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DAL Vs MIA in Review: Players Looking to Take the Next Step in Seattle

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - DAL Vs MIA in Review: Players Looking to Take the Next Step in Seattle

The Dallas Cowboys got their first win of 2016 a week ago, defeating the Miami Dolphins in convincing fashion 44-14 from AT&T Stadium. As they now prepare for their dress rehearsal game in Seattle tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to go back and take a look at the players that put a positive performance on the field in week 2, and break down how they can build on it against the Seahawks.

These could be players that had bounce back games, showed minor improvements, or took the world by fire. Let's talk some football!

Dak Prescott

Starting with the obvious only feels right here, as Dak Prescott has a ton to build off of after his first two preseason outings. After electrifying Cowboys Nation in Los Angeles during his debut, Prescott put on another show for the home fans - completing 12 passes on 15 attempts and tossing 2 touchdowns while rushing for a pair as well.

Prescott has now thrown more touchdowns than incomplete passes, an amazing accomplishment that will be hard to maintain against the Seattle secondary in hostile territory.

No matter how Prescott performs, Cowboys' fans have already embraced the journey of watching the young signal caller develop in front of their eyes. With that comes the highs that he has shown us, and some lows to be expected at some point.

Which will we see tomorrow from Prescott? Your move, quarterDAK.

Alfred Morris

Morris carried 13 times for 85 yards against the Dolphins, punishing defenders with his hard running style while cutting perfectly through the holes provided by Dallas' line.

Ezekiel Elliott will make his debut tomorrow, but Morris will still get his opportunities. What we will see from Morris should also closer resemble his actual role on this team during the regular season, as a compliment back to Elliott that can be just as dominant.

I'll be looking for Morris - a career model of consistency - to play with some extra burst to him when he first comes out on the field, and punish defenders for the rest of that time.

Darius Jackson

Sticking with the running back position, rookie Darius Jackson has two preseason games remaining to prove that he deserves a spot on this team. To do so, he won't need to be better than Alfred Morris or Ezekiel Elliott, but simply continue to provide an element in the speed rushing game that neither back excels at.

Jackson has shown the ability to do this, while also having to create a lot of plays on his own with backup offensive linemen in front of him, carrying the ball 26 times this preseason for 90 yards.

After leading the team in carries against the Dolphins, look for Jackson to get a lot more work tomorrow, and hopefully make the right reads on his way to some big plays.

Cole Beasley

I don't think that anybody on this football team was more excited about getting Tony Romo back on the field than slot receiver Cole Beasley. With a specific skill set, Beasley excels when Romo is his quarterback, able to work the middle of the field with ease.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has been utilizing all of his weapons so far this preseason, moving guys around to create the best match ups. Against the Dolphins, you saw a tunnel screen to Beasley on the first drive that went for positive yards from Romo.

While it is unclear how much of Tony Romo we will see tomorrow, expect Beasley to be one of his main targets against a fierce Seahawks pass rush, and in the absence of Dez Bryant.

 

Butler2

 

Brice Butler

Speaking of the absence of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys will get a good look at Terrance Williams and Brice Butler in this game. Both players seem to still be competing for the second WR spot, although Williams hasn't done anything to warrant a significant loss of playing time.

One of the most memorable plays of Friday's win was Dak Prescott connecting with Brice Butler for a bomb down field, something that Butler was brought in here to do. Seeing him finally get vertical was refreshing, and he will make great strides in putting pressure on Terrance Williams if he can do it again against the Seahawks.

Chaz Green

In watching his game against Miami for the second time, Chaz Green not only had the bounce back performance we all noticed in watching it live, but was actually really impressive in multiple aspects of the game.

Showing why he could be valuable as a tackle or a guard, Green played with a lot more consistent leverage and power on all of his sets.

On Alfred Morris' touchdown run, Green was able to slide and handle the speed rush - something he couldn't do against the Rams - clearing a lane for Morris to cut back and score.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

 

Byron Jones

Second-year player Byron Jones continues to be good at everything for the Dallas Cowboys. In watching him against the Dolphins, Jones excelled multiple times in run support, particularly in the red zone.

Of course, Jones was also able to use his length and speed to break up a pass that he had to come a long way for, displaying his full range of versatility.

We should expect more of the same on the West Coast from Byron tomorrow.

Morris Claiborne

The confidence and attitude that we have seen from Claiborne throughout training camp carried over to his home opener, as he saw plenty of action and was able to get his hands on the ball multiple times.

If the Cowboys' coaches want tomorrow's game to feel like a legitimate regular season game, they should want Morris Claiborne to repeat his performance and continue to make plays - something he has never consistently done, while dealing with his fair share of injuries.

Terrell McClain

Staying on the field has been his biggest issue in this league for Terrell McClain, but the defensive tackle has shown what he can do at full strength with the Cowboys this summer. Against the Dolphins, it was refreshing to see yet another interior defensive linemen on this team that can play with a great first step and get up the field to make plays.

Cedric Thornton drew attention to himself by putting in similar plays back in Los Angeles, and again against the Dolphins. Now, with Maliek Collins set to return, we could get a look at an absolutely dominant rotation of DTs for the Cowboys tomorrow - hopefully featuring a steady dose of McClain.

Ryan Russell

It may have been some minor progress, but Ryan Russell finally put together some snaps to feel good about after being held in check against the Rams. Russell was able to get up the field numerous times around the edge, drawing a personal foul for a hit on Ryan Tannehill where he exploded around the right side.

Russell also generated pressure on the stunt with Shaniel Jenkins that resulted in Jenkins forcing a fumble, and ultimately giving the Cowboys a chance to add to their lead before the half.

Chasing after Russell Wilson will be an even tougher task for Russell, who could make Rod Marinelli feel a lot better about his rotation at defensive end should he finally put together all of his traits to have an impact on the game.

James Morris

Some roster decisions are going to have to be made after this game for the Dallas Cowboys, and special teams is always a key denominator when it comes to deciding who makes the cut.

Brandon George on Twitter

Most special teams snaps for Cowboys on Friday: LB Keith Smith 16, TE Swaim 15, LB James Morris 15, TE Austin Traylor 14, WR Andy Jones 13.

Depending on how much of James Morris we see in the dress rehearsal, it will be evident that this team wants him to make the team based on the chances he has gotten on special teams.

As a linebacker, I also thought that he had some snaps on Friday where he was able to read his blocks incredibly well, and avoid getting taken out of the play before rallying to the football.

What players are you keeping an eye on against the Seahawks? Who else stood out to you in the win over the Dolphins? Let us know! Comment below to start the conversation, or email Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.

Tell us what you think about "DAL Vs MIA in Review: Players Looking to Take the Next Step in Seattle" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, 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 wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Coming into their week two match up against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys knew they could control the game with -- for the first time in years against Eli Manning -- their pass rush and strong secondary. Exposing a weak Giants offensive line went well beyond the Cowboys front four in this win though.

The Cowboys put Manning on the turf six times, with Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard relentlessly dialing up pressure. With the depth at linebacker to match up with Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram, along with Byron Jones' efforts on Odell Beckham Jr., it's no secret how the Cowboys defense forced Manning to dump the ball to his running back for 14 receptions.

Barkley's longest catch going for ten yards, this was a nearly flawless game for Rod Marinelli's defense to even the Cowboys record at 1-1. Expecting much of the same from their front seven against a poor Seahawks OL, now is a good time to look back at some of the pressure packages the Cowboys used in week two.

With a core of versatile linebackers they can trust, the Cowboys deployed Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Damien Wilson, and Leighton Vander Esch all over the field to present the Giants with different looks. What made the Cowboys defensive play calling so successful was their LBs ability to cover ground quickly and create depth in coverage.

By doing so, the Giants could not take any chances down the field, their longest passing play going for 37 yards.

Blitz1

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On this play, even with the Giants looking to get the ball out quickly, the pressure from Smith and Wilson disrupt the timing. Sean Lee, the only Cowboys linebacker not sent after Manning on the play, ends up rallying from his starting WILL position to get in on the tackle. The Giants did not have the numbers up front to block Damien Wilson attacking from SAM, although more impressively, Smith was able to rip through a partial block from the right guard and get ahead of Wilson on their rush.

Blitz2

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This next blitz shows off the Cowboys strong coverage downfield against the Giants. Cornerback Anthony Brown had his fingerprints all over this game in the back end for Dallas, but on this play comes out of the slot after Manning. Sensing the pressure at his feet, Manning steps up and actually puts himself in position to deliver a good ball, but is forced into yet another check down.

While linebacker blitzes are part of the "Richard effect" on the Cowboys defense, a well-timed slot blitz is a staple of Rod Marinelli's scheme. Using Brown a number of times in this role off the strong side, the Giants had no answers for the different pressures Dallas sent their way against Ereck Flowers at right tackle.

Blitz3

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Even when Smith was picked up, as he was in the above play, the Cowboys capitalized on missed blocking assignments to get home with their front four. Taco Charlton the benefactor at RDE here, watch as Barkley rushes to keep Lee from having a straight run at his QB - allowing Charlton to do the same off the edge. Running untouched on the play, Charlton does a nice job taking a sharp angle to Manning and chasing him to the ground.

Blitz4

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As much as the Cowboys cornerbacks were a huge part of the team's confidence in sending pressure, their safeties also performed well in coverage. I wrote about the above play on Monday morning in my Sean's Scout that immediately follows every Cowboys game:

"That's a fantastic play by Jeff Heath to run across the field and tackle Evan Engram short of the line to gain on third down.

The Giants drive would continue with a fourth down conversion, but the Cowboys defense did eventually force a punt.

The Cowboys safeties were primarily called upon to play in run support in this game, a role Heath has struggled in previously. Showing off his strengths as an athletic and rangy defensive back on this play, Heath didn't get pushed up the field by Engram on his release, hunting him down after the catch in front of a fired up Dallas bench."

Heath picking up Engram is just one example of a Cowboys defender exceeding expectations in coverage. Smith was able to run with Beckham Jr., as was Charlton on separate plays later in the game.

Blitz6

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The only fitting way to conclude this film study is with a DeMarcus Lawrence sack. The Cowboys best individual defender, Lawrence had his way with Flowers as we all expected. Playing to another one of Tank's strengths here though, Lawrence rushes to the inside off a well-executed T/E stunt with Tyrone Crawford.

Also sending Brown at Manning again, the Giants pass pro leaves Lawrence unabated to the quarterback. Unlikely to escape the grasp of Lawrence on such a free rush, Manning does try to abort the pocket, but had Brown crashing down on him to collapse things.

Lawrence might not earn many easier sacks this season. None of the Cowboys starters on defense are more capable of using their own ability to get to the QB than Lawrence still, who is getting all the help he needs from Richard as his play caller.

Through just two games, the Cowboys commitment to forcing the issue on defense has potential to keep this team atop the NFC East as the offense comes into its own.

Depending on the development of their own passing game, this may have to be a defense that can win Dallas games. The only way to do so is with sacks and turnovers.

The latter is something Marinelli's defenses have always excelled at when at full strength (the Cowboys are expecting Randy Gregory back as early as this week and DT David Irving comes off suspension in week five). The former is something the Cowboys are creating with a deeply talented front seven, orchestrated by one of the best in the business.

The Cowboys will look to build on their nine sacks this season against the Seahawks on Sunday, a team that's allowed the most in the league at 12. Their timing to go after Russell Wilson will be tested more than it was against the Giants, with Richard also better positioned to aid the Cowboys against his former team.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Blitzes Keep Giants Play Makers in Check" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys’ Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys' Path to Victory Over the Seattle Seahawks

In every game, whether it's a sporting event or a board game there is a path -- and sometimes more than one -- to victory. For the Dallas Cowboys, it's no different. As they get set to face a Seattle Seahawks team that is 0-2 for the first time since 2015, they'll have to win in several areas to bring home the W.

After starting out 0-2 in 2015, the Seahawks finished the season with a 10-6 record and won their wild card game over the Minnesota Vikings before falling in the divisional round to the Carolina Panthers.

The Seahawks are one of those teams that you can get down, but can never count out. If the Dallas Cowboys want to come out on top in their trip to the Pacific Northwest, they are going to have to come ready to play.

In particular, these are the things that the Dallas Cowboys have to achieve to be the victors on Sunday.

Limit Big Plays

The Seattle Seahawks are a very interesting offensive case study. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but have invested very little in trying to protect their most important asset.

They rely on Russell Wilson's improvisational ability and penchant for big plays.

In 2017, Wilson had a quarterback rating of 100.9 on attempts greater than 20 yards down the field, per Pro Football Focus. He threw the ball "deep" 91 times, completing 31 passes for 1,134 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He had the most deep attempts in the league last season and tied with Alex Smith with the most touchdowns on deep attempts. Wilson's yardage was nearly 200 yards more than the next best in the NFL on deep passing.

Wilson's going to take some deep shots. If you watched the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears, you noticed that even though Wilson was getting battered, it didn't deter him from taking shots deep down the field. Sometimes into unfavorable coverages.

The secondary has an advantage over the Seattle Seahawks group of wide receivers, but they'll have to stay disciplined and not allow the big pass plays to beat them.

In a game where they were being dominated for more than three quarters, the Seahawks were able to hang around and had a chance at the end because of their penchant for big plays.

Don't get beat deep.

Wrangling Russell Wilson

The Seattle Seahawks have allowed the most sacks in the league through two weeks. They've allowed six in each of their first two games this season. The Dallas Cowboys are going to have opportunities to sack Russell Wilson this week.

They have to take advantage.

Like Cam Newton in week one, Russell Wilson is a very elusive quarterback. Not only is he really good at making plays with his legs, he can be difficult to bring down. The Dallas Cowboys will have to work to keep Wilson in the pocket and finish when they get an opportunity to bring him down. He's not a physical presence like Newton is, but he's slippery and has some of that Tony Romo elusiveness to him.

If the potential tackler doesn't get Wilson down on first contact, it could lead to big plays both through the air and on the ground. Wilson averages 33.6 yards per game on the ground in his career and 5.7 yards per attempt. In order to get off the field on third down, they're going to have to prevent Wilson from using his legs to pick up third downs.

Establishing the Pass to Set Up the Run

At this point in the Dallas Cowboys offensive approach, everyone in the world knows what the Dallas Cowboys want to do on offense. They want to run the ball.

The Dallas Cowboys did a great job using this knowledge to their advantage on the first series of the game against the New York Giants.

On the first play of the game, they used a Run-Pass Option, with a clear out to the flat by Tight End Geoff Swaim, and found Allen Hurns on a slant to set up a second and short. Then after picking up that second and short with a run by Ezekiel Elliott, they used a straight play action out of a two running back, one tight end set, and hit Tavon Austin for the 64 yard touchdown.

Dak's willingness to throw the ball deep on a couple other occasions helped open up the run. The deep ball has to be a threat in order to back defenses off the line of scrimmage and do what you do best: Run the Ball. If they aren't going to back off, then you have to keep throwing it until you hit the deep ball enough that it forces them to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys were able to run the ball pretty effectively for the rest of the game, even if they didn't hit a lot of big plays. With the New York Giants interior defensive line, it was going to be tough sledding anyway. Getting things going through the air, helped out immensely.

The Seattle Seahawks are going to try to do what everyone does; put the ball in Dak Prescott's hands. If they're going to win on Sunday, it's going to be because Prescott had another efficient game throwing the ball.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

This game sets up really well for the Dallas Cowboys to improve their record to 2-1 and keep pace with the upper tier teams in the NFC. Every win matters, but these NFC games matter even a bit more. No game in the NFL is a cakewalk and this game is no different. If the Dallas Cowboys aren't able to do the above, it could be a long day for America's Team. 



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Game Notes

#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Wishlist Christmas Edition: Seahawks @ Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.

Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.

The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.

Dallas Cowboys

After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.

Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.

Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.

Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.

The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.

Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.

Trends

  • The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
  • Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
  • Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
  • The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.

Prediction

While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.

This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.

I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.



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