White: Cowboys Too Conservative, Can't Protect Dak

The Cowboys need to protect Dak Prescott and open up the playbook, Danny White says

Taz and the Moose
November 06, 2018 - 9:48 am

USA Today Images


After sending a first-round pick to Oakland for Amari Cooper, the Dallas Cowboys were expected to showcase a more explosive offense Monday. While Cooper led the team with five catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, Dak Prescott and the rest of the offense struggled.

Dallas lost, 28-14, to Tennessee. The Cowboys (3-5) have finished with 17 points or fewer in five of eight games this season.

Former Cowboys quarterback Danny White doesn’t understand why.

“Offensively, whether it’s Scott Linehan just being too conservative or whether it’s Dak Prescott not being able to handle a more complex offense, they just continue to be very, very basic and almost predictable in their offensive scheme,” White said on Taz & The Moose. “Even with the addition of Amari Cooper – which, I thought Amari had an immediate impact on that game. But they were double-teaming Cole Beasley all night long, and you got Amari Cooper out there one-on-one the whole night. He should have had 10 or 12 catches, and we just didn’t go to him enough. We didn’t throw the ball down the field enough. 

“I wish I had the answer, but I don’t know if it’s just play-calling or if they don’t feel that Dak can handle the adjustments he needs to handle. But somehow, for some reason, they’ve been very, very conservative in their play-calling.”

Prescott finished 21-of-31 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He has 10 touchdowns and five interceptions on the season.

“He’s still developing,” White said. “He had a great rookie year, as everybody knows, but he didn’t have to do very much. He had that great running game, he had that great defense, he had everything around him and he just kind of had to sit back there and pick out the open guy and throw it to him. That makes life pretty easy for a quarterback. Things have gotten more difficult.’

Prescott has missed Travis Frederick, who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in August. 

“When you lose an All-Pro starting center, it has a profound effect, and sometimes it’s an effect that everybody doesn’t see. It’s not obvious,” White said. “But Travis is the quarterback of that offensive line. Dak was continually under pressure. I don’t know if there were 10 percent of the plays where Dak just dropped back, set his feet and threw the ball. He was constantly moving and running around and had pressure on him having to throw the ball on the run. While he’s pretty good at doing that, it shouldn’t be that way. They’ve got to figure out their blocking schemes and be able to keep Dak in the pocket, let him set his feet and throw the football. When he does that, he’s a very good quarterback.”

The Cowboys have been one of the worst offenses in football this season. They rank 27th in total yards and 26th in scoring (19.3 points per game).

While the line has been leaky, the play-calling hasn’t helped.

“I think they’re limited,” White said. “It looks to me like they’re restricting what they’re doing. It’s just the same plays over and over and over and over again. They’re not going to publicly come out and say Dak mentally just can’t handle the entire playbook, but you watch guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers – they are constantly making changes at the line of scrimmage. Those guys are calling plays at the line based on the defensive look they’re getting. You just don’t see that in Dak. 

“Again, whether that’s because that’s what he’s told to do or whether it’s just because he can’t handle all the changes and know what to look for, I don't know,” White continued. “I can’t answer that question. I wish I could. But the quarterback of any successful NFL team has got to have the flexibility and the authority to change plays at the line of scrimmage. . . . I just don’t see that in the Cowboys. I see in other teams – teams with great quarterbacks. But I don’t see it in the Cowboys.”

Dallas plays its next two games on the road: at Philadelphia (4-4) and at Atlanta (4-4). Kickoff from Lincoln Financial Field is slated for Sunday at 8:20 p.m. ET.