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Game Notes

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!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Game Notes

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

Mauricio Rodriguez

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Game Notes

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

Sean Martin

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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.

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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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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