As a Dallas Cowboys fan I am excited to know that it’s only two days until the first game of the season, albeit only a preseason game I’m still looking forward to seeing my ‘Boys in blue kicking some tail on the turf once again.
Needless to say, I, and many of you too, was left with a bitter taste in my mouth after the crushing defeat at the hands of the Eagles last season. It was the icing on a crap cake after all the injuries and drama fueled on by the mediots in need of a story. So some of it turned out to be true, or more true than the Cowboys organization wanted us to believe at the time, it merely turned a sad and frustrating situation into a disappointing end of an era and end of a season that started so full of promise.
But as a blogger I’ve been feeling somewhat without during this training camp.
Maybe it’s because my fandom has found itself in the backseat for the last month as life presented me with much more pressing issues to contend with than finding a way to watch the games at work and the best places for complete camp coverage.
From the numerous and annoying references to “Coachable” Roy Williams on the DMN – you know what I’m talking about – to the news of players being held of practices and those slated to miss the preseason opener in California this Thursday evening. It’s been enough to read, but nothing to get excited about.
The only real bright spot coming out of camp, considering that we don’t get the full scoop on everything being done as far as plays and schemes go is the increased communication between Williams and Tony Romo. You know, the kind of communication that makes Cowboys fans cheer until their throats are sore and opposing fans boo their own teams’ secondary. Pass and catch.
So now we have Terence Newman and mike Jenkins both out and while the word is that neither injury is serious, it causes me great concern. Didn’t we hear the same thing last year when Newman got hurt in camp? Didn’t he end up missing like six games in total because of that “not too serious” injury?
What about the injuries that aren’t too serious, after last season how can any of us really believe that the severity of the injury at first means anything? I mean we pretty much knew what was up with Felix Jones last year, and it was a totally different and non-football related injury that landed him on injured reserve for more than half of the season.
It makes it harder to be a fan when you see things like I am seeing them now, undoubtedly, but it’s the eternal optimist in me that still peaks it’s head to let know these Cowboys could do it this year.
We’ve got all but one of the weapons that we had in 2007 when we outscored all but one team in the league and lead the NFC. The one weapon we’re missing is missing because he began to backfire on us every other game by doing interviews with the likes of Deion Sanders and steadily causing the ball to be forced his way far too often, and I might add into the hands of a quick defender far too often as well.
Our defense is missing some of the bigger and long standing forces of the past in guys like Greg Ellis and Anthony Henry. But we’ve finally broken free of the liability known very simply as Mr. Horse Collar a.k.a. SS Roy Williams. Not only that, but we also replaced him with a guy that can do what safety in a 3-4 defense should do best – cover – and he does it better than a lot of other guys around the league at his position. Now maybe that’s an overstatement since we haven’t seen him in a game yet and especially since the first preseason game will be a very short one for him. Gerald Sensabaugh is likely the biggest upgrade we’ve made on defense in several years, aside from the miracle of drafting DeMarcus Ware.
We even get the sheer joy of having one the leagues all-time defensive minds not only leading our defense, but taking direct and hands on control of it as the new defensive coordinator by title and duty.
Even the special teams unit has gotten a huge face lift with a new coach known for running a tight and very effective unit in Joe DeCamillis. Add to it the return of a healthy core of kick and punt returners and the addition of some muscle and athleticism from the new linebackers drafted this year, and you’ve got a special teams unit that should be vastly better than the one we booed so often in 2008.
So yeah, maybe the steady and somewhat unremarkable progress during camp has made things boring for a blogger like me, but for a fan, things are definitely looking up.
Are you ready for some football?
SEA 24, DAL 13: Cowboys Offensive Woes Continue
Inefficient passing and turnovers cost the Dallas Cowboys today, leading to a 24-13 loss to the previously winless Seahawks in Seattle.
Dallas's offense produced just a single field goal by halftime, with Dak Prescott only completing two of his first nine passes for just four yards. He got better as the game went on, but still finished with just 168 passing yards and a single touchdown.
The box score will say Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was a bobbled catch by Michael Gallup. The other was not a good throw, trying to find Blake Jarwin in traffic. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner went up and caused a tipped ball.
Both picks ended up in the hands, and ankle, of Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He drew a taunting penalty for bowing at the Dallas sideline on his second INT, almost as if mocking the team for not giving up enough to trade for him.
Ezekiel Elliott did have a big day on the ground; 127 yards on just 16 carries. It's his first 100-yard game of 2018. But the fact Dallas couldn't capitalize on Zeke's production was just further indication of their offensive dysfunction.
Hurry home, Travis Frederick. Who knew you were our Offensive MVP?
- While Zeke did have a strong rushing performance, two critical errors were big parts of the Cowboys' loss. An early TD catch was called back because Zeke stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Also, Elliott's fumble in the 4th quarter squandered a strong drive that could have started Dallas' comeback attempt sooner.
- Dallas' defense looked good early but clearly wore down over time. Seattle RB Chris Carson ground out 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. Russell Wilson took advantage of some miscues in the secondary for two touchdown passes and 192 passing yards.
- Tyrone Crawford got called for another bogus "roughing the passer" penalty after a clean hit on Wilson early in the game. The NFL has to get this figured out, because it's becoming a bigger eyesore for the league than any amount of kneeling ever did.
- Tavon Austin got his second touchdown catch this year, the only Cowboy to record a receiving TD so far this year. Tight end Geoff Swaim had five catches for 47 yards, reminding the world that Dallas actually has TEs on their roster.
- Speaking of which, as Troy Aikman commented on during the game, Rico Gathers was not used in redzone passing situations. Why is Gathers dressing for games and not being utilized in the one situation where he's not a liability?
- Sean Lee left the game after reaggravating the hamstring injury he suffered last week. It meant more playing time for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who reminded you of Lee with how he was getting to the ball. Both finished the game credited with 11 tackles each.
- Rookie guard Connor Williams continues to struggle when up against powerful defensive tackles. It's not a surprise for a converted college tackle, but growing pains still cost you on game day. Dallas may have to consider starting Joe Looney at guard once Travis Frederick comes back.
- Kicker Brett Maher went 2/2 today on field goals, including a 50-yarder. He has hit four straight after missing his one attempt against Carolina in Week 1.
- The rest of the NFC East won their games today. That puts Philly and Washington at 2-1 and now evens up the Cowboys and Giants at 1-2.
- Dallas returns home next week to host the Detroit Lions, who are currently 0-2. They play the Patriots tonight.
Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday
For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.
That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.
With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.
Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.
Now, however, things are changing.
Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.
Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.
Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.
The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.
The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.
Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.
Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.
It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.
Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.
Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.
Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.
This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.
Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J
A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.
Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.
The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.
Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.
Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.
The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.
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