of the offensive line’s big weakness (Doug Free in pass protection) and took chances with their safeties near the line of scrimmage, a recipe Seattle could use in a possible playoff matchup. They confused Dak Prescott at times. It’s a credit to the Cowboys they found a way to win both of those games, but coach Jason Garrett does not want these trends to continue. He needs to keep his team laser-focused on getting better in December, because that’s what Dallas’ rivals will be doing.
Grrett does not want to enter a Divisional Round game against a playoff-tested opponent with the Cowboys’ last truly great performance having come on Thanksgiving. aThe next four weeks may not impact the Cowboys much in the standings, but they are vital for a team led by its young stars. You can’t take a break from greatness.
Other defensive prospects visiting the Cowboys this week include Washington CB Kevin King, UConn DB Obi Melifonwu, UCLA CB Fabian Moreau, Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley, Louisiana Tech S Xavier Woods, Oregon State CB Treston DeCoud, Florida CB Teez Tabor, Colorado CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado S Tedric Thompson, Ohio DE Tarell Basham, UCLA DE Takk McKinley, Florida CB Quincy Wilson and Villanova DE Tanoh Kpassagnon.
If you were counting along, that was nine cornerbacks and five defensive ends. Although he’s not visiting the Cowboys this week, Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt has been scheduled as well. It might be premature to say the Cowboys are going to emphasize defense in the draft, but it’s fairly obvious that they’ll explore that possibility this week.