Thoughts about the Cowboys in Week 17, the Playoffs and Beyond

As the Dallas Cowboys wrap up their regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles, here are some thoughts as they move towards the playoffs and beyond.

Dec 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett reacts during the game against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a dominating performance against the Detroit Lions.

Now they are approaching their Week Seventeen battle against the Philadelphia Eagles a bit differently.

All three quarterbacks are rumored to get some reps in this contest as the Cowboys look to not only keep everyone healthy, but sharp as well.

Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott will likely see limited time on the field as the team looks to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

Expect Dallas this week to take a look at some of the players who have not gotten a whole lot of playing time this season.

This should be an interesting contest between hated rivals who are both looking towards the future.

In the upcoming pages, I’ll preview the Cowboys upcoming matchup with the Eagles.

I’ll give you my thoughts on the men playing under center against Philly plus give you my prediction for the Week 17 contest.

But I’ll also go ahead and give you my thoughts about the offseason, free agency and the 2017 NFL Draft.

Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during a timeout in the fourth quarter with Tony Romo (9) against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 20, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during a timeout in the fourth quarter with Tony Romo (9) against the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

#1 – Quarterback Carousel on Sunday

Cowboys starting quarterback, Dak Prescott will see some reps in this game however it is unlikely he stays on the field for that long. The most sensible thing to do would be to give him a quarter regardless of the score. Prescott did say earlier this week that he was aware of how many unnecessary hits he took last week instead of running out of bounds or throwing the ball away.

The Cowboys clearly heard this because before that statement it seemed as if Prescott was going to get the start and play until the game was in hand. This week Dallas could set a franchise record for all time wins if they are able to defeat the Eagles. Now it appears Dak will either get a couple of series to keep him sharp before Dallas goes on their first round bye.

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The majority of playing time will be given to former Eagle, Mark Sanchez. Of course the big story around the Cowboys quarterback position was the unexpected inclusion of veteran quarterback, Tony Romo. Dallas will bring Romo in for a series or two, after Prescott starts to give him some action before the Cowboys playoff run.

Romo seemingly convinced the coaching staff to give him some live action as this will be the first time he has stepped onto the field during the regular season. As far as the reasoning goes it makes sense for Dallas to want to keep Romo sharp if anything were to happen to Dak in the playoffs, I mean Number 9 is still clearly the best option as a backup quarterback.

Expect to see Romo play behind an offensive line mostly composed of starters in order to protect against an Eagles pass rush that put him on the shelf a season ago.

Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) meet with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) after the game at AT&T Stadium. Dallas Cowboys won 29-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

#2 – Prediction for Sunday’s Contest

This game is going to be pretty wild especially considering all the new faces that will see significant playing time. The one thing that is advantageous about playing three quarterbacks is that the Eagles will have to prepare for three signal callers which should prove to be pretty difficult.

Each Dallas quarterback has their own style and way of doing things which should also give their offensive linemen a pretty decent test as well. There Eagles record does not reflect the type of football team they are. They are fast, hard hitting, and fairly creative when it comes to putting points on the board.

Philadelphia starting running back Darren Sproles should be an excellent test for the Cowboys backup linebackers as they look to shut down what proved to be a very prolific running attack against the New York Giants last week.

The Cowboys defense has played terrific football during this last stretch of the season and that should not change as Philadelphia’s quarterback, Carson Wentz has been known to make mistakes and get pressured fairly regularly.

Both teams should be very creative in their strategies to score however Dallas should find a way to win this ball game and break the franchise record for wins in a season together as a team.

Nov 27, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the San Francisco 49ers 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

#3 – Cowboys 2017 Free Agents, Possible Targets

Free agency is a while off however the projected free agent class does have some gems that the Cowboys could be tempted to take a chance on.

Dallas will also have to make decisions on their own players including free agents, Mark Sanchez, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Rolando McClain, Ron Leary, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar, Jack Crawford, Gavin Escobar, Brice Butler, Terrance Williams, Kellen More, JJ Wilcox, Terrell McClain, and Justin Durant.

Dallas will have seen enough by the time free agency rolls around to know whether or not they would like these players to remain with the Cowboys and plenty of them should see extensions before the end of the season.

Dallas could be inclined to target wide receivers such as current Miami Dolphin, Kenny Stills, Cleveland Browns star, Terrelle Pryor, Vikings return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson, or even the currently controversial new Patriots acquisition Michael Floyd if they cannot come to terms with Williams or Butler.

They could also look at defensive stars such as Arizona Cardinals elite pass rusher, Chandler Jones,  former Cowboy DeMarcus Ware (if he does not retire), Kansas City ironman Eric Berry, or Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short.

Really there is an endless list of players to choose from that is until teams start feeling pressured to begin offering contract extensions. The amount of productive players in the 2017 free agency class will make this one of the more interesting offseason period we have seen in recent history.

December 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross (1) during the first quarter in the Pac-12 championship against the Colorado Buffaloes at Levi

#4 – Cowboys 2017 NFL Draft Strategy

The Cowboys will find themselves at the bottom of the first round after a red hot regular season. Dallas may end up picking at the end of the first round so there are really only a few positions to focus on that make sense. The Cowboys offense is humming however they will likely need a younger wide receiver to compliment Dez Bryant, whether that means re-signing Terrance Williams or Brice Butler remains unclear.

This will be one of the deeper drafts for wide receivers as there are several young talents that already stand out. The 6’3 junior out of Clemson, Mike Williams will likely be the first wide receiver off of the board. Dallas could opt for a speedier player as Washington’s wide receiver John Ross could slide towards the end of the first round.

Ross has incredible speed and is a finely tuned machine when it comes to running routes. The Cowboys could also focus on finding a new wide receiver later on in the draft. The explosive receiver Dede Westbrook from Oklahoma could be a front runner for Dallas in the second round. 

The 2017 NFL Draft will also have a ton of great cornerbacks to choose from as Dallas is continuing to build their defensive backfield. Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey, Florida’s Teez Tabor, and Washington’s Sidney Jones could all be excellent options for the Cowboys in the first round. Humphrey has rare size and physicality but will likely be gone before the Cowboys get on the board.

Tabor is more of an aggressive corner as he tends to really fly after the ball. Jones is the winner here as he will likely be available closer to were the Cowboys will select. He has incredible intelligence when it comes to man and zone coverages. Jones could potentially be the NFL’s next shut down cornerback.

As far as other positions, it would be interesting to see what Dallas would do if some of the bigger name players fell their way in the draft. Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is an incredible and versatile talent but with the Cowboys depth at linebacker would it really make sense to select him? The Cowboys would be more likely to use that pick on a defensive on than a linebacker and there are several incredible players at that position heading into the draft.

Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett is likely the best talent in the draft so he should be gone long before Dallas turns in their draft card. The Cowboys would be more likely to grab Missouri’s Charles Harris as he can really set the edge and shut down running backs in a heartbeat. Dallas could always go off of the beaten path from what we have discussed, Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster could be the hardest hitting player in the draft.

LSU, Strong safety Jamal Adams, is the complete package at safety as he can shut down a run play and has great range in coverage. Adams will be my favorite wildcard heading into the 2017 draft for the Cowboys.

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