Connect with us

Dallas Cowboys

5 Of Dallas’ Next 6 Games Pose A Real Challenge For The Cowboys

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Upcoming Schedule Poses Next Challenge for Dallas

Through four weeks of the season, the Dallas Cowboys have taken care of business. They sit at 3-1, capitalizing on a stretch of winnable games to start the season.

That's not to say the team hasn't impressed thus far. They can be considered one of the league's surprises through the first quarter of the season.

They continue to dominate up front offensively, boasting an elite rushing attack led by rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott.

Dak Prescott continues to improve on a weekly basis, and most importantly, remains turnover free.

The moment has never seemed too big for either first-year player. But now things get tougher.

Five of the next six games for Dallas are against tough opponents. Luckily for Dallas, a tilt with the league-worst Cleveland Browns is thrown in the mix. We will learn much more about what this team is made of in the coming weeks.

Here are some thoughts about the team as they face their toughest stretch of games on the year.

Surviving Key Injuries/Suspensions

When I look at how the Cowboys are built, it is clear who the most important players are on this team. Outside of the obvious importance on the quarterback position, it can be argued that Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith are the next up in terms of importance for this team's success.

With injuries to key slot coverage corner Orlando Scandrick and left guard La'el Collins, it was a rather impressive victory this past Sunday, considering. Not to mention missing their two best pass rushers as well.

The fact Dallas has survived these injuries and suspensions, all while looking pretty good in the process, says a lot about the team.

I get Prescott is the main difference from the play of last year's quarterbacks, but this team clearly has a different aura about it.  The fact Dallas will get some of their key guys back in the coming weeks should provide a big boost as the schedule gets tougher.

Either way, their play with a depleted lineup last week was encouraging.

Pass Rush Must Improve

If Dallas wants to be for real and hang with some of the teams coming up on their schedule, the pass rush must improve now.

Getting DeMarcus Lawrence back next week will help the team, but this unit ranks towards the bottom of the league in sacks with six. This is the biggest question mark and scare for this team moving forward. Yes the team is 3-1, but the skill of opposing quarterback play on the schedule will rise in the coming weeks.

Facing off against some of the league's best quarterbacks in the coming weeks, some in their house, will be truly tough tests. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger will shred Dallas if the pass rush does not improve.

When you look at some of the other upcoming match-ups too, Dallas has other good quarterbacks coming up that could perform well if not pressured by our front. Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and even Carson Wentz cannot be allowed to get comfortable in the pocket.

How Will Dallas Look If Forced Off-Script?

This one is an interesting one for me to analyze.

I love Dak Prescott. I appreciate and respect everything he has accomplished thus far this year. I get that he hasn't had to be the guy to carry the team, make the big plays down the field, and bring this team back out of huge deficits. So there is an unknown element there as to where he stands in that portion of his game.

But it will be intriguing to see how Dallas looks if their run game is taken away or if Prescott is forced to carry the team offensively. Yes, the team fell behind 14-0 on Sunday, but it was still early enough to stick with their game plan.

This will most likely present itself in the coming weeks against better teams and some potent offenses. Not saying Prescott can't do it, but this is the main thinking that goes into bringing a guy like Tony Romo back in for the front office.

You have to ask yourselves this...

If Dallas gets in a high-scoring game or falls behind, are they truly built to hang around in these types of games without Tony Romo at the helm?

Just some food for thought.

Do you think the Cowboys will continue to win games and surprise in the coming weeks -- weather the storm -- or fall victim to this tough stretch of games? Test number one starts this Sunday against Cincinnati.



Die hard Dallas Cowboys fan behind enemy lines here in New Jersey. CBS Sports employee and contributor for InsideTheStar.com.

Advertisement
4 Comments
  • Kevin Black

    I believe they have a chance against Cincinnati due to the Bengals erratic behavior and not having Tyler Eifert available. Green Bay I think will take the Cowboys back behind the woodshed. Playing in GB for the first time for Dak and Zeke might be too much to overcome. Our lack of pass rush will really hurt against GB.

    • Justin Grohowski

      I also believe they have a good chance against Cincinnati this weekend. So does Vegas apparently. Eifert is out as you mentioned which helps. Gut feeling is that it is close either way. I could also see your other point becoming a factor if things get close late. Hard to predict stuff like that though.

      And I completely agree with Green Bay and even Pittsburgh for that matter. The Cowboys match up well with teams that are more defensive oriented. I’d rather have our elite offensive line go to battle with some of the league’s top defenses than put our underwhelming pass rush up against great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. With the explosive offenses that both possess, those games are going to be hard to win, especially on the road.

      Bengals, Ravens, and Philadelphia all at home in this stretch though. Have to take 2 of those 3 at least.

      Thanks for reading, Kevin.

  • John Williams

    Green Bay will probably be the game that brings the hype train to a halt. Not that they will be bad, but when you lose a game it makes everyone question everything. I think they are good enough to beat Cincy, but it’s going to be a very tough matchup. Probably comes down to the wire.

    • http://gravatar.com/jgrohowski jgrohowski

      Completely agree John. I could see this game going either way. Cincinnati is definitely the most complete team Dallas has faced thus far.

      Green Bay/Pittsburgh scare me, especially on the road. With our pass rush, or lack there off, we just don’t match up well against potent passing offenses, even if our secondary has been playing well. Can’t give elite passers all day to throw. As I mentioned in my comment to Kevin above, I’d rather go up against a defensive oriented team rather than a team like Green Bay. At least then you know our strength (Offensive Line) would be going against their strength instead of getting our weakness (pass rush) exposed.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

Sean Martin

Published

on

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Coming into their week two match up against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys knew they could control the game with -- for the first time in years against Eli Manning -- their pass rush and strong secondary. Exposing a weak Giants offensive line went well beyond the Cowboys front four in this win though.

The Cowboys put Manning on the turf six times, with Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard relentlessly dialing up pressure. With the depth at linebacker to match up with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram, along with Byron Jones' efforts on Odell Beckham Jr., it's no secret how the Cowboys defense forced Manning to dump the ball to his running back for 14 receptions.

Barkley's longest catch going for ten yards, this was a nearly flawless game for Rod Marinelli's defense to even the Cowboys record at 1-1. Expecting much of the same from their front seven against a poor Seahawks OL, now is a good time to look back at some of the pressure packages the Cowboys used in week two.

With a core of versatile linebackers they can trust, the Cowboys deployed Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Damien Wilson, and Leighton Vander Esch all over the field to present the Giants with different looks. What made the Cowboys defensive play calling so successful was their LBs ability to cover ground quickly and create depth in coverage.

By doing so, the Giants could not take any chances down the field, their longest passing play going for 37 yards.

Blitz1

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

On this play, even with the Giants looking to get the ball out quickly, the pressure from Smith and Wilson disrupt the timing. Sean Lee, the only Cowboys linebacker not sent after Manning on the play, ends up rallying from his starting WILL position to get in on the tackle. The Giants did not have the numbers up front to block Damien Wilson attacking from SAM, although more impressively, Smith was able to rip through a partial block from the right guard and get ahead of Wilson on their rush.

Blitz2

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This next blitz shows off the Cowboys strong coverage downfield against the Giants. Cornerback Anthony Brown had his fingerprints all over this game in the back end for Dallas, but on this play comes out of the slot after Manning. Sensing the pressure at his feet, Manning steps up and actually puts himself in position to deliver a good ball, but is forced into yet another check down.

While linebacker blitzes are part of the "Richard effect" on the Cowboys defense, a well-timed slot blitz is a staple of Rod Marinelli's scheme. Using Brown a number of times in this role off the strong side, the Giants had no answers for the different pressures Dallas sent their way against Ereck Flowers at right tackle.

Blitz3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Even when Smith was picked up, as he was in the above play, the Cowboys capitalized on missed blocking assignments to get home with their front four. Taco Charlton the benefactor at RDE here, watch as Barkley rushes to keep Lee from having a straight run at his QB - allowing Charlton to do the same off the edge. Running untouched on the play, Charlton does a nice job taking a sharp angle to Manning and chasing him to the ground.

Blitz4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

As much as the Cowboys cornerbacks were a huge part of the team's confidence in sending pressure, their safeties also performed well in coverage. I wrote about the above play on Monday morning in my Sean's Scout that immediately follows every Cowboys game:

"That's a fantastic play by Jeff Heath to run across the field and tackle Evan Engram short of the line to gain on third down.

The Giants drive would continue with a fourth down conversion, but the Cowboys defense did eventually force a punt.

The Cowboys safeties were primarily called upon to play in run support in this game, a role Heath has struggled in previously. Showing off his strengths as an athletic and rangy defensive back on this play, Heath didn't get pushed up the field by Engram on his release, hunting him down after the catch in front of a fired up Dallas bench."

Heath picking up Engram is just one example of a Cowboys defender exceeding expectations in coverage. Smith was able to run with Beckham Jr., as was Charlton on separate plays later in the game.

Blitz6

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The only fitting way to conclude this film study is with a DeMarcus Lawrence sack. The Cowboys best individual defender, Lawrence had his way with Flowers as we all expected. Playing to another one of Tank's strengths here though, Lawrence rushes to the inside off a well-executed T/E stunt with Tyrone Crawford.

Also sending Brown at Manning again, the Giants pass pro leaves Lawrence unabated to the quarterback. Unlikely to escape the grasp of Lawrence on such a free rush, Manning does try to abort the pocket, but had Brown crashing down on him to collapse things.

Lawrence might not earn many easier sacks this season. None of the Cowboys starters on defense are more capable of using their own ability to get to the QB than Lawrence still, who is getting all the help he needs from Richard as his play caller.

Through just two games, the Cowboys commitment to forcing the issue on defense has potential to keep this team atop the NFC East as the offense comes into its own.

Depending on the development of their own passing game, this may have to be a defense that can win Dallas games. The only way to do so is with sacks and turnovers.

The latter is something Marinelli's defenses have always excelled at when at full strength (the Cowboys are expecting Randy Gregory back as early as this week and DT David Irving comes off suspension in week five). The former is something the Cowboys are creating with a deeply talented front seven, orchestrated by one of the best in the business.

The Cowboys will look to build on their nine sacks this season against the Seahawks on Sunday, a team that's allowed the most in the league at 12. Their timing to go after Russell Wilson will be tested more than it was against the Giants, with Richard also better positioned to aid the Cowboys against his former team.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Continue Reading

Player News

Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Facing Multi-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Terrance Williams
Ric Tapia via AP

An arrest last May for public intoxication may finally result in a suspension for Dallas Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams.

David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, who reported the pending suspension, outlined the details of Williams' case. Charges were ultimately dropped once Terrance completed an alcohol education course and paid damages to the city.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/3RmwQOllim via @sportsdaydfw

However, as Cowboys fans know too well, the NFL reserves the right to suspend players under the Personal Conduct Policy regardless of legal outcomes. The 2017 season was marred by the league's persecution of Ezekiel Elliott for domestic violence despite no arrests or charges coming from any legal or police entity.

In Williams' case, there's no dispute of his guilt. It is unlikely he will appeal any decision the NFL makes.

The potential that Terrance will be missing for 2-4 games helps explain the Cowboys' move earlier this week to bring back WR Brice Butler. With both currently active, Dallas has an unusually high seven receivers on their 53-man roster.

It's already Friday, so the suspension is doubtful to come for this week's game in Seattle. But Terrance could easily be one of the seven inactive players on game day, having received the fewest snaps of any Cowboys WR last week against the Giants.

We'll see soon enough, likely as soon as next week, just what the league has in store for Terrance Williams.



Continue Reading

Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys’ Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

John Williams

Published

on

Dallas Cowboys' Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

In every game, whether it's a sporting event or a board game there is a path -- and sometimes more than one -- to victory. For the Dallas Cowboys, it's no different. As they get set to face a Seattle Seahawks team that is 0-2 for the first time since 2015, they'll have to win in several areas to bring home the W.

After starting out 0-2 in 2015, the Seahawks finished the season with a 10-6 record and won their wild card game over the Minnesota Vikings before falling in the divisional round to the Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks are one of those teams that you can get down, but can never count out. If the Dallas Cowboys want to come out on top in their trip to the Pacific Northwest, they are going to have to come ready to play.

In particular, these are the things that the Dallas Cowboys have to achieve to be the victors on Sunday.

Limit Big Plays

The Seattle Seahawks are a very interesting offensive case study. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but have invested very little in trying to protect their most important asset.

They rely on Russell Wilson's improvisational ability and penchant for big plays.

In 2017, Wilson had a quarterback rating of 100.9 on attempts greater than 20 yards down the field, per Pro Football Focus. He threw the ball "deep" 91 times, completing 31 passes for 1,134 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had the most deep attempts in the league last season and tied with Alex Smith with the most touchdowns on deep attempts. Wilson's yardage was nearly 200 yards more than the next best in the NFL on deep passing.

Wilson's going to take some deep shots. If you watched the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears, you noticed that even though Wilson was getting battered, it didn't deter him from taking shots deep down the field. Sometimes into unfavorable coverages.

The secondary has an advantage over the Seattle Seahawks group of wide receivers, but they'll have to stay disciplined and not allow the big pass plays to beat them.

In a game where they were being dominated for more than three quarters, the Seahawks were able to hang around and had a chance at the end because of their penchant for big plays.

Don't get beat deep.

Wrangling Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawks have allowed the most sacks in the league through two weeks. They've allowed six in each of their first two games this season. The Dallas Cowboys are going to have opportunities to sack Russell Wilson this week.

They have to take advantage.

Like Cam Newton in week one, Russell Wilson is a very elusive quarterback. Not only is he really good at making plays with his legs, he can be difficult to bring down. The Dallas Cowboys will have to work to keep Wilson in the pocket and finish when they get an opportunity to bring him down. He's not a physical presence like Newton is, but he's slippery and has some of that Tony Romo elusiveness to him.

If the potential tackler doesn't get Wilson down on first contact, it could lead to big plays both through the air and on the ground. Wilson averages 33.6 yards per game on the ground in his career and 5.7 yards per attempt. In order to get off the field on third down, they're going to have to prevent Wilson from using his legs to pick up third downs.

Establishing the Pass to Set Up the Run

At this point in the Dallas Cowboys offensive approach, everyone in the world knows what the Dallas Cowboys want to do on offense. They want to run the ball.

The Dallas Cowboys did a great job using this knowledge to their advantage on the first series of the game against the New York Giants.

On the first play of the game, they used a Run-Pass Option, with a clear out to the flat by Tight End Geoff Swaim, and found Allen Hurns on a slant to set up a second and short. Then after picking up that second and short with a run by Ezekiel Elliott, they used a straight play action out of a two running back, one tight end set, and hit Tavon Austin for the 64 yard touchdown.

Dak's willingness to throw the ball deep on a couple other occasions helped open up the run. The deep ball has to be a threat in order to back defenses off the line of scrimmage and do what you do best: Run the Ball. If they aren't going to back off, then you have to keep throwing it until you hit the deep ball enough that it forces them to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys were able to run the ball pretty effectively for the rest of the game, even if they didn't hit a lot of big plays. With the New York Giants interior defensive line, it was going to be tough sledding anyway. Getting things going through the air, helped out immensely.

The Seattle Seahawks are going to try to do what everyone does; put the ball in Dak Prescott's hands. If they're going to win on Sunday, it's going to be because Prescott had another efficient game throwing the ball.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

This game sets up really well for the Dallas Cowboys to improve their record to 2-1 and keep pace with the upper tier teams in the NFC. Every win matters, but these NFC games matter even a bit more. No game in the NFL is a cakewalk and this game is no different. If the Dallas Cowboys aren't able to do the above, it could be a long day for America's Team. 



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending