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Cowboys Loss Begins With Success Of Giants’ Defensive Line




Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Loss Begins With Success Of Giants' Defensive Line 1

The Dallas Cowboys lost a close and gut-wrenching game against the New York Giants in their season opener at AT&T Stadium. The game wasn’t the most exciting, especially for Cowboys fans, who watched their team only score one touchdown on the day.

The Cowboys don’t have many positive takeaways from this game, but if you want to look at the glass half full, the moral victory is that they only lost by one point in a game where their offense couldn’t get in a groove.

But we are not doing that. As Jay Z once said, "moral victories are for minor league coaches."

The Giants entered this game with a defensive line featuring returning players Jason Pierre-Paul and Jonathan Hankins, as well as big free agent signings Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison. Although the unit’s prior year performance was terrible, as a result of these big acquisitions, expectations were high in New York.

The revamped defensive line would be tested straight out of the gate this season, as they faced the Dallas Cowboys, widely considered the best offensive line in football. Not only do the Cowboys have the best line, but they also drafted Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the draft, the highest a running back has been drafted since 2012.

So with all things considered, the Cowboys were expected to literally roll on the Giants defense.

Quite the opposite happened.

Despite possessing the ball thirteen more minutes and running 21 more plays than the Giants, the Cowboys only out-gained the Giants by 12 yards. Even with the Cowboys’ weakness clearly being their defensive line, you would never predict before the game the Giants would out-rush the Cowboys, and that's exactly what they did.

The Cowboys got out-rushed by the Giants 113 to 101 on the day, holding highly touted rookie Ezekiel Elliott to 51 yards on 20 carries. Elliott’s longest run of the day was his eight-yard touchdown run, which was partially set up by an Eli Manning interception in Giants’ territory.

If you take away that eight-yard run, Elliott’s average per rush would be 2.2 on the day.

The Cowboys finished 10th in the NFL in rushing yards per game last season with 120.9 yards. So with the Giants' defensive line decreasing the Cowboys’ rushing attack by 80 yards, should there be concern?  

The Cowboys offensive line did not give up a sack, but rookie quarterback Dak Prescott seemed uncomfortable in his first start, only throwing for a five-yard passing completion average on the day.

The Giants' defensive line was making tackles in the first level of the defense, as Pierre-Paul finished second on the team with six tackles, and Hankins and Harrison finishing right behind him with five.

Olivier Vernon also looked impressive, finishing with four tackles, three run stuffs, one tackle for a loss, and forcing two holding penalties.

Simply put, either the holes weren’t there for Elliott or he couldn’t find them, as he averaged just .05 yards per carry before contact.

With inexperienced players at the two positions expected to produce the most yards, it may be unfair to pin the loss on the offensive line. Prescott wasn’t sacked and when veteran running back Alfred Morris entered the game, he was able to find running room with his 35 yards on only seven carries.

The unit should be able to bounce back against a weak Redskins run defense, who just let DeAngelo Williams and the Steelers run for 147 yards against them at home. There’s no reason to panic, yet. Prescott and Elliott will get a better feel for the speed of the NFL as the season goes on.

Hats off to the Giants' defensive line for coming to play, but #NeverAgain.

The Cowboys' offensive line needs to put this loss behind them and focus on dominating the Redskins, and other teams, in the weeks to come.


Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition

Mauricio Rodriguez



Rookie Report: Which Cowboys Draft Picks Stood Out Against the 49ers?

In the NFL, the third preseason week is often referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal." It's usually the week in which starters get the most playing time. That has changed lately, with plenty of teams deciding to take care of their key players instead of risking them on the field. However, the Dallas Cowboys have played their starters on their first two games and there's no reason to believe that will change versus the Texans today.

Here is my wishlist for the Cowboys vs Texans "Dress Rehearsal!" Let me know what your wishes for tonight's game are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Wish #1: Justin Phillips Locks Up a Roster Spot

Phillips has been one of the most surprising players this offseason and preseason. The Cowboys are set at linebacker, but Phillips has made sure to be a tough guy to cut. Last week, he had a remarkable interception against the Rams. Despite making a first step toward the line, he managed to adjust and made the play. He has followed it up with more plays in practice.

If he keeps it up, the Cowboys won't be able to cut him. He has the potential to be a force on special teams and a quality backup.

Can WR Devin Smith Sneak Onto the Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Smith (AP Photo / Josie Lepe)

Wish #2: Devin Smith Makes Things Interesting

The battle for the final wide receiver spots is at full-go. Devin Smith has shined lately, and has risen as a serious candidate to make the roster. However, it seems like other wide receivers have the upper-hand as of now. Earlier this week, I made my Cowboys WR Power Rankings and had Devin Smith at #7.

His TD catch versus the Rams last week was pretty impressive, and I wish he makes a few more plays to make the debate all the more interesting.

Wish #3: Tony Pollard Does It Again

Fifth-round rookie Tony Pollard stole was the show last weekend as he racked up 51 total yards (five carries, one catch) and a touchdown on Dallas' first offensive drive. He looked impressive as the starting running back, giving us just what we wanted to see.

While many have advertised him as a gadget player, Pollard proved he can actually be a "standard" RB. He ran between the tackles, showed power, balance and great vision. I'm ready to watch it again, this time versus the Texans.

Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton 1

Wish #4: Taco Charlton Shines Rushing The Passer

Taco Charlton has made a couple of plays in preseason on his third year with the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Rams, he batted down two passes and looked good separating from opposing offensive linemen. Charlton has gotten praise from some analysts during these first two preseason weeks.

But I want to watch some quality pass rush from his part. Right now, the Cowboys' roster counts with some promising players, including rookies Jalen Jelks and Joe Jackson. While they're currently below Taco, he must prove he belongs on the roster.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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

DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win

Kevin Brady



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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Game Notes

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

Brian Martin



#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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