We’re still a little more than 24 hours away from kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium between the Dallas Cowboys and your Minnesota Vikings in Week 11 NFL action. Going into this one, we wanted to get some perspective from the other side, so yours truly sat down and exchanged some questions with Dave Halprin from Blogging the Boys, SB Nation’s home for Dallas Cowboys football. Once Dave has the questions I answered for him posted up over at BtB, I’ll put them on the front page here.
For now, however, here are the questions that I sent Dave’s way and his responses to those questions.
1) Before the season, there was a lot of controversy about whether or not the Cowboys should sign star quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal. Has his injury and the aftermath of it made that talk louder or quieter? Do you think Jerry Jones would rather draft a QB high in the 2021 NFL Draft than give Prescott a long-term, big-money deal?
There was a lot of controversy about the Dak Prescott contract, and people had a lot of different reasons for that. It’s hard to say how the injury has affected that talk because we aren’t sure about his recovery in terms of how long it will take and will he be 100% going into next season. So the idea of just how that will impact negotiations is still a little unclear. On a personal note, there should have been no controversy about signing Prescott last offseason. He is among the top-tier of quarterbacks in the league, his numbers prove that. And the way the Cowboys offense fell apart after his injury is just more proof of how important he is to the team. The Jones family erred in not getting him signed last offseason.
As for the upcoming draft, Jerry and Stephen Jones continuously say that Prescott is the QB in Dallas and that they are not going to be drafting a QB with a high draft pick. Obviously there is a long way between now and the draft, things could change, but that’s the direction things are headed. Dallas would probably like to trade that high draft pick to a QB-hungry team for more picks while retaining Prescott. That’s probably their dream scenario.
2) Vikings fans are quite familiar with Cowboys’ head coach Mike McCarthy after his years in Green Bay. With the Cowboys’ struggles this season, do you think there’s any chance that he’s “one and done” in Dallas?
I really don’t think there is a chance of that. There are just so many variables involved in the Cowboys decline this year that I think the Jones family will at least give him another year to prove himself. Between the crazy list of injuries the Cowboys have suffered and the inability for a brand new staff to truly install things because of COVID this offseason, there’s probably a built-in grace period. There is also the consideration of how the Cowboys finish; truthfully the team has looked a lot better the last couple of weeks, so some of what they are teaching seems to be taking hold. For what it’s worth, both Jerry and Stephen Jones have said that McCarthy will be the coach in 2021.
3) On Friday, Jerry Jones declared that Ezekiel Elliot is the best player the Cowboys have. Do you agree with his assessment and do you think the offense needs to run through him despite the world of talent the Cowboys have in their WR corps?
I don’t agree at all. I didn’t think the Cowboys should have signed Elliott to a big contract last offseason because of the way the running back position works in the NFL. The ability to replace run production with new running backs has been shown over and over, and the fact that running backs break down much quicker than any other position means that you don’t pay them huge money. Elliott is not the best player on the Cowboys (Zack Martin probably is), and the Cowboys should not run their offense through Elliott, but should utilize their elite receiving corps as the basis of their offense. That goes double when Prescott is under center because he was absolutely killing it the last year and change until his injury.
4) Give us one “under the radar” player on each side of the ball that Vikings fans might not know about that you feel will play a big role in determining who wins this game.
On offense, the Cowboys are getting solid production from tight end Dalton Schultz. He wasn’t supposed to be the starter but among the many injuries for the Cowboys was the season-ending one to Blake Jarwin in the first game of the year, who the Cowboys had just re-signed to a decent contract. So Schultz was supposed to be the backup but has been a solid contributor in the starting role.
On defense, keep an eye on defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. He’s a third-round pick in 2020 who didn’t do a whole lot to start the year. But once the Cowboys released Dontari Poe, he started to see some playing time. Last game, against the Steelers, he had a little bit of a breakout game, not necessarily statistically, but just in creating havoc. We’re very interested to see if he can repeat it or not.
5) How do you think Sunday’s game will play out? Can the Vikings continue their winning streak or will the Cowboys dump cold water on Minnesota’s momentum?
I think the likely result is that the Vikings win the game. The Cowboys have been playing better the last few weeks, and they came so close to beating the Steelers in their last game but were undone by some costly penalties and mistakes at the very end. So I don’t think this will be a blowout, but at this point I just can’t bet on the Cowboys yet. They need to show they can win first, not just play better. It should be a better game than many anticipate, but the Vikings will probably win in the end.
Thanks again to Dave for taking the time to answer these questions for us.
We’ll have more on this game as we get closer to kickoff.