Connect with us

Game Notes

Cowboys Pregaming: Will Ezekiel Elliott Emerge?

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Pregaming: Will Ezekiel Elliott Emerge?

We're just an hour away from the kickoff of the Dallas Cowboys annual trip to Washington. The longtime rivals, both sitting at 0-1, seek to avoid panic mode with a victory.

Here's an assortment of questions, concerns, and hopes that I have for today's game. If you're reading via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media than please share your own thoughts. You can also use our Comments section below.

Will the Real Ezekiel Elliott Debut?

Cowboys Headlines - Key Cowboys Making 2016 Debut In Seattle 1

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

If you watched the Cowboys' third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks then you know what I mean by "the real Ezekiel Elliott." The guy we saw last week against New York looked more like a rookie than a phenom. Still, I know the electric runner who earned Kam Chancellor's respect a few weeks ago is ready to break out.

Last week, the Giants' defense loaded up to stop Elliott and tried to force the Cowboys to win through the air. Washington may try to do the same but don't have the same resources. Even after Pittsburgh built a large lead and went to conservative offense in Week One, Washington was unable to do anything against the Steelers' ground game.

While many would like to see Alfred Morris have a big game against his former team, Ezekiel Elliott needs this one badly. Confidence is key for all athletes but especially a young guy trying to prove he was worth the fourth overall pick in the draft. If the Cowboys are going to have success during Tony Romo's absence and even after his return, Elliott needs to be having a great rookie season.

Who Covers DeSean Jackson?

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys at Redskins: Team Itinerary and Broadcast Information

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

A lot of attention is being paid to the receiver-cornerback matchup between Dez Bryant and Josh Norman. Ultimately, I think the more important matchup may be when Washington has the ball.

During his time in both Philadelphia and Washington, DeSean Jackson has often been covered by Dallas' Orlando Scandrick. However, Scandrick is battling a hamstring injury and may not be at full speed. And, in the words of Mickey Goldmill, "speed is what we need" against the still-electric Jackson.

Granted, Dallas plays a lot of zone defense and that negates some of the worry about matchups. Still, there are plenty of times when man defense is needed. Depending on Scandrick's capacity, Morris Claiborne may wind up the better option for covering Jackson.

Last week, Claiborne saw the majority of the work against Odell Beckham Jr. and he had a fairly quiet game. The one big play came against Scandrick. Otherwise, O.D.B. has just 28 yards on 3 catches.

Sacks Coming?

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Pregaming: Will Ezekiel Elliott Emerge? 1Last week Dallas had two sacks on Eli Manning. One came on a corner blitz with Orlando Scandrick out of the slot. The other was a coverage sack by Benson Mayowa. Outside of these plays, though, Dallas still appeared unable to generate much pressure in the pocket.

Last year, Washington was one of the league's top teams in not allowing sacks. That has continued thus far as Kirk Cousins was not sacked at all in Week One and only hit twice.

Given some of the matchup concerns we just addressed against Washington's receivers, the need to pressure Cousins is vital. We cannot allow Jackson, Pierre Garcon, or Jamison Crowder time to get behind our coverage.

Personal Foul Potential of Bryant vs. Norman

The NFL's new rule about personal fouls and possible ejection could come into play as two aggressive players go to war. The ultimate winner in the Dez-Norman matchup may be who doesn't hurt their team the most.

I certainly hope that Scott Linehan will work Dez into the game far more than he did against the Giants. That means more short-yardage throws and giving Bryant opportunities to break tackles and make dynamic plays. However, that also means more likelihood for big hits and tight, physical coverage.

Hopefully, both guys can keep it professional. Unfortunately for Dallas, Dez may have the shorter fuse of the two.

Byron Jones' First Turnover

 - Byron Jones, #31Despite playing in all 16 games last year and having a significant role, Byron Jones did not record a single turnover. The corner-turned-safety has yet to pick off a pass or force a fumble.

Jones may get a shot this week. Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions last week against Pittsburgh, although he only threw 11 total during the 2015 season. Cousins may now be easier to pick off with a full season of tape to study.

Dallas was able to dominate the clock last week but failed to finish their drives with touchdowns. If they can correct that this week and build a lead, it could force Washington to go to the air more. Perhaps Byron Jones will finally snag that first pick.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones’ Hot Streak

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones' Hot Streak

The Dallas Cowboys will try to get their second road win of the season against another inconsistent Atlanta Falcons team. As both try to get back to .500, this game will be filled with interesting matchups and implications. After upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 last Sunday, the Cowboys need to get another upset win to keep being relevant in the league this year.

Here's this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist! I hope you enjoy and I encourage you to let me know what your wishes are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Wish #1: Stop Julio Jones' 100-Yard Game Streak

With the Atlanta Falcons sitting at 4-5, many have overlooked Wide Receiver Julio Jones' hot streak. In each of his last four games, Jones has accounted for more than 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Totaling 476 yards in his last four games, Jones is ready to face Cowboys' Cornerback Byron Jones.

Byron has certainly been a pleasant surprise in 2018, playing at a great level right now. He has faced Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins this year and made a good job of defending these "Tier 1" pass-catchers. It's worth noting the Cowboys are not making him "travel" with these players but rather keep him on a specific side of the field. That shouldn't change against the Falcons.

Wish #2: Contain WR Calvin Ridley

Back in April, Cowboys Nation eyed Calvin Ridley as a prospect who could end up wearing the Star on Sundays. However, Dallas passed on him and the Alabama product fell right unto the Falcons' lap. He's had a pretty good season and despite sharing the field with Julio Jones, he's done a great job as a rookie averaging 14 yards per reception.

The Cowboys need to contain him. While Dallas should feel comfortable with Byron doing his job, the truth is Chidobe Awuzie has struggled at times. Not that he's suddenly a bad player, but he needs to step up his game. Lining up against Ridley today will be a great test and one I wouldn't expect him to pass easily.

Takeaway Tuesday: CB Awuzie Hasn't Met Expectations in 2018

Wish #3: Score 28+ Points

The Cowboys have the huge advantage of going against a defense that ranks 29th in scoring defense. They did a nice job on Philadelphia last week and should continue to build on that success to do something they haven't done much this year: score a lot of points.

Scott Linehan's unit needs to do a better, more consistent, job. They've shown us they're capable of scoring, but they've also shown us their remarkable ability to seemingly forget how to do so. Blame it on play-calling, QB play, poor offensive line or whatever you prefer, it's a flawed unit.

They need to capitalize versus a poor defense like the Falcons' to find a steady rhythm.

Wish #4: Dak Makes This Falcons' Game a Turning Point

Last year, when Dak Prescott was sacked six times in Atlanta (five times by Adrian Clayborn) something changed for the Cowboys' young quarterback. Missing RB Ezekiel Elliott and LT Tyron Smith that day, Prescott had one of the worse days in his career. It was a turning point for him as a QB and the public eye.

Now he has a chance at redemption. A shot at putting the Cowboys at .500 and reviving playoff hopes, as unlikely as it sounds.

I wish that's the case for the Cowboys young passer in Atlanta. As flawed as he is, I'm a fan of his. The kid leaves it all on the field.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones’ Hot Streak" 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!



Continue Reading

Game Notes

Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.

Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
  • DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
  • DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
  • G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable

The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.

Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.

The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.

Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.

Atlanta Falcons

  • LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT

It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.

The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.

So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.



Continue Reading

Game Notes

Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

Sean Martin

Published

on

Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.

As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.

The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.

It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.

Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.

Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.

If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.

The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.

In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.

Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.

It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.

The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.

Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending