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Film room: 3 bold predictions for the second half of the Cowboys’ season, including Michael Bennett’s impact – John Owning, DMN
John Owning brings the prediction for Michael Bennett’s impact over the back half of the season.
Bennett averages 30 snaps, leads team in pressures (not sacks) over last 9 games
This is not to say that Lawrence, Quinn or Maliek Collins (the current team leader in pressures) will be less effective over the last nine games, it just means Bennett should be able to rack up pressures at a high rate for Dallas.
Because his game is built on the ability to quickly penetrate and disrupt the backfield, Bennett has always been a high-pressure pass rusher. Although he’s posted just one double-digit sack season in his career, Bennett has recorded 70-plus pressures (including 91 in 2015) in six of the past seven seasons – for comparison’s sake, Lawrence led the Cowboys with 66 last year.
New England was a poor scheme fit and Bennett saw a reduction in playing time as a result, but his 10 pressures would still rank fifth on the Cowboys right now.
While it may be unwise to predict that a player who was just acquired by trade will lead the team in pressures over the last nine games, this article is labeled “bold predictions” for a reason.
Most players take a few weeks to get acclimated to a new team after a trade, but Bennett’s familiarity with Kris Richard from their time in Seattle should help speed up the process.
What will Michael Bennett’s role be in the Dallas’ defense?
Dallas already has two stud defensive ends on their lineup. They have a bounce-back year from defensive end Robert Quinn and a slow start from DeMarcus Lawrence. They also had Tyrone Crawford, but he just had surgery on his hip and is out for the season.
Some can look at this and say “hey, he can just switch in when either Quinn or Lawrence needs a rest!” That’s not quite what Dallas can do. He wanted to leave the New England Patriots because he didn’t have as much of a role as he wanted.
Turning to him as anything less than an impact player will just bring him back to how upset he was in New England. From Weeks 1-6, Bennett’s snap percentage on defense regressed from 55 percent to 22 percent. In that small sample size, he still managed to rack up 2.5 sacks.
In 2018, eight days to go before the trade deadline, the Cowboys drove across the water and sent a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Amari Cooper. They recognized their receiver by committee approach wasn’t working, and they had to make drastic changes over the bye week to rescue their 3-4 season as Washington was running away with the NFC East at 5-2. Cooper saved the Cowboys’ season as they went 7-2 down the stretch, won the NFC East, and added the franchise’s 35th postseason victory.
The Cowboys had a need to fill along the defensive line when Tyrone Crawford injured his hip and was out for the year. They traded with the New England Patriots for Michael Bennett, who not only fills Crawford’s role, but can do it better.
Right now, Dallas is tied for the fifth-fewest interceptions in the NFL with three. They are smack dab in the middle for pass breakups with 32. While it is true the defense has the 12th-lowest opposing passer rating in the league at 89.0, the New York Jets trail them at 89.1. How much better could the Cowboys be if they had Adams as a part of their defense?
What are the biggest storylines for the Cowboys and Giants second matchup in 2019?
While the Giants added a player before the trade deadline, they decided not to part ways with some other veterans that were rumored to be on the block. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, tackle Nate Solder and linebacker Alec Ogeltree all stayed put, suggesting the Giants aren’t throwing in the towel on this year just yet, despite their 2-6 record.
There is one major difference from the Giants team the Cowboys saw back in Week 1. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones has now replaced Eli Manning, and the Giants look like a new team, at least on offense. This will be the first time the Cowboys have played the Giants against a quarterback other than Manning since the first meeting of the 2004 season.
This could be the first time in 2019 that the Giants have their full slate of receivers. That will depend on the health of Sterling Shepard, who has been out the last three games with a concussion. Shepard was still in the concussion protocol as of Wednesday but is expected to be cleared to practice and possibly play on Monday night. He did face the Cowboys in Week 1, but the Giants were without veteran Golden Tate, who served a four-game suspension to start the season.
Quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna has had a great influence on Dak Prescott this season.
Jon Kitna has a great analogy for playing the quarterback position. There’s very little to quibble over Dak Prescott’s 2019 season, except for maybe those “heat check” throws he’s referenced before. The fourth-year starter is currently 10th in the NFL in passing yardage (2,123), 8th in passer rating (102.6) and tied for the 6th-most touchdown passes (12). He’s been outstanding.
The “heat check” phrase is a common basketball term when a player tries a deep three-pointer after hitting three or four in a row. Just testing the temperature. In a QB sense, Prescott acknowledges he’s gotten a little “greedy” at times, forcing passes into coverage in the middle of a hot streak for the offense. It happened in the fourth quarter against the Eagles when he tried to fit a jump ball to Tavon Austin over double coverage up 30-10. The ball got picked off.
“That situation, I just need to continue to go through my progression and get it to one of those tight ends,” Prescott said afterward. In fairness, the more vertical a passing game gets, the greater chance for mistakes. Prescott has done an excellent job of protecting the ball throughout his career. He’s also ranked 3rd in yards per completion this year, a career-high 8.9 through seven games.
A new week is beginning. We discussed on the latest episode of The Ocho.
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Here’s how Cowboys fans are feeling entering Week 9.