The Dallas Cowboys look to rebound from their worst loss since Dak Prescott became the starting quarterback for the team. The Cowboys are facing a team that has had some early struggles of their own in the Arizona Cardinals.
As the 1-1 Dallas Cowboys travel to play the 1-1 Arizona Cardinals, there are a lot of interesting things to note in this matchup. From the series, to the players, to what is happening this season, this matchup has some great story lines.
The Amount of wins the Cowboys have against the Cardinals in the Jason Garrett coaching era.
Both the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals come into week three with a single victory in the win column. Dallas' one win came over division rival New York Giants. The Arizona Cardinals struggled to eek out an overtime win to the injury-riddled Indianapolis Colts.
DeMarcus Lawrence's ranking in sacks through two games. After having one and half in the first and two in the second, he has a good chance to get two more in this game.
Carson Palmer also is tied for first in the league with Andy Dalton and DeShone Kizer; in interceptions.
In two of the four losses since 2008, the team's backup quarterback was the starter for those games. Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee combined for a loss in 2010 and Brandon Weeden spared us all to death while filling in for Tony Romo at the tail end of the 2014 season.
The number of times Patrick Peterson has been selected to the All-Pro's first team. He's another high-level to elite cornerback that Dez Bryant will be forced to contend with.
Only four players remain in the league from that 2006 Dallas Cowboys victory. Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald, Jason Witten and L.P. Ladouceur of the Dallas Cowboys, and Minnesota Vikings cornerback, Terrance Newman.
Sitting at fourth in the league, the Arizona Cardinals only allow 2.8 yards per rush. Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas offensive line are going to have some tough sledding again this week.
The amount of sacks by both teams through two games.
Carson Palmer has also been sacked five times through two games.
Five also represents the amount of touchdowns that each team has allowed in the 2017 season. Both have allowed four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown through the first two weeks of the season.
The average point differential during the four-game losing streak is 6. The smallest margin was a one point loss in 2010. The largest loss came in 2014.
The Cardinals rank sixth in the league in total plays run and 11th in yards/play, but struggle to turn their drives into points as they've only scored on 29% of their drives, good for 23rd in the league. Dallas' offense scores on 36% of its drives, good for 16th in the NFL. On the flip side, the Cardinals defense only allows 33% of its drives to end in points. Dallas is 9th in the league at 27%.
It's been 11 seasons since the Dallas Cowboys' last victory over the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. That game was Tony Romo's fourth start in the NFL and he played excellently. 20/29 for 308 yards, two touchdowns and a 126.8 passer rating. His two touchdowns went to Patrick Crayton--who led the team in receiving that day with 105 yards on five catches--and "That's my quarterback" Terrell Owens.
Despite his and the team's poor performance in week two, Ezekiel Elliott is 14th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 162 total yards.
Arizona sits 16th in the league in points at 19.5 points per game. Unfortunately they give up more points per game than they've scored at 24 points per game allowed. That bodes well for a Dallas team looking to get back on track.
The number of catches for the NFL's league leader in receptions, Jason Witten. That's nine more than Rob Gronkowski, seven more than A.J. Green and Alshon Jeffrey, eight more than Amari Cooper, 12 more than Brandin Cooks, and 15 more than 2016 tight end TD leader, Cameron Brate.
This just in; Jason Witten's still really good at football.
Sorry, sir for saying anything about your age.
Where Dak Prescott sits in the NFL in passer rating through two weeks. Definitely not a great start, but if we know anything about Dak, it's that he is the king of the bounce back. Look for him to have a good game this week.
The combined seasons for two key players in the game this week: Jason Witten and Larry Fitzgerald.
Larry Fitzgerald and Jason Witten sit at numbers three and four on the all-time receptions list, respectively. They've combined for 2,240 receptions over their careers; an average of 77 receptions per season for the two of them.
Carson Palmer's completion percentage is not good and sits at 31st in the NFL.
The amount of rushing yards the Arizona Cardinals have managed through two games in 2017.
Palmer's passer rating, which is ahead of only four players with qualifying statistics: Jacoby Brissett, Josh McCown, DeShone Kizer, and Andy Dalton. Yuck!
The number of pass attempts through two games for Carson Palmer, who ranks fifth in the NFL in attempts and yards.
The number of attempts through the air for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. I think nobody would have expected this through two games. Prescott and Scott Linehan need to be better moving forward. More misdirection in the passing game and more delayed draw plays for the run game to try to soften things up.
More Game Notes
- Dak Prescott and Carson Palmer represent the two lowest passer ratings of any players in the top-10 in attempts.
- On defense, the Arizona Cardinals have allowed the third most amount of plays in 2017, but rank 9th in yards per play at 4.6. For reference, the Dallas Cowboys are 13th in y/p at 4.9.
- Looking for a week to get the passing game back on track, and this may be it. The Cardinals have allowed the 9th most passing yards in the NFL's first two weeks.
- The Cardinals have forced only two turnovers in their first two games.
- Dallas leads the all-time series with a record of 55-32-1.
- Despite his poor week two, Ezekiel Elliott sits 14th in the NFL
Two of the Greatest to Ever Play
This game will feature two players who have played every single game for more than 10 years with their respective teams. Larry Fitzgerald for the Arizona Cardinals and Jason Witten for the Dallas Cowboys.
When their careers are done, they will both find themselves enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. Larry Fitzgerald and Jason Witten are two of the most respected players in the game. They have been pillars of the game and in their communities for more than a decade.
Whatever happens on Monday Night Football this week, take a moment to soak in these two legends being on the field with one another; perhaps for the last time.
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While Arizona hasn't played all that well, the numbers say this will be a tough matchup for your Dallas Cowboys. Arizona loves to throw the ball. Maybe even more so than Scott Linehan has these first two weeks. Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie's health will be important to watch throughout the week. Everybody will be needed in the secondary. EVERYBODY.
Be on the look out for our writer's predictions to come out later. Go Cowboys!!!
Tony Romo Documentary in the Works
If you've missed seeing Tony Romo on the field, an upcoming documentary may be the cure. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback is reportedly the subject of a film chronicling his football career going all the way back to high school.
"Now or Never" will tell Romo's incredible story, going from undrafted to one of the top passers in the history of the Cowboys' storied franchise. It's being produced by a Texas-based company run by Christian Hanna (no known relation to James).
According to an article from MyRacineCounty.com, Romo's hometown newspaper, the tale of Tony's football career will be told going back to his days at Burlington High School in Wisconsin. It will follow him to Eastern Illinois University, the same QB hotbed that more recently produced Jimmy Garoppolo.
But what most of us will want to relive is Tony's amazing NFL career, which stands out among the most unexpected rises to stardom of any player in league history.
Romo, who was an undrafted free agent signed by the Cowboys in 2003, didn't play in a game for three seasons. He rose the QB depth chart through practice and preseason play, eventually becoming the backup and earning the respect of then-coach Bill Parcells.
In Week 7 of 2006, Parcells pulled struggling starter Drew Bledsoe at halftime and went with his intriguing young prospect. Tony's first pass in the NFL was one to forget; an interception.
About a decade later, Romo would retire as the Cowboys' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth all-time in NFL history for passer rating.
Tony's career never saw the playoff and Super Bowl success of predecessors Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, but he remains a beloved figure in team history. The controversial end to his football career, losing his job to rookie phenom Dak Prescott in 2016, created a major rift among Cowboys fans.
While no longer playing, Romo remains one of the hottest names in football. His charisma and football acumen have him in a featured role with CBS Broadcasting.
From obscurity to "anointing oil" to one of the most discussed names in sports, Tony Romo's story is fascinating. This documentary crew picked a great subject, and we look forward to enjoying their work and revisiting the Romo Era once the film is released.
Prescott VS Wentz Rivalry is Just Beginning
No one expected Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to become such an interesting rivalry, but that's precisely what the 2016's second and 135th draft picks have turnt out to be since the day they entered the NFL. The two came into the NFC East with very different expectations. Dak wasn't even supposed to be a starter, but circumstance is what helped this rivalry emerge.
Prescott seemed to lead the race after their rookie seasons were over, having led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC, but Carson Wentz made a huge statement in 2017. Before he went down injured playing versus the LA Rams last December, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was playing astonishingly well.
Leading the MVP race before tearing his ACL, Carson Wentz had thrown for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns through 13 games. Had he not gone down, it's more likely than not he would've been named the MVP instead of Tom Brady.
Despite having won the passing yards race, Dak Prescott's 2017 was rougher than his rival's. His interceptions count went from 4 in 2016 to 13 last season. He threw for only 22 touchdowns, falling eight short of the 30 TDs mark. His completion percentage also went down, from over 67% to almost 63%.
As we all know, it wasn't a good year for the Dallas Cowboys. Suspensions, injuries and poor play led them to a disappointing 9-7 season that didn't feel like a winning season at all, even though that's how it will go down in the books.
To make things worse, the Eagles went into January with QB Nick Foles starting, and overcoming adversity and doubters, won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Although it was Foles and not Wentz the one who played Philadelphia's postseason, the former second overall pick is one of the main reasons for the team's success.
His sophomore year was way better than Dak's.
But as impressive as Wentz's year was, the rivalry between the two signal-callers is just beginning. There is still a lot of history to write in this duel of two young and hard-working players. Two leader of men in one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL.
Through two years of football, here's how their numbers look like:
Wentz: 29 games, 1,047 attempts, 644 completions (61.5%), 7,078 yards, 49 TDs, 2 rushing TDs
Prescott: 32 games, 949 attempts, 619 completions (65.2%), 6,991 yards, 45 TDs, 12 rushing TDs
There's not a ton of difference between their numbers, but in the NFL, it's about more than stats. Prescott had the better 2016, Wentz the better 2017.
Dak and Carson have really only played two match-ups in their two years playing in the league. Sitting at an even 1-1 record, 2018 will feature two great games between both of their teams. The defending Super Bowl Champions against the underestimated Dallas Cowboys.
The sport is about winning games and championships, but rivalries like this one make the NFL even more special. Even with Wentz being the MVP front-runner for most of last season, Dak Prescott still has a lot of time to turn things around.
If both turn out to be as successful and important as their franchise wish them to be, then this rivalry will be around for a lot of years.
If Reinstated, Is Randy Gregory A Lock for Cowboys 53-Man Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys will enter training camp in Oxnard with arguably their deepest and most talented defensive line in years. Cowboys Nation continues to hope for the best possible news on suspended Defensive End Randy Gregory, to potentially take this defensive front to the next level. Should Gregory be reinstated, the Cowboys would have another option at right defensive end. This is a position they've bolstered with the signing of Kony Ealy and drafting of Dorance Armstrong, both moves coming behind would-be starter Tyrone Crawford.
This logjam at DE begs the question, amidst optimism for Gregory's situation, is the 2015 second round pick even a lock to make this roster?
Who Does Randy Gregory Need to Outplay?
Going through some form of the Cowboys depth chart at Gregory's position above does little to sort out how Gregory can justify a starting position. Having true starters on the defensive line is not DC Rod Marinelli's way, meaning a possible rotation of Crawford, Gregory, and Armstrong could coexist.
Even with insufficient depth at defensive tackle, the Cowboys seem committed to keeping Crawford on the edge. As he's done with each position change within the Cowboys defense, Crawford is slowly developing into a respectable right end that's great against the run.
This sounds like just the type of player to compliment a speedy rusher like Gregory, but Randy won't be alone in this role should he return to the team. Along with FA addition Kony Ealy, the Cowboys will look to bring Charles Tapper back from an offseason concussion, and also have second-year rusher Taco Charlton in need of a true position.
It's fair to say that Gregory has been anything but reliable since the Cowboys took a gamble on him, but turning his life around to see out this reinstatement would go a long way in beating out the often-injured Tapper.
Given Ealy's ability to play both on the edge and inside, at his best if receiving limited snaps, I believe that Gregory will only have to surpass Tapper in reaching a favorable spot on the Cowboys depth chart at DE.
Comparing Randy Gregory and Dorance Armstrong
Of course, making the roster and making an impact on defense are two vastly different realities for Gregory in 2018. Another player that could stunt his opportunities to hunt down quarterbacks is rookie fourth round pick Dorance Armstrong.
The Cowboys would love to see Armstrong begin his career with a strong showing in Oxnard, owning all of the traits needed to be an effective right end at the next level.
Lacking the true cornering speed that Gregory has flashed in short spurts, Armstrong did produce a ten sack season for Kansas in 2016. This production matches the traits that kept Armstrong a priority for the Cowboys at the draft, despite only seeing him get home 1.5 times in 2017.
Rewind to last year's draft, and the Cowboys spent their first round pick on a defensive end they looked to make a right end, all while knowing his ideal spot is at LDE. This makes the difference between drafting Charlton and Armstrong an important one, as the Cowboys are clearly searching for high-value options to complete their pass rush.
Again, assuming Tapper becomes the odd man out in the Cowboys carrying Gregory, Ealy, and Armstrong as right ends, the work is cut out for Gregory to regain the trust of his coaches and bring what only he can to this defense.
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It goes without saying that Randy Gregory will carry plenty of attention with him if present in Oxnard. This is a player capable of transforming a young Cowboys defense into one of the league's most feared.
While the Cowboys would do well to quickly sort out who plays the 3T-DT position alongside DeMarcus Lawrence, and the 1T inside for that matter too, sticking Gregory on the opposite edge could be the easiest decision they make to see immediate improvements in their pass rush.
Should Ealy or Armstrong have more to say about this lineup for the Cowboys defensive line, the depth of this unit will live up to the hype.
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