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Game Notes

3 Cowboys with Something to Prove Against the Lions

John Williams



3 Cowboys with Something to Prove Against the Lions

Well, here we go again. The Dallas Cowboys are looking to secure a bounce back win to even their record at 2-2 and not get left behind in the NFC East standings. It was a poor game all over the field for the Cowboys as neither the offense or defense had much of an impact on the game.

Sure there were some positive individual performances, such as Leighton Vander Esch stepping up and leading the team in tackles, Ezekiel Elliott rushing for more than 120 yards, or Byron Jones continuing to show he's the best cornerback on the roster.

While there were some positive performances, most of the team really struggled against the Seahawks. For the Dallas Cowboys to pull to .500, several players will need to have bounce back games.

Dak Prescott, Quarterback

This is the second time this season that I've featured Dak Prescott in this space. And that's not a good thing. It's getting to the point in Quarterback Dak Prescott's career where he needs to start stringing together good games to secure a long-term future with the Dallas Cowboys.

After a really hot start to his career, a 24 game span that saw him have a passer rating around 100. It's getting harder and harder to defend Prescott at this point. In eight of his last 11 games, Prescott has failed to reach a quarterback rating of 90.

If you were to take Dak Prescott's last 11 games and project them over a 16 game season, here's what they would look like.

289 completions on 464 attempts for a completion percentage of 62%, 2,915 passing yards 12 touchdown passes, 16 interceptions, 65 carries for 359 yards, three rushing touchdowns, and 48 sacks. For reference, Jacoby Brissett was the most sacked quarterback in 2017 with 52.

I've looked elsewhere to try to excuse Dak Prescott's poor play, but at some point a franchise quarterback has to overcome it. So far to start the 2018 NFL season, Prescott hasn't done that.

His two interceptions on Sunday weren't entirely his fault as they were catchable passes, but they weren't on time or exactly where they needed to be either.

Prescott has to speed up his internal clock and his anticipation to see the routes open up before they do so he can release the ball before players make their cuts. If he hits Gallup in stride on Sunday, he has a chance for some yards after the catch.

Kavon Frazier, Safety

Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes on Sunday to beat the Dallas Cowboys. On both of those touchdown passes, you can see Kavon Frazier coming into the picture late and Chidobe Awuzie playing as if there was supposed to be safety help over the top.

Frazier, in Xavier Woods first game back from injury, was awful with his 25% of the defensive snap share.

On the three targets into Kavon Frazier's coverage, he allowed three receptions for 66 yards, two first downs, and a touchdown. That includes the 52 yard reception for a score by Seahawks Wide Receiver Tyler Lockett.

The snap discrepancy between Frazier (17), Jeff Heath (55), and Xavier Woods (66) is a huge gap that Frazier can't allow to widen. At this point he runs the risk of finding himself on the sidelines when the defense is on the field much like Jourdan Lewis.

Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver

It wasn't a very good day for the Dallas Cowboys offense altogether. Rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup was among Cowboys on that side of the football that had moments he'd soon like to forget.

On the second drive of the game for the Cowboys, they had some momentum going after Ezekiel Elliott opened it up with a nice seven yard run on first down followed by Tavon Austin's 18 yard rush on a jet sweep.

With first and 10 on the Dallas Cowboys 40 yard line, Dak through a slant to Michael Gallup -- that he had to wait on -- and the ball went through his hands, bounced off his chest and was intercepted by Earl Thomas.

When you only get four targets a game, and some of them are off target passes, you have to make your opportunities count. The opportunities have been few for Gallup to start his rookie career, and he let one literally slip through his fingers on Sunday.

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Which Cowboys do you think have something to prove come Sunday? Let us know in the comment section. 

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

1 Comment
  • Steve

    Well first of all I believe either Linehan or Garrett has to show up and coach these guys on the offensive side of the ball because even though the defense didnt play up to par they are better prepared as far as Big D using lackluster safeties to try and make a top 5 unit out of the trio of safeties we have! Frazier and Woods are below average safeties and if that isnt obvious enough a reason to trade for Thomas then nothing is! IMO Richard should be HC and then we NEED TO find a true #1 WR to keep safeties from dropping down into the box and stacking the line and making Dak beat them because he has NO TIME to throw and Zeke did a masterful job running last week with the help of the Oline to achieve 127 yards! Dak has to throw downfield in order to keep corners honest and that means he has to have time and someone to get open to throw too!

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie



Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin



Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.

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