Dak Prescott: ‘There’s definitely no panic’ for Cowboys

Week 11 of the regular season showed us that the Eagles and Patriots are the teams to beat, rumors of the Falcons’ demise were premature and never to count out the Saints. It also gave us some more outstanding performances on both sides of the ball. For their outstanding achievements, six more players were honored by the NFL as Players of the Week.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. The eighth-year veteran out of Central Michigan continued to show why he is the league’s top wideout, catching 10 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns — including an amazing helmet catch — in last Thursday’s 40-17 victory over Tennessee. Brown now has 70 receptions for 1,026 yards and six scores on the season.

“There’s definitely no panic,” Prescott told the Dallas Morning News. “We’re getting better. We’re heading in the direction that we want to. We just have to turn some of these close losses into wins and we’ll be right where we need to be.”

Prescott was being asked this reflective line of questioning because the 2-3 Cowboys have already lost as many games as they did all of last season. The fear with this team was always what would happen when they came back to earth after a starlit 2016 given that their lynchpins were both rookies with no experience digging an NFL team out of a hole.

The only two Colts victories this season have come against the winless Browns and 49ers. In their five losses, Chuck Pagano’s team has been outscored 171-62. Woof. In a season slowly floating towards the abyss, it’s instructional to watch how young players bounce back from struggles. Jacoby Brissett looked rattled in last week’s 10-sack game. How does the second-year quarterback respond to the shutout shellacking? After T.Y. Hilton called out his offensive line, how will the Pro Bowler respond? Outside of the two wins, Hilton has been a JAG this season. The wideout has 182 total yards and zero touchdowns in the five losses, not breaching the 60-yard mark in any of those games. After talking, it’s time to see Hilton do work against a good Bengals defense.

 

Following a disaster second-half last week, Andy Dalton gets a great matchup for a bounce back. The Colts will be without Malik Hooker (ACL), and are banged up at corner. Facing a defense that made Blake Bortles look like Peyton Manning (hyperbole intended), Dalton should feast. A.J. Green should gobble up targets. Rookie receiver John Ross will finally return and could provide needed speed on the outside. With an early lead gained through the air, Joe Mixon should get his wish and see more opportunities as the Bengals attempt to salt away a home win.

Thankfully for Washington, the Oakland Raiders’ secondary is the perfect remedy for aerial woes. Even Josh McCown, Jermaine Kearse and the New York Jets moved the ball against Oakland’s defensive backs. Sean Smith and Gareon Conley, while beat up, should play, but Pryor should have a significant height advantage over them, if Cousins ever gets him the ball.

Washington will be happy to win either through the air or on the ground, as it did against the Rams in Week 2. The question, though, as this season continues is will Pryor be as amenable to a run-first attack or will a lack of targets force the wideout out of D.C. after his one-year pact expires? We’ll get our first hint on Sunday Night Football.

But for now, let’s focus on the two players who’ve been on the field for Philly, which has surprisingly displayed its depth. Second-year pro Mills (6-foot, 191 pounds) and rookie Douglas (6-2, 209 pounds) are big cornerbacks who have taken advantage of their opportunity. They’ve been covering well and are solid tacklers. Per Next Gen Stats, Douglas has allowed 17 receptions on 29 targets for 260 yards (15.2 yards per catch) and has deflected six passes while owning a 1:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio in coverage. Mills has given up 33 catches on 53 targets for 347 yards (10.5 yards per catch) and recorded nine passes defensed and a 3:2 TD-to-INT ratio. These guys are getting a ton of targets and are holding their own with as many picks as touchdowns allowed. They’ve made mistakes, but have stepped up in a big way.

On Monday, Philly faces Washington for the second time this season. Redskins pass catchers (Terrelle Pryor, Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson) have yet to have huge game performances in 2017. This young Eagles’ tandem must mind their p’s and q’s to keep any of these players from having their breakout game.

A federal appeals court granted the NFL Players Association a brief administrative stay in the Ezekiel Elliott case on Friday, reinstating the Dallas Cowboys running back’s eligibility for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs.

The stay request approved by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals only guarantees Elliott’s eligibility through Sunday, meaning he will be suspended again heading into Week 10 unless the court extends the stay. There’s a chance the 2nd Circuit could grant the union’s request for an emergency injunction next week. If it does so, Elliott would have his playing eligibility restored while the court reviews the NFLPA’s appeal of Elliott’s six-game suspension, according to NFL Network legal analyst Gabe Feldman.