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DAL 24 IND 19: Cowboys Winners In Return Home, Jaylon Smith Debuts

Sean Martin



DAL 24 IND 19: Cowboys Winners In Return Home, Jaylon Smith Debuts

It is hard to believe, but the Cowboys have completed the Oxnard portion of training camp - returning home to host the Colts tonight for their first game of the season at AT&T Stadium. Following this 24-19 victory, the Cowboys will continue training camp at The Star with a lot to like following a win that saw Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, and most notably Jaylon Smith make their preseason debuts.

Jaylon Smith's first real action with the Cowboys would have to wait, but not for long as the Cowboys received the opening kickoff and promptly jumped ahead 7-0 with a 95 yard drive orchestrated to perfection by Dak Prescott. Dez Bryant got things rolling quickly with a slant route to move the chains on the first play, and after gains of five, six, and five again by Darren McFadden he was in the end zone from 32 yards out - electrifying Cowboys Nation by finishing physically down the sideline and stretching for the score.

The opening fireworks from Dallas' offense meant that Rod Marinelli's defense got to play from ahead early, promptly forcing a three and out with Jaylon Smith making the stop (the first of his career) on third down.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

Jaylon Smith's 1st Tackle in his NFL Career.

The Cowboys' first-team offense kept things rolling, as a starting offensive line that featured Chaz Green at LT and Jonathan Cooper at LG made easy work of the Colts' front to momentarily make us forget about Ezekiel Elliott's suspension by leading Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Rod Smith.

It was Prescott's connection to last season's leader in receptions Cole Beasley that got the Cowboys down in the red zone once again, but a McFadden fumble turned the ball over the Colts and ended the night for most of the team's starters.

Indianapolis went three and out again, but Kellen Moore turned the ball over on his first play after getting hit by former Cowboy Lavar Edwards and fumbling. Edwards returned the fumble for a tying touchdown, and a pair of field goals to either side had this game tied at ten at the half.

This game would hit a lull point until UDFA QB Cooper Rush lifted Kellen Moore late in the third quarter. Rush, who has outperformed Moore in every way this preseason, furthered his case for a roster spot by putting the Cowboys ahead 17-13 with a 19 yard touchdown to rookie Noah Brown.

Rush was a sharp 4-4 on the drive, leading another quick touchdown drive following a Colts punt by firing a three yard scoring strike to UDFA WR Lance Lenoir Jr.

A late Colts touchdown in "garbage time" would not be enough to stop the Cowboys from putting a cherry on top of a night that was successful the second Jaylon Smith stepped out of the tunnel prepared to play, as the offense did not miss a beat with their starters in.

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On the injury front, CB Orlando Scandrick exited and was evaluated for a concussion on the sideline. He did not return to the game after looking confident and flying around the ball without rookies Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, or Xavier Woods on the field.

Be sure to check out tomorrow's new edition of "Sean's Scout" for a more in-depth breakdown of what stood out to me from the Cowboys' performance against the Colts. 

Tell us what you think about "DAL 24 IND 19: Cowboys Winners In Return Home, Jaylon Smith Debuts" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

  • http://Inside%20The%20Star Fatfan

    either keep 3 qbs, or release Linehan fav, Kellen Moore. Dallas would be foolish to let Cooper Rush walk; he won’t make it to the p.s. Rush will be helpful if Prescott is ever injured and misses time, (moreso than Moore), and/or eventually will garner good draft picks in a trade to some needy team.

  • Travis Diggs

    Outside of Kellen Moore, the cowboys look good on both sides of the ball. A couple months ago i posted that Kellen moore was only here because of his step daddy Scott Linehan and that he would not be picked up by any other team if released, I received so much flak from delusional cowboys fans defending this bum, Where yall at now??? Three weeks of getting outplayed by Cooper Rush and a NBC sportstalk post this morning about the staff losing faith in him, even his step daddy. I cant believe yall still defend this scrub, where’s the love for cooper rush?? He moves the ball with ease with the same team kellen moore had, time to be honest with yourselfs about yall boy Kellen Moore

    • Daniel Lujan

      I just get the feeling (well, from Broaddus’ tweets) that the coaching staff is going to be bullish on Kellen. I don’t know that Dallas can necessarily afford the luxury of 3 QBs.. So to me, it’s going to take cutting Moore, or keeping both Rush and Moore. If they go 3 QB’s, they’ll end up cutting somebody that’s potentially useful like Noah Brown, Duke Thomas, etc.

      • Travis Diggs

        Now you know and I know The boys usually only carry two qbs. Has Kellen Moore shown anybody that he deserves to back up Dak??? Dont keep him because he’s one of “the guys” He has been a BUM and that will never change. Who feels comfortable with him against defenses with starters in real games??NOT ME! How bout you???

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie



Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin



Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.

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