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10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Season-Opening Loss To The Giants

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Season-Opening Loss To The Giants 1

The 2016 season finally arrived for the Cowboys, and it left us wearing a sad face as the Cowboys fell 20-19 to their NFC East rivals - The New York Giants.

Cowboys Headlines - 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Season-Opening Loss To The Giants

Cowboys Nation was hoping to get off to a start that would signify a far different season than the one we never speak of 2015, but to be totally fair if we want to re-create the successful 2014 season, we're doing a great job as that team also started off 0-1.

So how exactly did this team lose the first game of the season? Here are my 10 takeaways from the Cowboys season-opening loss to the New York Giants.


Ezekiel Elliott Can Be Stopped

20 carries, 51 yards, and 1 touchdown. That's not exactly 4th Overall Pick worthy, is it?

I'm not trying to indict Zeke Elliott here, but we need to be honest with ourselves. When the Cowboys drafted the star running back the thought was "Who's going to be able to stop this Offensive Line and Zeke?!". 

You know what the answer is? The New York Giants. Olivier Vernon did a lot to live up to the gigantic contract the Giants gave him this offseason as he and his teammates seemed to be all-in on limiting Elliott on Sunday. If that was indeed their plan then they executed it pretty perfectly while proving that this elite ground game that the Cowboys possess has a kryptonite.

Dak Prescott Is For Real

The Cowboys didn't seem to ask a whole lot from Dak Prescott, which might have actually been the problem if you really think about it.

Dak did as he was told, and he looked really great in doing so. His stat line isn't one that's going to win you a fantasy football game, but Dak showed an incredible amount of poise and leadership in his first NFL game against a division rival. The hype surrounding him won't come anywhere near the levels that followed his preseason performances, but this one was arguably better.

Jason Witten Is Timeless

It's a tale as old as time (shout out to Beauty and the Beast) that rookie quarterbacks tend to lean on their tight ends. As true as this may be... if your tight end happens to be a future Hall of Famer then you're likely to lean on him even more, right?

Dak Prescott's leading receiver on Sunday was indeed Mr. Witten who hauled in 9 passes for 66 yards. Witten seems to just be a chain-sniffing machine as he continually produces first down after first down. So much has been made about what life may be like without Tony Romo, but this franchise is seriously going to miss Witten when he's done with the game.

Cole Beasley Isn't Perfect

There are certainly fan-favorites when it comes to Cowboys Nation and their beloved 'Boys, and it's safe to say that Cole Beasley is among them.

Cole's stock, both among fans and on a national level, has really risen over the last few seasons as he's become one of the best slot receivers in the game, but boy did he have a case of the dropsies on Sunday. Beasley will likely wish that he had a few passes back as there were some big plays to be made if he could've just held on. It was shocking to see him not be flawless.

Dez Bryant Is Not Dez Bryant

How long has it been since you've seen Dez Bryant dominate a game? Seriously. Think about it.

My answer is the 2014 season finale in Washington. #88 has been a shell of himself ever since and was particularly disappointing in Sunday's loss. People will say that he should've seen more targets, which is true, but only cashing in on 1/5 for eight yards is an unacceptable stat line for any legitimate wide receiver let alone one of Dez Bryant's caliber.

While Tony Romo is out the Cowboys are really going to need their Stars to rise up. Dez's inability to against the Giants was without a doubt a big reason for the loss, regardless of how the Coaching Staff did or did not use him.

The Orlando Scandrick Hype Was Silly In Hindsight

Honestly how foolish was it that people thought a cornerback who is approaching the age of 30, is coming off of an ACL AND MCL tear, and hasn't played since the end of the 2014 season was just going to come in and be dominant?

It's no surprise that Orlando Scandrick struggled on Sunday. Struggled might even be generous all things considered. Scandrick looked pretty bad, so bad that Brandon Carr was the best Dallas Cowboys cornerback in the game. Think about that.

Call it whatever you want. Say it was rust. Say that Orlando isn't fully healed. Whatever the case may be... Orlando Scandrick is far from dominant and that was reflected in Sunday's loss.

This Team Misses Rolando McClain

The Cowboys have absolutely no presence when it comes to the middle of the defense. He may be a purple drank dranker (what?), but Rolando McClain was really good at establishing some of that presence when he was on the field for America's Team.

Dallas simply doesn't have the personnel to fulfill this role adequately. It's a glaring weakness that existed all offseason and was fully exploited against the Giants. Good thing the Cowboys spent their 2nd Round Draft Pick on someone who plays that position though, right? Nevermind that he might not ever play football again! Hooray! *sadface*.

Pass Rush? What's That?

In the most shocking event around the NFL World on Sunday (I'm counting a 2-point conversion by the Raiders to go for the win instead of a safe extra point tie in regulation), the Dallas Cowboys had not one but two sacks! Whoa crazy crazy!

The box score may make it seem like the Cowboys know what they're doing when it comes to getting after the quarterback, but that could not be farther from the truth. This team's achilles heel is, and has been for a long time, rushing the passer. Eli Manning was afforded too much time and it showed with his ability to find receivers in the middle of the field (shout out to Rolando McClain/Jaylon Smith).

Scott Linehan Might Not Be An Offensive Genius

I don't want to overreact and say that Scott Linehan is a bad coach, because he's not, but he did a horrible job of trying to win a football game against the New York Giants.

Linehan and Co. insisted, almost arrogantly, on running Ezekiel Elliott up the middle despite having success with him outside and success with Alfred Morris both in and outside. It was as if the Cowboys were trying to prove a point and flex their muscle that this is their style of football and they were going to prove it. It failed miserably as the Cowboys only scored one touchdown in four full quarters.

Dan Bailey Is Amazing

This isn't necessarily breaking news, but holy guacamole do I love Dan Bailey.

I legitimately believe that we as the loyal members of Cowboys Nation do not appreciate Bailey's greatness enough. Do you know how many NFL teams/fandoms would do anything to have the peace of mind that he provides? Terrance Williams is taking an enormous amount of heat for going out of bounds because we're all certain that Dan was going to make a potential 60-yarder. He's incredible!

Bonus Takeaway

That Branden guy on Twitter

@rjochoa honestly, when we got a 4th down stop i felt relieved. And my tale away, GIVE ZEKE MORE OUTSIDE CARRIES. USE HIS AGILITY.

If you want your takeaway to be featured here at Inside The Star, just tweet at me and I'll include the best ones! Shout out to Branden Griffin for this week's addition.

Branden has a great point if we're being honest. The positives taken away from the Cowboys Defense (i.e. the Brandon Carr interception) were gifts from Eli, not the result of anything they did of their own talent. It truly did feel like we escaped something drastic each and every time the Cowboys forced a punt. This is going to be such a fun season!

What were YOUR takeaways from the Cowboys loss to the Giants? Let me 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 Season-Opening Loss To The Giants" 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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2 Comments
  • http://www.PigskinHub.com/ Jess Haynie

    Scandrick’s been overrated for a while and now he’s on the wrong side of his prime and a major injury. I think it was foolish for Dallas to trust the Scandrick/Carr/Claiborne trio this season. This was the biggest reason that I wanted Ramsey over Elliott back in April.

  • http://facebook Harley Waldrop

    I have been a HUGE FAN since I was 9 years old and I am now 64. Quite a lot of eating, sleeping and bleeding the STAR ! Same crap as last year ! Drive to the red zone– try 3 times and then kick a FG ! On defense ,EVERY play I hold my breath waiting for a LONG RUN or THE BOMB to connect ! I can’t ENJOY watching them– BUT I DO ! NO pass rush ! STUPID penalties ,Play calling sucks ! I am at a loss for words ! Just the same crap EVERY YEAR and “EVERY GAME” ! C’mon guys– Get it together NOW !

Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Inside The Numbers

John Williams

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Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David Irving 2

The Dallas Cowboys will travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to face the Seattle Seahawks in an important game for both teams in the NFC race.

The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 and risk being buried in an NFC West that has seen the Los Angeles Rams become the divisional power. With the San Francisco 49ers trending up, the Seahawks might find themselves left behind. On Monday Night Football, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had little answers for a Chicago Bears team that has one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL. Well, maybe not so underrated now. They battered Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line for six sacks and were able to pressure him into an interception they were able to return for a touchdown.

The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a week one disappointment to take care of business against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. It wasn't a pretty win on offense, save for the first and last drives of the game, but it was a solid win. The defense dominated the New York Giants' offensive line and left them searching for answers at 0-2.

As we get ready for week three let's go Inside The Numbers for yet another important matchup for the Dallas Cowboys.

Team Breakdown

The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 10-8, but have dropped the last two matchups and are 2-3 over the last five games. They've split the last two meetings that played in Seattle, winning the most recent showdown in 2014, 30-23.

If you'll remember, that was the game that had us all believing that Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray led Cowboys team was for real. Sadly the 2014 season ended with the typical heartbreak that we've grown accustomed to in the last 23 years.

Let's take a look at how the matchup breaks down on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

Offense

The Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks offenses are eerily similar statistically as both rank near the bottom in most offensive categories.

Dallas Cowboys at the Seattle Seahawks: Inside The Numbers 2As you can see from the chart above, there aren't many categories where either team ranks inside the top 20 in total offense.

Offensive Observations

  • The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage along the offensive line. They rank inside the top 15 in rush yards, rush TDs, first downs on the ground, and have allowed fewer sacks than the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.
  • The Dallas Cowboys have been excellent through two games at protecting the ball, having only turned it over one time; a fumble by Dak Prescott in the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers.
  • Through two games, the Seahawks haven't rushed for a touchdown. They haven't run it often and haven't run it very well either. They only average 3.6 yards per attempt on the ground. Advantage Cowboys. 
  • While the Seahawks have thrown for more yards this season, Dak Prescott has a better completion percentage. For the year, Russell Wilson has completed only 59.4% of his passes. Dak Prescott is at 64.8%.

Defense

It's on the defensive side of the ball where the Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage, particularly with their pass rush.

Dallas Cowboys at the Seattle Seahawks: Inside the Numbers

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys have the statistical edge in nearly every category.

Defensive Observations

  • The Dallas Cowboys rank in the top five in several defensive categories including points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play, passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns, net yards per attempt, first downs achieved through the air, and sacks.
  • Where the Dallas Cowboys have struggled in the first two games, particularly against the Carolina Panthers was against the run. Though they're around the middle of the pack through two games, the Panthers were able to find a lot of success on the ground. The New York Giants, not so much.
  • The Cowboys are going to have to continue to be careful with the football as the Seattle Seahawks continue to be one of the best at creating turnovers, especially in the secondary. They're tied for first in the NFL in interceptions with five. Through two games, Prescott hasn't thrown one, but he's had a couple potential interceptions dropped. This week he won't be so lucky.

What it All Means

The Dallas Cowboys are going to have a pretty difficult challenge corralling Seahawks' Quarterback Russell Wilson, but the numbers seem to point to it being a long afternoon for Wilson.

The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage when the Seahawks drop back to pass. The Seattle offensive line has allowed the most sacks in the NFL. Coming off allowing six sacks to the Chicago Bears, Wilson could be in for another long day against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is second in the NFL -- to the Chicago Bears -- in sacks with nine.

The Seattle Seahawks won't be able to rely on their running game to keep the Dallas Cowboys defense off balance as they only average 3.4 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season. If the Cowboys can get an early lead this Sunday, it will present a really favorable opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys pass rush.

Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks Stat Notes

0

Dak Prescott hasn't thrown an interception this season. If we can make any observations through two games, it's that he seems to be back to his ball protection ways. As a rookie, Prescott only through four interceptions, before doubling that in 2017 with eight.

2

Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson are tied for 27th in the NFL in yards per route run. That number is better than Stefon Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings, Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions, Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers, and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

3

The Seattle Seahawks have had a hard time getting to opposing passers and have collected only three sacks through the NFL's first two weeks. Prescott was sacked six times in week one, but the Dallas Cowboys offensive line rebounded to keep the New York Giants from collecting a sack in week two.

4

Tyler Lockett has played 53 of his 79 offensive snaps from the slot, but has only been targeted four times, catching four passes for 85 yards. His 1.60 yards per route run out of the slot is tied for 11th in the NFL among players who have played at least 50% of their snaps from the slot.

13.5

Seattle Defensive Lineman Jarran Reed has been the best run defender for the Seahawks, earning a run stop on 13.5% of his run snaps. Overall he sits eighth in the NFL. Among defensive lineman with at least 50% of their team's run snaps, only Da'Shawn Hand and Linval Joseph have a better run stop percentage.

19

The amount of snaps per reception allowed by Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Anthony Brown. No player who has played at least 50% of his coverage snaps in the slot has a higher snap per reception rate in the NFL than Brown's 19.

36.4

According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson's been sacked on 36.4% of his drop backs this season. Only Ryan Tannehill and Nathan Peterman have a worse percentage of players who have dropped back to pass a minimum of 22 times this season.

Wilson's been under pressure on 38.8% of his drop backs, which is sixth in the NFL.

80.4

Dak Prescott's adjusted completion percentage, which "accounts for factors that hurt the passer's completion percentage but don't help show how accurate they are," per Pro Football Focus and "It accounts for dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the QB was hit while they threw the ball."

Prescott's adjusted completion percentage is ninth in the NFL. Better than notable names such as Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ben Roethlisberger, DeShaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, and Andrew Luck.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As I look at the run down for this game and after watching these two teams in week two, I see this as a very favorable matchup for the Dallas Cowboys. Obviously, statistics don't tell the whole story, but the Dallas Cowboys biggest strength, it's pass rush, will be facing a Seattle team that is very weak along the offensive line.

This looks to be a Dallas Cowboys win that will improve them to 2-1.



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Game Notes

Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win

John Williams

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Snap Judgments: Cowboys' Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win

The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.

What a difference a year makes.

The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.

One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.

Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.

  • Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
  • Sean Lee - 41 (60)
  • Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
  • Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
  • Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)

Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus).  Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.

Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.

Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.

Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.

Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.

Other Snap Count Notes

  • Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
  • Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
  • Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
  • Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
  • Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
  • Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.



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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

When the Dallas Cowboys took the field last Sunday against the New York Giants, they did so very differently than last week, starting with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to connect with WR Tavon Austin in the third play of the game. Although there are still many things this team must continue to work on, they looked like a very improved unit in week 2.

Here are my main takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' first win of the year. Let me know what yours are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL and let's talk football!

Cowboys' Secondary Capable of Holding Top WR

If there was one player who could've changed the outcome for the New York Giants, it was WR Odell Beckham Jr. Widely recognized as one of the best wideouts in the nation, Beckham was the biggest challenge the cornerbacks, led by Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, have had in the first two weeks.

None of them followed Beckham all over the field, each stayed on their side of the field and still managed to limit him to four receptions for 51 yards in nine targets. The Giant's offense is not known for being one of the best in the league, but it's the fact that this defense was able to limit exactly the player they needed to. They did their job.

Also, props to the defensive line for keeping the pressure on Eli Manning.

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Taco Charlton Was Dominant VS Nate Solder

With Randy Gregory ruled out for the game, Taco Charlton had a golden opportunity to stay on the field for more snaps. He took advantage of this, as he finished the night with three tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Charlton still has a long way to go in order to prove he was worthy of a first round pick, but we can't deny he hasn't stopped developing. It will be interesting to see how he does now that Gregory is expected to return for week 3.

Dak Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Needed Spark

One of the things I liked the most about the Cowboys' game versus the Giants was how Dak Prescott was utilized. Criticized after a poor performance in Carolina, Prescott came out with a chip on his shoulder.

We've been talking a lot about how Scott Linehan must play Prescott to his strengths and that's precisely what he did by letting Dak run for 45 yards in seven carries. It's completely understandable if the Cowboys don't want to run him as much as the Panthers do with Cam Newton, but the truth is, if #4 hurts defenses with his leg, Ezekiel Elliott won't receiver all of the defense's attention.

Also, shoutout to how they used Tavon Austin. With Elliott, Prescott and Austin being a threat on option plays, this offense could take a step on the right direction.

If Activated, Where Does Rico Gathers Fit Offensively?

Rico Gathers Will Be Used

The Cowboys' Rico Gathers project is moving in the right direction. The 2016 sixth-round pick was active for the first time in his career last Sunday. The first question that popped into our heads was whether or not he'd be actually used in the game. He was.

He even managed to get open in the end zone in a play that could've been TD but Prescott didn't throw a good pass. However, the mere fact that he was able to get open and that the coaches actually put him on the field told us a lot about his future. Cowboys Nation should be excited to see him involved.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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