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Cowboys-Bears Monday Night Preview

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It's 925 miles from Dallas, full arsenal of players, a 7-5 record, it'll be dark and they'll be wearing white.

Hit it.

cowboys-vs-bears-week-14The Cowboys head into their lone Monday Night appearance of the season (8:30, ESPN) against the reeling Chicago Bears (6-6) winners of their past two games. The wins didn't come easy, but they have filled the team with confidence heading into the dreaded month of December, typically considered a death trap for Dallas.

Following their 24-21 triumph over the New York Giants after their bye week, the Cowboys enjoyed a victory in a short week, defeating the Oakland Raiders in their annual Thanksgiving tilt. While the 1st half was enough to make many Cowboys fans puke up their Turkey Day appetizers, trailing by as much as 21-7, the Cowboys scored 24 unanswered points en route to a 31-24 victory. The Cowboys broke several jinxes in their valiant Thanksgiving effort, as not only did they pull off a win in their unlucky blue jerseys (making an extremely rare showing in Texas) but Tony Romo didn't let either the Sports Illustrated cover jinx or a stomach virus affect his play. While most of the offensive load was picked up by RB's DeMarco Murray (3 rushing touchdowns) and Lance Dunbar (a career high 82 yards before suffering a season ending knee injury), Romo did his part, going 23-32 (including 12-12 in the 2nd half) for 225 and a touchdown to Dez Bryant that tied the game. CB Brandon Carr, picked on earlier in the game by the Oakland offense, sealed the game with an interception in the Dallas end zone. Following Philadelphia's snowy win over Detroit on Sunday, the Cowboys trial the Eagles by half a game in the race for the NFC East title, albeit with tonight's game in hand.

Unlike the Cowboys, the Bears were helped by the Eagles' win on Sunday. With a win tonight, the Bears would be tied with the Lions for first place in the NFC North, leaving the two of them a half game ahead of the Green Bay Packers, who the Cowboys face at AT&T Stadium next Sunday. Since their last Monday Night appearance, a 27-20 win over Green Bay on November 4, the Bear have 3 of their last 4 games. They return to Solider Field this week after a particularly rough loss to the Minnesota Vikings on the road last Sunday, allowing a 12 play, 79 yard drive at the end of regulation that culminated in K Blair Walsh's 30 yard field goal that sent it to overtime. In the extra period, Chicago's kicker Robbie Gould missed a potential game winner, leaving the honors to Walsh, who kicked a 34 yarder to win it. The Bears have one more divisional game this season in their season finale against the Packers.


The key to tonight's game for the Cowboys will be to not underestimate Chicago's lesser known weapons. After a fantastic performance last week, WR Alshon Jeffery (12 receptions, 249 yards, 2 touchdowns), has overtaken perennial All-Pro WR Brandon Marshall for Chicago's top receiver. In addition, Chicago will be missing QB Jay Cutler, who has not played since a November 10, when he aggravated an ankle injury he suffered in an October 20 loss to Washington. Despite Cutler's absence, QB Josh McCown has performed amicably in his place. The 11 year journeyman, now on his 5th NFL team, has accumulated a career high 103.6 passer rating since taking over for Cutler, despite a career rating of 75.8. Nonetheless, it's on Dallas defense to handle Chicago's breakout stars. While the defense was putrid in the 1st half of the Oakland game, allowing a trio of QB Matt McGloin, and WR's Andre Holmes and Rod Streater to get the best of them, they clamped down in the 2nd half, allowing no points until a field goal late in the 4th quarter. The Cowboys will welcome back LB Sean Lee, who sat out the New York and Oakland wins with a hamstring injury, with open arms. Lee is one of the NFL's top tacklers and currently leads the team with four interceptions.

Though matchups with the Bears are not exactly commonplace...Dallas leads the all time series 13-10, including postseason...the Cowboys have many reasons to be furiously pumped for Monday Night's tilt. Last season, the Bears came to AT&T Stadium and thoroughly humiliated them at home, using five Dallas turnovers to their advantage in a 34-18 victory. In addition, Chicago will be retiring Mike Ditka's jersey at halftime of tonight's game. While Ditka is probably best known for his Chicago connections, spending six prolific season as Chicago's tight end before spending 11 seasons as their head coach, Ditka spent four year productive year with the Cowboys, scoring a touchdown in Dallas's first Super Bowl victory over Miami in Super Bowl VI. While many may to be young to understand Ditka's Dallas ties...at this point most know him as either the head coach of Chicago's legendary 1985 team or as Will Ferrell's assistant in that kids' soccer movie...it'd be nice to see Dallas win on a night where they're honoring one of the guy who helped the team rise to prominence in the 70's. Probably most importantly, the Cowboys will face some former allies in the Windy City.  While DT Jay Ratliff, who made one tackle in his Chicago debut last week, has not said anything leading into Monday's game, but the same can't be said for former special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. Now holding the same position with the Bears, DeCamillis saying it was "more like Hollywood" in Dallas, calling Chicago "tamer" by comparison. If all that isn't enough to pump up the Cowboys to a victory, maybe they don't belong in the playoff conversation.

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Bears 21


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DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win

Kevin Brady

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Kerry Hyder

Kerry Hyder joined the Cowboys this offseason on a one year deal, and while the four-year NFL veteran has put up some solid tape in his time around the league, it was hard to project just what he could bring to the Cowboys defense.

Listed at 6'2" 270 pounds, Hyder is a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. Though the answer to "will he play tackle or end" seems to be "both" to this point in the preseason.

As he fights for his life on this deep defensive line, Kerry Hyder had himself a day in the Cowboys 14-10 victory over the Rams last weekend.

Hyder made an excellent play defending a screen pass in the first quarter, reading the play perfectly and reacting quickly to running back Darrell Henderson coming out of the backfield. Hyder also created some pressure on the quarterback, and finished with 3 combined tackles in very limited playing time.

Hyder's versatility is working well for him as he looks to make the final roster. Like a Tyrone Crawford type player, Hyder will be able to move inside and out depending on the situation. This allows the Cowboys to be flexible in how they structure their depth chart on defense, and in how they decide to rush the passer on third down.


A pass rushing package involving Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge with the combination of Hyder and Maliek Collins on the inside could turn out to be a very dangerous one for opposing offenses to deal with.

Rod Marinelli spoke to this versatility a couple of months ago, showing just how much he values what Kerry Hyder can bring to this team.

"Maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.” - Rod Marinelli

Earlier this offseason, I wrote that Kerry Hyder could end up being Rod Marinelli's next great under-the-radar find on the defensive line. And if he continues to play with the hustle and awareness that he had on Saturday, he's going to make Rod look very smart in his evaluation.

Kerry Hyder is making it very difficult for the front office to let him go. And, at the end of the preseason, I do expect Kerry Hyder to find himself on the Cowboys' active roster. Especially considering how Mike White is playing at quarterback, and how his release could open up an extra spot at a different position group.


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#DALvsRAMS: Tony Pollard Proves he’s no Longer Darrell Henderson’s Backup

Brian Martin

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#DALvsRAMS: Tony Pollard Proves he's no Longer Darrell Henderson's Backup

For the better part of three years Tony Pollard was forced to play second fiddle to Darrell Henderson during their time with the Memphis Tigers. But, Saturday night in the second week of preseason Pollard emerged from the shadows and proved he's no longer Henderson's backup.

Tony Pollard put on an impressive show Saturday night against the Los Angeles Rams. He touched the ball a total of six times and turned it into 51 yards and a touchdown. He rushed for 42 yards on the ground, averaging 8.4 yards per carry, and had one reception for 9 yards. All in all it was an impressive performance and one that arguably outdid his former teammate, Darrell Henderson.

Tony Pollard is starting to look like a real weapon for the Dallas Cowboys. It's still a small sample size, but in the first two preseason games he's proven the jump up in competition isn't too big for him. As a runner he's been decisive, picking up what yardage is given and not dancing around. He hasn't been utilized much in the passing game yet, but that time will come.

The Dallas Cowboys couldn't be happier with the way their rookie RB has performed thus far. He's everything they've said he was, and quite possibly much more. Maybe those Alvin Kamara comparisons weren't that far off after all.


We all know Ezekiel Elliott will return to the Dallas Cowboys at some point, but for now Tony Pollard doesn't look completely out of place as their lead back. He still needs to work on his pass protection, but everything else he's been asked to do he's excelled at.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about seeing what No. 36 can do when these games start to matter in 2019. He will once again have to accept a backup role like he did behind Darrell Henderson in college, but you can bet the Cowboys coaching staff will reward him based on his play so far in preseason.

Pollard's versatility to be a weapon as both a runner and receiver in the passing game should make him a unique chess piece in the offensive game plan each and every week. He's been exciting to watch so far and we haven't even seen him in the return game yet, which was a big part of his game in college. I'm personally expecting big things from him this season. What about you?

What do you think of Tony Pollard's preseason performance so far?


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The Brady Report: Tony Pollard, Devin Smith Steal The Show On Offense

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: Tony Pollard, Devin Smith Steal The Show On Offense

The Dallas Cowboys earned their first win of the 2019 preseason on Saturday night, defeating the Los Angeles Rams 14-10 in Hawaii.

Despite the low scoring affair, there were certainly standout performances from both offensive and defensive players for Dallas. Some who are looking to earn a roster spot, and others who are rather solidified in their place with the team.


Let's get into some of my game notes from the Cowboys preseason victory.

  • Tony Pollard. I mean, I've said enough right? The rookie running back was awesome in his one drive of action Saturday night, rushing 5 times for 42 yards and a touchdown on the team's opening possession. Pollard was decisive, patient, and comfortable in the zone blocking scheme, and seemed to know exactly where and how to run on each rep. Pollard is looking like a complete back, rather than just a receiving threat for the Cowboys offense going forward.
  • While undrafted free agents Jon'Vea Johnson and Jalen Guyton have garnered much of the attention, it was Devin Smith who impressed the most out of all the Cowboys' down-roster receivers this week. He caught 3 balls for just 24 yards, but had a fantastic touchdown grab from Cooper Rush in the third quarter.
  • Speaking of Cooper Rush, he's your backup quarterback for the 2019 season. The coaching staff gave Mike White a chance to work with the 2's this week, allowing him equal ground for competition with Rush. But even with this opportunity, Mike White did not play well whatsoever. He's indecisive in the pocket, abandons clean protection, runs into pressure, and just looks kind of lost out there. Hopefully White can improve, but Rush is certainly deserving of the QB2 spot going forward.
  • While Rush solidified his position as the QB2, QB1 Dak Prescott led another impressive drive on Saturday night. Prescott has command in the pocket and of the entire offense, and he orchestrated an excellent touchdown drive in his own possession this week. Prescott went 5/5 for 64 yards, but the highlight of the game for Prescott was his third and seven completion for 31 of those yards to Michael Gallup. He and Gallup seem to be connecting this preseason, and if that's going to happen regularly, look out.
  • Now to the defense. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins continues to show signs that 2019 could be a career season for him. He was disruptive in limited playing time this week, and showcased a scary spin move on the inside. He can be an electric interior pass rusher for the Cowboys, and he looks to be "putting it all together" this year.
  • Jourdan Lewis is too good to rot away on the bench, guys. Though he did get beat for decent completion in the first half, Lewis was also sound as a tackler and sticky in coverage once again this week. Lewis looks to be playing at the highest level we've seen from him yet, but once Byron Jones comes back he may not be getting the playing time he'd easily earn elsewhere. Dallas has a bit of an embarrassment of riches at cornerback right now, and Lewis just needs to keep competing every week.
  • Lewis' Michigan teammate Taco Charlton had a decent night himself. While Dorance Armstrong has been the talk of the town at defensive end, Charlton deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and was credited with 2 quarterback hits against the Rams. He wasn't creating the level of pressure you'd hope to see out of a former first round pick playing that deep into a preseason game, but you can tell he's looking a bit better as of late. Still, there's a whole heap of defensive ends on this roster who are flat out better than him right now.
  • The Cowboys linebackers showed up to play on Saturday night. Of course, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch are who they are, but Justin March-Lillard led the team in tackles with 6, and Justin Phillips came away with an exceptional interception in the third quarter. He made a play on the ball that you don't expect to see from any linebacker, let alone someone of his roster status. This is a really deep linebacker room, and there's a strong chance the Cowboys will have to let go of a good player.


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