With yet another must-win game coming in primetime, the Dallas Cowboys (3-5) will face a Philadelphia Eagles team that looks to be a shell of the Super Bowl team they were a year ago. As each game has been this season, this is a winnable contest for America's Team.
The question is, will they win this game.
There are certainly areas that the Dallas Cowboys need to improve on to make a run to the playoffs. And make no mistake, the playoffs are still within reach this season as they sit only two games back of the NFC East leading Washington Redskins. The Cowboys still have eight games remaining and four games left against divisional foes.
If they want to make hay and keep themselves in the playoff picture, they absolutely have to have this game. If the Dallas Cowboys want to win this game, they'll have to accomplish these 3 keys to the game.
1. Contain Fletcher Cox
Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox is one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL. Only Aaron Donald would be considered better by most of the NFL.
With the Dallas Cowboys already down Travis Frederick because of his fight with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the offensive line will now be trying to replace rookie Left Guard Connor Williams. Williams undewent arthoscopic knee surgery this week and will be out this week and likely for several more weeks.
Cox ranks second in total pressures according to Pro Football Focus, which measures pressures as the combination of sacks, hits, and hurries. He has four sacks this season, 25 tackles, including five tackles for loss with 15 quarterback hits.
Fletcher Cox poses a real problem for Joe Looney and Williams replacement, Xavier Su'a-Filo. Su'a-Filo has been a starter in the NFL, playing all 16 games for the Houston Texans each of the last two seasons. Stepping in cold, however, against a front four including Cox is a tough task for a player who the Cowboys signed off the street.
Containing Fletcher Cox is the most important aspect of what the Dallas Cowboys will have to do next...
2. Take Advantage of Ailing Secondary
The Philadelphia Eagles are going to be without Corner backs Jalen Mills and Sydney Jones. They rank second and fourth among Eagles corners in snaps in 2018.
The Dallas Cowboys have attempted to spark their offense with big changes to their wide receiver group in the last few weeks. They traded for Amari Cooper and added Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir to the active roster this week in hopes of trying to help the offense and Quarterback Dak Prescott get going.
The passing game's inefficiency and inconsistency has been one of the main story lines for the Dallas Cowboys this season. How the passing game goes is typically how the offense goes. When the passing game struggles, the offense struggles.
If the Dallas Cowboys can keep Fletcher Cox -- and the rest of the Eagles front seven -- from getting to Dak Prescott, they're going to have opportunities for some big plays on Sunday night. If the debut of Amari Cooper is any indication, the Cowboys will continue to improve in the passing game. The wide receiver depth that the Cowboys will be deploying on Sunday Night Football will be better than anything that the Eagles can put out there to stop them.
The Eagles are hurting in the secondary. The Cowboys, if they want to win, will have to take advantage of them.
3. Don't Allow the Eagles to Fly
The Philadelphia Eagles made a big addition of their own to the passing game by trading for former Detroit Lions Wide Receiver Golden Tate. Tate, who played with the Lions earlier this season, torched the Dallas Cowboys for eight receptions, 132 yards, and two touchdowns in the Cowboys week four win over the Lions.
Tate joins a group of pass catchers including Alshon Jeffrey, Zach Ertz, and Nelson Agohlor that will test the Dallas Cowboys secondary all night long. The Cowboys secondary is fairly healthy, but they haven't played well aside from Corner Backs Byron Jones and Anthony Brown.
The Eagles will likely target Cowboys Corner Chidobe Awuzie on the left side of the defense. Chidobe Awuzie will have to have a better game than he's had this season for the Cowboys to contain the Eagles offense. He's been the week link this season. Not being horrible, but not making many plays or limiting opposing passing games. He's allowed a 128.4 passer rating when targeted, 32 receptions and two touchdowns.
The defensive line is going to be able to get pressure on the Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz, but the Dallas secondary is going to have to hold up for that pressure to mean something. Wentz has been pressured on 34% of his drop backs, yet his quarterback rating is sixth in the NFL when under pressure at 81.8.
Just as important as anything, the Dallas Cowboys will have to prevent the Eagles from converting on third downs. The Eagles are converting at the 13th best rate in the NFL at 41.3%. The defense was horrible at getting off the field on Monday night against the Tennessee Titans and will have to be better tonight against their division rival.
It's going to be a tough battle in the passing game for the Dallas Cowboys defense.
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Every game for the Dallas Cowboys from here on out is a must-win game. They don't have any margin for error moving forward. With eight games left in the regular season, the Cowboys are going to have to get on a run to see the season turn around. This game will have ramifications on how the rest of the 2018 season plays out, but could also have a huge impact on the future of the Cowboys organization for years to come.
Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need
It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.
Let's dive into this week's takeaways!
We Need Robert Quinn Back
The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.
Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need
Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.
Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.
Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen
The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.
Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It
Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).
All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.
He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.
The Brady Report: Cowboys Offense Dominant Despite Slow Start
The Dallas Cowboys followed up their dominant performance last week with yet another blowout divisional win on Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 31-21.
While the Cowboys controlled the game for much of the last three quarters, they actually got off to a slow start in Washington. Once again they fell behind to a lesser team 7-0 early, before scoring on nearly every possession to finish off the game.
Let's get into my game notes from the Cowboys' week two win.
- We have to start these game notes by talking about Dak Prescott. The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible for the second straight week to open this season. Despite the early interception, Prescott continued to look poised and calm in the pocket, allowing him to deliver a dime to Devin Smith for the team's first touchdown. Prescott was picking apart the Redskins secondary during the final three quarters to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he was very effective as a runner, including his dynamic 42 yard run on third down and one with the game still tied. If Dak is going to play like this, the Cowboys can beat anyone.
- Ezekiel Elliott looked a lot more comfortable Sunday than he did against the Giants. Not only were his raw numbers better, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, he was back to his ways of falling forward and avoiding the first tackler. He still didn't really explode the way we all know he can, which means opposing defenses should be scared when considering what the Cowboys offense's full potential could be.
- Which receiver didn't ball out Sunday? Michael Gallup seems to be developing an awesome rapport with Prescott, Amari Cooper continues to prove he's a legit WR1, Randall Cobb was once again effective on swing passes and in the slot, and even Devin Smith had himself a monster game. If Devin Smith is going to be the speed deep threat he was against Washington, look out.
- Ok, now that I've congratulated the majority of the offense, let's talk about the one guy who I'm sure would've liked to have a better day. Left guard Connor Williams. The second year guard was solid overall Sunday, but was abused by Daron Payne from time to time. Most notably, Payne went right through Williams both to force Prescott's interception and on the only sack of the game. Williams has to be better going forward, because he is the clear weak link across this dynamic offensive line right now. Luckily, as a whole, this line has been very good through two games.
- Defensively, things could've gone better for the Cowboys. While a lot of the production through the air came through garbage time, Terry McLaurin was still too effective down the field. Chris Thompson was also getting too much YAC against these defenders. Anthony Brown had a rough day in the slot, missing multiple tackles and not being too great in coverage either. Jourdan Lewis, however, did have himself a good game in limited snaps. Both he and Byron Jones made impressive open field tackles on third downs.
- The Cowboys run defense stepped up from a week ago. The tackling of their front seven overall improved as the game went on, and they held Adrian Peterson to just 25 yards on the ground. Part of this was because of how quickly the Cowboys got to their 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but they were solid nonetheless.
- Dallas' pass rush will benefit greatly from Robert Quinn's return next week against Miami. DeMarcus Lawrence created a couple big pressures on Sunday, but Quinn's presence should help free him up a bit to create more of a consistent pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 2 Against the Redskins
It's still a bit early in the 2019 season, but the Dallas Cowboys ability to go into hostile territory and come away with a victory against the Washington Redskins is a big win. Not only does America's Team remain undefeated to start the season, but they also now sit atop the NFC East in sole possession of the division.
The Dallas Cowboys again got off to a slow start Sunday afternoon against the Redskins but showed their resiliency by continuing to battle throughout the game. I expected a slobber knocker type of game considering the way these two teams battle it out every time they square off against one another and they certainly didn't disappoint. However, it was the Cowboys who prevailed in the end with the 31-21 victory.
But enough with the rehashing of yet another impressive Cowboys win. Let's get to the point of this article and dive into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly this week from the Week 2 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
I really wanted to go with Wide Receiver Devin Smith here this week because he had an impressive game against the Washington Redskins and ended up leading the team in receiving yards (74 yards, 1 TD), but I'm just going to give him a shout out instead. I think the good deservedly goes to Quarterback Dak Prescott. He continues to show he has taken the next step in his development, which is making the Dallas Cowboys offense one of the more lethal units in the NFL.
It may have taken a little while for the Cowboys offense to get going, but when it did it was because Prescott took charge. Once again he looked really good in the passing game, completing 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. His efficiency throwing the ball was awfully impressive, but so was his five rushes for 69 yards on the ground. His only little blemish on the day was the unfortunate interception that just so happened to bounce the right way for the Redskins. Overall though, Dak handled more than his share Sunday and did it really well.
Deciding what to put in this category each week is never an easy task. I absolutely hate singling out a single person, but this week I'm going to have to point my finger at Left Guard Connor Williams. He's my nomination for the bad this week due to the penalties he had at the most inopportune times. Last week Zack Martin did the same thing against the Giants and rebounded. Hopefully, Williams can do the same.
Although I put Williams in the section, I think the penalties the Dallas Cowboys piled up throughout the game against the Redskins probably deserve more attention than I'm giving them. It was a sloppy game from start to finish due to the amount of yellow flags flying Sunday afternoon, but it's kind of to be expected considering they are playing a divisional opponent and how early it still is in the 2019 season. Let's just hope the amount of laundry flying from now on is minimal to none.
For the second week in a row the Dallas Cowboys defense has failed to live up to the expectations many of us have had for them entering the 2019 season. For that reason alone I think they were the ugly from Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins. They really need to step up their game if they want to live up to the aspirations that we not only all have for them, but they have for themselves.
I honestly don't think the Redskins offense is all that much better than the Giants, who the Cowboys made look better than they truly are last week. I think they did the same thing in this Week 2 matchup as well. They are really struggling to bottle up the running game like they did last year. They're also giving too much cushion in the passing game and have allowed too many easy completions underneath. Hopefully they can bounce back next week against the Miami Dolphins, but if not we should all be really concerned.
What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly from the Cowboys victory over the Redskins?
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