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Did The Cowboys Find Top 3 CBs At Cardinals?

Sean Martin

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Did The Cowboys Play Top 3 CBs At Cardinals? 1

Fortunately, the Cowboys were able to put a week two debacle in Denver behind them this week by regrouping on the road against the Cardinals to earn a gutsy win on Monday Night Football. With so many things going wrong in that 42-17 loss to the Broncos, it is easy for Cowboys Nation to forget that the Dallas defense effectively dealt with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas with two healthy cornerbacks.

This alone was a huge area of improvement against the Cardinals, as Rod Marinelli went from deploying just Jourdan Lewis (in his NFL debut) and Anthony Brown at Mile High to covering with primarily Lewis, Brown, and Orlando Scandrick.

Having these three cornerbacks healthy and playing confident also added serviceable depth at the safety position, where rookie Xavier Woods made his way back to his natural position to make an impact. I believe there is a decent chance that Chidobe Awuzie is also going to end up primarily lining up at safety once he is ready to return to the field off of his hamstring injury.

With so much turnover in the secondary heading into this 2017 season, it almost seems unfathomable that we could be asking if the Cowboys have already found their top three cornerbacks in September. Here we are though, with Carson Palmer dropping back 48 times against Lewis, Brown, and Scandrick last week while completing just 29 of these passes, watching the future of the Dallas Cowboys' defense come to life.

Did The Cowboys Play Top 3 CBs At Cardinals?

Dallas Cowboys rookie CB Jourdan Lewis

The top reason these three CBs should see the most playing time together throughout the rest of the season is because of the total versatility of the group. Coming into the season, it was expected that sophomore Anthony Brown would have to emerge as an "alpha-male" in this secondary, but that hasn't proven to be true.

Brown has been fine in coverage thanks to his speed and athleticism, but there were times against the Cardinals where he was caught with his eyes in the backfield, putting him out of position with his man. Allowing Brown to play off of both Byron Jones and Jeff Heath helped him play up to the level of Lewis and Scandrick - who seamlessly stuck in coverage on the boundary or inside.

The Cowboys did get consistent pressure with three-man fronts designed to first stop the run, and this is something that we can expect to even out as Dallas faces better offensive lines. While this pressure on Palmer naturally helped the back-end of the defense, it was these three cornerbacks' natural ability to fit Rod Marinelli's scheme in both tight man, zone, and disguised coverage that made the difference.

Mike Leslie on Twitter

Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis says in a Rod Marinelli defense corners can't not like to tackle. "You gotta take your skirt off" and play, he said

Ever since he fell to the third round of this draft and was selected by the Cowboys out of Michigan, the team has not been able to contain their excitement for Jourdan Lewis - despite drafting a CB before Lewis in Awuzie, who remains held back by injury.

It was really Lewis' contagious confidence that made this Cowboys CB trio work on Monday - as it will again moving forward - making a case for already being this team's best cover corner, performing as the player he was in Ann Arbor.

Did The Cowboys Find Top 3 CBs At Cardinals?

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals is hit by cornerback Orlando Scandrick #32 of the Dallas Cowboys and free safety Byron Jones #31 during the second half of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Orlando Scandrick is a proven commodity. The Cowboys missed him sorely in week two, and his return for week three was crucial to their success against a Bruce Arians passing concept that stresses defenses in their assignments both across the field and vertically.

Scandrick locking down the slot as he does so well at 30-years old while Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis held up on the outside was more than just how the Dallas Cowboys escaped Arizona at 2-1. These three players paired with a deep rotation of safeties will be how the Cowboys hold up against the pass in 2017, and optimism for the group as a whole should be sky-high.

Tell us what you think about "Did The Cowboys Find Top 3 CBs At Cardinals?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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1 Comment
  • Wayne A Caddell Jr

    Solid performance but of course a need for improvement. A nice bounce back from a lose at Denver.

Star Blog

Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?

Kevin Brady

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Was Sunday A "Wake Up Call," Or A Flashback To Reality?

Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.

Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.

Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.

The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."

Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?

Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.

No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.

The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.

All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.

After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.



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Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?

Brian Martin

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Scott Linehan

Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.

It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.

I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.

I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.

Kellen Moore

Dallas Cowboys QB Coach Kellen Moore

Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.

Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.

The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.

Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?



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Star Blog

Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern

Kevin Brady

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Zack Martin

What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?

Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.

Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.

The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.

That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.

With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.

There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.

The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.

Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.

I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance

A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.

It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.



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