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I stubbed my toe on Monday morning. You know what that's like... it's the smallest of pains, but it looms so large. It's both annoying and agonizing. After I shrieked I audibly said, "Oh well. 8-1!".
8-1. It's so beautiful.
The Dallas Cowboys have the best record in the NFL, and they achieved it by ripping victory out of the jaws of one of their oldest rivals - the Pittsburgh Steelers. I witnessed the game in person and have some thoughts, here are my 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Thrilling Win In Pittsburgh.
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There Is Nobody On Earth Like Dez Bryant
The devotion, discipline, and overall character of Dez Bryant has been questioned time and time again over the past six and a half seasons (can you believe it's already been that long?). That needs to end now. Forever.
Dez Bryant suited up and played for the Cowboys on Sunday in Pittsburgh just 24 hours after learning that his father had passed away. The impact of this on someone is not measurable, and Dez Bryant is no exception to that. He managed to play through this, and did so heroically.
Dak Prescott looked Bryant's way more than any other Cowboy (9 total times) and connected with him six times for a whopping 116 yards, not to mention a 50-yard touchdown. Dak also told Dez that his father had "the best seat in the house" for the game, and what a house it was Sunday evening.
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Leon McFadden Deserves A Lot Of Credit
Had the Pittsburgh Steelers won this contest - they didn't, suckers - the play of the game would have undoubtedly been the fake spike that Ben Roethlisberger turned into an Antonio Brown touchdown.
Jason Garrett said in his Monday Press Conference that Leon McFadden, unlike his teammates, was not caught off guard by that play... and the film backs that up.
While every other Cowboy was repeating their post-Cleveland mannequin challenge, Leon McFadden was playing football. He ran step for step with Antonio Brown, he just got beat. It happens. That's the best wide receiver in the NFL, but Leon McFadden was prepared for him. Kudos.
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Terrance Williams Is Very Valuable To This Team
In the days of the offseason, the cries for Brice Butler to replace Terrance Williams as this team's number two wide receiver were very loud. When Terrance had a mental lapse in Week 1 (the Cowboys only loss) those reached uncontrollable levels.
Terrance Williams has been huge for this team, in many different ways. Near the end of the first quarter Dak Prescott found Ezekiel Elliott on a screen pass that went 83 yards to the house, but that doesn't happen without Terrance.
Williams threw a block at the Pittsburgh 45-yard line that gave Zeke the final level of freedom to score on the play. Simply put, the touchdown does not happen without Terrance Williams. Give the man some love.
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DeMarcus Lawrence Is Beginning To Dominate
The Cowboys are masters of duct tape when it comes to the pass rush. You know how to run? Cool, Rod Marinelli will make it work. It certainly felt like this was the strategy through the first four games of the season when DeMarcus Lawrence was absent due to suspension.
DeMarcus was all over the Steelers throughout the contest. His stat line only credits him with four tackles, but it was because of DLaw and his consistent pressure that the Cowboys were able to keep the Steelers at bay.
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Dak Prescott Can Definitely Do Things Tony Romo Can't
The quarterback discussion - controversy is such a tired word - in Dallas still has life in it in my opinion (check back here at Inside The Star later in the week), but there is truth to the claim that Dak Prescott can do things Tony Romo seemingly can't anymore.
Take a look at the Dez Bryant touchdown from Sunday. Seconds after this I said to my Dad in the stands, "We haven't seen Tony Romo move in the pocket like that in quite some time."
Ryan Shazier breaks through Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten to generate some serious pressure on Prescott. Dak plants his right foot and explodes to his left, evading Shazier, and immediately plants his feet before delivering a ball that travels about 50 yards. As Tony Romo apparently mouthed on the broadcast moments later, it was a dime.
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The Cowboys Could Go The Whole Season Without Allowing A 100-Yard Rusher
Rod Marinelli's defense is through nine games and they have yet to let an opposing running back hit triple digits when it comes to yardage. Stand up and applaud them, please.
Le'Veon Bell - one of the best backs in the game - could only muster 57 yards on the ground against this crew. He is arguably the most talented running back that the Cowboys will face through the end of the regular season, and they protected their streak against him. Double digits are awesome!
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Only Good Things Come From The Lucky Whitehead Jet Sweep
Lucky Whitehead picked up 26 yards on a jet sweep near the end of the first half in Green Bay that allowed the Cowboys to keep their drive alive and score a touchdown. I fully believe the jet sweep was the catalyst that changed the game at Lambeau Field.
On the Dak-to-Zeke 83-yard screen play touchdown, the Cowboys ran a fake jet sweep to Lucky. Look how many Steelers are concerned with Lucky, this allowed Zeke to sneak out to the opposite side of the field. This play is magic. Run it 500 times a game, please.
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Going For Two Has A Price
Since the NFL moved the extra points back, Mike Tomlin has notoriously gone for two more than any other Head Coach in the NFL. Obviously there are pros and cons to this methodology, but there's no denying that the Steelers inability to convert any of them plagued them late.
Jason Garrett said on Monday that the Cowboys devoted a bit more time in preparation for this last week, and it obviously paid off. Coach Garrett preaches a "day by day" and "play by play" mentality, and the fact that the Cowboys were able to respond and hold Pittsburgh to no successful conversions one play after giving up a touchdown each time is highly impressive.
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Ezekiel Elliott Has Surpassed The Ridiculously High Hype
209 yards of total offense. 3 touchdowns, including the game-winner. Ezekiel Elliott is a yardage-eating monster that the NFL has been fearful of since the moment Roger Goodell read his name aloud as the 4th Overall Pick.
Take a moment to think back on this hype. This is Ezekiel Elliott, from The Ohio State University, playing for the Dallas Cowboys, he has the best offensive line in the game, he wears crop tops, he gets analysts suspended... this 21-year old has obliterated it all.
Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL MVP. There is no debate.
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The Cowboys Took The Steelers Best Shot, And They Came Out With The Win
I highly encourage you to read what Bob Labriola wrote at Steelers.com regarding this game, this is obviously Pittsburgh's official team site so it's written from their perspective and out of total objectivity. It's phenomenal.
The Steelers played very well. Ben Roethlisberger topped 400 yards. They connected on a fake spike of all things late in the fourth quarter to take the lead... they did everything right. The Cowboys just did more, because they're an elite football team. There is no more hype, there is no hyperbole... this is the best team in the National Football League.
Report: Dallas Cowboys to Sign Free Agent Wide Receiver Brice Butler
The Dallas Cowboys look to be making a move at the wide receiver position as they attempt to bring some life to the position. No they aren't trading for Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon, but bringing back former Wide Receiver Brice Butler.
According to a report from Saad Yousuf from The Athletic, the Dallas Cowboys are set to resign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver but first have to release someone from the 53-man roster.
Cowboys officials are in the process of signing wide receiver Brice Butler, multiple sources tell @TheAthleticDFW. The team has to make a roster move to bring Butler onto the 53 and is trying to decide whom to release to make room for Butler before a final decision is made.
Brice Butler was signed in the offseason by the Arizona Cardinals but was released after training camp. It was a surprising move for the Cardinals. They don't have a ton of wide receiver depth aside from future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.
Butler's caught 73 passes on 133 targets for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns in his five career. In 36 games with the Dallas Cowboys Brice Butler caught 43 passes on 81 targets for 794 yards and six touchdowns. In his time in Dallas, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception.
He never really got a lot of playing time with the Dallas Cowboys who had Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten on the team for the duration of his time in Dallas. The Cowboys coaching staff placed a higher premium on Terrance Williams' run blocking than Butler's big play ability.
To the coaching staff's credit, Butler was never a consistent enough player to be relied upon week in and week out. In 2017, his last season in Dallas, Brice Butler was never targeted more than three times a game and he never caught more than two passes a game. Butler, however, only played 24.51% of the Dallas Cowboys' offensive snaps in 2017.
If the Dallas Cowboys do make this move it's at a curious time. Sources tell 247 Sports' Mike Fisher that the Dallas Cowboys have zero interest at the moment in Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Josh Gordon. You'd think their lack of interest would be because they still like the wide receiver room as it is.
If they do complete the signing of Brice Butler, you'd have to expect that Deonte Thompson would be the wide receiver on the chopping block. They cut him at the end of the preseason and then brought him back during week one.
This signing is unlikely to have an impact on the Dallas Cowboys week two matchup with the New York Giants, but will probably be completed early Monday to get Butler to Frisco to begin preparing for their week three matchup.
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I don't think this is a move that makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They've been down that road before and haven't received the results they wanted. Brice Butler does offer some big play ability, but it was thought that is why they brought in Deonte Thompson and Tavon Austin. Is it possible the Dallas Cowboys are already down on those two players after one game? They wouldn't be bringing Butler back if they didn't have plans for him.
Good or bad, do you think bringing Brice Butler back is the right move for the Dallas Cowboys?
Cowboys, 49ers Are WR Josh Gordon’s Preferred Teams in Trade/Free Agency
It's Sunday morning and the Cleveland Browns are expected to make a questionable decision by tomorrow, which is far from news for a Dallas Cowboys team waiting around for a crucial Sunday Night Football home game tonight. With Cleveland expected to part ways with troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon though, the Cowboys have understandably been linked to Gordon, even more so now with the talented pass catcher stating his own interest in America's Team.
As teams discuss potentially trading for outgoing #Browns WR Josh Gordon, I'm told he's got his eye on two in particular: The #Cowboys and the #49ers.
Before looking into this any further, it's necessary to point out an all-important missing detail. Without any reports of the Cowboys own interest in Gordon, the soon-to-be free agent is simply the latest player to say he'd like to play for the Cowboys - hardly anything new for the Jones.
The Cowboys need for a player like Gordon has never been more evident though. Heavily criticized throughout the offseason for how they handled their wide receivers, the Cowboys passing game was a non-factor in the team's 16-8 week one loss.
Signing or trading for Gordon could do little to fix this, but the risk may also prove worthwhile for Dallas. The Baylor Bears product did put up 1,646 yards in 2013 with minimal talent around him, and has a career 17.3 yards per reception.
His ability to take the top off a defense is something the Cowboys are sorely missing. What they won't miss from not acquiring Gordon is the off-field trouble, taking on a player that missed all of 2015 and 2016 due to suspension.
Last season, Gordon was reinstated for the Browns final five games.
The NFL is, at least cautiously, easing their policy on players suspended for marijuana usage. Look no further than the Cowboys own Randy Gregory to prove this, as Gregory has already become a success story for the league by being with the Cowboys this season.
Whether or not Gregory plays on Sunday night (officially listed as DOUBTFUL) after suffering a concussion in his long-awaited return last week is yet to be determined. So too is Josh Gordon's future as the latest player on his way out of Cleveland.
From @gmfb Weekend: The #Browns plan to release Josh Gordon after he showed up late, injured his hamstring during a photo shoot, and in general completely lost their trust. https://t.co/cX2HGZPBXi
I'm of the belief that Gordon won't last long on the open market, meaning this won't be the latest Cowboys story/non-story to drag through the presses. Any fan looking to pass time between now and kickoff against the Giants could probably find me saying the same about free agent WR Dez Bryant however.
Thanks to Bryant still being a free agent along with former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, the team has looked smarter than expected in the long-term on moves like these.
If there's a smart way to bring on Josh Gordon, Dallas should be considering that too.
Is Dak Prescott’s Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?
As the final whistle sounded last Sunday with the Carolina Panthers coming away victorious over your Dallas Cowboys, it was pretty clear there were a lot of things wrong with the offense. Many pointed to Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan and the play calling. Others to the offensive line. Others to Quarterback Dak Prescott. And others to the wide receivers.
There was plenty of blame to go around in an offensive performance that left Cowboys Nation struggling for answers. Simply put, there wasn't much good from that side of the football in their 16-8 loss.
Well, as this week has gone on in preparation for the New York Giants Sunday night, there have been answers to questions from within the organization that make me, an outsider, feel really awkward about the relationships inside the organization. Particularly on the offensive side of the football.
There was this from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan responding to Troy Aikman's critique of a lack of creativity in the play calling of Linehan.
"People have their own opinions. It's hard to be super creative when you're having loss-yardage plays, to be honest with you. But I thought we had some really good stuff for the game that we couldn't use. But he's entitled to whatever opinion he has about that. It's our job to go out and show him that we have some stuff that maybe he'll be impressed with."
Scott Linehan - via Jon Machota, Sports Day DFW
Then this from Wide Receiver Allen Hurns.
Cowboys WR Allen Hurns on loss to Carolina: "Statistically people are going to say we didn't play well. If you really break down the game, we created separation. That's what you want to do as a wideout.
With Dak Prescott speaking to the media on Thursday, some interesting nuggets of information came out about the communication that takes place on game day between Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, and Quarterback Dak Prescott.
Namely Dak described Kellen Moore as a "mediator" between the quarterback and the offensive coordinator.
“Kellen, I guess you call him the mediator at that point, when I come to the sideline. Me and him talk about what we saw and then he gets on the headset and he’s talking with Linehan. Then he’ll get back to me with what Linehan’s thinking with the plays and stuff that we’re working towards, so it’s been great.”
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback
Count 1310 The Ticket's Bob Sturm as one of many confused by Dak's statement about Moore as the go between.
Thought it was really interesting to day that Dak said he talks to Kellen Moore and QB coach Kellen Moore talks to Linehan. Linehan doesn't talk directly to his QB during the game. I think that is weird.
It's becoming clear that there is a huge disconnect between the play caller and his quarterback and this disconnect is affecting everyone on the offensive side of the ball.
Everyone, after one week, appears to be placing blame on someone else, which is really odd to me. Normally, when a unified group of players is asked a question that may lead to finger-pointing, they don't really answer the question.
Above, you can see that Hurns basically said, it wasn't the wide receivers' fault. Linehan, reacting to Troy Aikman's comments about the lack of creativity in the offense, placed the reason for the lack of creativity on the players. And Dak Prescott appears to allude to a really odd communication structure.
It has me wondering, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, if there is a trust issue with the Dallas Cowboys offensive staff and players.
Trust is a very important aspect of any group of people who work together to meet a common goal. Football is no different. As far as team sports go, the NFL requires a strong sense of trust and commitment to one another to make the intricacies of an NFL offense work.
The coach has to trust that the player he's calling the plays for. If the play caller doesn't trust the players to execute, he's going to be much more conservative than he should be. A play caller who trusts his players will allow them to play and will be aggressive in his game planning and play calling.
The player has to trust that the play caller is putting the player(s) in the best position possible to succeed. If the players don't trust the play caller, they aren't going to buy in to the offensive scheme. If they don't buy in to the offensive scheme then there may not be the necessary effort put in to see the scheme succeed.
From the outside looking in, the relationship between quarterback and play caller seems fractured. It's not a good sign for the relationship of the two men tasked with guiding this offense that there is a mediator involved in their communication. If there is an issue in the relationship that is leading to poor communication, then the Dallas Cowboys leadership structure -- Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett -- need to make a change to better enhance offensive communication.
They aren't going to change quarterbacks at this point in the season. The move they can make that Head Coach Jason Garrett appears unwilling to make, is changing who calls the plays. If the relationship between Linehan and Prescott is such that Kellen Moore needs to act as "mediator," then the time has come to change the play caller. Whether it's Moore who takes the reigns or Garrett who returns to calling plays, the change may need to be made soon to salvage this season.
Trust is a very valuable resource in any organization. It's the reason that Jason Garrett has remained head coach for as long as he has. The ownership trusts him.
The lack of trust that appears to exist between Dak Prescott and Scott Linehan is something that not only hurts their relationship, but the chemistry with the entire offense.
Football may be the greatest team sport in the world. And as such it requires a high level of chemistry . It requires everyone on offense and defense buying into their respective schemes and trusting each other to execute those schemes.
Obviously a win against the Giants would go a long way toward healing whatever wounds exist between Prescott and Linehan. A loss however could potentially deepen a divide between the quarterback and his coordinator.
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