Week 10 Players to Watch: Cowboys vs. Eagles
The Dallas Cowboys are admittedly angry in their feelings at being 3-5 with the season seemingly on the brink heading into Sunday’s must-win game against the Philadelphia Eagles (4-4).
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford returned to practice Tuesday following Monday’s shocking 28-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans down in the dumps and feeling sorry themselves.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith said he is still mad and angry and hopes to take that emotion to Philadelphia where the hopes of turning their season around lie in them winning their first road game of the season.
They are 0-4 away from AT&T Stadium.
“Absolutely. Pissed off Monday night after the game,” Smith said. “Tuesday morning (as well). Pissed off now. Coming off a loss you want to get a victory. I heard (running back Ezekiel Elliott) Zeke mention that this is a must-win game. It is. I would agree with him. Being a divisional rival game, going up there to Philly. It’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Quarterback Dak Prescott likes the anger and said he would be even more upset if the Cowboys weren’t angry.
“Yeah we were pissed and I would have been even more pissed if I came in here and guys weren’t,” Prescott said. “That’s the competitive nature of this locker room and the players we have. He said we came in wearing our feelings, nobody wants to come in 3-5, all we can do is take care of what’s in front of us and the day that we have now and that’s what we quickly turned to and did that was the message. We still control what’s in front of us and being in our feelings and having a [expletive] attitude or whatever it is, never gets us anywhere. We got to stay positive, locked arms and just be together and I know if we do that it will serve us well.”
No one needs to keep it together more than Prescott who has suddenly been prone to turnovers.
At least, that is the way it seems.
Prescott, who had just four interceptions and four fumbles during his sensational rookie season in 2016, has 21 turnovers in his past 16 games dating back to last season.
He leads the NFL with 10 games with two or more turnovers.
And this season the Cowboys are 0-5 when he has a turnover in a game. He has had four during their current two-game losing streak, including two in a 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins and two against the Titans.
And again it’s not so much the interceptions but the fumbles. He has five interceptions and four lost fumbles in 2018, which is more of an indication of him trying to do too much than simply being careless with the ball.
“It’s decision making and understanding the game situation,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He has been really good with the ball throughout his career. He is not someone who turns the ball over a lot in games. Just understand what that situation is. You don’t have to force anything. Let it come to you. If it’s there let it rip. If it’s not, let’s live for third down. So just recognize the game situation. He does a really good job of that. Sometimes your competitive spirit gets the most of you and you learn from those experiences as you go.”
The biggest game-turning plays in the losses to the Titans and Redskins were fumbles on sacks on third and long situations.
Down 13-10 against the Redskins, Prescott tried to fight through a sack and got the ball knocked out that was returned for a touchdown. And the Titans broke up a 14-14 tie in the third quarter when Prescott tried to pull away from a sack and fumble. Tennessee scored on the ensuing drive.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Prescott said. “I know I was trying to make a play. That has been the biggest deal for me. It’s trying to weigh in my options of when to make a play and take that sack. And trust in the defense, knowing they are going to get me the ball back and stay within the game.
“When a guy has me wrapped up and I have got to break a tackle and run for 15 yards or so to get the first down. I don’t know how realistic that is at that point. It’s about being smart with it, being smart with the ball. The No. 1 thing is protecting the ball. I have to be better at that.”
It’s little wonder that Prescott took the Titans loss as hard as anyone in the Cowboys locker room. He sat in his locker after the game with his head down trying to navigate how his mistakes played a role in his team dropping to 3-5, a situation he’s never been in before.
“Yeah, I mean it was a tough one,” Prescott said. “I don’t like to lose. To be 3-5, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a record like that in my career, ever. It’s not something I’m used to and it’s not something I ever plan to get used to. It’s just about taking all of that in. I think that was what that moment was. It’s moving forward. It’s being positive, knowing the team we’ve got, the offense we’ve got and where we’re going to go.”
Where the Cowboys need to go to Philadelphia and get a must win. And that’s all Prescott cares about right now not even the vote of confidence Jerry Jones, who guaranteed a contract extension his third-year quarterback earlier in the week.
“Yeah, I’m worried about the Eagles,” Prescott said when asked about Jones’ contract promise. “That’s the only thing I can control right now is everything we’re doing this week going into this game. That’s my only focus.”