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The news you may have missed from Tuesday
Dak Prescott heavy favorite among a handful of NFL stars to win Comeback Player of the Year in 2021 – Tyler Sullivan, CBS Sports
Dak Prescott was playing at an insane level in 2020 before his season was ended prematurely due to injury, and that’s a big reason why many prognosticators are picking him as their odds-on favorite to win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award.
Dak Prescott is the heavy favorite to bring home this award sitting at +180. The odds then dip to +600 for the next two candidates, creating quite the margin in favor of the Cowboys quarterback. Of course, we all remember the horrific season-ending ankle injury that Prescott suffered in the midst of 2020 and his recovery has been at the forefront in Dallas throughout the offseason. To this point, Prescott seems to be coming along splendidly and even noted earlier this offseason that he could suit up and play right now. That’s certainly encouraging for chalk bettors taking Prescott in this race and it’s admittedly wise to expose yourself to this to some degree while he’s still at plus money.
Not only does Prescott appear to be nearing full strength, but he also plays a position that collects seasonal awards like Thanos does infinity stones (The last three Comeback Player of the Year award winners have been quarterbacks). It also doesn’t hurt that he plays for the most recognizable brand in the NFL. If Prescott plays near the absurd level we saw from him prior to the injury last year and the Cowboys reach the playoffs, he’ll likely be a shoo-in to take this award home.
Just as a reminder to what we saw from Prescott last year, the soon-to-be 28-year-old was on pace to throw for 6,760 yards through the first four weeks of the season. Of course, it’s ridiculous to expect him to actually come anywhere close to those numbers but it’s just an example of how prolific this offense can be with a healthy Prescott under center.
3 Cowboys who need to bounce back in 2021, including how one struggling LB can turn things around – John Owning, Dallas Morning News
The Cowboys’ 2020 season was a massive disappointment in many ways, and it cost some people their jobs. For those who stayed in Dallas heading into this season, a major improvement in performance is absolutely necessary, especially these three players.
While 2020 was supposed to be the year for Lewis to breakout as Dallas’ defense transitioned to a new scheme, it was actually a year filled with disappointment. Lewis’ struggles last year started before the season even began, as an ankle injury suffered in late August forced him to miss weeks of practice in addition to the Week 1 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. When Lewis returned, he performed like a player who hadn’t practiced in quite some time and unfortunately, that didn’t get too much better as the season wore on.
He finished the season with career-lows in interceptions (zero) and pass breakups (two) but had a career-high in penalties (eight; two more than he had committed in his three previous seasons combined) and missed tackles (five) per Pro Football Focus (PFF). In coverage, when Lewis was able to be physical and land his hands in press, he still did some good things. But when that didn’t happen (either by design or because Lewis missed with his jam) he struggled to stay in phase with his man, especially on routes that went across the field.
Moreover, in the past, one of Lewis’ best traits was his ability to defend the run, but that even took a step back last year, as he was a much less consistent tackler in addition to missing his run fits at times (which was a defense-wide problem). Entering the final season of his rookie deal in 2020, Jourdan Lewis picked a poor time to have a down year, as his play last year almost certainly reduced what he could get in free agency this offseason. Still, I think Lewis has the mental makeup and skill set to have a bounce-back season in a more familiar scheme under Dan Quinn. And with the lack of established talent in the secondary on the Cowboys roster, it’s would be a huge boon to the defense if Lewis could have a bounce-back year.
Cowboys training camp: Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and the 20 biggest storylines to watch beginning this week – Jon Machota, The Athletic
The Cowboys are getting ready to begin training camp, and with HBO’s Hard Knocks crew stalking around for this one, there will be a special highlight on plenty of Cowboys players and coaches. These 20 storylines will command the most focus in Oxnard.
2. Mike McCarthy. Things didn’t go anywhere close to what McCarthy was expecting during his first season in Dallas. Not only was he dealing with coaching a new team during a pandemic, but the team suffered a significant number of notable injuries to key starters like Prescott, Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Zack Martin, Leighton Vander Esch, Gerald McCoy, Trysten Hill and Blake Jarwin.
Regardless of the injuries or any off-the-field obstacles, the Cowboys simply can’t be a six-win team again in 2021. They play in the NFL’s worst division and have one of the league’s most talented rosters. Based on his postseason résumé while in Green Bay, McCarthy was hired to get Dallas into the playoffs and then make a run beyond the divisional round for the first time since the 1995 season. Although unlikely, another disappointing season could lead to Jones looking for a new coach in January.
This will be McCarthy’s first camp away from The Star. It should be interesting to see if he does anything different with the way he structures practices and if there are any areas he gives extra emphasis.
Maurice Canady was the Cowboys’ most notable opt-out player in 2020, even if he was far from a lock to make the roster anyway. Now, Canady is all-in for 2021 and looking to prove himself worthy of making the final 53.
Canady has yet to take the field in Dallas after signing with the team back in March 2020, as the cornerback chose to opt out of last season. A veteran originally drafted by the Ravens in 2016, Canady will now be competing for a roster spot in the Cowboy’s secondary during their upcoming training camp.
The Cowboys had lofty expectations at the start of 2020, but a rash of injuries and poorly-installed schemes led to them falling well short. With most of their important players returning to full health for 2021, what should be expected of this team now?
Nick Eatman: A realistic goal for the Cowboys is to compete for a Super Bowl this year. Yeah, I said it. But it’s not that crazy when you break down the actual term. It’s a realistic goal. The goal for all teams is to win the Super Bowl. Is it realistic for the Cowboys, coming off a 6-10 season? I’d say it’s unlikely mainly because this will be my 22nd season covering this team and I haven’t come close to seeing a Super Bowl that didn’t show up in our city. So it’s hard to fathom, and I know I’m not alone.
But let’s be honest about it – the Cowboys should be able to win this division. It won’t be a slam dunk, but if they’re healthy on offense and just a little better on defense, they can win the division. You do that, play at home for the first round and then land yourself in the Divisional round, then you’re right there in the mix. That in essence, is competing for a Super Bowl. So yes, the Cowboys are good enough to be in the conversation. Things have to go right. But since most of it went wrong in 2020, it’s about time it turned back around. 11-6 seems a little rich and 10-7 sounds low to me. But it’s somewhere in that neighborhood for me.
Rob Phillips: Let’s just start with the NFC East. Anything else is far over our skis. If we really look at this objectively, the Cowboys and Washington have the most impressive rosters (on paper) in the division. The Cowboys have special talent on offense. Washington has built a special defense. I think both teams can win 10 games and the East if things break the right way with injuries and the schedule. After that, who knows? The other NFC teams with terrific quarterbacks (Tampa Bay, Seattle, maybe Green Bay) will likely be in the conversation, as always. But it’s reasonable to think the Dallas defense can make decent improvement in Dan Quinn’s first year as coordinator. If that happens, and if there’s better luck in the health department, we’ll be watching a good football team this fall.
Josh Allen on Patriots? Dak Prescott on Giants? Which rival would make the biggest impact on each NFL team? – The Athletic NFL Staff
It’s always fun to see what your opponent thinks of you, so when The Athletic did this exercise of picking one player from a divisional foe that would help the most, the unanimous response from the NFC East was certainly interesting.
Can’t overthink this one: Dak Prescott. That answer likely offends Giants fans on multiple levels. For starters, Prescott is somehow still underrated by fans despite posting a 42-27 record with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions in five seasons. Considering the upgrades the Giants have made to the rest of their roster this offseason, they’d be serious contenders if they had a quarterback like Prescott. Of course, some fans will claim the gap between Prescott and Daniel Jones isn’t that great. It would be wonderful for the Giants if Jones proves that this season. If that was guaranteed to happen, then Washington edge rusher Chase Young or any of the talented offensive linemen in the division (Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Lane Johnson, Brandon Scherff) would be the answer here. — Dan Duggan
Dak Prescott is the best quarterback in the division and the Eagles have no long-term answer at the most important position. Next question. — Bo Wulf
This is only tough because we don’t know how Dak Prescott will look following his ankle injury, but assuming Prescott returns to old form, he’s easily the answer. He elevates the play of those around him. Prescott, 27, has willed his team to victories. And he’s about to enter the prime of his career these next few seasons. Add Prescott to this roster with the stout Washington defense and the burgundy and gold would be leagues ahead of their NFC East brethren. — Rhiannon Walker
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