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Cowboys Offense Needs A Spark, Is Ryan Switzer The Answer?

Brian Martin

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It was expected that the Dallas Cowboys offense was going to be the backbone of the team in 2017, but unfortunately they have run a little hot and cold this season. There's just no spark like there was a season ago, which is strange considering the offense hasn't changed much. Someone needs to step up and provide that spark, and I think that player might just be Ryan Switzer.

The Dallas Cowboys drafted Ryan Switzer in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft because he was such a dynamic weapon during his time at North Carolina. Unfortunately, we have only flashes of the weapon Switzer could be in Dallas. But despite that, I personally believe it's time to work him into the offense more.

To date, we have only really seen Ryan Switzer returning punts and kickoffs this season. He hasn't been spectacular or anything in that role, but he has shown glimpses of how dangerous he can be with the ball in his hands. It's that ability that can add a spark to the struggling Cowboys offense, especially now with Ezekiel Elliott out.

Ryan SwitzerUnfortunately, we were led to believe that the Dallas Cowboys receiving core was the most talented the team has had in quite some time. You wouldn't know it by the way they have performed this season. Dez Bryant doesn't quite look like the player we are used to, teams are completely bracketing Cole Beasley to take him out of the game, and both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler simply can't be trusted. No one is living up to expectations.

Now, it may surprise you, but I'm going to suggest the Dallas Cowboys finally use Ryan Switzer as a wide receiver. Okay, I know it doesn't surprise you. It's something Cowboys fans have been hankering for since the season got underway.

Nearly all of Cowboys Nation believed Ryan Switzer was drafted to complement Cole Beasley and that we would see a lot more of the spread offense from the Cowboys. But, I don't think that has happened once so far, which is surprising considering how the receiving core has been performing.

Ryan Switzer

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict Ryan Switzer finally has an expanded role on offense this week against the Los Angeles Chargers. I know the Cowboys aren't very good at making adjustments, but with the way the offense has struggled, something needs to happen.

Dak Prescott has been running for his life the past couple of weeks because of breakdowns in pass protection, which is why he hasn't been able to find his weapons in the passing game. Switzer can help combat against teams bracketing Beasley in coverage and hopefully help Prescott get rid of the ball quickly.

It just makes too much sense to get Ryan Switzer more involved offensively. But, that's probably why it won't happen. The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff seems to like to do things the difficult way, but this is one instance where I hope I'm wrong.

Is Ryan Switzer the spark the Cowboys offense is missing?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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18 Comments
  • oneputter

    he and noah brown need to be used. i understand we paid TW and the thought is he needs to earn his money but he is not.

    i cannot understand why this coaching staff refuses to add other WR’s/skill players to the mix. i think philly played 3 rb’s and 6 wr’s against us and they all made plays, not us, zero passes to dez, 5 yd outs to TW and half the time he doesn’t realize the ball is coming.

    as much as i want JG to succeed i do think he may be on his last stand here if he doesn’t adjust and show that he can coach this team.

    • Brian Martin

      I would love to see Switzer and Noah Brown more involved. I doubt that’s going to happen though. The Cowboys coaching staff have shown they are reluctant to make adjustments/changes.

      • Tommy Davis

        I’ve said all along that Rico Gathers is an unstoppable force, the Cowboys made a huge mistake in not activating him. Just throw the ball up high all the way down the field, the kid can’t be covered, his size, reach and athleticism is an opposing teams nightmare. He would make up for the loss of Elliot. Quick dropbacks and short throw to Gathers would negate the opposing teams pass rush.

        • Brian Martin

          Gathers might be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, but I don’t think the Cowboys coaching staff trust him yet. He needs to be able to know his assignments in order to get on the field. I think that’s his biggest hurdle to overcome first.

      • Jorge Gonzalez

        I’m a fan of the cowboys but I do not agree with the way that GH guides this team, I hope I’m wrong but I feel that we do not qualify as a wildcard. There are better records and teams that come up, it would be good to start playing with Rico Gathers , Switzer and Noah Brown, definitely set Dez and Williams in addition to our beloved Jason Witten, we must begin to understand that it is time for a change in positions of Receiver and tight end.

        • Brian Martin

          Until the Dallas Cowboys are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs I think we will continue to see the starters. If they are finally eliminated, that’s when we will likely see some of the younger players receive an expanded role.

          • Jorge Gonzalez

            with the result of yesterday I think it is time to think about giving opportunity to the youth or your opinion of the words of JJ giving even more security to JG and all his HC even after the shameful defeat with the shippers, I believe that since there we are already wrong when you assure the position to someone who already lost the team and you see it in the attitude of the players both in defense and offense.

  • Kevin

    Refer to my comment earlier in the week on another post about the Wrs being average. Now can Switzer help who knows but at least put him in. Cause nothing else consistent is working

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys WRs have looked average this season. I don’t know if they are simply not playing up to their potential or if it’s the offensive scheme. But, something needs to change.

      • Mark Montgomery

        Cobble the dead money together lost Carroll, Paea, etc. And now we see where the root of these problems lie. No one could have predicted the retirement of Free but I O’Leary should have been resigned. Also, to continue to enter each season without a Lee Plan B (he is now 31 and has always missed time due to injury) is inexcusable. Theses decisions rest with the GM who by now should have fired himself. Free Will McClay…Rico Gaither’s…Ryan Switzer.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    Definitely they need to b more involved Brown n Switzer I would not agree more with the comments already made,Rico Gathers deserves a chance sooner than later plus Jason Garrett is not doing a good job,Dak is being exposed too.Thanks

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    Is Dak a game manager without Zeke I’m sure you heard that by now a couple of times. Thanks

    • Brian Martin

      I’m not ready to admit that just yet. He’s had to run for his life without Tyron Smith in the lineup. That’s probably impacted him more negatively than Elliott being out.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    Is more like JG needs to learn his assignments too and take a page Bill Belicheck.

    • Brian Martin

      I think Garrett is more of an administrative coach who oversees his coaching staff. I don’t think he’s responsible for solely coming up with the game plan and leaves it up to his coordinators for the most part. I could be wrong though.

  • Emilio Gonzalez

    JG take a page from Bill Bilichick assignments will all due respect but you need to.Thanks

  • Russ_Te

    We will know later today if there is any thinking from Garrett to change up in the passing game. I think everyone else can see the need for it.

    Switzer might give a spark because if defenses are now rotating down on Beasley, they’d have to question doing that to someone unproven. So it might be like going back in time to when Beasley could run underneath coverages and be an easy hit for Dak. Not that Switzer is better, but Dak can use an open man right now.

    I think it’s lethargic enough, and negative enough for Dak, that the whole passing game chess board should be in play. I’ll roll the dice on a missed block if it means Gathers running open or un-guardable in the route tree. And it’s time to let Butler stretch coverages and see if that helps Dez work at short & medium depth.

    I know I’m not getting all of that for Thanksgiving, but give me some kind of change dammit… ;^)

    • Brian Martin

      I really think Switzer can make a difference. He would allow Prescott to get rid of the ball quickly and he’s probably better than Beasley after the catch. And I would honestly like to see more of Noah Brown instead of Butler. He is a big bodied WR and a reliable hands catcher. Linehan just doesn’t like to stretch the field much, which is probably why we don’t see more of Butler.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Final Thoughts and Prediction for Cowboys vs Indianapolis Colts

John Williams

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#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

Over the last five weeks, the Dallas Cowboys have put themselves in a position in week 15 to clinch the NFC East with a win over the Indianapolis Colts or a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Los Angeles Rams.

My how things have changed.

Just six weeks ago, the Cowboys were coming off an embarrassing two touchdown loss on Monday Night Football at the hands of the Tennessee Titans and looked dead in the water sitting at 3-5. A month and a half later they are in position to win the division and potentially have little to play for the final two weeks of the season. That's an amazing turnaround. One that should have Jason Garrett in the Coach of the Year discussions.

As we get ready for the Colts on Sunday, let me give you my final thoughts on the week 15 matchup.

Will Key Injuries Tell the Tale?

By week 15 of the NFL season, pretty much everyone is dealing with injuries and most teams are dealing with injuries to key players. The Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts are no different.

All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin has already been ruled out of Sunday's contest, as he's been battling a knee injury for several weeks. It was worsened on Sunday vs the Eagles when he took a bull rush from Fletcher Cox and fell awkwardly. This will be the first start that Zack Martin has missed in his illustrious five-year career. He's been an iron man for the Cowboys at a position that makes it extremely difficult to stay healthy.

On the plus side, it looks like the Cowboys mat get All-Pro Linebacker Sean Lee and Wide Receiver Tavon Austin back for Sunday. Both Lee and Austin will likely be in reserve/rotational roles if they suit up this week, but if they're active, they'll make important impacts to their respective units.

Indianapolis is struggling with an injury to a very important player in their own right as Wide Receiver T.Y. Hilton has not practiced this week. He's dealing with an ankle injury and Colts Head Coach Frank Reich doesn't sound optimistic about his chances of playing.

The Colts will also be missing their Right Guard Mark Glowinski, who has started the last eight games for Indianapolis. Glowinski suffered an ankle injury during the Colts win over the Texans last Sunday. That's a key loss for an offensive line that has played as well as anyone in the NFL this season.

Can the Cowboys Limit Andrew Luck?

The Cowboys defense has been one of the best units in football in 2018 as they've put on a show against really good offensive teams like the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. They'll have another tough test this week against Andrew Luck and the Colts.

According to Pro Football Reference, Luck sits second in the NFL in touchdown passes, sixth in passing yards, third in completions, second in attempts, 12th in quarterback rating, and ninth in QBR. At 7.1 yards per attempt, he sits 22nd in the NFL in and 20th in the NFL in air yards per attempt at 7.3.

Luck has been one of the best passers in the NFL, but he's also thrown the second most interceptions this season. On the flip side, among quarterbacks who have started 13 games, Luck has been sacked the second fewest times. Only Drew Brees has taken less sacks. Luck has only been sacked 16 times in 13 games and has been sacked multiple times in only five games. Over the last three weeks, Luck has taken an average of two sacks a game.

In that four week stretch, the Colts have gone 3-1, and Luck has averaged 321 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception per game.

The Dallas defense has come on strong and is finding ways to get pressure with four rushers. Taking advantage of the injury at right guard and getting to Luck with their front four is a huge key to the game as it is against most quarterbacks. Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are playing as well as any defensive end duo in the NFL this season and I expect that to continue this week.

Big Games from Explosive Duo?

The Dallas Cowboys have been getting huge games from their two most important skill position players; Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. Over the last five weeks, Elliott has averaged 116 rushing yards a game, 55 receiving yards, and at least one touchdown per game. During the same stretch, Cooper has averaged seven receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown per game.

Elliott and Cooper may find it difficult to reach their respective 100 yard milestones against the Colts. As Patrick Conn of WFAA.com illustrates below.

Patrick Conn on Twitter

Colts haven't given up 100 yards to a single rusher. 2-100 yard receiving games vs Texans in first matchup (Hopkins/Coutee). Other than that, no other 100 yard performances

Now, it could be argued that the Colts have only played three games against teams with good to great offenses. The Houston Texans (twice), and the New England Patriots. They went a combined 1-2 in those three games and the defense allowed an average of 32 points per game. The Colts have played better defense over the last seven games than they did earlier in the season. Over the last seven, they went 6-1 and allowed an average of 17 points per game. Of course that stretch of games doesn't feature any offensive juggernauts. They played the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and the Oakland Raiders. The best team they played in their last seven games was the Houston Texans and they allowed 21 points. The Cowboys only allowed 16 points in regulation to the Texans.

Only one team on the Colts schedule to this point is in the top 10 in rushing; the Houston Texans. And only one team on their schedule is in the top 10 in passing; the New England Patriots. Again, in three games against those teams, they went 1-2.

They haven't faced an offense this season that is playing as well, and as balanced, as the Cowboys have over the last five weeks.

Rookie Linebackers Dominating

We've all witnessed the standout play of rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, as the "Wolf Hunter" has taken the NFC by storm during Sean Lee's absence. Vander Esch is third in the league in solo tackles this season. The two players in front of Vander Esch are perennial All-Pro Luke Kuechly and the guy who will probably run away with Defensive Rookie of the Year award, Indianapolis Colts rookie Darius Leonard.

Leonard is leading the NFL in solo tackles and combined tackles per Pro Football Focus. He's tied for the lead league among linebackers with seven sacks and is second in the NFL in Pro Football Focus' "stops" metric. Leighton Vander Esch is fourth.

Both linebackers have been huge contributors for their teams, at times taking over games and coming up with big plays to turn the tide. Throw in Fred Warner in San Francisco and 2018 has been the year of the rookie linebacker.

Prediction

Since I've been writing this column, the Dallas Cowboys have enjoyed a bit of a win streak. I haven't always picked them, as you can see in the New Orleans Saints edition of Final Thoughts, but when I have picked the Cowboys, they've made me look smart and I'm going to go with them again this week on the road.

Indianapolis isn't really known as a tough place to play and in the Jason Garrett era, the Cowboys have generally been a really good team away from AT&T Stadium. I believe this game will be a close one, as most have been this year, but I think that Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott continue their impressive string of performances and are able to do enough to keep Andrew Luck on the sideline and limiting his impact on the game. If T.Y. Hilton is limited in the game or unable to go, that gives the Cowboys a huge advantage as they then can focus on touchdown maker Tight End Eric Ebron and we know what Byron Jones does to tight ends.

This is going to be a tough game, but I like the Cowboys to come out on top. Randy Gregory continues his sack streak and they get to Luck multiple times in the game and are able to force at least one turnover. Dak Prescott is efficient and doesn't turn the ball over this week and finds ways to beat the blitz. So, I've got it...

Cowboys 24 - Colts 20

Be sure to leave us your prediction in the comment section. 



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