In the Dallas Cowboys 24-22 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night they got a strong performance from the defense against an explosive offense. The Seattle Seahawks came into the game as the number one rushing attack on the season and running back Chris Carson was coming off being named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Month for the month of December. In a game where they got some really strong performances, the defensive line stood out.
DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Antwaun Woods all stood tall on the against the vaunted Seahawks rushing attack and provided some excellent penetration on the night.
The Seattle Seahawks came into the game averaging an NFL leading 160 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. The Dallas Cowboys led by their defensive front held them to 73 yards on 24 carries or 3.04 yards per carry. If you take away Rashad Penny's long run for 28 yards, that's 23 carries for 45 yards or 1.94 yards per carry. Russell Wilson also accounted for 14 yards and the lone touchdown for the Seahawks rushing attack.
The Hot Boyz were downright dominant on Saturday night helping the Dallas Cowboys extend their season.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been one of the best EDGE players in the NFL all season, though he wasn't rewarded for it, but he came up big again with two tackles for loss and six total tackles. Pro Football Focus credited Lawrence with a quarterback hit and a hurry as well as four "stops" or plays that were deemed unsuccessful for the offense.
On the other EDGE, Randy Gregory continued his excellent play leading the Cowboys in total pressures with three (a quarterback hit and two hurries). He was close to getting a sack several times and had a tackle for loss on a sweep to Penny that looked like it could go for a positive gain. Instead, he burst up field on the toss and caught Penny for a big loss. Gregory had two stops on the game.
For the game, Collins finished with four tackles and the Cowboys lone sack on the night. He provided another pressure, which forced Russell Wilson to abandon the pocket and forced a hurried throw on the run. The play ended with Jaylon Smith batting the ball down. Collins finished with three stops on the night..
Antwaun Woods also had three stops on the night, including a huge play as the Seattle Seahawks were attempting to set up a screen pass. He saw the offensive lineman give him a free run into the backfield and read the play beautifully and got to the running back just as he was turning with the ball. Woods has been a revelation along the defensive line this season and has provided something that the Dallas Cowboys haven't had in a very long time; a penetrating 1-technique defensive tackle or nose tackle.
Tyrone Crawford recorded a pressure, three tackles, and a stop on the night, but more important than that was his presence. He's a leader along the defensive line and you can't understate how important it was for the rest of those guys to see Crawford lining up to play just two weeks after suffering what looked to be a career ending injury when he went down in a heap vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Having your leader back in the lineup after a scare like that is huge for the morale of the unit. And not only did he play, but he had the second highest snap totals among the defensive lineman.
One of the things that won't show up in the stat book was the many uncalled holds that occurred against the defensive line on Saturday night. On the big 4th and 6 play from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin along the sideline, there very easily could have been a holding call on the left tackle. It was as egregious of a non-call as you'll see in an NFL game and it could have turned the tide in the game. Gregory wasn't the only one either. DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, and Antwaun Woods all put the offensive line in bad enough positions that they were holding, they just couldn't get the refs to throw a flag. We should get used to it by now. The NFL Officials aren't going to call holding penalties against the Cowboys offensive line opponents.
I think it's time to give up thinking that the line play is going to get called fairly.
As it will be every week from here on out, the Dallas Cowboys front will have another huge test this week against the Los Angeles Rams who feature Todd Gurley and a really good passing attack. They'll need to bring it once again to help the Dallas Cowboys advance to the NFC Championship.
And knowing what we know about this group of players, they're going to bring it on Saturday Night in The Coliseum.
Could OC Kellen Moore Be More “Vanilla” Against Dolphins This Week?
The Cowboys are sort of in a no-win situation this Sunday.
If they come out and dominate the openly tanking Miami Dolphins, they'll have done exactly what they should do. But, if they lose to this putrid roster or lose one of their key players to injury, then this week three game would be considered a disaster.
So how should the Cowboys approach the Miami Dolphins?
Something tells me that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore may look more "basic" than usual this week. Heralded for his creativity over the first two games, Moore may not want to show too much against the lowly Dolphins. Especially if the Cowboys can simply impose their will, a la the 2016 offensive gameplan.
Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard should expect a lot of inside and outside zone opportunities this week, with each having a chance to have their best individual performances of the season. Tight end Blake Jarwin and wide receiver Devin Smith could see a lot of opportunities through the air as well, as the Cowboys may want to avoid putting Amari Cooper in situations which could cause injury.
Kellen Moore may want to come out firing with Dak Prescott and this dynamic passing game at first to get a quick lead, and then look to shorten the game as much as possible with his running game.
Honestly, as much as Cowboys Nation may not like it, I wouldn't be shocked if Miami covered this lofty 23 point spread. Dallas could look to get up a couple touchdowns, then proceed to sit on the ball and just look to get out of the stadium alive. Especially considering that the schedule gets much more difficult in the weeks following this Miami game.
With key NFC matchups against the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles looming large, health is the most important factor this week against the Dolphins.
Well, health and winning, of course.
#DALvsMIA: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Dallas and Miami could not be in more different modes heading into this week's game.
At 2-0 the Cowboys are looking to take the next step and earn themselves a Super Bowl ring. At a historically bad 0-2, the Dolphins are looking to go 0-16 and get a shot at drafting the top quarterback in next year's draft.
Vegas has this game at a ridiculous 21 point spread, which should rightfully scare gamblers away. But, both the Ravens and Patriots have beaten the brakes off Miami already this year, and Dallas seems primed to do so as well.
Cowboys -21. O/U 47.5 Points
The Cowboys are off to their best start since 2015, and they certainly expect their next 14 games to go much better than they did during that 2015 season. Dallas' offense is as dynamic as any in the league through two weeks, and quarterback Dak Prescott is playing like a legit MVP candidate.
Defensively, the Cowboys have been a bit disappointing thus far, but they have to be feeling like Sunday is the perfect opportunity for a "get right game." Defensive end Robert Quinn returns from suspension to take on his former team, and DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be getting his legs under him after missing all of training camp.
Prescott's favorite target during the opening victories, Michael Gallup, is set to miss this game with an injury, but I don't expect it to matter much against the Dolphins.
Where to even begin with the Miami Dolphins.
After trading for former first round pick Josh Rosen this offseason, the Dolphins decided to start journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Then they traded their own former first round left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a slew of high draft picks. Then, most recently, they traded another former first rounder in Minkah Fitzpatrick for even more picks.
Miami is doing everything they can do to hoard draft picks, ensuring they'll have their pick of the top quarterbacks over the next two draft classes. In the end, this tanking strategy could very well work for the Dolphins, but in 2019 they are going to look really bad.
They've been dominated and embarrassed both weeks thus far, and most expect that embarrassment to continue Sunday against the Cowboys. Operation Fish Tank is in full effect.
- The Dolphins are 0-5 against the spread their last 5 games.
- The score total has gone over in 4 of Miami's last 6 games.
- The Cowboys are 6-0 outright their last 6 home games.
- The score total has gone over in each of the Cowboys' last 5 games.
If it were to happen, this would be one of the worst losses I could ever remember in Cowboys history. Luckily, I highly doubt the Cowboys don't take care of business on Sunday.
Miami is downright trying to lose football games, and it's hard to imagine this group coming into Dallas and beating such a talented bunch. I'll take the Cowboys big, but I don't have the guts to bet any team -21 in the NFL.
Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need
It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.
Let's dive into this week's takeaways!
We Need Robert Quinn Back
The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.
Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need
Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.
Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.
Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen
The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.
Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It
Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).
All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.
He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.
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