Week 9 Players To Watch: Cowboys vs. Titans
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent a message of urgency to his disappointing football team during the bye week that reverberated throughout the organization when they pushed all their chips to the middle of the table with the trade for receiver Amari Cooper and the firing of offensive line coach Paul Alexander.
He bet that the Cowboys will bounce back from a disappointing 3-4 start and make a strong push to the playoffs over the final nine games.
But as Jones stated, they had no more time to mess around and it was urgent they get things turned in the right direction immediately.
None of it was lost on quarterback Dak Prescott, who said the time to win is now, starting Monday against the Tennessee Titans (3-4) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
“It’s one of those things you realize that everyone in this building has the same thing in mind,’‘ Prescott said. “They want to do everything they can to succeed and they’re going to make sure they’re putting everything they can into that. “It shows from the front office down to the players that everyone has bought in and everyone has the same goal in mind and that’s to win, and win now.’‘
Said linebacker Jaylon Smith: “It’s a lot of sense of urgency, being that we are 3-4. It’s time to turn that corner. We have to take care of Monday night.”
Prescott said the Cowboys must not only win Monday against the Titans but string some wins together and get on a winning streak.
The Cowboys are certainly going to need to play their best football of the season to do that. After the Titans game, they play at the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4) and Atlanta Falcons (4-4) before home games against the Washington Redskins (5-3) and New Orleans Saints (7-1).
It all must start against the Titans in their first game in 15 days after last week’s bye.
“It’s about stacking good days of practice on top of each other so we can stack good weeks and obviously that turns into stacking wins,’‘ Prescott said. “We need to get on a win streak. The time is now.’‘
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said the Cowboys headed into the bye after the 20-17 loss to Washington Redskins Oct. 21 with the mindset of having to fix things so they can finish strong.
The trade and firing have given them an added spark and a boost of confidence. And while they feel good about playing Tennessee at home, where they are undefeated this season with a 3-0 mark, it’s a mindset that must carry them through the rest of the season.
“We knew what we needed to focus on,” Crawford said. “We can’t let it go any longer. We have to do better. We have to focus on the now.”
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan believes the changes will pay off because they signal a return the days when the Cowboys were at their best like in when they went 13-3 in 2016 behind a dominant offensive line and the threat of big plays in the passing game from receiver Dez Bryant.
Like Bryant, who was released in the offseason, Cooper gives the Cowboys a big-play receiver on the outside to make team’s pay for focusing on the run game. And with Marc Colombo replacing the fired Alexander, there is hope for a return to a physical and dominant offensive line that will set the tone for the entire team.
“It’s a mindset mentality,” Linehan said. “I think that’s it. Having that guy outside and being able to tackle all parts of the field in the passing and having those guys up front is a great strength of ours when we are playing at our best. It will be great to have everybody in that mode of where we have been in the past and move forward. It’s not looking in the past but using the experience we have had in the past as a great model as we move forward.”
As Prescott said, the time is now.
As Jones said, it’s urgent so no more messing around.
The Cowboys hope to get started Monday night.