By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys just finished one of the best seasons in team history. Outside of two losses to the New York Giants and a meaningless regular season finale against Philadelphia where Dallas rested their stars, the Cowboys beat everyone they faced off with. Now that the playoffs have started, the season is starting fresh for the Cowboys, and one loss means the end of the season. Here is a look at the players rising and falling in Dallas heading into the playoffs.
Rising: Dak Prescott, QB
Dak Prescott had the two worst games of his rookie season in a close win over the Minnesota Vikings and a loss to the New York Giants. Some fans were grumbling about getting Tony Romo back in the game. Prescott answered by lighting things up in his next two games. Against Tampa Bay and Detroit, Prescott completed 83 percent of his passes for 491 yards with three touchdowns. The final game of the season, Prescott only played in two series, but looks like he is ready to continue building his legacy in the playoffs.
Rising: David Irving, DL
Over the past few games, the Dallas Cowboys have been without their top pass-rushing defensive linemen: Tyrone Crawford was injured against Tampa Bay; DeMarcus Lawrence has been out since suffering an injury against the New York Giants; Terrell McClain was hurt against Detroit. However, with these men missing, David Irving has exploded. After struggling to make a team after college, Dallas picked him up and he has rewarded them this season. He has three sacks and 10 quarterback knockdowns in the last three games. With McClain, Lawrence and Crawford all coming back, the Cowboys defensive line looks better than it has in years.
Falling: Randy Gregory, DE
The Dallas Cowboys reactivated Randy Gregory at the end of the season to play the last few games heading into the playoffs. They hoped that the second-year defensive end would help them in the playoffs after missing the last year due to failing the NFL drug policy. However, the Cowboys learned this week that Gregory has been suspended again, this time for allegedly missing a drug test during his suspension. This suspension is for a one year and that means that the Cowboys will be one pass rusher short heading into the playoffs. While Jerry Jones will support Gregory as he battles his demons, the former Nebraska defensive standout has done nothing for Dallas.
Falling: Alfred Morris, RB
For most of the season, Ezekiel Elliott has ripped up the NFL with his running game and Alfred Morris was there if he needed a break. The Dallas Cowboys brought Darren McFadden back from the injured reserve and reactivated him to the lineup. Since then, McFadden has stolen Morris’ job. In four games, Morris carried the ball a total of four times for 26 yards. In the season finale, Morris got extended carries while Elliott sat on the bench and ran the ball eight times for 12 yards for a 1.5-yard average. McFadden had seven carries for 28 yards in that game. Don’t expect to see Alfred Morris at all in the playoffs.