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#DALvsSF: Staff Picks And The Cowboys Blitz Watching Party



The Star News - Cowboys At 49ers: ITS Staff Notes, Predictions, And A Dallas Watching Party

What a week! Sure has been a busy one for Cowboys fans, and at the center of it all is the Cowboys star WR, Dez Bryant. If you've somehow managed to miss out on the chaos of this week, then by all means, remain out of the loop. After all, ignorance is bliss.

All I'll say is Bryant is likely to miss this week after discovering a hairline fracture in his knee. Nothing shows it's a serious injury, not sure sure, at least as far as breaks go, but the team appears to be playing it safe. That means everybody's favorite Cowboy to hate, Terrance Williams, along with Cole Beasley and Brice Butler will get more opportunities, and we're going to need them.

Staff Writer RJ Ochoa broke it down for us yesterday on #OchoLive. The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers goes all the way back to the merger, and was drenched in drama year after year. That all sort of wound down in the mid-to-late 90s, but those of us who witnessed the rivalry first-hand still have some special thoughts for the 49ers.

Cowboys at 49ers Watching Party in Dallas

The Star News - Cowboys At 49ers: ITS Staff Picks, Plus A Watching Party In Dallas 1Before we get to the staff picks, I want to shout out to Bobby Belt, Cami Griffin, and Jonah Tuls over at Cowboys Blitz.

They're throwing a game watching party today at the Go 4 It Sports Grill in Dallas, TX. There'll be drinks, food, and (hopefully) some smash-mouth Cowboys football, starting just before the game. I'll be there (Bryson Treece), along with @bmagg86 (Bethany) and anyone else who wants to have a beer with us.

The address is 10677 E Northwest Hwy #400, Dallas, TX 75238 in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas (click the previous link for the Google Map lookup). All are welcome!

Alright, let's get to it.

Inside #TheStar Staff Notes And Predictions

Brian Martin | @bmart0204

This is a particularly difficult game to predict because of all the injuries and banged up key players for the Dallas Cowboys. We know Dez Bryant isn't going to play, so the entire offense will need to step up their game against the 49ers. On defense, it'll be all about containing Carlos Hyde. I don't think it will be pretty but I still have the Cowboys coming out on top on the road against the 49ers Sunday afternoon.

Cowboys 24 - 49ers 13

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Kevin Brady | @kevinbrady88

This game is going to be a lot closer than others seem to think. Going on the road, the Cowboys will potentially be without Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, and Dez Bryant on offense, and Orlando Scandrick on defense. That's 4 Pro Bowl-quality players, so this game will be no joke. In the end, Dallas squeaks it out on the road, getting an ugly win and improving to 3-1.

Cowboys 23 - 49ers 17

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John Williams | @john9williams

Dallas continues to move the ball well on offense, led by their explosive rushing attack. The defense makes enough plays to take home their third straight win.

Cowboys 27 - 49ers 17

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Ian Koplowitz | @BleedingTheStar

The Cowboys offense is good at running. The 49ers defense is bad at defending the run. The Cowboys like to run the ball. Catch my drift? In all seriousness, I expect the Cowboys to take the air out of the ball all afternoon, leading to a solid showing from Ezekiel Elliott as he runs to another 100-yard game.

Cowboys 24 - 49ers 17

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Justin Grohowski | @grohowknowhow

Dallas will most likely be without their three best players Sunday (Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Tyron Smith). Throw in other injuries to Orlando Scandrick and La'el Collins, and you have to wonder if a rookie quarterback can truly overcome all of these hurdles. Speaking of hurdles, it will help to have Ezekiel Elliott against a weak San Francisco front that conceded 100-yard days to backup running backs the past two weeks. Facing Blaine Gabbert and a lackluster offense doesn't hurt either. Dallas will key in on Carlos Hyde, and pick off Gabbert twice here, as the secondary shines. Brice Butler plays well, and Lucky Whitehead gets more touches. In the end, Dallas pulls off a an ugly win despite struggling to stretch the field.

Cowboys 20 - 49ers 17

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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ

A win for the Dallas Cowboys in San Francisco would go beyond the 3-1 start that it would secure through four games without Tony Romo. The Cowboys could also be playing without Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, yet I still think they have enough to get the job done. This defensive line turns in their best performance of the season to slow down Carlos Hyde, as Maliek Collins adds his first career sack. From there, Dak Prescott and the Dallas running game keep the winning streak alive.

Cowboys 17 - 49ers 13

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Jess Haynie | @CowboysAddicts

The 49ers and Cowboys defenses are ranked 20th & 22nd. The game will be decided by offenses; Cowboys 8th, Niners 29th. Dallas will use their same clock-domination formula and superior offensive firepower to get the road win.

Cowboys 30 - 49ers 20

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RJ Ochoa | @RJOchoa

The Cowboys showed us last week they're capable of dominating an inferior team, and the 49ers are an inferior team. I expect San Francisco's Carlos Hyde to look good and keep things spicy for a while, but Zeke Elliott is going to break this game open and put it away when it matters.

Cowboys 23 - 49ers 16

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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece

Momentum is the word of the day. The Cowboys will either keep it going with three in a row, or lose it along with this game. The injuries are stacking up, from the secondary to the offensive line, but the rookies have been finding a groove these last two weeks. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have looked better each week of the season, gaining confidence and building momentum. I don't consider this game the gimme that the Bears game was, but I do see the 'Boys beating the 49ers.

Cowboys 20 - 49ers 10

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And that's all she wrote, folks.

Kickoff is in less than four hours and we're all decidedly against the 49ers winning today. Do you agree? Drop us a line in the comments and tell us your win/loss and score prediction.

And don't forget to join me and some other great Cowboys fans at Go 4 It Sports Grill in Dallas. Everyone have a safe, happy game-day, and as always -- GO COWBOYS!

This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady



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



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



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, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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