No matter what’s going on with the Dallas Cowboys, all eyes will always be trained on Dak Prescott.
That’s how it goes when you’re a quarterback in the NFL, especially when that team is the Dallas Cowboys.
Through his first two seasons, including his shockingly smooth rookie years in 2016, Prescott has handled all the pressures that come with wearing the biggest of all of the Stars.
Even this week, Prescott smoothly and confidently talked his way through the Allen Hurns’ comments and the questions mounting about the struggling offense he helms.
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But if those struggles continue and Prescott remains part of the problem, how will he handle it?
Five things to watch when the Cowboys host the Jacksonville Jaguars at 3:25 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Stadium:
1. Will Cowboys receivers show up?
The Cowboys receivers have made a case that they’re not the only problem with the offense. Fine. That’s fair. But how about they start becoming a part of the solution? Veterans Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley, both of whom who have defended the sanctity of the receiving corps, need to step up and pull down some passes, whether Dak Prescott hits them between the numbers or not.
2. Get Ezekiel Elliott back on track
Speaking of stepping up on offense: Ezekiel Elliott was held to 54 yards in the loss last week. The way the Cowboys offense is structured, Elliott has to be more effective than that. Against the Jaguars’ defense (see No. 3), that won’t be easy. A week after a season-best 154 yards rushing, Elliott had a season-low 54 yards.
3. Jaguars stellar defense
The Jaguar defense is among the NFL’s best in points allowed (17.2 points a game) and total yards (292.2 yards a game). Jacksonville is particularly good at slowing the pass (955 total passing yards in five games). So, good luck to Prescott and the Cowboys receivers at snapping out of the doldrums this week. The Jaguars are one of three teams that haven’t yet allowed 1,000 or more passing yards. And the other two teams have played four games to the Jaguars five.
4. David Irving’s debut
Defensive tackle David Irving is expected to make his 2018 debut Sunday. Irving, who was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and missed last week’s game because of a family crisis, could give the defensive line a big lift. Especially if DeMarcus Lawrence is unable to play because of a left shoulder injury. Irving has received glowing reviews from coaches and teammates in practice, but he’s only practiced three times since November, including Thursday and Friday. He may not play a lot, but he could provide a spark when he’s out there.
5. Defensive on defense
Much was made of the Cowboys impressive goal line stands against the Texans. But perhaps too much was made. Sure, Dallas held Houston to 19 points in the overtime loss and seemingly held the Texans out of the end zone despite what seemed like 30 plays from the 1-yard line. But how about the yards racked up by the Texans between the 20s? The Cowboys allowed a season-high 462 yards and 25 first downs. The Jaguars’ offense ranks 10th in total yards (2,022) but 25th in scoring (20.4 points a game).