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10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Big Win In San Francisco

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Big Win In San Francisco

Ain't no Monday like a #VictoryPoloMonday cause a #VictoryPoloMonday don't stop!

The Dallas Cowboys, our Cowboys, were indeed victorious on Sunday in San Francisco... outlasting the 49ers 24-17. This is a huge win as it moves Dallas to 3-1 on the 2016 season, a mark the Cowboys haven't reached since 2014 when they had a great amount of success.

There's a lot to be taken from this game, and that's what we're here to do. Here are my 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Big Win In San Francisco.

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Jason Garrett Is Doing An Incredible Job

The Cowboys are 3-1. They have played all four of those games without Tony Romo and DeMarcus Lawrence. They have played two of them without Tyron Smith and Orlando Scandrick. They have played one and a half-ish of them without Dez Bryant and La'el Collins. To reiterate... The Cowboys are 3-1.

The Cowboys Coaching Staff deserves an enormous amount of credit for handling these uncontrollable variables that have stacked themselves on top of one another. Bravo, Coach Garrett. Bravo.

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Ezekiel Elliott Eats Yards, Not Food

In today's NFL you're expected to contribute immediately, particularly at the sexy positions like quarterback, running back, and all that jazz. When you're taken as high as #4 Overall like Ezekiel Elliott was... that expectation is exponentially higher.

Remember that young Zeke is 21 years old. Now think about the 138 yards that he accumulated on the ground in San Francisco. Or think about how he, with 412 through four games, is currently the NFL's leading rusher. 21. Years. Old. Insane.

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Morris Claiborne Is Starting To Reach His Potential

The Cowboys best cornerback for the last two years has inarguably been Morris Claiborne. Even with the return of Orlando Scandrick this season (which hasn't exactly gone swimmingly), Mo is el numero uno.

Gil Brandt on Twitter

DBs w/ lowest burn % Claiborne 38% Trufant 38 Bradberry 41 J.McCourty 41 Nelson 41 C.Harris 44 Newman 44 Norman 47 Sean Smith 47 Porter 48

There's no denying that Mo's interception in San Fran saved the game (and Brice Butler, but we'll get to that soon), but it honestly didn't improve his impressive game much. It was a poorly thrown pass that Mo capitalized on. Where Mo dominated the game was on every other play, effectively eliminating Torrey Smith (1 catch for 3 yards). He is our shutdown corner. He is starting to arrive. It's a beautiful thing.

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Dak Prescott Is Indeed For Real

Name something that you have done a hundred times without making a mistake. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Dak Prescott has thrown 131 passes (his first 131 as a professional quarterback) in the NFL and has seen not a single one of them land in the hands of the opposing team - that's an NFL record for most attempts by a rookie to start their career.

Dak Prescott hasn't necessarily been a fantasy football superstar, but through four games he's been marvelous. The word that keeps coming to mind, because it makes the most sense, is poise. Dak has been so incredibly poised. When his team went down 14, on the road, he didn't blink and did the work to get the job done. The future is in good hands.

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We Can Predict When Alfred Morris Will Be Used

Al Michaels said during Week 3's Sunday Night Football contest against the Bears that the Cowboys wanted to do what they could in order to keep Zeke somewhat fresh and energized throughout the game. The days of a true "bellcow" running back in the NFL feel like a distant memory.

Michaels said that the Cowboys want to substitute Alfred Morris in every third series for Zeke to catch some time on ice. Like clockwork, we saw Alfred Morris come in on the third series. It is an incredible luxury to have two starting-caliber running backs in the NFL, and using them in this fashion has resulted in a 3-1 record so we need to roll with it for now, and keep an eye out for it.

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Brice Butler Made A Horrible Mental Mistake

With about 12 minutes left in the game, and the Cowboys hanging on to a 21-17 lead, Dak Prescott hit Brice Butler for a 9-yard gain on 1st and 10. Awesome, right? The Cowboys were looking to drive to score and milk some time off the clock. Getting off to that kind of start would undoubtedly aid in that regard... and then Brice Butler had a horrible lapse in judgment.

Butler, who is from the Bay Area, was really feeling it this game. He caught his first touchdown as a Cowboy in the first half and indisputably got the most work he's had since donning the iconic Star on his helmet. He let those emotions get the best of him and got caught for taunting a 49er... and suddenly 2nd and 1 became 2nd and 16.

Brice Butler on Twitter

Great win!!!! Almost cost it with a bad penalty and endzone drop.... learn from it and move on.... let's go!!

The Cowboys were unable to get a first down and gave the ball back to San Francisco (which Gabbert kindly gave back to Morris Claiborne). These are the mistakes that will lose you games. Be better, Brice. We believe in you.

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Dan Bailey's Health Is Critical To This Team

Shortly before kickoff word trickled out that Dan Bailey, 2015's most potent offensive weapon, was dealing with a back issue. Spaghetti-O's.

This "issue" flared up very painfully as the Cowboys' first offensive drive stalled and left Dan Bailey staring at a 47-yard field goal opportunity. This is normally money for Bailey, but he was very obviously hindered and it showed as he pushed the ball left.

Dan would make a 22-yarder later in the game that pushed the lead to seven, but this is very very very important for the Cowboys. I've said many a time that we almost take Bailey's clutch gene for granted and just assume that his excellence is common. Feel better, Danny boy.

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JJ Wilcox Isn't So Bad So Far This Season

Perhaps the most picked on Dallas Cowboy, JJ Wilcox, isn't the worst player on the current 53-Man Roster. Weird, isn't it?

Wilcox makes a living out of laying the wood on opposing ball-carriers, and every once in a while it results in a big play for the Cowboys. In Sunday's win, JJ made a great play in coverage that forced a 49ers punt late in the game. Whaaaaaat?!

Coverage? JJ Wilcox? Seriously? Yes, it really happened. We're all equally flabbergasted, but we should be grateful. Wilcox has been the butt of many jokes for a few seasons now, and if he's playing at this level the Cowboys can really start cooking with gas.

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Terrance Williams Is Very Valuable Depth

While we're on the subject of players we pick on... Terrance Williams, ladies and gentlemen!

T-Will failed to get out of bounds late in the first half and we were all stunned. I mean... again? For real? IT'S NOT A COMPLICATED CONCEPT WE ALL CAN DO IT IN MADDEN.

Nevertheless, Terrance had himself a nice game overall. 4 catches, 44 yards, and a touchdown were very much-needed in San Francisco... especially in the absence of Dez Bryant. Cowboys Nation has been quick on the trigger to cut or trade Terrance, but consider the facts here. He's a fourth-year receiver who provides a serious amount of depth, and he proved that on Sunday. Epic.

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These Three Wins Will Matter So Much In December

I'm an admitted Taylor Swift fan, so let me take you back to December for a second. The Cowboys were, with only FOUR wins, miraculously still in the hunt for the NFC East late in 2015. It's amazing when you really think about it.

Imagine if at that time we had one or two more of these easy wins under our belt. Things could have been a whole hell of a lot different... despite the Trio of Excellence that was Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore.

Now I won't lie to you, the NFC East is far improved this year. Four wins likely isn't going to have you in contention in December, but these wins are so important. In the NFL you have to win the winnable games and stack them together. The Cowboys, and every NFL team, will lose games they should win. It will happen. Accept it now.

What makes those losses matter less is stacking up these easy wins. This is how you build a division-winning, and potentially more, type of season. You get wins however you have to. These past three weeks will be enormous when push comes to shove, and thankfully we'll be the ones doing the pushing and shoving.

What were your takeaways from the Cowboys big win in San Francisco? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

Tell us what you think about "10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Big Win In San Francisco" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Is Ezekiel Elliott the Most Dominant Running Back in the NFL?

John Williams

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Safe to Say, Ezekiel Elliott Not an Offensive Line Product

There's no player in football that is more hotly debated at the moment than Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott. Though much of the debate surrounds his potential contract extension, which would likely make him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, there's also been a lot of debate about his standing as the best running back in the NFL.

On Thursday, Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox released his list of the most dominant players at each position. It's a fantastic read and not just because he listed Ezekiel Elliott as the most dominant running back in the NFL.

It's certainly easy to see where he's coming from despite the debate that rages across the NFL's fanbases. Ezekiel Elliott's lead the NFL in rushing two of the three season's he's been in the league. Both of those seasons, Elliott only played 15 games, getting the benefit of the Cowboys playoff positioning being solidified prior to week 17. In 2017, he would have probably ran away with the league's rushing title again, which would make him the three-time defending rushing champion heading into 2019.

In that 2017 season when he missed six games and had a game against the Denver Broncos where he only rushed for seven yards on nine carries, Elliott still finished in the top 10 in rushing.

In 2018, he bested Saquon Bakley by 127 yards rushing. Had Elliott played in the week 17 finale last season and rushed for his season average, he would have won the rushing title by more than 200 yards. And he did that in what many considered to be a down season for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack. Pro Football Focus even graded Elliott as the 30th best running back for 2018.

In 2018, Elliott had 2,000 total yards, besting his 2016 number of 1,994 total yards as a rookie. His rushing total was down in 2018 from 2016, but he still had an excellent season.

No disrespect to Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Le'Veon Bell, or Chrisitan McCaffrey, but they don't have the credentials that Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table. Those guys are great running backs in their own right, but Elliott has lead the NFL in rushing in two of the three seasons he's been in the league and would have probably lead the league in 2017 had he not been suspended.

Per Game Table
Rushing Receiving
Rk Player From To Att Yds TD Rec Yds TD
1 Saquon Barkley 2018 2018 16.3 81.7 0.7 5.7 45.1 0.3
2 Le'Veon Bell 2015 2017 21.1 94.4 0.6 5.6 42.6 0.1
3 Ezekiel Elliott 2016 2018 21.7 101.2 0.7 3.4 30.0 0.2
4 Todd Gurley 2015 2018 18.0 78.4 0.8 3.2 32.5 0.2
5 Alvin Kamara 2017 2018 10.1 52.0 0.7 5.2 49.5 0.3
6 Christian McCaffrey 2017 2018 10.5 47.9 0.3 5.8 47.4 0.3
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2019.

Since 2015, only Le'Veon Bell has averaged more total yards per game than Elliott, but Elliott's close and he's not used as much in the passing game as Bell. Only Todd Gurley has a higher average of rushing touchdowns per game than Elliott.

Elliott's 3.4 receptions per game through the first three seasons of his career is only slightly better than Todd Gurley who ranks sixth among this group of players. The Dallas Cowboys attempted to get Elliott more involved in 2018 but didn't work him downfield enough in his targets for him to be anything more than a dump-off option. In 2019, the Dallas Cowboys should work to get him running more intermediate routes in the passing game because as we saw in the Detroit game last season, Elliott's got really good hands.

Historically, Elliott is off to a great start to his career. His first three years in the NFL compare quite favorably to two Hall of Famers and one of the most dynamic running backs of the early 21st century.

No player with more than 100 career attempts in the NFL has averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott.

Think about that for a second. Through his first three seasons, he's averaged more rushing yards per game than Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, and the list goes on and on.

If you look at what he's done compared to other players during their first three years. Only Eric Dickerson, Earl Campbell, and Edgerrin James averaged more rushing yards per game than Ezekiel Elliott in the first three seasons of their respective careers.

One of the things that people have used to knock Ezekiel Elliott has been the volume of carries that he's received, but there's a reason that the Dallas Cowboys lean on him so heavily. They've created a run-first identity and though at times it has made the offense somewhat inefficient, it's not because the player they're handing to is not a good player, but because every team in the NFL is expecting the Dallas Cowboys to run the football with Ezekiel Elliott.

In 2018 in particular, the Cowboys offensive coaching staff, namely the departed Scott Linehan, didn't do enough to create favorable matchups in the running game. Too often it was a first down run out of heavy personnel that the defense was expecting.

With two rushing titles already in the bag, there's no reason to expect anything different from Ezekiel Elliott in 2019. It's anticipated that the offensive gameplan and execution will be better in 2019 than it was in 2018. The offensive line will be better and with Kellen Moore as the offensive coordinator, there's a thought that the Dallas Cowboys are going to be less predictable moving forward.

The debate will continue to rage over the value of extending Ezekiel Elliott with a contract that will carry him to his age 28 or 29 season, but there is no debating that Ezekiel Elliott is the best and most dominant running back in the NFL.



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Tony Romo: Cowboys TE Jason Witten Will “Pick Up Right Where He Left Off”

John Williams

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Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten's Game?

There's no denying that the future holds a gold jacket for Dallas Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten. With everything he's done in his career, he'll go down as one of the three best tight ends in the history of the NFL when he finally hangs up his number 82 for good.

Most of the questions that have come surrounding the offense have focused on the tight end position this offseason. Even prior to Jason Witten announcing his return from the broadcast booth at ESPN to the NFL, tight end was one of the areas that was considered a draft need by most analysts. Since coming back, the questions may have altered, but they're there all the same. Now, we're wondering how much Jason Witten will play? Will Blake Jarwin and/or Dalton Schultz see significant playing time in the offense? Will Jason Witten be able to return to his pre-retirement form?

It's that last question that was answered pretty directly by Witten's former quarterback and NFL on CBS Analyst Tony Romo when he was on with Ben and Skin of 105.3 The Fan. In the way that only Tony Romo can, he illustrated what exactly will allow Jason Witten to return to the game without missing a beat.

"He'll pick up right where he left off. I don't think it's a big challenge for Jason  (Witten). The reality of it is as long as, if you know the game the way he does, there are certain positions -- he plays one of them at tight end -- he's always going to have the nuance to get open. Let's say he runs the exact same he always did, to me , it's just that at that position, your ability to use leverage against somebody, make you think this and then do that. It's like the back pick in basketball. Just all of a sudden it gets you and you didn't even know it was coming and that guy is wide open. He's very intelligent with the game of football. I think he's going to pick up right from when he retired. I think you're going to see the same guy."

Tony Romo on 105.3 The Fan via Jon Machota of SportsDay DFW

Jason Witten has been one of the best route-running tight ends in the NFL during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. He's always been able to win with his intelligence and route running despite not ever being the quickest or most athletic tight end in the NFL.

Because of Jason Witten's knowledge and feel for the game, it's easy to see why a player like that could walk back into the NFL after taking a year off and remain a productive player for the Dallas Cowboys. It's why they didn't hesitate to bring him back in the offseason. Though it's been relayed that he'll have a somewhat reduced role, he'll be the starting tight end week one against the New York Giants.

While it's uncertain exactly how much Jason Witten can play, you know that he'll be available to play. Prior to his retirement, Witten played in 235 straight regular-season games. Not only is Witten's availability great to have, but so is his ability to win on third down and in the red zone. It will be a welcomed addition to a Dallas Cowboys offense that struggled in both of those areas in 2018.

In 2018, they were 10th in third-down conversion percentage in the NFL at 41.4%. That's down from ranking fifth in the NFL in 2017 at 42.9%. 1.5% may not seem like a huge difference, but that's two to three more first downs on the season. Being able to convert on third downs increases your chances of scoring. Scoring more helps you win.

They were 29th in red-zone scoring rate at 48% in 2018. The only teams in the NFL that were worse than the Dallas Cowboys were the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Francisco 49ers. Only one other team in the bottom 10 in the league in red-zone scoring rate made the playoffs; the Houston Texans. In 2017, the Dallas Cowboys were sixth in the NFL in red-zone scoring percentage at 59.6% and that was without Ezekiel Elliott for six games and without Tyron Smith for three games.

Having Jason Witten's ability to get open in confined spaces will help everyone on the offense. Even after having a year off, Witten is a player that will have to be accounted for in those high-leverage situations.

There isn't a person in the world that knows Jason Witten the football player better than Tony Romo does. Their careers have been so intertwined that it's hard to think of one without thinking of the other. It's why one day when they're inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, that it would be fitting for it to happen together.

If, as Romo believes, Jason Witten can pick up right where he left off, his veteran presence, leadership, and on-field ability are going to be a huge asset for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations in 2019. For the Cowboys to reach the Super Bowl and win their sixth Lombardi Trophy, they're going to need "Gold Jacket" Witten to return to his pre-retirement form.

And if Tony Romo believes he will, there's no reason to doubt Jason Witten. Do so at your own peril.



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Report: Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Planning Training Camp Holdout?

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2

All offseason, the possibility of a new contract for Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot button issue among media and fans alike. Not because Ezekiel Elliott isn't a great player and worthy of top running back money, but because the idea of paying running backs north of $15 million a year isn't as simple as, "Is he worth it?"

There is significant evidence that the running back position experiences a significant decline in production around their age 28 season and few running backs play into their 30's with good to elite production. Ezekiel Elliott, though he's experienced heavy usage in his first three seasons, could be the exception to the rule.

Well, knowing his worth to the Dallas Cowboys he's expecting a heavy payday at some point in the next couple of seasons. Elliott is under contract through 2019 and the Cowboys picked up his rookie option for 2020. So, technically, Elliott wouldn't be a free agent until the 2021 offseason. However, much like in the case of Todd Gurley, Elliott's looking to get paid early to maximize his prime years as the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Within the last hour, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk released a report that Ezekiel Elliott is planning on holding out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, per a "league source." It should be noted that Mike Florio has had some missteps in his reporting of Dallas Cowboys news, most notably the perpetuating a rumor that Dez Bryant was caught on videotape doing something at a Wal-Mart, that would have a "Ray Rice type of impact." A tape that has never been discovered or produced and a story that's completely died off since it was originally reported in 2015.

Given the recent news that Melvin Gordon is planning a training camp hold out, it should come as no surprise that Elliott is being mentioned similarly. ESPN even mentioned the idea of Elliott and a looming contractual holdout in a piece earlier today, but their prediction pointed to 2021 and wasn't a report based on fact or a source, but a prediction for next year.

The two-time NFL rushing champ is scheduled to count $7.9 million in 2019 and just over $9 million in 2020 against the salary cap. His salary for 2019 is only $3.8 million. Elliott certainly has earned the right to be paid like Todd Gurley ($14.37 million per year), Le'Veon Bell ($13.13 million per year), and David Johnson ($13 million per year) despite having two more years on his deal.

In looking at the long-term impact of Elliott's contract, I've advocated that if the Dallas Cowboys intend to pay Elliott, now's the time to do it. A contract extension now, that adds three or four more years onto his existing deal would get Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys to his age 28 or 29 season. In a well-structured contract, they'd have opportunities to get out at the back end if Elliott experienced a significant decline in production.

Ezekiel Elliott's contract is going to continue to be a hot button issue until he's either signed to an extension or it's made known that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of extending him. Currently, there aren't any other sources confirming Elliott's plan to hold out of training camp, which starts July 27th, but it's a story that we'll continue to follow here on InsideTheStar.com.

Update: 7/16/2019 10:42 am.

Charles Robinson, Senior Reporter for Yahoo! Sports provided some insight into the thinking of Elliott and his representation.

It certainly seems like holding out is on the table for Ezekiel Elliott and his representation, but no decision has been made at this point.

Check back with us for updates on Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension. 



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