It’s so far, so good for the Cowboys two weeks into their season. They made it two victories over two NFC East foes by overcoming a sluggish start on offense to beat the Washington Redskins, 31-21, on Sunday at FedEx Field.
“I wouldn’t take back these first two at this particular point, any parts of them,” Jones said as he stood in the visitors’ locker room after the game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes, the final one to wide receiver Amari Cooper, as the Cowboys scored on five straight possessions (including one field goal) after three straight scoreless ones to open the game.
“It’s like chopping a tree,” guard Zack Martin said of the Cowboys’ offensive perseverance. “By the end, it’s going to fall.”
Prescott continued to do the heavy lifting while tailback Ezekiel Elliott works his way back from his preseason inactivity because of his contract holdout, and Dallas looks every bit like an honest-to-goodness top NFC contender.
Elliott ran for a touchdown as part of a 23-carry, 111-yard rushing performance bolstered by a 27-yard dash on the game’s next-to-last snap. Prescott threw an interception, his first against the Redskins in seven regular season meetings, but connected on 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards. He also had 69 rushing yards, 42 of them on a third-and-one quarterback keeper to set up a second-quarter touchdown.
The offense is thriving under new coordinator Kellen Moore, even if it took the Cowboys a little while to get things moving Sunday.
“I know how hard it is,” Jones said of the 2-0 start. “I know that it gives us a real solid something to have as a foundation; 2-0 in the division does that. … Does 2-0 allow you to slack off? No. Does it allow you have a day when it didn’t quite work for you? It can.”
Jones called it the best two-game stretch that he has seen Prescott have in the NFL.
“Well, I sure haven’t seen him [play better] with the Dallas Cowboys,” Jones said. “Now, they’ve got a statue for him over at Mississippi State. So he might have had back-to-back games over there that we haven’t seen.”
Prescott agreed that he never has played better in pro football. He has seven touchdown passes in two games this season while completing 82.3 percent of his passes.
“Yeah, sure,” Prescott said. “And I give credit, again, going back to last year. ... It started last year, and just being able to take that and progress through the offseason and learn more. It’s great coaching from Kellen, from Coach [Jason] Garrett. … When you have great players around you, it just makes things fun. It makes it a little bit easier from that standpoint.”
The Cowboys were coming off a season-opening triumph at home over the New York Giants a week earlier. Prescott also was the focal point of the offense in that game, posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Consecutive performances such as these only serve to up the price tag for Prescott as he and the Cowboys negotiate a potential contract extension.
Jones told reporters after the win over the Giants that a deal with Prescott was imminent. He later clarified that to concede that Prescott perhaps did not view things the same way. Prescott and Cooper are eligible for free agency after this season. Jones said Sunday that he has “no hesitation” about the contract negotiations with Prescott continuing into the season.
“I’m very comfortable,” Jones said. “He’s very comfortable. My read is he’s very comfortable. … Anything that requires two people [to reach an agreement] requires a consensus of those two people from a time frame.”
Jones and the Cowboys made Elliott the NFL’s highest-paid running back with a six-year, $90 million contract extension completed before the season opener to end Elliott’s holdout. Prescott probably will command a deal in line with the four-year, $128 million extension that Carson Wentz signed in June with the Philadelphia Eagles and the four-year, $134 million pact recently struck between Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams.
Elliott, after missing all of training camp and the preseason, increased his workload Sunday after running for 53 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against the Giants.
“We started a little bit slow,” Elliott said. “But we picked it up.”