DALLAS - The regular season is already a quarter of the way over, and the Cowboys are a .500 team. How did they get here and what can they do going forward to get back to Dreamville?
How about that number 4?
Mirroring the Cowboys situation from a year ago, there's a new Quarterback sensation in Texas.
Deshaun Watson has lifted Houston from a putrid Quarterback situation with some savage playmaking, following up his breakout game against New England by throwing four touchdowns and running one in himself in a rout against Houston's old team. Fantasy waiver wires and H-Town faithful are excited, but it’s only been two games. The 2017 1st round pick has some miles to go before matching rookie resumes with his in-state peer.
After a storybook 2016 (one that coincidentally ended at the hands of their next opponent), Dak Prescott's honeymoon phase is over. The 4th round steal that took over for franchise stalwart Tony Romo and never looked back is going through adversity for the first time as the franchise signal caller.
Already having the experience of taking the league by surprise like Watson currently is enjoying, Prescott is maintaining a calm outlook while figuring out the kinks. We are all aware of the work ethic that Prescott has displayed since arriving in training camp last year, and despite a slower start to his sophomore campaign, the Cowboys Quarterback situation remains in excellent hands.
Counting On You
The whispers around Dez not being worth his salary any longer are getting louder. We are a long time removed from the catch that wasn't in Green Bay. While he didn't haul a touchdown against the Rams, he did average just shy of 20 yards a reception, ending the game two yards shy of the century mark.
You can definitely tell Prescott is making an honest effort to involve his big money receiver Dez Bryant, especially since defenses have been double teaming his favorite target Cole Beasley with regularity lately.
In spite of these efforts, Dez and Dak's chemistry remains off.
Maybe they can spend some time together and grab a Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger at the state fair. Would Dak be allowed to play the Midway games or is that like a boxer's hands being deadly weapons? Who knows, it could be Bryant's last fair day as a Cowboy.
Runnin' Down A Dream
It’s not all on the Dak to Dez connect, despite the misses on catchable balls to Bryant. The Cowboys offense feels lost and lonely. The running game so far has really shown that the Offensive line misses Ron Leary and his blocking this year. Ezekiel Elliott has 277 yards rushing through 4 games, down from the 412 he amassed through the same timeframe last year.
The disparity should be seen in context, as in two of those games he went up against what turned out to be the 27th (Chicago) and 32nd (San Francisco) worst rated rushing defenses, according to pro-football-reference.com. This year he has already had to deal with the vaunted Denver and Kansas City defenses, and it won't be getting any easier.
The Cowboys division title ensured their schedule would be a lot tougher this go around. For the Cowboys to have a realistic shot at winning the division, Elliott would need to A) be cleared to continue to play by the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and B) regain the form of his record rookie campaign, with an offensive line that looks deteriorated outside it's Pro Bowlers from just a year ago.
Crawling Back To You
The Cowboys winning back the time of possession battle can do wonders for their defense, but regardless of what offense does, help is on the way.
The man with a nasty streak on the field and a blonde streak on his head is back, and so is 2016's most fashionable Cowboys hairstyle. David Irving is a sight for sore eyes and legs on Rod Marinelli's crew, and you know Rod's got to feel a whole lot better with the 6'7'' behemoth back in the loop.
The former Cyclone was supposed to be a force on the defensive line for the Boys this year, but had to wait his turn as the league suspended him for the first four games of 2017 for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Irving, who finished with four sacks in 2016, is a sorely needed reinforcement for the Cowboys defense. DeMarcus Lawrence, already at 7 ½ sacks through four games, is salivating at the possibilities.
Room At The Top
The regular season is already a quarter of the way over, and if the Cowboys want to repeat, their cornerstones on both sides of the ball need to regain the swagger that makes them defending Division champions. Luckily for them, the rest of the East hasn’t exactly knocked anyone over.
The Eagles are in first place in the East, but Philly is in last place in life for releasing this beer.
The team from Washington has the fearless Kirk Cousins and his magic legs running for first downs, but may set the record for injured players in a season.
The Giants receiver corps are still taking really cool photos, unaware that the season has begun.
Cheer up Cowboys Nation, it could always be worse. Win or lose, football will be played. All that's left is the waiting.
Do you think the Cowboys will figure things out with 75% of the season still remaining? Share your take or favorite Tom Petty song with Irvin on Twitter @twittirv.
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