Cowboys must monitor present and future down the stretch

DALLAS - All sports games are played in both the present and the future. It’s a funny thing about them. Winning now is always the most important thing – who knows if there will even be a future, really?

But unless you’re so dominant that you hardly have to worry about anything else, you have to leave room for ways to get significantly better. You have to keep apprised of what you have now, and what it means for tomorrow.

In week 13, the Dallas Cowboys got a big win. It’s always nice that even when they’ve been kind of bad they’ve often beaten the Redskins, arguably the team they have the sharpest rivalry with. But, that doesn’t change the fact that nobody would have thought from the last two weeks that this team was capable of 38 points.

In fact, if you add up the points they scored in the last three games, all losses, you’d get just a little more than half the amount they scored on the 30th (22 points).

In doing so, they kept hope alive for both a wildcard berth and the possibility that they might not be an easy out if they get there. In the Wild Card race, they’re right in the thick of it for the second WC spot, and beating the Redskins specifically gives them a little more hope. If they win out, who knows what might happen?

But, it is a little disconcerting how they did it. First of all, it would be a journalistic crime not to point out how many turnovers Washington had. Cousins fumbled twice, and threw two INTs, and Jamison Crowder lost another fumble. If you’re wondering how they managed 38 with under 300 yards of total offense, that’s how.

Second, Dak Prescott had one of the games he has where it feels like he’s righted the ship because of how much we talk about touchdowns and interceptions. He had two of the first, none of the second, that seems pretty good.

But, no offense is going to be reliably good behind someone who completes just half of their passes (11/22) for just over 100 yards (102). That’s now four games in a row in which Dak has failed to break even two hundred yards through the air, despite throwing plenty, and it brought his yards per attempt (4.64) considerably lower than Alfred Morris’ yards per run on the season (5.4).

The Cowboys have a problem at QB right now. They do. That’s not everything. This game showed that if they trust the running game, they can still make significant yards behind a still really good line, and that if Dak’s careful he can still impact the game. It continued to show how important Dak’s ability to make plays with his feet is, and perhaps his best attribute right now is that he knows when to use it to best effect.

And he’s still very young. But it would be a mistake, right now, for the Cowboys to try to win a game through the air and in the likely event that they have to sometime in the next few weeks, they may well be in trouble.

So as they try to figure out both what they have now and next year, how Dak finishes the season is going to matter a great deal.

 

Do you see Dak Prescott finishing the season strong? Share your thoughts with Andy on Twitter @andytobo.

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