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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys and the Playoffs: Three Steps to a Wild Card Victory

Bryson Treece



Step One

The Philadelphia Eagles can be a dangerous bunch if a game starts to go their way, so that’s why the No. 1 priority for the Dallas Cowboys will be to score on their opening drive, and combine that with either a defensive stop or a scoring second drive.

Donovan McNabb is good at making things happen, and when he’s got a cushion to play with he tends to put up his best numbers. It all comes down to whether his team is ahead or behind though.

The Eagles haven’t lost one in 2009 when leading at the half.

Philadelphia, when ahead, completes passes for an 8.3 yard average with 12 TD’s. In contrast, it’s a 7.5 yard average with only six touchdowns when playing from behind. The rushing attack in Philly hasn’t been great this season, but it also is at its best when the team is leading.

The Eagles are a passing team with two big playmakers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. But it all comes down to pressure. When they have to make a big play to take the lead, they usually fail. It’s when they have the lead that they make the most of their opportunities.

So, the Cowboys absolutely must come out and score on their first possession and take control early. This team is capable of putting pressure on the Eagles, who will likely fold under it.

Step Two

Mike Jenkins has done a remarkable job of keeping pace with DeSean Jackson in two games between Dallas and Philadelphia this season. He has only five catches for 76 yards against the stingy Dallas defense in 2009. That’s a long reception of 32 yards, an average of 15.2 yards, and zero touchdowns.

He simply hasn’t done much against the blue star.

Jeremy Maclin has only managed to be slightly better against the Cowboys in ’09, amassing six catches for 91 yards total, but still with no touchdowns.

The second key to the Cowboys W is going to be keeping those two in front of them. As we’ve seen already the Cowboys have done well to limit the big play. Even though they’ve allowed a lot of completions underneath while locking it up deep, it’s not been enough to earn the Eagles a Dallas defeat.

Step Three

In the 10 games he’s won this year, McNabb has had the benefit of good protection with only a two-sack-per-game average. But he’s sacked almost four times a game when they lose.

Of the 35 sacks McNabb has taken this season, Dallas accounts for seven of them.

That’s 50 yards given up to Dallas on sacks. In games in which he’s been sacked three or more times he’s 10/four TD/INT, but he tosses for a touchdown in every game that’s he sacked fewer than three times.

Aside from numbers, it’s just a fact that any quarterback in football will produce less when he’s pressured more, and McNabb is no exception. In fact, he might just be more prone to buckle under pressure than any other franchise quarterback in the league.

So the Cowboys need their big three pass rushers to be very active in this game. DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Anthony Spencer will play a huge role in determining the winner on Saturday.

That’s all the Cowboys have to do to win this game. Score early to put the ill-equipped Eagles in catch-up mode, contain Jackson and Maclin to prevent the big plays, and keep Donovan McNabb uncomfortable with pressure and knock-downs.

If we had to consider a fourth step it would undoubtedly be to protect Tony Romo. While he has been a rock over the past nine games (12 TD 3 INT 0 FUM), he is at his best when he has time to throw the ball. Plus, a nagging back injury he calls "soreness" needs to be taken care of during the game.

Overall, the Cowboys are playing their best football right now and are the only team riding a three-game winning streak in the NFC heading into round one of the playoffs.

The Eagles may very well be better than they played in week 17 at Dallas, I certainly felt that while watching the game, but in 2009 they’ve hit three rough spots. The Raiders and Cowboys have given the Eagles fits and I expect that to continue in the playoffs. Cowboys win a fairly close one.

Dallas 21 – Philadelphia 14

Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

Player News

Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Linebacker Kyle Wilber

A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.


The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber:

Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.

Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.

The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.

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Player News

Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick

Kevin Brady



Orlando Scandrick

After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.

Josina Anderson on Twitter

I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.

This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.

Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.

In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.

Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line

Jess Haynie



Dallas Cowboys Have Big Hole on Offensive Line
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News

There are a lot of positions being talked about right now for the Dallas Cowboys. Upgrades are needed at several spots, but one critical position needs even more than that. Left guard is completely unmanned, and that could be a big problem for the 2018 offensive line if it's not addressed soon.

Last year's starter, Jonathan Cooper, is currently an unrestricted free agent. So are backups Joe Looney and Byron Bell.

Right now, Chaz Green is the only other non-starter under contract who has any NFL experience at left guard. Nobody wants to see him on the field next year.

Dez Bryant may be a big topic but at least he's under contract. The same goes for safety, where we at least have options to turn to if free agency or the draft don't yield anything.

Left guard, though? The cupboard is bare.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

One option could be to move La'el Collins back to guard, where many feel he has the most upside, and then find a new right tackle. But that would be changing two positions to fill one hole, and Collins was playing well at tackle by the end of the year.

And obviously, we don't want to see Chaz Green playing that spot either. Or any spot. Ever.

No, at this point it makes sense for Dallas to leave Collins where he is and either sign or draft a starting LG. The question is how much do they want to invest?

The Cowboys are already shelling out big bucks to Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Even Collins counts about $7 million against the cap. They have three first-round picks already tied up in the offensive line.

Some thought veteran free agent Josh Sitton would be a nice option, but he got picked up by the Dolphins today for about $8-9 million per year. That's more than Dallas can afford given their limited cap space and other needs.

No, the LG in 2018 is going to need to be a salary cap bargain. That means either re-signing Jonathan Cooper or Joe Looney on the cheap, or perhaps paying a rookie salary to a high draft pick.

Last year's 19th overall pick, O.J. Howard, counted just $2 million against the Bucs' salary cap in 2017.

There are some older veterans who could be cheap band-aid options, such as Matt Slauson or Evan Smith. But you don't get very far down some lists of available guards before you see Jonathan Cooper's name, and continuity is always a plus.

The point here is don't expect any big move, even with the enormity of the need. Dallas will likely reach an agreement with Cooper after he's tested the free agent waters a bit, assuming nobody else scoops him up.

If not, the need at left guard will become increasingly dire the further we get into the offseason.

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