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Cowboys Shouldn’t Abandon Run First Mentality Against Chiefs

Brian Martin

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Will Cowboys Lean On The Running Game Against Chiefs?

Without Ezekiel Elliott for the next six games, the ultimate unknown for the Dallas Cowboys is how they will adjust during his absence. It doesn't really matter if you personally believe they should go to more four receiver sets or if they will be fine with their current stable of running backs. There is one thing they absolutely can't do against the Kansas City Chiefs, abandon their run first mentality.

There is no denying that going from Ezekiel Elliott to Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden for that matter is a huge step down. But, I discovered something this week when studying the Kansas City Chiefs and I think it could actually benefit the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon.

The Kansas City Chiefs have been pretty impressive this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Alex Smith could very well be the NFL MVP, Kareem Hunt is leading league in rushing, Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game, and Tyreek Hill is arguably the most explosive player with the ball in his hands. But, the Chiefs are susceptible on the defensive side of the ball.

Shocked? So was I.

From the outside looking in, I thought the Kansas City Chiefs had a pretty good defense. But, looks can be deceiving. They're are currently ranked 30th in total defense, but I think it's the rushing defense the Dallas Cowboys can take advantage of the most.

Kansas City Chiefs defenseThe Kansas City Chiefs are currently ranked 29th in the league giving up 4.9 yards per carry to opposing running backs. That should have the Cowboys coaching staff licking their chops for this matchup, even without Elliott in the lineup.

Everybody knows the Dallas Cowboys pride themselves in the offensive line they have put together. They are arguably the best in the NFL at what they do, and what they do best is block in the running game. That is why I think the Cowboys would be foolish to abandon their run first mentality.

You see, the Chiefs defensive lineman have a problem maintaining their gap discipline and as a result get washed out of plays. That leaves their linebackers to pick up the slack, but fortunately for the Cowboys Derrick Johnson and Reggie Ragland have been struggling this season.

The Dallas Cowboys absolutely have to take advantage of the Chiefs defense, especially in the running game. Whether it's Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, or Rod Smith. They have to continue to control the game clock in the running game and keep the Alex Smith led Chiefs offense off the field.

If the Cowboys can find success in the running game, I don't see any reason why they can't come away with a victory in front of their home crowd. But, if they abandon their run first mentality, it plays right into the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. That simply can't be allowed.

Will the Dallas Cowboys stick with their run first mentality?



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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6 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    Of course late word is that Elliott will play Sunday, but what changes if any for Morris against this defense, applies the same way if Elliott were to be knocked out of the game with injury.

    Certainly against a porous run D who is visiting, it can easily be a 40-carry game regardless of who is the workhorse. But if Morris gets starts this year, I think 1st down carries will be a bit easier for him than Elliott, because defenses will spend the 8th defender on him less often.

    For Elliott starts, I think a rule of 1st down pass, 1st quarter will go a long way. Defenses have to play run first with him, and that should set up some easy hits that get the offense off to a fast start. Now defenses have to back off Elliott.

    And it should be done with an eye toward a fast start for Dez also. That can pay double dividends.

    • Brian Martin

      I think the Chiefs are going to stack the box to try to stop the run regardless of who starts at RB. They know teams are able to run on them at will and the Cowboys are a run first team. We will have to wait and see though.

      • Russ_Te

        Cha-ching for Dak & receivers in that case. I presume Garrett learned his lesson in Denver, about not just running into the teeth of that to start the game.

        • Brian Martin

          I’m sure he did. And luckily, Kansas City’s defense is nowhere near as good as Denver’s. The Cowboys should be able to move the ball relatively easy, but hopefully they can get into the end zone instead of settling for FGs like they had to do last week.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I haven’t seen the numbers on run vs. pass, but it seemed maybe 60/40 % pass to run today. Dak had some good runs to complement Zeke and Albert had a nice 10 yard scamper. What I loved the most about this game were the much maligned players, who are continually being criticized and all had good individual games. T-Williams performance should quiet the critics. Beasley pulled the sauce out after his 2nd TD. Hopefully, he saved a little sauce for Taco’s first QB sack. The haters gonna hate, but Heath closed out the game with his interception. Well done, guys. Great Win. – Go Cowboys !!

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t think the critics will quiet on T-Will anytime soon. This is exactly what he does. He’ll show up one game and absolutely disappear another. But, it was good to see both him and Beasley finally involved in the passing game. It also was good to see both Taco Charlton and Jeff Heath make plays defensively. They are arguably two of the most talked about (not in a good way) players on the Cowboys roster right now.

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The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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Star Blog

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

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Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The Dak Stats

Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.

Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.

When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.

Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.

Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.

Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.

Questions Still Loom

This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.

But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -167
  2. Dallas Cowboys +350
  3. New York Giants +650
  4. Washington Redskins +750

NFC East Week 1 Predictions

The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.

The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.

The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.

The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.

This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.



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