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#DALvsNYG: 5 Cowboys Who Need A Big Game

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - #DALvsNYG: 5 Cowboys Who Need A Big Game

The Dallas Cowboys are now just a little over 24 hours away from kicking off their 2016 season against the division rival New York Giants.

I don't know about you, but watching the Denver Broncos narrowly escape the Carolina Panthers Thursday night really has me excited to finally see the Cowboys in action once again.

If you happened to watch the the game Thursday night and how it came down to the final seconds, I think you are fully prepared for what we will see between the Cowboys and Giants Sunday afternoon.

The Dallas Cowboys have won five out of the last six meetings with the Giants, but if they want to continue that streak they will need some of their players to have really good individual games.

Below are the Cowboys players that I think need to have big games against the New York Giants Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.

Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Vs Giants: Who Has Better Chance Of Winning? 1Okay, I cheated a little here and decided to put Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott together. My reasoning is that both players really need to have a big game against the New York Giants Sunday afternoon in order for the Dallas Cowboys to come away with a victory.

There are no two skill players on offense that touch the ball as much as the quarterback and running back, thus the need for them both to show up.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean they have to put up huge statistical numbers. They just need to do their jobs and not make any rookie mental mistakes.

There is a lot of optimism heading into the 2016 season by Dallas Cowboys fans (myself included) and I believe it's because of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

Of course, there are others whose opinions might carry more weight than mine and they also believe Cowboys fans have a reason to be excited as a well.

NFL on ESPN on Twitter

They may both be rookies, but the Cowboys have reasons to be excited about their new backfield. https://t.co/fXZEdcQBby

Dez Bryant

Cowboys Headlines - 5 Offensive Players To Watch In Training Camp

(AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

I personally think it would be wise for the Cowboys coaching staff to get Dez Bryant the ball early and often in this game. I think that would set the tone and let the Giants know that he is back to 100%, because we all know that Bryant is the emotional and inspirational leader for the team.

Some people believe being successful in the running game opens up the passing game, but I personally think that it works both ways.

On any given play opposing defenses have to account for Bryant wherever he is on the field. If he is able to force the Giants into double covering him, then that results one less defender they can put in the box to stop the running game.

Like I mentioned with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Bryant doesn't need to necessarily show up big in the stat sheets. He just needs to make his presence felt on the field to keep the Giants defense honest.

Sean Lee

Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year? 1Without a doubt the Dallas Cowboys best defensive player is Sean Lee when he is able to stay healthy. He is one player that needs to show up in the stat sheets by having a big game.

He was moved to the weak side linebacker position to help keep him healthy and give him the opportunity to use his instincts and playmaking ability. It's those instincts and playmaking ability that need to show up against the Giants.

In all honesty, I think Sean Lee could very well have double digit tackles and a good chance of creating a turnover or two.

The Cowboys defense can use all the turnovers they can get and I think Sean Lee gives them the best chance of doing just that.

David Irving

 - David Irving, #95The Dallas Cowboys have Jack Crawford and Benson Mayowa listed as their starters at defensive end, but it's David Irving that I think needs to have a big game.

Irving was one of the best defensive players for the Cowboys last season. All he did was make plays when he was given the opportunity and should do so again in 2016 now that he is expected to have an expanded role.

Whether he is lined up at defensive tackle or defensive end doesn't really matter. He is a mismatch problem for opposing offensive lineman because of his ability to get off the ball quickly and use his 6'7" frame to his advantage.

I fully expect to see defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli use David Irving up and down the defensive line Sunday afternoon against the Giants to wreak havoc on the Eli Manning led Giants offense.

Don't be surprised if David Irving's name is mentioned often because I think he will be making positive plays all of the field against the New York Giants.

Defensive Secondary

Cowboys Headlines - Morris Claiborne Doing The "Right" Things At Training CampThe Dallas Cowboys secondary has a tough test ahead of them trying to keep the New York Giants wide receivers in check.

Yeah I know, I cheated a little bit here too.

Orlando Scandrick, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne are all linked together because identifying them as individuals would be unfair. They will likely all have their turn at covering each of the Giants WRs.

Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, and Sterling Shepard can all create mismatch problems for the Cowboys secondary and this matchup could ultimately determine the outcome of the game.

Beckham has established himself as one of the best WRs in the NFL already. Cruz gave the Cowboys problems in the past and if 100% healthy could do so again. Shepard is an unknown in the NFL as a rookie, but for some reason he worries me the most.

The Dallas Cowboys secondary has to have a good game to help ensure a victory.

Do you agree or disagree that these players need big games?

Please feel free to take advantage of the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Joseph

    September 10, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    It will come down to the last two minutes of the game!!! Bailey kicks a 53 harder to win

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 11, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Joseph, I completely agree with you. It seems to always come down to the last minutes of the game when the Cowboys and Giants play each other.

  2. John Williams

    John Williams

    September 10, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    The most obvious “big game” needed is Dak. He is going to set the tone for the whole day. I think if he completes about 60% of his passes and has like 2 tds and only 1 turnover, i think that should be enough to win.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 11, 2016 at 9:50 am

      I agree that Prescott is the one that needs to have the biggest game against the Giants. I can’t wait to see what he does with both his arm and his legs. He really changes the whole dynamic of what the Cowboys offense could look like.

  3. Zooid Organelle

    September 11, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Giants will sell out to stop the running game, ‘forcing’ Dax to pass to single-covered receivers… Huge days for any and all Dallas receivers: Dez (yds and TDs), Beasley (catches), Witten (catches), Butler (yds), TWill (yds).

    The game will essentially be over midway through the 3rd quarter; but, Giants will have at least tried to staunch the bleeding by playing a Safety or two over the top of their defense… and then Elliott (who will have had a nice game by that point, regardless Giants’ attempts to stop him) runs amok, Morris gets untracked with a long TD run, and by mid-4th it’s Jackson’s turn to make the throughly demoralized Giants’ defense look feeble…

    Garrett tries to take his foot off the pedal midway before the start of the 4th quarter; but with only 1-week signee Sanchez to back up Prescott… Cowboys by 4 TDs

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 11, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Zooid, I hope you’re right. That would really set the tone for the entire season if the Cowboys can come out and beat the Giants by four touchdowns. I don’t really see that as the way things play out. I think it’s going to be a much closer game, much like we saw between the Broncos and Panthers. I think it ultimately comes down to a field goal in the end.

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Game Notes

Jason Garrett’s Decision Making Stands Out in Playoff Loss

John Williams

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett? 2

The 2018 NFL season has come to an end for the Dallas Cowboys. The Los Angeles Rams were simply the better team on Saturday night in the Coliseum and it showed in the 30-22 loss. While it was a disappointing performance, there were several things to take away from the game to give us reason for optimism moving forward. Connor Williams played well against Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the interior, Dak Prescott kept the team in the game despite little help from the running game, and Head Coach Jason Garrett perhaps coached his best game from a management point of view.

After the first drive, this game had one of those, if the Dallas Cowboys have to punt, it's likely going to be a loss feels. The defense's inability to force more than one punt or create a turnover was going to make it really difficult for the offense to keep up, and yet at the end of the game, the Cowboys were within a score and had a shot to win. Dak Prescott deserves a lot of credit for that, but so does Jason Garrett.

Here's why.

4th and 1's

Jason Garrett has long been viewed as a conservative coach in the NFL, and this season he didn't do much to help his reputation, but that game on Saturday should change some of that perception. On a night where it looked like his defense didn't have it, he called the game he needed to maximize his team's possessions.

On the opening drive of the game for the offense, the Cowboys got to the Rams 49 yard line, but faced a 4th and 1. Garrett didn't waste any time going for it and the Cowboys were able to convert on Ezekiel Elliott's five yard run. A Marcus Peters' unneccessary roughness penalty gave the Cowboys an extra 15 yards and the Cowboys scored on the next play on Amari Cooper's 29 yard catch and run to give the Dallas Cowboys the lead.

It would be their only lead of the night.

Again, in the second half, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1, this time it was at the Rams 41 yard line and this time, the Cowboys were down 23-7. This was not nearly as difficult a decision as the Cowboys were in catch up mode and needed to get a score to bring the game within striking distance, and they did just that. Again, Elliott picked up five yards when the Cowboys needed one and Elliott capped off th drive with a one yard touchdown run after Michael Gallup's long reception on a broken play.

At the Rams 35 yard line and the game within reach, the Cowboys went for it again on fourth down, but this time were stopped short of the first down marker when Ndamukong Suh made an excellent play to prevent Elliott from picking up the yard. On the play, you can see Suh start to Joe Looney's left, which forced Elliott to go to Looney's right and Suh followed Elliott into the hole. There was much Looney could do as Suh had the necessary leverage to make the play. It was absolutely the right call to go for it in that situation, but the Cowboys went to the jumbo formation-Elliott inside run one too many times. It was clear where the ball was going to go in that situation, and they were stuffed.

On what turned out to be the final drive of the season for the Dallas Cowboys, they needed to score and score rather quickly to have a chance to get the ball back one more time. The offense scored, but took a little too much time doing so as the drive took just over five minutes off the game clock. Again, on the drive, they were faced with a fourth and 1, but this time they used Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on a speed option to the right and they were able to convert and eventually get the touchdown.

For the game, the Dallas Cowboys went three for four on fourth down attempts.

Point After Decisions

In the middle of the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys scored to make it 23-13. Generally in the NFL, teams don't go for two until they have to go. Knowing that possessions were going to be few and far between the Cowboys were likely going to have to score on every possession the rest of the game, Garrett went for two and the Cowboys converted to make it an eight point game.

Then after the Dallas Cowboys scored to make the game 30-21, there was much discussion on social media on whether the Cowboys should have gone for two there or just kicked the extra point, which was a bit surprising.

To me, it was simple. Kick the extra point to make it 30-22 and hope your defense gets you the ball back and you can score again. If you go for two in that situation and don't make it, the game is essentially over with just over two minutes remaining. Taking the extra point kept you in the game, even if it was still only a slight chance to pull out a win.

Declining Penalties

With about 3:20 to go in the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys defense faced a third and two situation around midfield against the Rams. They were able to force Rams Quarterback Jared Goff into a hurried throw and he overthrew Josh Reynolds in the flat for what would have been a first down.

On the play there were two penalties, offensive holding and offensive pass interference and Jason Garrett declined the penalties.

To me it was one of the boldest coaching decisions has made in his career on something that seemed very innocuous.

Sean McVay and the Rams were having their way with the Dallas Cowboys defense as Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson gashed their way to over 100 yards rushing each. With the Rams facing a fourth and two on the Dallas Cowboys side of the 50 yard line, most people thought the Rams would go for it there and completely steal the soul of the Dallas Cowboys.

Johnny Hekker did his best to get the Dallas Cowboys to think he was going to run a fake, but the Cowboys never panicked and stayed onside as the punter attempted to game them.

It was a huge call in that situation. If Garrett accepts the penalties, the Rams would have faced a third and 12 at their own 43 yard line, but would have had another opportunity to convert the first down and extend the drive.

I really liked the call, because it put McVay in a difficult position himself. If the were to go for it and fail to convert on fourth down, the Cowboys would have gotten the ball at about midfield with a chance to tie the game.

Kicking Deep vs Onside Kick

With the new rules governing kickoffs, mainly that teams have to keep a amount of players on each side of the kicker, onside kicks have become less and less successful in today's NFL. Even before the rule changes, recovering an onside kick was less than a 50/50 proposition.

Kicking deep was really the only decision to make. The hope is that your defense is able to get a stop and the Cowboys would get the ball back with decent field position.

And it nearly worked.

The Dallas Cowboys run defense came up big on first and second down, holding the Rams running game to three yards setting up a third and seven. Just as everyone was expecting the Rams to throw it, they ran a play action with a naked bootleg that left Jared Goff all alone on the outside with a ton of room to run, and zero Cowboys in position to prevent him from picking up the first down.

Ball game.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

On Saturday, Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, reported the Cowboys were looking to extend for Jason Garrett this offseason. It should come as no surprise as he helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround from 3-5 to 10-6 and NFC East champions all while fielding one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Jason Garrett has grown a lot as an NFL head coach and in the playoff loss, made excellent decisions to keep the Cowboys in the game. He's going to be around here for a long time and there should be a lot of optimism heading into 2019 that the Cowboys can make some strides.



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Game Notes

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Brian Martin

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season had to come to an end at some point. Not many of us would have predicted earlier in the season that it would've come at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round, but that's what happened and it's kind of bittersweet.

I don't know how you feel today, but I don't find myself all that upset the Dallas Cowboys season is officially over. Yes, I would've loved to see them completely dominate the LA Rams and advance in the playoffs, but I'm surprisingly really pleased with the way this team played this season. We have to remember that this is a young team and this is hopefully just the beginning of something great.

Today, I want to share with you some of the positives and negatives from the Cowboys game against the Rams Saturday night. This of course will be the last edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys 2018-2019 season.

The Good

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Finding the positive after a loss isn't always the easiest thing to accomplish. The Dallas Cowboys didn't particularly play their best football Saturday against the Rams, which makes it even more difficult. But for me, the good has to be the resiliency and grittiness the Cowboys played with in LA.

I don't think anyone would argue that the LA Rams pretty much dominated the entire game Saturday. They put the Cowboys on their heels pretty much from the get-go, which took them out of their game. Dallas was never really able to establish their running game and couldn't get the Rams offense off the field. They've been able to pretty much do that against all their opponents this season, but just fell flat at the wrong time.

Despite getting manhandled, the Dallas Cowboys continued to fight back and never quit. They could've easily rolled over and given up, but they didn't. I think that really speaks volumes to the kind of players Dallas has on the roster. This is a really talented young team with a bright future ahead of themselves.

The Bad

C. J. Anderson

Los Angeles Rams RB C. J. Anderson (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Anyone who watched the game Saturday night pretty much knows what goes in this category. The bad for me and probably everybody else is how the Dallas Cowboys defense was gashed by the Los Angeles Rams rushing attack. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley absolutely dominated on the ground, leading their team to victory.

I knew the Rams rushing attack would give the Cowboys defense problems, but I never imagined they would rush for nearly 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley may be the ones earning all the praise with their performances, but they definitely wouldn't have found as much success as they did if not for their offensive line.

Dallas' front seven has been really good against the run all season. They only allowed a couple of 100 yard rushers this season (Chris Carson, Marlon Mack) until Anderson and Gurley both rushed for over 100 Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Cowboys DL just got overpowered by the Rams OL and it definitely impacted the outcome of the game.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

What was pegged to be a matchup between two of the best running backs in the NFL, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, ended up being pretty much a one-man show. That is why the ugly Saturday night for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion was their rushing attack.

We all know the Cowboys offensive blueprint is to establish the running game to help control the clock and game speed. That unfortunately never materialized Saturday night against the Rams, a team by the way that was giving up 5.1 yards rushing to opposing running backs. It was supposed to be a matchup that favored Zeke and Dallas' ground game.

I'll give credit where credit is due though. The Rams defensive line stepped up their game and didn't allow Zeke to get any kind of momentum going in the running game. They gave the Cowboys OL all they could handle and pretty much made their offensive attack one-dimensional. They wanted to put the game in Dak Prescott's hands and for the most part accomplished what they set out to do.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the LA Rams?



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

The last round of the Dallas Cowboys fight in 2018 came at the hands of a hungry Los Angeles Rams team, ending their season in the Divisional Round behind 273 rushing yards. Effectively, the third seed in the NFC beat the Cowboys at their own game with the bye week to prepare. The fallout from this loss won't be fully realized until the sting is gone, but sweeping changes aren't expected in Dallas after a resurrection from 3-5 saw the Cowboys within a few plays of the NFC Championship Game.

How those plays were made and what the Rams did to execute a near flawless game plan is the subject of this final Sean's Scout of the season.

  • The Rams' success on the ground against Richard's defense was stunning for a lot of reasons, none more so than the way Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith struggled to react and fight off blocks.

The Cowboys issues at linebacker were a result of their front four getting blown off the ball all game by LA's offensive line. I wrote in my final game preview piece about how the Cowboys needed to win the line of scrimmage on both sides, losing with their own offense when the game was in the balance and never putting up a fight on the defensive line.

To the Rams' credit, even the simple things Sean McVay's team executes are done with an attention to detail that makes them very difficult to contain. The Rams did a great job scheming blockers to the second level, where Smith and Vander Esch were handled to the point of playing tentatively and taking poor angles.

In what could be his final game with the Cowboys or the end of his career, Sean Lee played 21 snaps, one shy of his week 17 total when the Cowboys played the Giants with the division already wrapped up. Getting caught in a game they couldn't possibly win against the better team at home, the Cowboys defense had no answers for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.

  • Dak Prescott's "in the grasp" call when he scrambled into La'el Collins' arms on third down was a bad look for the officials, but also an injured Cole Beasley, who was late working his route back to Prescott and into his line of vision. 

If Beasley was at full strength, he's likely able to stop his vertical route sooner and give Prescott an easy throw underneath as he rolled to the right. Left with nowhere to go, Dak had the play blown dead after Right Tackle La'el Collins wrapped his arms around Prescott while scrambling.

With the way the Rams came out on offense, it became clear that every Cowboys possession would be of dire importance. Losing one on a strange call like this was a blow Dallas never had a chance to recover from.

  • Lost in the Cowboys turnover on downs in the fourth quarter, the final time they touched the ball within a score, is the incredible third down throw Prescott made on the run to Noah Brown. 

To give his offense a chance on fourth and short, Prescott delivered a strike to Brown on the sideline for 13 yards. Without being able to set his feet, Prescott felt the pressure well and put the ball where only Brown could secure it falling out of bounds.

It's unfortunate the next play became the defining moment of the season for Dallas. Deciding to attack the strength of the Rams' defense, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers were ready for an Elliott rushing attempt right up the middle out of 12 personnel.

Not only was Center Joe Looney beat on the play, but Collins lost leverage and was beat across the face to further clutter the middle of the field for Elliott to be stopped short. Making matters even worse, the Rams came out and attacked the Cowboys defense by flashing the misdirection plays that worked all night.

In just 12 plays, Anderson scored his second touchdown to all but put the game away for LA. The Cowboys would use Prescott's legs much too late on the ensuing drive, getting into the end zone but failing to get the ball back.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As mentioned, this won't be an offseason of drastic change for the Cowboys. Bowing out in the divisional round for the second time in three seasons, adjustments to both the coaching staff and roster are needed for this team to take the next step.

For a team that looked nothing like a postseason contender for much of the regular season, the Cowboys improbable run of close wins came to an end against the Rams - determined to not lose their first playoff game in consecutive seasons.

They won't be happy with the result, but the Cowboys should be proud of their final outcome on this year.

As always, I'd like to thank Cowboys Nation for reading another season of Sean's Scout. Win or lose you make this job fun.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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