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Game Notes

Cowboys at Broncos: Writers Give Their Takes on #DENvsDAL

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Cowboys at Broncos: Writer's Give Their Takes on #DENvsDAL

Hello Cowboys Nation! It’s week two in the NFL and that means the Dallas Cowboys are on their way to play the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. It’s been a tough offseason, and the hits keep coming too, but nothing matters right now except for Dallas vs. Denver. Cowboys and Broncos. Thin air and intimidating grandstands. America’s Team and… well, you get the jist.

Obviously, the first note I have for this game is for the Cowboys defense. On paper, they’re eh, just so-so, but they played a hell of a game last week holding the New York Giants–minus star wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr.–to just three points. A field goal that came on a goalline stand.

If you haven’t already, tip your hat to the Dallas Cowboys defense, ladies and gentlemen, because they earned it. If you’re not wearing a hat, a hearty “hell yeah!” will suffice until you find one.

Ezekiel Elliott looked good. He’ll need to look good this week too. He’s fought hard to be out on that field Sunday and another 100-yard performance will do just fine. Actually, if he rushes for more than 80 yards on Sunday, 24/7 Sports says he’ll break a 31-year-old NFL record of 15 consecutive games with at least 80 yards rushing. Not sure how that works since he was active week 17 in 2016, he just didn’t play. But the NFL loves Zeke, so one more column with his name in it works for me.

Dak Prescott got off to a rocky start against the Giants, but settled into a groove as the game progressed. Coach Scott Linehan attributed some of his early inaccuracy to opening day jitters, so I’d expect to get a calmer, more poised Prescott against the Broncos.

Now, about the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos controlled the clock against the Chargers in week one, averaging 3.9 yards per rush for 140 team rushing yards. However, the offensive line was not able to protect Trevor Siemian, allowing four sacks for 38 yards. The Broncos gave up two turnovers (1 interception, 1 fumble lost), and passed for 219 gross yards. The Cowboys defense is largely untested so this will be another chance for them to show what they can do.

On defense, the Broncos held the Chargers to just 64 yards on the ground. They gave up 192 yards on 22 completions through the air, taking one away.

The key in this game will be the Cowboys offensive line.

La’el Collins held off the pass rush pretty well at right tackle, and even knocked Jason Pierre-Paul on his ass once. But it was the guards, Chaz Green and Zack Martin who held their ground throughout the game. Right now, the biggest question on the o-line is Green’s health, not the personnel.

If the Cowboys offensive line can open holes for Zeke and give Dak time to find an open receiver, the Broncos will have a tough time beating them.

As always, I encourage you to add your own predictions for the game in our comments section below.

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Ezekiel Elliott’s Big Day Pushes DAL To 2-0

The Dallas Cowboys run game is dominant against Denver’s front-7. Ezekiel Elliott scores his first TD of the year along with 130 yards on the ground. Connor Livesay – @connorx147

Cowboys 31 – Broncos 17

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Ezekiel Elliott tops 300 total yards at Mile High

Much will be said about this Denver Broncos defense, deservedly so, but this same unit finished 28th against the run last year. While they looked better holding the Chargers to 64 yards on the ground the game script got away from LA, who needed to come back from being down 24-7 late in the game. Dallas has a much better line and running back, I expect them to control this game despite Trevor Siemian keeping it close. Zeke shall be fed. Christopher Waetjen – @SingForTheDay

Cowboys 27 – Broncos 22

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Elliott and the Offensive Line Lead the Way

The Dallas Cowboys build on a strong win against the New York Giants while limiting Von Miller’s impact on the game. The offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott keep the team ahead of the chains allowing Dak Prescott to continue his efficient play against a top defense. The secondary receiving options of Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and Brice Butler will be the key to the Dallas passing game. John Williams – @john9williams

Cowboys 24 – Broncos 14

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Underrated Defense Carries Cowboys To 2-0 Start

If the Cowboys’ defense carries over their defensive dominance into this matchup, the Broncos may not even get 13. I question is which defense is better between Denver and New York, but regardless, I think our running game should carry us to victory. The Landry Trophy – @TheLandryTrophy

Cowboys 20 – Broncos 13

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Feed Zeke, Don´t Break

Another low-scoring game is in the works for the Dallas Cowboys. Even though the Broncos have an elite air defense, I expect this team to control the clock. Feed Zeke. The defense has a bend-but-don’t-break type of game and does just enough. Boom. 2-0. Mauricio Rodriguez – @PepoR99

Cowboys 23 – Broncos 13

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Cowboys’ rushing attack prevails over Broncos’ defense

In back-to-back weeks the Dallas Cowboys will face a tough defense. They were able to overcome an overpaid New York Giants defense last Sunday and should be able to do so once again against the Denver Broncos. I think it will be another close game, but I don’t think the Broncos D will be able to hold up against the Cowboys OL and Ezekiel Elliott for four quarters. Brian Martin – @bmart0204

Cowboys 21 – Broncos 17

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Feed Zeke

The Denver secondary should be able to give Dak Prescott and the passing attack a tough time on Sunday, but I expect the Cowboys to be able to control this game on the ground. Their running game will be the difference as each team struggles for chunk plays through the air. Dallas wins this one and gets to 2-0 on the year. Kevin Brady – @KevinBrady88

Cowboys 23 – Broncos 13

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Mile High Statement

The Broncos obviously are not the same team that won Super Bowl 50, but they are still formidable enough at 1-0 to give the Cowboys a chance for a statement victory that I expect them to secure. With more balance on offense, and a chance to hit on more big plays with Zeke Elliott, the Cowboys can put Trevor Siemian in a hole early. Oh, and this Dallas defense might just be up to the challenge as well. Sean Martin – @ShoreSportsNJ

Cowboys 28 – Broncos 14

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Giant Letdown

The Cowboys will be riding high after getting that Giant monkey off their backs, and that will be their undoing in a road game against a great defensive team. Denver played solid, balanced offense last week and have a great home field advantage. Jess Haynie – @CowboysAddicts

Cowboys 20 – Broncos 24

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Turnovers Will be the Difference Maker

The Cowboys took the ball in week 1, and Rod Marinelli is fanatical about attacking the ball. I believe this game will come down to takeaways, and which team has the most. With Elliott able to grind the clock and Dak’s low career INT total, I expect the Cowboys to win the turnover battle. Bryson Treece – @BrysonTreece

Cowboys 17 – Broncos 10

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The Broncos defense has the might to make this a long game for the Cowboys, but they also haven’t faced a team like the Cowboys yet. It’s an explosive offense with weapons at every position. Can Denver handle it? Can the young Cowboys? We shall see.

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This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

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1 Comment
  • Russ_Te

    27-13 Dallas, with the Cowboys notching a defensive TD

    Definitely bring a run gameplan to the stadium. But if Denver starts getting pressure on Dak, I’m not hesitating to throw on first down, roll out & bootleg to counter it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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