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Game Notes

By the Numbers: Cowboys at 49ers

John Williams

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The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers will resume a rivalry that ran the NFC for much of the 80’s and 90’s. The two teams combined for eight Super Bowls and met in the postseason three years in a row in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Since then they’ve experienced little success.

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t reached the NFC Championship game since they last won a Super Bowl to end the 1995 season. The 49ers have reached the Super Bowl but fell short to the Ravens during the “Harbaugh Bros Blackout game.”

The two franchises are in different places at the moment.

The Cowboys are a young team that is set up to contend with newly crowned franchise Quarterback Dak Prescott leading them to a 13-3 record in 2016 and the NFC’s top seed. The 49ers are also a young team, but are missing the franchise quarterback it takes to become a perennial contender.

As we get ready for week seven, let’s dig into the stats.

DE DeMarcus Lawrence Cowboys Most "Promising" Young Star

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

By the Numbers

The Dallas Cowboys, during the regular season, sit with a record of 12-15-1 all-time against the San Francisco 49ers. While Dallas has been on the losing end more during the regular season, they own the matchup when it counts most with a 5-2 record in the postseason.

1

After the Dallas Cowboys had their bye week in week six, DeMarcus Lawrence still remains first in the NFL in sacks with 8.5. He is on pace for a record 27 sacks on the season and needs to average 1.3 sacks a game to break the single season sack record of 22.5 by Michael Strahan.

3

The largest margin of victory for a San Francisco 49ers opponent in their last five games. Aside from the week one blowout at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco has been very competitive. Their five losses since are by a combined 13 points.

3.4

The San Francisco 49ers only allow 3.4 rushing yards per carry, which has them tied for fourth in the NFL. That said, they’ve also allowed the 13th most rushing yards to this point. The 49ers should be an interesting test for the Dallas Cowboys rushing offense, which has rushed for 4.7 yards per carry as a team. That number is good for fifth in the NFL.

3.7

However, Ezekiel Elliott is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry. That number is 31st among running backs with at least 40 carries.

4.2

Carlos Hyde’s yards per carry so far this season. Dallas opponents are averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Hopefully with Lee and Hitchens coming back, this should be less of an issue.

Patrick I’M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

With Sean Lee Cowboys give up 87 yards per game rushing and 20 points. Without its 164 rushing and 35 points per.

5

Among running backs, Ezekiel Elliott is fifth in the league in yards from scrimmage per game at 105 total yards/game.

10

After five weeks, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott now sits 10th in the NFL with a passer rating of 93.1. Notable names which Prescott is ahead of include Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Ben Roethlisberger.

11

Teams in the NFC who have three or more wins through the first six weeks of the season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only other team to play five games and not have three wins in 2017. The AFC only has nine such teams.

13

Dak Prescott’s total touchdowns so far this season. His 11 passing touchdowns has him seventh in the NFL. His two rushing touchdowns is tied for second among quarterbacks. The league leaders in QB rushing touchdowns are Cam Newton, Jacoby Brissett, and Marcus Mariota, each with three.

Prescott is on pace for 41.6 combined rushing and passing touchdowns.

14

San Francisco’s sack total. They are led by 33-year-old Elvis Dumervil who has 3.5 sacks in a limited role off the bench. That number is good for 15th in the NFL. Dallas is seventh in the NFL in total sacks with 16.

17

Dallas has scored 17 passing and rushing touchdowns combined. Compared to the 49ers who have only scored 10. For perspective, the Kansas City Chiefs lead the league in total offensive touchdowns with 21. The Miami Dolphins are worst in the league in that category with only five total offensive touchdowns.

21

Pierre Garçon, who leads the San Francisco 49ers in targets, receptions, and yards has 21 more targets than number two for the 49ers, Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is averaging nine targets a game and has yet to score a touchdown.

25.9

Brice Butler’s yards per reception leads all receivers with more than two receptions on the year. Among players with eight or more receptions, Butler’s number is more than four yards better than the next best; the Carolina Panthers’ Ed Dickson. Butler’s had a huge impact so far this season in a very limited role.

26.4

Dallas’ 26.4 points against is the fourth worst number in the NFL. Only the New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, and Indianapolis Colts are worse in scoring defense.

Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

27

Jason Witten’s team leading receptions have him on pace for 86.4 catches in 2017, which would be the most he’s had since catching 110 passes in 2012. He hasn’t had 80 catches since then.

50

Jason Garrett’s winning percentage coming out of a bye week. He’s 3-3 over the six years of his tenure as the Cowboys head coach in which he was the coach before, at, and after the bye. In that time, four of the bye weeks have come in weeks five-seven, each lost except the last one in 2016. Both byes in the second half of the season were won.

52.78

In C.J. Beathard’s first game action as a rookie relieving starter Brian Hoyer, he only completed 52.78% of his passes en route to the loss. The plus side for the 49ers is that they had a chance to win the game, only falling by two points.

62.6

Dak Prescott’s completion percentage, which has been steadily rising over the last few games, should continue to see an uptick. The San Francisco 49ers have allowed their last four opponents to throw for more than 280 yards each game.

109

Among the six players on the Dallas Cowboys who have more than 100 yards receiving, Cole Beasley is sixth with 109 receiving yards. Ahead of him are Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Brice Butler, and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s not something I expected to see after five weeks. 

142

The total amount of first downs the San Francisco 49ers defense has allowed through six games. It’s the third worst total in the NFL, which equates to 23.67 first downs per game. They have allowed the sixth most first downs through the air and the third most on the ground. Dallas should be able to move the ball.

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Want to know where the Inside The Star Staff falls on the game? Check out our weekly picks.

And as always, LET’s GO COWBOYS!!!

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I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn’t look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer – Streamable

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Ryan Switzer’s first target came on a third down — something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can’t catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 – Streamable

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Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender’s face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 – Streamable

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Switzer’s third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback — who is cheating to the inside — with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I’d still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might’ve lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season’s finally over. It wasn’t easy, but we’re still here. Here’s to 2018. Let’s hope it’s a good one for our Cowboys. Here’s this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

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Coaching Staff Didn’t Help Its Cause

It’s more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett’s job was not an issue. Now, Jerry’s even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it’s true.

While I don’t think we’ll see a new head coach anytime soon, I’d dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would’ve meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a “real action” game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC’s #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can’t help thinking about the coaches.

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Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers’ first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones – Streamable

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Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I’d be surprised if the Cowboys don’t keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he’ll be paid $790,000 next year which isn’t at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

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Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn’t been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR – Streamable

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He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he’s used more next season.

At the end of the day, he’s a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on “gadget plays” or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott’s best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it’s too optimistic to expect something like that.

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Dan Bailey’s Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey’s 2017 season hasn’t been easy at all. We’ve seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys’ season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it’s all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan “Automatic” Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we’re not sure about calling him “Automatic” anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let’s hope that’s the case.

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For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports… Maybe next year. We’re on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation – despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli’s defense.

We’ll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean’s Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys’ second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles’ eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we’ll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott’s strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open — relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn’t been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn’t now that he’s lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer’s ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer’s spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

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To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean’s Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean’s Scout won’t be going anywhere! I’m shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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