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Debunking The NFL’s “Blueprint” To Beat The Dallas Cowboys

Sean Martin

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It was the worst loss of the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott era for the Dallas Cowboys.

On Sunday, the Denver Broncos bested the Cowboys 42-17 at home with a dominant showing from their elite defense and balanced offense. The Monday reactions from Cowboys Nation were naturally all over the place, as the blowout loss seemingly had some quickly forgetting that we are still just a year removed from this Cowboys’ core winning 13 games and the NFC East in 2016.

There is one narrative going around worth addressing following this game, and it is that the Broncos exposed the Cowboys by providing a “blueprint” for how to beat this Dallas team. This of course comes after the team’s first loss of this young 2017 season, failing to take into consideration that it was a week one loss to the formidable Giants last year that sparked an eleven game winning streak for the Cowboys.

Like the Broncos now, the Giants were seen as a team that had the Cowboys’ number after beating them twice during Prescott and Elliott’s rookie campaign. With a win against an equally tough New York defense already under their belts before this humbling defeat in Denver, it is ridiculous to begin assuming that teams around the league suddenly know how to stop one of the most well-built and dynamic offenses in the NFL.

Debunking The NFL's "Blueprint" To Beat The Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is sacked by DE Von Miller.

The Broncos’ defense is good, very good. This unit deserves a ton of credit for what they did taking Ezekiel Elliott out of this game so early for the Cowboys on the ground, but this was also not entirely their doing. Drives extended by defensive penalties on Dallas, missed opportunities to force turnovers, and failure to gain any rhythm in the passing game allowed Denver’s defense to do what they did to the Cowboys on Sunday by holding Elliott to a career low eight yards and forcing Dak Prescott to drop back a career high 50 times – resulting in two killer interceptions.

The Broncos made the Cowboys’ offense look so uncomfortable in this game by simply doing what they’ve done best for a long time now, putting elite talent on the field at all three levels and matching up against the Cowboys in man coverage.

Look around the defensive depth charts for any other team in the NFL, and it becomes evident quickly that this hidden “secret” to beating the Cowboys is not a secret at all – instead a simple lack of adequate depth in the secondary to cover against Scott Linehan’s passing offense while also committing the ridiculous numbers the Broncos did to the box in the running game.

Debunking The NFL's "Blueprint" To Beat The Dallas Cowboys 1

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

The Giants are likely the closest to proving they could match what the Broncos did this week, but currently sitting at 0-2 with a loss on the record against the Cowboys already, it is clear that this once-elite defense has regressed a fraction while the offense holds the Giants back even more. It was the Broncos balanced offense exploiting an absolutely depleted Rod Marinelli defense (playing with two healthy CBs) that ultimately put Sunday’s game out of reach for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys and Giants won’t meet again at Metlife Stadium until week 14. Before then, the Cowboys will see three teams in the bottom ten of the NFL from 2016 in Yards Per Play Differential – an all important stat when it comes to a Cowboys team that wants to regain control of games by hitting on big plays on the ground while protecting leads with their zone defense looks.

Just because none of this came to fruition against a Denver Broncos team under former defensive coordinator and now Head Coach Vance Joseph – who said himself that the Cowboys’ offense was easy to scout but difficult to actually stop – does not mean that much better days are not ahead for Prescott and Elliott running this Cowboys offense.

Preparing to do so against defenses that won’t be able to man up on the outside nor get the best of Dallas’ league-best offensive line the way Denver did, order can be restored quickly to a Cowboys offense that should hope to never throw the ball 50 times and hand it off only 11 times again anytime soon.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant

QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, and WR Dez Bryant. Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Cowboys’ next opportunity to start a new winning streak following a loss will come in prime time on Monday night at the Cardinals. Arizona’s defense is certainly tough, but the distance between their unit and that of the Broncos’ playing at its absolute best is tangible – as should the difference in performance from week two to three for the Cowboys in all three phases.

It is not any easier to beat these 1-1 Cowboys than it was when they were 1-1 at this time last year, and for once Monday can’t get here soon enough as the team will look to remain in first place and move to 2-1 on the 2017 season.

Whether or not they do so will have nothing to do with a blueprint that’s out there for Cardinals’ Head Coach Bruce Arians or any other team remaining on the Cowboys’ schedule to use.

Tell us what you think about “Debunking The NFL’s “Blueprint” To Beat The Dallas Cowboys” 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.

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4 Comments
  • Matthew England

    Totally agree, Denver has unparalleled defensive talent that let them stack the box wont happen often

  • Travis Diggs

    The coaching staff needs to be put on notice that their play calling is starting to become easy to call Even people at home know the plays already. The in game adjustments will be the difference in a playoff team and a super bowl contender. Once you seen Zeke giving up, it was time for a change, and i dont mean Morris. Once you seen Brice Butler struggling, Its time for Switzer or Noah Brown, In Game adjustments??? I personally could predicts half of their plays the whole game, so i know somebody needs to look at personnel and play calling ??? I dont even wanna talk about the same defense we’ve had for over a decade now. Lets go Boys

    • E Deplorabus Unum

      we saw this with troy and emmitt days also. cowboys think they are so talented they run too vanilla and just outclass the defense. often works, but being able to beat them at chess in play calling as well as straight forward power would be nice….

    • Russ_Te

      My problem was that Garrett & Linehan knew Denver would load the box on Elliott. Knew they had the CB’s to allow that. You can’t just run into the teeth of that, in that stadium. Those zero-gains fired Denver up, because everyone knows this is a dominant run offense. Now Dak is suddenly in long downs against their pass rush & CB’s.

      If I don’t have speed at RB, different matter. But I do have it. I’m attacking the edges with pitches, stretches, then maybe a reverse to Butler or Dez.

Star Blog

A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can’t Be Taken For Granted

Mauricio Rodriguez

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A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can't Be Taken For Granted 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming from a bounce-back win versus the Washington Redskins in which they blew out their divisional rivals 38-14. The New York Giants are coming from a week in which Head Coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese were fired. The former is 6-6, and the latter is 2-10. You tell me which organization is getting the W this Sunday.

Easy, right? Well, no. Not really.

All week long, most of Cowboys Nation has been taking this win for granted. Understandably so, since New York is only a two-win team. However, this is certainly one of those games with a “trap game” feel to it.

It wouldn’t be the first time we see a football team being led by a new coach to a surprise victory. Hell, we saw a very similar situation when Jason Garrett debuted as the Cowboys interim head coach in 2010… against the Giants. 

 Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee, New York Giants QB Eli Manning  Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On top of that, you have Eli Manning back at the wheel after he was benched for Geno Smith a week ago. Even though the guy who made that decision is out of the picture, you have to imagine the veteran quarterback will go out to play with a chip on his shoulder.

And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, this Cowboys’ team still has a lot to prove. Let’s not forget the fact that they lost three consecutive weeks. That’s why we´re trying to find which NFC teams need to lose certain games. Because the Dallas Cowboys put themselves in this position.

Dak Prescott is the future for this franchise, and despite having some tough games this year, I still believe he’s the guy. However, as Staff Writer Kevin Brady recently wrote here at Inside The Star, Dak Prescott must overcome his struggles when facing the Giants:

“Prescott played his worst game of that spectacular rookie season when he traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey as the Cowboys prolific offense was only able to score 7 points during their key loss.”

Although they have a 2-10 record, the Giants’ defense shouldn’t be underestimated. They still have personnel that can give the Cowboys’ offense a bit of trouble, especially without Ezekiel Elliott running the ball.

Sean Lee should be ready to go this week, and while many discuss whether or not the coaching staff should give him an extra week of rest, the truth is that’s something the Cowboys can’t risk to do. At the end of the day, lose one game and forget about playing in January.

You need 50 on the field. If at some point in the second half they manage to get a big-lead, securing a win, then let’s hope they take him off the field and let the guy rest. But until then, Sean Lee should be playing.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

Dallas Cowboys’ Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Dallas is expected to start three rookies at cornerback. Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Wood could be the guys who line up to start the game in New York. Naturally, this is the case because they’ve proven to be solid players.

But it’s inevitable to be a bit scared of this situation when you’re facing Eli Manning. Say what you want about him, but you never know what might happen when a player like that is on the other side of the field.

I’m picking the Cowboys to win this football games for at least a touchdown. But let’s not think of this game as if it were the Browns. If this ends up being a trap game and the Cowboys manage to get their seventh loss of the year, it’s over.

We’re 14 weeks into the season and it feels like we don’t know what this team is capable of doing with Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott starting at the same time. But this week will prove a lot of things about the Cowboys and their quest for the Playoffs.

Tell me what you think about “A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can’t Be Taken For Granted” 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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Star Blog

Week 14 Playoff Projection: Cowboys Still In Striking Distance

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Dak Prescott #14 Según los Jugadores, ¿Realmente Lo Es? 1

The Cowboys are one of three 6-6 teams still hoping to find a way into the NFC playoffs. Even if they win out and get to 10-6, they will need help based on tiebreakers and the superior records of the teams ahead of them.

Last night, Dallas’ hopes took a kick in the teeth when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta not only moved to 8-5 but also holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys, making them a major threat in the Wild Card race. The Falcons need to start losing, fast, for Dallas to have a shot at overtaking them.

Atlanta’s not the only team that Dallas should be concerned about, though. Here are the current NFC playoff standings, including last night’s result:

  1. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (9-3)
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-4)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
  6. Carolina Panthers (8-4)
    ————————————–
  7. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
  8. Detroit Lions (6-6)
  9. Green Bay Packers (6-6)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Vikings are ahead of the Eagles thanks to the common game tiebreaker, since they are both 8-1 against NFC opponents.
  • Seattle (6-3) is ahead of Carolina (4-4) thanks to a better record in NFC games.
  • Detroit has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers and a common games tiebreaker over the Cowboys.
  • Green Bay has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

With the Falcons’ win over New Orleans already in the books, here are the other playoff-relevant games for the NFC in Week 14.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants

This is the easiest game let on Dallas’ schedule (assuming Philly doesn’t rest starters in Week 17). The Giants will have a new coach and have changed back to Eli Manning as the starting QB. Will they be galvanized by these changes or only in even greater disarray? We certainly hope for the latter.

Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns

At 6-6 and with Aaron Rodgers potentially returning next week, the Packers are looming as a real threat. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas from a win earlier this year. The hapless Browns winning this one is certainly faint hope, but it’s still Brett Hundley out there at QB instead of one of the league’s MVPs.

Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The other team in the 6-6 tie, Detroit needs to go away. The Bucs are 4-8 and a non-factor now, so we can root for the pirate people without hesitation.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are another key target for us in the Wild Card race. Minnesota should run away with the NFC North, so they’re a non-factor for Dallas’ concerns. A Carolina loss is clearly better for Dallas, dropping the Panthers to 8-5 and within reasonable range with three weeks left to go.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

Last week, Dallas fans were put in the unfortunate position of having to root for the Eagles against the Seahawks to help our playoff chances. We’re back in that same boat this week as a Rams’s loss would be more damaging for the Cowboys than Philly losing.

Because L.A. has a head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas, our best bet is for them to win the NFC West and stay out of our way. We have a much better shot at catching the Seahawks, especially since we get to play them in Week 16 when Ezekiel Elliott returns.

Seattle Seahawks @ Jacksonville Jaguars

So yeah, as just said, the Seahawks are one of the teams we have the best chance of beating out for a playoff spot. Last week’s win over Philly hurt, but a road loss against the 8-4 Jaguars is certainly possible and would go a long way to helping our cause.

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Optimismo, Pesimismo y Realismo para los Dallas Cowboys

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2

La verdad es que, los Dallas Cowboys se pusieron en una posición en la que no deberían de estar. Y a pesar de que podemos pasar días discutiendo quien merece la culpa, ahora la preocupación en la mente de todos los aficionados es la misma. ¿Veremos a los Cowboys jugar en enero?

Primero que nada, los Cowboys necesitan ganar los últimos cuatro juegos de su temporada, lo cuál no será un trabajo nada fácil. Aún si ganan los próximos dos juegos sin Ezekiel Elliott, los últimos dos partidos de la temporada son bastante complicados.

Sólo para darnos una idea, así se ve lo que resta del calendario para Dallas:

  • @ NY Giants
  • @ OAK Raiders 
  • VS SEA Seahawks (Regreso de Zeke)
  • @ PHI Eagles

Nada fácil para un equipo que ha tenido bastantes problemas. Porque, a pesar de extrañar a jugadores como Ezekiel Elliott, Sean Lee y Tyron Smith, perder seis juegos nunca debió de suceder.

Sin embargo, aquí estamos. A un par de días de ver a los Cowboys tomar el campo en New York para enfrentarse a un equipo de Giants, mientras esperamos con ansias ver como este equipo gana sus últimos cuatro juegos para entrar a playoffs.

Pero, hay un detalle. Pues todos sabemos que aún con Dallas cerrando su temporada 10-6, necesitamos ayuda exterior. Y es aquí donde entra una preocupación enorme en la mente de todos los aficionados empedernidos de los Cowboys.

Ayer por la noche, los Falcons vencieron a los Saints en el Thursday Night Football de la semana. Y sin darnos cuenta, pudieron haber terminado la temporada de nuestro equipo favorito. Actualmente, los Cowboys se encuentran en la posición #10 de la tabla de la NFC.

Por encima, peleando por los puestos de comodines están los Seahawks, Panthers, Falcons, Lions y Packers. Como aficionados a la Estrella Solitaria, no será suficiente apoyar a nuestro equipo mientras busca sus victorias. Sino a unas cuantas cosas más.

Cowboys' TE Position Hurting Offensive Production?

¿Qué combinaciones necesitan nuestros Cowboys?

  • Terminar la temporada con un récord de 10-6.
  • Dos derrotas de Seahawks, incluyendo una contra los Cowboys.
  • Dos derrotas de Falcons o…
  • Dos derrotas de Panthers MÁS una derrota de los Packers y una de los Lions. 

Es agotador, lo sé. Después de una temporada en la que dominaron la conferencia nacional, no esperábamos esto. Hace un año, hacíamos cálculos para analizar cómo podían asegurar el sembrado número 1 de la conferencia. Ahora, para poder tener una oportunidad de brillar en pos- temporada.

Y al final de cuentas, no sabremos que sucederá. Ni siquiera en cuanto a la temporada de los Cowboys. Suponiendo que ganen los siguientes dos, y tengan un equipo listo al 100% para cerrar contra Seattle y Philadelphia… no conocemos el nivel de este equipo.

Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde que vimos a este equipo con todas sus piezas claves en el campo, y no lo hemos visto ganar contra un equipo con récord ganador en todo el año. Duele admitirlo y es fácil olvidarlo cuando venimos de una semana en la que vencieron a Washington 38-14, pero este equipo no ha sido lo que queríamos.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins) 

El problema este año, es que ni siquiera se trata exclusivamente de si este equipo puede o no lograrlo. Sino que se trata de que pasará con otras franquicias. Y aún si llegan a playoffs, ¿se lo merecen?

Como fan a morir de mi equipo, estaré apoyando con todo mi ser a todos los escenarios necesarios para ver a Dak Prescott y compañía en enero. Pero con tantos requisitos, es difícil mantener las esperanzas tan arriba como quisiéramos.

Tell me what you think about “Cowboys en Español: Optimismo, Pesimismo y Realismo para los Dallas Cowboys” 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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