Connect with us

Game Notes

Cowboys vs. Eagles: Sunday Preview



With one rival vanquished for the time being, the Dallas Cowboys seek to take down another this Sunday, as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field (1:00 EST, FOX). The game signals the start of a traveling stretch for the Cowboys, who will play four of their next five games on the road.Unknown

The Cowboys' rivalry with the Eagles is a long and storied one, with the Cowboys holding a 60-47 edge (including playoffs) on their rivals from the City of Brotherly Love. It wasn't so sunny in Philadelphia the last time the Cowboys came to visit, as they took down their green adversaries 38-23 at the stadium known as "The Linc". Although the Cowboys fell behind 17-10 late in the 3rd quarter, they took control of the game via a four minute stretch that spanned the 3rd and 4th quarters. On the final play of the 3rd, Tony Romo found Dez Bryant on a 30 yard strike to tie the game. After a Philadelphia three-and-out, Dwayne Harris, last week's NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, gave the Cowboys a lead they'd never give back on a 78 yard punt return to the end zone, the first of his career. On the next possession, CB Brandon Carr scored a 47 yard pick six. The Cowboys would go on to win the game 38-23, out scoring the Eagles 28-6 over the game final 16 minutes. The rematch in Dallas was a back and forth Sunday night affair, taken by the Cowboys 38-33. Dallas had actually trailed most of the game, falling behind 14-3 midway through the 2nd on two short touchdown runs by then-rookie Eagles RB Bryce Brown. By the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the Cowboys still trailed 24-17, but once again took over the game in the game's final act. Romo's 27 yard strike to Miles Austin tied the game, and another Romo touchdown pass, this one to Bryant from 6 yards out, gave the Cowboys the lead for good. CB Morris Claiborne took a Brown fumble 50 yards for another score, one that proved to be important when Eagles PR Damaris Johnson took a Brian Moorman punt 98 yards for a score. Dallas recovered the subsequent onside kick to escape with the win. Romo's three touchdown passes allowed him to pass Troy Aikman for most touchdown passes in franchise history.

This season, Dallas faces a Philadelphia team that's vastly different from it's previous incarnation. Surely you've heard of new head coach Chip Kelly's offense, called "revolutionary" one week and a "failed experiment" the next. The Eagles began the season 1-3, but have used a couple of no-win teams (the Giants and Buccaneers) to their advantage. Despite their dreadful strength of schedule (their other win came against the one-win Redskins), the Eagles do seem like legitimate contenders. The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards at 178.5 per game, headlined by RB LeSean McCoy. McCoy has already tallied 630 yards on the season (tops in the league), including 116 yards on Tampa Bay last week, his 3rd 100 yard game of the season. The Cowboys rushing game has been hit or miss this season. For every performance the rush defense has had against Jamaal Charles (16 carries, 55 yards) and Alfred Morris (15 carries, 36 yards, not including a 45 yards TD run), they'll have a no show against guys like Danny Woodhead (86 total yards, 2 TD's) and Knowshon Moreno (150 total yards, 1 TD). They'll have to another standout game the defense to stop McCoy, a task all the more difficult with DeMarcus Ware possibly out (originally projected to miss 3-4 weeks with a quad injury, Ware revealed this week he'll be a game time decision). Plenty of names stepped it up on defense for the Cowboys last Sunday night, namely DL Kyle Wilber, who had a key sack and fumble recovery deep in Washington territory, and Orlando Scandrick, who intercepted a pass in the Dallas end zone.

While Michael Vick (hamstring) will not play on Sunday, let's face it, QB Nick Foles, who will face the Cowboys for the third time in his young career,  isn't that bad. In the first meeting, Foles, seeing his first ever NFL action after Vick went down with an injury, threw the key interception to Carr, but had a solid performance (22-32, 219 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). He was even better in the second meeting, going 22-34 for 251 yards and 1 TD in his third career start. He's also coming off probably the best game of his career against Tampa Bay, going 22-31 for 296 yards with 3 TD's (good for a career high 133.3 rating). He also has yet to throw an interception this season, so it's imperative that the secondary cause some turnovers. The defense looked spotty against Washington (allowing 433 yards), but there was a key difference between the Denver loss and the Washington win. Whereas in the Broncos game they failed to force Denver into punting even once, the Cowboys forced Redskins P Sav Rocca to send it off three times. With a returner like Dwayne Harris, that's extremely important. In addition, when the Redskins did get into Cowboys territory, they were mainly forced into Kai Forbath field goals rather than Robert Griffin touchdowns.

With the obvious exception of his historical performance against the Broncos, Romo has been held to a conservative approach so far this season. It's been mostly successful for the most part, as Romo's turnovers have seen a dramatic decline, but the loss of DeMarco Murray, ruled doubtful with an knee injury, means that Romo will have to put the team on his back this week. If Murray misses the game, the remaining options aren't pretty. Rookie Joseph Randle had a touchdown last week, but other than that was very unimpressive (11 carries, 17 yards), while Phillip Tanner wasn't exactly eye-catching when Murray got hurt last year (25 carries, 61 yards in 2012). Romo has played some of the most important games of his career against Philadelphia, and the results are polarizing. Sometimes he'll look amazing (23-35, 244 yards, 2 TD's in the 2010 NFC Wild Card game, a 34-14 win), and other times he'll look dreadful (21-39, 183 yards, 0 TD's, 1 INT, in a 44-6 season ending loss that cost the Cowboys a playoff spot). Obviously, with Murray out, Romo will be called upon for increased production in a game, despite being played before Halloween, that could have major playoff implications.

Obviously, any win over the Eagles is a big win. But a win here would be huge for the 2013 Cowboys. If the Cowboys seek to return to the playoffs since that magical three game sweep against the Eagles in 2009-10, they're going to need more wins. Since that mini-playoff run, the Cowboys have had difficulty stringing together consistent winning streaks, indicated by their twin 8-8 records over the past two seasons. As I mentioned last week, moral victories are fine and all, but the NFL doesn't count those toward making the playoffs. Philadelphia's increasingly soft schedule (a trip to Oakland follows a rematch with the Giants next week) only increases the need to beat the Eagles now. With the state of both defenses, (Philadelphia allows even more yards per game than the Cowboys) this game will likely end up being a shootout. And if that happens, I'm going to trust Tony Romo over Nick Foles right now, thank you very much.Cowboys-vs-Eagles

Prediction: Cowboys 41, Eagles 37

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady



Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn't look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Ryan Switzer's first target came on a third down -- something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can't catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender's face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn't be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Switzer's third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback -- who is cheating to the inside -- with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I'd still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

Continue Reading

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez



Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might've lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season's finally over. It wasn't easy, but we're still here. Here's to 2018. Let's hope it's a good one for our Cowboys. Here's this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Coaching Staff Didn't Help Its Cause

It's more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job was not an issue. Now, Jerry's even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it's true.

While I don't think we'll see a new head coach anytime soon, I'd dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would've meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a "real action" game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC's #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can't help thinking about the coaches.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers' first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he'll be paid $790,000 next year which isn't at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn't been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he's used more next season.

At the end of the day, he's a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on "gadget plays" or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott's best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it's too optimistic to expect something like that.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Dan Bailey's Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey's 2017 season hasn't been easy at all. We've seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys' season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it's all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan "Automatic" Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we're not sure about calling him "Automatic" anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let's hope that's the case.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports... Maybe next year. We're on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation - despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli's defense.

We'll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean's Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys' second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles' eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we'll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott's strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open -- relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn't been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn't now that he's lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer's ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer's spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean's Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean's Scout won't be going anywhere! I'm shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

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