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Game Notes

DAL 6, PHI 0: Cowboys Win, But at What Cost?

Jess Haynie



Dan Bailey

Many will remember 2017 as an ugly year for the Dallas Cowboys. It was only fitting that their season finale was perhaps the ugliest game of all.

You might see that score and think two Dan Bailey field goals won the day. But on the contrary, Bailey missed the extra point after a touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to Brice Butler. Bailey also missed a 20-yard field goal in the final minute, after which he hung his head in personal defeat.

It was one of several low points in this "victory" for the Cowboys.

While finishing 9-7 and giving Jason Garrett his first back-to-back winning seasons was nice, that was one of only a few positives to take from the game. In fact, some would even argue that the win will ultimately hurt the Cowboys due to draft positioning. The 9-7 finish will likely put the Cowboys in the late teens of April's draft, whereas an 8-8 finish could've had them around the 15th pick.

Also lost were opportunities to see more of the younger players as the Cowboys stuck with starters for much of the game.

We never got to see rookie QB Cooper Rush, or much out of WR Noah Brown and other prospects. Prescott, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, and Jason Witten played more than the non-existent stakes of the game would have suggested.

One starter who may wish he hadn't played is guard Jonathan Cooper, who suffered a knee injury and left the game. Cooper had to be helped off the field and it could be a big blow to his upcoming free agency. The seventh-overall pick in 2013 has had his career marred by injuries.

So yes, the Cowboys win. But from Cooper's knee to Bailey's confidence to our 2018 draft spot, this game may be more memorable for the losses.

Other Notes

  • Ezekiel Elliott's quest for a 1,000-yard season fell 17 yards short. He had 103 rushing yards on 27 carries, being given every opportunity to hit the milestone. After getting just 28 yards on his first 10 carries, Zeke found more running room in the second half and almost hit his goal. Still, Elliott will finish the year with the best per-game average of any RB in the NFL.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence may wind up with a half-sack by the time this game is reviewed. What appeared to be a shared sack with Datone Jones was fully credited to Jones in the moment. If it does get split, it will give Lawrence a total of 15 sacks for 2017. Beyond that one play, DeMarcus was terrorizing Nick Foles early in the game and seemed to be getting pressure on every Eagles passing play. You'll get to see him again in next month's Pro Bowl.
  • Just as impressive was Sean Lee, who was out there playing like a championship was on the line. The defensive leader put on a display of heart and personal accountability that we can only hope his young teammates took note of.
  • Chidobe Awuzie recorded his first interception on a poor throw by Foles; the ball sailed and was an easy snag for the rookie corner. Along with the pick, Awuzie was laying out some tough hits and showing his toughness. While question marks abound for this offseason, the Cowboys' young trio of corners with Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown is something they can feel good about.
  • Ryan Switzer led the team with four catches and once again reminded you of Cole Beasley, who was inactive due to illness, with his playing style. Will Dallas seek cap relief by cutting Beasley due to Switzer's presence? That's one of the big questions for the coming months.

Well folks, that's it for 2017. Our attention will now turn to free agency, the draft, and perhaps the changing of coordinators and other assistant coaches. Stay tuned to Inside The Star in the months ahead.

The games may be over, but the business of football never really ends.

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!

  • fgoodwin

    Throwing the game to gain a few draft spots would have been despicable and I cannot believe fans (and some bloggers) actually encouraged that.

    You play to win — always. Anything less compromises the integrity of the game.

    This isn’t the NBA.

  • Russ_Te

    Definitely a pyrrhic victory, getting Dak and even Elliott more pounding which only = wear off the career treads. No Cooper Rush, and a lower draft pick than if you play the game to lose it.

    Then again Rush might have scored enough himself in this game to win. But he needed the start obviously, and Dak did not. Dak looked unsure again and awful with his accuracy, but sharpened up down the stretch to get the TD drive.

    Regression for him in 2017 both with regard to accuracy and decision making, but a lot less running game help than 2016 and more hits taken.

    It’s possible he is at a crossroads for his career, and will only move from here to elite status with the right coaching.
    He has to learn how to play better and smarter under duress, and somebody needs to get to the bottom of where the wild throws are coming from. I’m not sure Linehan can’t do it, but there is a good chance he is out IMO as a molifier to fans while Jones makes the bad decision of keeping Garrett.

    Tough for Cooper but I tend to doubt his FA value. I think after being given about 6 different opportunities at LG, his game finally rose up to a passable level. I figure him to be back as next year’s starter, but OL / OT depth is pressing and it is likely that a couple new prospects are on the way. Top need IMO.

    Bailey, mental funk without question. I only cut him if it’s not gone next year. Today’s game winner: Butler. He proves what speed will do to help this passing game.

Game Notes

Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday

Kevin Brady



Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.

That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.

Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.

Now, however, things are changing.

Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.

Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.

Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.

The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.

Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.

It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.

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Game Notes

Cowboys, Seahawks Week 3 Injury Report

Jess Haynie



Cowboys Offense: More Hot Sauce Needed From Cole Beasley 3
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Believe it or not, Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas isn't the only guy whose playing status is in question for today's game. Other key players for Seattle and the Dallas Cowboys appear on the teams' Week 3 injury reports.

The Cowboys are looking to move to 2-1 and maintain a slim lead in the NFC East. The Seahawks are still looking for their first win of 2018, and the drama around Thomas isn't helping the fear of a locker room implosion.

What players may not be out there to help their teams to victory?

Dallas Cowboys

  • C Travis Frederick (illness) - OUT
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - OUT
  • WR Cole Beasley (ankle) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable
  • S Xavier Woods (hamstring) - Questionable

Frederick remains out as he deals with his neurological disease. Dallas decided to keep him on the 53-man roster, rather than place him on injured reserve, with the hope that he could return before Week 9. There are still several weeks before we'll know if that was a good move.

Maliek Collins will be out today after a minor knee injury suffered last week against the Giants. Taking his spot will be Datone Jones, who returns from his own knee issue after missing the first two games.

You don't like seeing your quarterback's favorite receiver and your defensive leader on the same injury report. Thankfully, though, it appears both Cole Beasley and Sean Lee will be available today.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

For the #Cowboys, WR Cole Beasley (ankle) is expected to play, and LB Sean Lee (hamstring) should be good to go, as well, based on how he moved around in practice on Friday, sources say.

Finally, we come to the ever-intriguing Xavier Woods. While limited in practice all week, Woods is expected to make his season debut in Seattle. We will see if Xavier gets the start at free safety, or if Dallas will ease him back in and keep Kavon Frazier starting for now.

With all of the hype around Dallas' possible acquisition of Earl Thomas, one has to hope that Xavier won't overdo it and make matters worse with his hamstring. Between the enthusiasm just to play and the threat to his starting job, the second-year stud should be pretty amped up.

Seattle Seahawks

  • WR Doug Baldwin (knee) - OUT
  • C/G Ethan Pocic (ankle) - OUT
  • LB K.J. Wright (knee) - OUT
  • C Justin Britt (shoulder) - Questionable
  • LB Mychal Kendricks (ankle) - Questionable
  • S Earl Thomas (???) - ???

Seattle remains without Baldwin, their leading receiver from 2014-2017, and it shows in their offensive play. QB Russell Wilson is currently at career lows in completion percentage and passer rating, plus has already thrown three interceptions in just two games.

The Seahawks have issues up front as well. Starting left guard Ethan Pocic will also miss today's game. With right guard D.J. Fluker returning this week after missing the first two, that will allow backup J.R. Sweezy to flip over to the other side.

If that wasn't enough, starting center Justin Britt missed the entire week of practice with a shoulder issue. He has not been ruled out, though. Regardless, those are a lot of red flags on your offensive line with the Cowboys' emerging defense coming to town.

Also out today will be Pro Bowl linebacker K.J. Wright. That means we could see Mychal Kendricks, who was just recently booted from Cleveland after being charged with insider trading, playing a major role today. Kendricks knows the Cowboys well, having played with the Eagles from 2012-2017.

And lastly, Earl Thomas.

No health or injury-related reason has been given for why Thomas missed practices on Wednesday and Friday. "Personal reasons" is all you're getting from Seattle, fueling rampant speculation that a trade is in the works. Whether or not that trade is with the Dallas Cowboys is pure conjecture at this point.

What we do know is that Seattle is 0-2 and trending down this year. Holding onto Thomas and his expiring contract, only to lose him for nothing next year in free agency, would be foolish.

We'll see if Earl plays at all today. If he doesn't, the trade talk is going to explode.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys Center Travis Frederick Still Hoping to "Be a Rock" for Teammates Despite GBS Syndrome

It's week 3 of the 2018 NFL season and this match-up already feels like one of the most important ones the Dallas Cowboys will play in the season. The reason why is they need to prove they're good enough to win consistently and that they won't have another year that feels like a roller coaster of wins and losses like 2017 did. As they travel to Seattle to face the 0-2 Seahawks, the 1-1 Cowboys can't miss a perfect opportunity versus one of the weakest units in football: the Seahawks' offensive line.

As every gameday, here is my Cowboys Wishlist for this week's action. As always, I encourage you to share your wishes with me in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Meet Brett Maher, the Cowboys Kicker Replacing Dan Bailey for 2018

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher (Shanna Lockwood / USA TODAY Sports)

Wish #1: Brett Maher Kicks a 50+ yard FG.

Dan Bailey recently signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Cowboys Nation will experience a very odd feeling when they see their former kicker wear purple. If there's something that can make fans feel better is watching the guy who replaced Bailey nail a long field goal in Seattle.

Brett Maher showed he could kick a 47-yard FG in preseason, but we want to see him pull it off in a kick that will actually go down in the books. The decision to release Dan Bailey won't leave our minds until we see Maher do his job.

Wish #2: Rico Gathers Scores His First Career TD.

It felt like forever, but tight end Rico Gathers was activated for the first time in his career last Sunday. Rico didn't get his first catch even though he was targeted twice by Dak Prescott. The most notable moment was when Gathers seemed to be open in the endzone but Dak missed him.

Although Prescott's pass could've been better, Gathers did stumble a little bit and wasn't where he should've been to catch that touchdown. No worries, Rico's career is only beginning. I wish his first touchdown ever finally comes this week.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth)

Wish #3: Defense Gets Its First Interception of the Year.

Through two weeks of NFL action, the Dallas Cowboys defense has been one of the most impressive units. Ranking as the third best in total points in the league, the Cowboys' defense might begin being the team's best side of the ball. At least, it has been for the first two weeks.

Last week, they limited Odell Beckham Jr. to only 51 yards. Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie have played pretty well so far, but I wish they're able to get their first interception of the year. Dallas has one takeaway from week 1 versus the Panthers, but it came in form of a fumble.

Let's get that interception from Russell Wilson, who will be pressured most of the day by a very productive Cowboys' front seven.

Wish #4: 20+ Point Performance

Despite a very exciting first drive versus the Giants last week, the Cowboys' offense still needs to prove it can be successful enough to win games. Scott Linehan's unit had some good drives but it also failed to maintain a consistent attack all game. That may seem okay, but the Cowboys will have to win against some pretty tough defenses.

Seahawks will present the team with a very interesting challenge and one that I wish they pass. As good as the defense is playing, the offense needs to show up in order to win later games.

Wish #5: Contain Russell Wilson

Wilson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL. His agility might be the best among every other signal caller in the game, becoming a very tough guy to defend. He can hurt you with his arms and legs and can throw on the run pretty well. All week we've been talking about how sacking the Seahawks' QB is a key to the victory, but it's more than that.

Wilson is good in the pocket, but when he starts scrambling or running out of the pocket only to throw the ball once the defense is out of position, he becomes a pretty painful headache. The Cowboys need to put him on the ground, but they also need to contain him all day long. He's basically his team's entire offense.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dallas Cowboys VS. Seattle Seahawks" 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!

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