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A week of posturing…

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Posturing.  I really love that word.  I hear it quite a bit during the football offseason, as I watch UFC and WEC to feed my love for all contact sports.  In fighting, in short, it is used to describe the strategy fighters employ to set up their opponent for submissions, knock outs, or to defend against either.  But you could also use posturing to describe various statements from the media, as well as, how teams prepare for upcoming games.


Take for instance the now infamous comments from Emmitt Smith stating that he can see the Cowboy’s winning 7 games, delivered in a manner that would suggest he was being generous with that prediction.  The posturing element, of course, is that had Emmitt adhered to the status quo, you probably would not have heard about it and it would not have any way helped Emmitt’s now dying options as a sports analyst.  This posturing, breathed new life in his visibility to the sports loving world; though, I doubt it helps his chances catching on again with any media outlets.  Maybe Tashard Choice could allow him to be a guest on his Cowboy’s insider column with the Dallas Morning News.


In response to Emmitt’s comment’s, Wade reasserted that the Cowboy’s have leader’s and have had leaders.  He further pointed out that in 97 the Cowboys went 6 – 10, questioning what happened to their leaders then?  In this scenario, Wade was posturing to protect his team.


Or how about Jean-Jacques Taylor’s recent article entitled “Trust Busters:  Dallas Cowboys haven’t rewarded fans’ faith.”  In this he points to the Cowboys lack of a play off wins since the mid-90’s, trying to lend credibility to a trend that, in his mind, should continue to haunt the Cowboys, despite being a completely different team every year, including this one.  As usual, JJT is posturing to look intelligent at season end with his finger lightly tapping the “I told you so” button likely located in full view somewhere on his computer keyboard.


Of course, my favorite use of the word “posturing” involves what Wade intends to do to stifle the big arm of  Byron Leftwich with the slowing, but still effective trio of receiving weapons Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton, and Kellen Winslow.  Not to be overlooked is also another effective trio of RB’s, Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward, and Earnest Graham.  Footnote to Mike Jenkins:  Ward may grant you an opportunity to redeem yourself.  Don’t usher fate by this go around!


Coincidentally, we faced Kellen Winslow last year in the 1st game when he was with the Brown’s.  Acknowledging our deficiencies at Safety last year, Wade challenged Greg Ellis to jam Kellen at the line throughout the game to upset his timing with Derek Anderson and it worked to perfection, Ellis limiting Kellen to 5 receptions for 47 yards and 1 touchdown.  That’s not bad for a linebacker who had played very little in coverage against what many consider to be an elite pass catching TE.  With Ellis gone, though, how does Wade address him this year?  Does he have Anthony Spencer, Greg Ellis’ successor, shadow him, allow Sensabaugh to prove his worth in coverage, or does he try a combination of both?  Anthony might be able to match him in physicality, but he won’t be able to run with Kellen stride for stride down the field.  Sensabaugh should be able to keep up with him, but I have to think Kellen win’s the battle when it comes to getting to the ball in the air.  In my mind, it probably will be a combination of both.  Spencer will frustrate Kellen at the line, but will peel off to either watch for the check down or to pursue the normally statuesque Leftwich while Sensabaugh will pick him up to ensure Kellen doesn’t have an opportunity to create in space.


On offense, the double-move wide receiver route is apparantly the big upgrade Greg Olson brings to the table.  Trouble is, the more moves in a given route, the more time your QB needs.  Add to that the fact that Leftwich has a slow release and a long wind, and Ware and company should have plenty of opportunities to but him on his back.


Much has been made about the lack of tape our defense will be armed with to attack the Bucs offense, considering the recent dismissal of their Offensive Coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and promotion of quarterbacks coach Greg Olson.  In short, the Cowboy’s don’t even have the benefit of tape from the preseason.  In my mind, too much has been made of it.  Considering that most coaches, including that of the Cowboy’s, like to keep things vanilla throughout the preseason, I’m not sure this will really make that much of a difference in the game.  The key, as is always, is execution in all aspects.  Execute identifying the play; run or pass?  Execute flowing to the ball and prevention of play development.  Execute the tackle.  Execute the ball carrier.  As the season wears on, then the film study becomes paramount, because the real meat and potatoes of success comes from knowing each opponent’s tendencies as a team and individually.


From what I've looked at, the Bucs are weak on the edges and a big part of their strategy will be to pin their ear backs and try to keep Romo on his back.  Watch for the Cowboy's to employ a variety of different screens (RB, TE, or WR)  to keep the Bucs defense from putting pressure on Romo.


It’s all posturing, in the end.  The big question is what are the Cowboys trying to do:  Force the Bucs to submit, knock them out, or defend against both?  Hopefully it’s not the latter.



I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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1 Comment
  • Jonathan

    FYI – I realize I get an incomplete on this one. If the above seems to be lacking something that’s because this was the outline that I had intended to add substance to. My method typically involves me writing all the ideas that have been rolling around in my head down first, then I go back, fact check, add to the points that need it, and re-read several times until I’m confident in the product. Trouble is, my week has not presented me with too much time to complete the process, so rather than not submitting it all, I figured I’d just submit what I have and then respond to the comments as needed.

    The one aspect of this that is missing is my prediction. So without further ado Cowboy’s 24 Bucs 13. The Cowboy’s may start slow; don’t be alarmed. I actually think they are planning to see how the Buc’s defense respond’s to various looks. Then from there they will attack the exposed weaknesses. On the other hand, the Cowboy’s defense is going to be looking to hit the Bucs in the mouth hard and often. If the Bucs gain any momentum early, it could be a long day. But I don’t foresee that happening.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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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

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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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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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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