The Cowboys have a postseason berth sewn up… but things in Dallas feel like they’re coming apart at the seams. The outlook around the team is downright dire following a Week 17 letdown against Arizona, with plenty of blame to go around. Is it an offensive line that is now just a shell of its former self? Is it an ineffective run game? An offensive coordinator who’s in over his head? The kicker who’s having consistency issues? It just might be all of the above… at the worst possible time.
Elsewhere, Dak Prescott’s Comeback Player of the Year campaign isn’t such a sure thing anymore, Blake Jarwin is closer to a return just as Dalton Schultz is coming into his own, and the team takes a tumble in the power rankings. Jerry Jones wants to play the starters against Philadelphia, Ezekiel Elliott wants 1,000 yards, and Nate Newton achieves football immortality. All that, plus the story behind the 44-year-old photo that the Cowboys never wanted you to see. That’s all up in News and Notes.
Cowboys’ offensive line is average at best, and that’s why the offense is stuck in mediocrity :: Dallas Morning News
The most feared unit in football is no longer what it used to be. Fifty-two penalties as a group this season is just one measure of how far the Cowboys offensive line has fallen from its former glory days. When players can’t win their individual matchups, they do things that draw flags. And there’s no quick fix in Dallas.
Dak Prescott is the favorite for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, but should he be? :: For The Win
The Cowboys quarterback looked to be a lock for the Comeback Player of the Year award following his rehab from a catastrophic leg injury last October and subsequent return to elite form on the field. While Tipico Sportsbook still has him as the betting favorite, the stats say Cincinnati passer Joe Burrow may actually be the more deserving candidate.
'We plan to play to win': Jerry Jones says Cowboys' starters will play in season finale vs Eagles :: Cowboys Wire
The Cowboys owner on Tuesday echoed sentiments coming from his son earlier in the week; the team plans to play its starters in Week 18 versus Philadelphia. “I think we’re better served by going out there and executing and having our team out there really playing like it’s the playoff game we’ll be playing the next week,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan.
Notes: Next WRs up; roster moves; 1,000 for Zeke? :: The Mothership
The Cowboys running back needs 75 yards on the ground to hit 1,000 for the season. Despite now having one extra game to do it in over previous seasons, Elliott says the benchmark still matters. “That is meaningful for me and it’s still kind of a standard that you look at when you go into the season,” he said.
Ezekiel Elliott admits Cowboys' current run game is playoff hindrance :: Jori Epstein (Twitter)
Cowboys RBs Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard combined for just 25 rushing yards in loss to Cardinals. Is that a recipe for playoff success?
"I think it’s going to be tough to win a playoff game with that rushing total," Zeke tells us. pic.twitter.com/vtZhcoL1Sg
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) January 4, 2022
Cowboys saved their worst offensive performance for Week 17: Decoding Kellen Moore :: The Athletic
Dallas ran the ball on Sunday for its second-lowest total (45 yards) of the Prescott/Elliott era. But lately they can’t even get a series started on the ground: since Week 11, the team ranks dead last in yards-per-first-down-rushes. Elliott has 21 more first-down carries than Tony Pollard in that time, but eight fewer yards; he ranks 104th across the league in yards per first-down-attempt. If you lose on first and second down, now your third down is third-and-long; the mess compounds.
Blake Jarwin designated for return from IR, could play for Cowboys in Week 18 :: Cowboys Wire
The fifth-year tight end injured a hip on Halloween against Minnesota and then contracted COVID-19 for Thanksgiving. But he’s celebrating New Year’s by coming off injured reserve. Jarwin’s 21-day practice window is open; he could be moved to the active roster for the postseason, or even for Saturday’s regular-season finale.
How Dalton Schultz grew into integral role in Cowboys offense :: The Draft Network
The “backup” tight end has quietly been the engine that drives the high-powered Cowboys offense this season, currently ranking third among all tight-end targets with 75 catches. While the explosive playmaking on the perimeter from Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb draw the attention, and with Michael Gallup now out for the remainder of the campaign, the onus on Schultz to continue to serve as Prescott’s safety blanket and red-zone hot read will continue to present matchup nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.
Cowboys kicker concerns: Greg Zuerlein takes uneven 2021 campaign into playoffs, team needs insurance :: CBS Sports
The kicker known as “The Leg” is suddenly the Achilles heel of the Cowboys special teams unit. Zuerlein is booting extra points at a career-low rate, has a field-goal make percentage lower than last year, and is just 2-of-5 in kicks of over 50 yards. His 11 misses (both PATs and FGs) have been the margin in multiple losses this season, but for now, the team appears set to stick with him this postseason, even though adding a backup to the practice squad would seem a wise move.
Kellen Moore went from Dallas Cowboys hero to villain :: Sport DFW
The offensive coordinator was hailed as a playcalling wunderkind earlier in the season; the Cowboys still rank in the top ten leaguewide in yardage, touchdowns, passing yards, rushing yards, and yards per offensive play. But out-of-rhythm showings like Sunday’s stinker against Arizona have plenty of fans doubting if Moore can provide enough spark to power a deep postseason run.
NFL Power Rankings Week 18: 1-32 poll, plus New Year's resolutions for every team :: ESPN
Sunday’s loss dropped the Cowboys three spots in this week’s power rankings from The Worldwide Leader. They’re still at No. 7, and Todd Archer writes that the team’s New Year’s resolution should be to keep Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn. “Starting over with a third defensive coordinator in three seasons under Mike McCarthy and perhaps shifting the offensive scheme would not be the best way to start” 2022.
Legendary Cowboys OL Nate Newton named to Black College Football Hall of Fame :: Black College Football Hall of Fame (Twitter)
— BlackCollegeFootball (@BCFHOF) January 4, 2022
The photo the Dallas Cowboys never wanted the public to see :: Texas Monthly
The photo was was buried completely, in a time when an organization like the Dallas Cowboys could put a lid on such a thing. Even after People magazine ran it as a full-page shot 25 years after the fact, many Cowboys fans have never seen it or heard the backstory. But the time quarterback Danny White locked lips with one of the team’s own cheerleaders- right on the sideline of Super Bowl XII and despite the club’s famous no-fraternization rule (not to mention the pair’s respective marriages)- makes for a startlingly classic image… and a fascinating story worth well more than 1,000 words, even now.