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The 5 O'Clock Club: Trolling the Cowboys - Part 1

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Los Angeles Chargers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Ezekiel Elliott is on a 6-game suspension for actions that the Commissioner found to be in conflict with the league’s policy on domestic violence.

In the weeks before the suspension was finalized, the question was asked repeatedly:

  • Could the Cowboys win without Elliott?

or, phrased a little differently:

  • What did the Cowboys need to do to win during Zeke’s suspension?

Pretty much every analyst I saw on TV or online said the same thing. The Cowboys, they said, drafted two young stars last year — Ezekiel Elliott and Dakota Prescott. Following the Romo injury last preseason, Prescott had been largely protected by the coaching staff, who relied on a stout offensive line and a talented running back to allow Prescott to play a ‘just-don’t-lose-the-game’ style that led to a 13-3 record.

This year, those analysts said, Dak Prescott is a year older. He’s had a full training camp as the team’s starter. He’s had time to prepare himself to lead the team. He can win without Ezekiel Elliott if he’s given the chance. Stop protecting him.

It’s time (the analysts said) to open up the playbook, let Dak Prescott have control of the offense, and find out what he’s made of.

Well, the Cowboys have found out exactly how good Dak is, and it turns out that he’s not good enough to win without Elliott.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on from the side lines in the final minutes as the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Philadelphia Eagles 37-9 at AT&T Stadium on November 19, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In the three games that the Cowboys have played without Elliott, this is what’s happened:

  • The Cowboys are 0-3
  • They have lost by a combined score of 92-22
  • The Cowboy offense hasn’t scored more than 9 points in any single game
  • Dak’s raw numbers have been... uninspiring

He has completed 58 passes in 88 attempts (65%)

He has a total of 500 passing yards in the three games combined, and hasn’t thrown for 180 yards in any of the three games.

He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since Week 9. He’s oh-fer without Zeke (though he did run for a touchdown in the 27-7 beatdown in Atlanta, where Dak was running for his life).

  • After averaging a passer rating of 91.42 in the first 9 weeks of the season with Elliott in the game to help him, Prescott has averaged 57.7 QBR in the three games without Zeke (Falcons, Eagles, Chargers). For comparison, over the same three weeks (Weeks 10-12) Kirk Cousins had an average QBR of 101.67 against the Vikings, Saints & Giants while missing his starting running back and a number of other offensive starters, and the Redskins put up 81 points.

It’s time for the Cowboy players & coaches, Cowboy fans, and media analysts to figure out the truth. The Cowboys’ star is Zeke Elliott. He may be an absolutely dreadful guy off the field, but with a ball in his hand he is dangerous on the field. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott was drafted where he was for a reason. He’s a useful quarterback, but without his running back he’s a middle of the pack talent who doesn’t have the ability to carry his teams to wins (or even respectable offensive performances).

Here’s what Sports Illustrated had to say about what Jerry Jones and the Cowboys were thinking last year, during the draft:

What no one on the outside world can see on NFL draft weekend is the gut-punch emotion owners and coaches and GMs feel when they miss out on a player they want. Really want. In this case, for the Cowboys, that player was Paxton Lynch, the quarterback they saw as the heir to Tony Romo, and the player featured on the billboard on I-30, near that shiny jewel of a stadium in Arlington through—they hoped—about 2032.

But at 9:56 p.m. Central Time Thursday, after 67 minutes talking to nine teams trying to deal for a Lynch-enabling pick, reality bit. Word filtered into the room that Denver had traded up with Seattle to pick Lynch. Pall over the room. Observers say owner Jerry Jones, who’d been standing next to the draft board trying to figure the math it might take to move up, looked and sounded crestfallen.

Dallas wouldn’t increase its offer to Seattle from second-round and fourth-round picks to second and third-rounders, and that’s what lost Lynch. Eighteen hours after losing Lynch, the regret was chewing on Jones.

“I’m not gonna go jump from Dallas’s tallest, so let’s put this in perspective,” said Jones, pausing for a few minutes in his day-two draft prep at the Cowboys’ complex. “And I live with second-guessing and disappointments. That’s a part of this business. But if I had to do it all over again? I’d give the three.”

It’s a well-documented fact that the Cowboys were targeting Paxton Lynch in last year’s draft, that they tried very hard to get a second 1st round pick to draft him, and that Dak Prescott was always a disappointment as the eventual choice to be Romo’s back up and eventual successor.

Of course, when Romo went down in 2016, the Cowboys owner put a brave face on it, and in a surprising season that saw Dallas run away with the NFC East division crown, Dak looked good enough, but since Tony Romo’s name has come up, does anyone think that Romo — if he’d been in the situation Dak has been in for the past three weeks — would have responded with no passing touchdowns and 22 points?

Would Tony have let his Cowboys get blown out three times?

Sure, he might not have won those games, but Tony would have made damned sure it was because the Cowboys defense couldn’t stop the opposing offense, not because the Silver & Blue offense couldn’t crack the 10-point barrier three weeks in a row.

There’s a reason why nobody had to trade up for Dak Prescott; it’s because Dak was always gonna be available in the 4th round. Sure, Dak’s got the talent to play in the NFL, but he doesn’t have the talent to win without Ezekiel Elliott. Paxton Lynch, the Denver quarterback was three rounds better as a prospect.

The Dallas Cowboys are built around the offensive line and one running back, and with that running back gone, the Dallas Cowboys look a lot like the Cleveland Browns.

Actually, that’s not fair. The Browns scored 49 points in their last three games, and have only been held under 10 points one time all season.

The fact is, without Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys look like they have the worst offense in pro football, and Dak Prescott isn’t good enough to change that.

Poll

Which draft pick should the Cowboys use to draft a starting quarterback in the 2018 draft?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    1st round draft pick
    (68 votes)
  • 7%
    2nd round draft pick
    (25 votes)
  • 71%
    The Cowboys shouldn’t draft a top talent at QB; they should take their chances that Ezekiel Elliott won’t be stupid enough to get suspended again in the future.
    (237 votes)
330 votes total Vote Now