This week's NFC East matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles is an important game at the top of the division standings. With both teams sitting at 3-3 and sitting two games back in the win column of four teams in the NFC, makes this game very important for determining who will represent the NFC East. With six teams currently at 4-2 or better, it seems unlikely that the NFC East will send two teams to the playoffs this year unless something dramatically changes for both of these squads.
With this game having playoff implications in week seven, the biggest matchups to watch on both sides of the football will be in the trenches. Both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles boast All-Pro and Pro Bowl players on both sides of the line. Whichever team is able to win their matchup more consistently will come out the victor in the game.
Both teams are dealing with injuries to their offensive lines. The Dallas Cowboys will be without Left Tackle Tyron Smith and Right Tackle La'el Collins. It's possible that the Philadelphia Eagles could be without their All-Pro Left Tackle Jason Peters for this game. The injuries along the offensive line create opportunities for the opposing defensive line to wreak havoc and disrupt the run and pass game. How each offensive line is able to hold up under pressure from All-Pro and Pro Bowl players like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham for the Eagles and DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quin for the Cowboys will be the deciding factor in the game.
Per Pro Football Focus has each team graded in the top 13 in the NFL in pass-rush productivity, with the Eagles ranking sixth and the Cowboys 13th. The Eagles and the Cowboys rank in the middle of the league in sacks with 14 each. Both teams are getting around 80% of their sack production from their defenisve line. Where the Cowboys linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are providing pressure from someone other than their front four, it's the Eagles defensive backs who have done the secondary work for Philadelphia. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has two sacks and Andrew Sendejo has a sack as well.
In Football Outsiders the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line rank first in the NFL in adjusted sack rate, "which gives sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent." The Dallas Cowboys, though they have had good success rushing the passer aren't seen as favorably by Football Outsiders, as they're 20th in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles defensive line are first in the NFL in Football Outsider's adjusted line yards, "stuffed percentage" at 31% and have allowed the fewest amount of runs that go for 5-10 yards. Where they've struggled is in short-yardage situations where teams are successful on those types of run 75% of the time.
On the flip side, the Dallas Cowboys defensive line has struggled in the run game and the Philadelphia Eagles have an opportunity to have some success against the Cowboys front seven. They rank 27th in Football Outsiders adjusted line yards, 14th in short-yardage situations, and 21st in "stuffed percentage." Only 17% of their opponents' runs have been stopped for a loss or no gain.
Per Football Outsiders, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line currently ranks fourth as a run-blocking unit. They have the lowest "stuff percentage," which is the percentage of runs that get stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage at 11%. The Cowboys are fifth in second-level yards, or runs that gain between five and 10 yards per carry, but rank only 20th in yards gained on runs greater than 10 yards. Pro Football Focus has the Dallas Cowboys at third in the NFL in their run blocking grades.
The Philadelphia Eagles run blocking is ranked first per Pro Football Focus. However, Football Outsiders has the Eagles ranked 16th in adjusted line yards, third in power run blocking, and 14th in stuffed percentage at 18%.
As a pass-blocking unit, the Cowboys are eighth in the NFL per Pro Football Focus. Even though they've been playing Cam Fleming and Brandon Knight at the tackle positions, they've been playing fairly well as a group. Not great, but pretty good. The Cowboys rank second in adjusted sack rate per Football Outsiders. The Eagles rank sixth in the NFL per Pro Football Focus and are ninth in the league per Football Outsiders' adjusted sack rate.
This is going to be a very interesting game in the trenches for both teams. The Cowboys and the Eagles have both been very effective in doing the little things along the offensive and defensive line. The Eagles have been the better defensive line against the run. With the Cowboys struggling against the run in 2019, the Philadelphia Eagles may be able to take advantage and keep the Cowboys defense off-balance throughout the game. It'll be imperative for the Dallas Cowboys to get a better effort from their run defense this week.
Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays
There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.
Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.
But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.
Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.
Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.
Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.
Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.
With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings
Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.
I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.
Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.
Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.
I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.
It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.
Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.
The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!
What is your good, bad, and ugly from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup?
Randall Cobb has Breakout Game in Tough Loss vs Vikings
When NFL free agency began this past March the Dallas Cowboys spent the month making several additions to their roster. Veterans George Iloka (only one not currently on the roster), Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington, and Robert Quinn were added to help on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, there was a huge hole to fill when Wide Receiver Cole Beasley signed a four-year 29 million dollar deal to play for the Buffalo Bills. The Cowboys would then sign Randall Cobb about a week later to a one-year deal. The seasoned pro was brought in as an upgrade over Beasley in the slot to compliment Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Also, with his unique ability to play on the outside as well, it would allow Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to present different looks for opposing defenses.
In his first seven games of the season, Cobb struggled to find his place within this offense. He produced 25 receptions for 274 yards, with his lone touchdown coming in the season opener vs the New York Giants. He had four or fewer receptions five times and his most productive game only produced 69 yards. However, last night against the Minnesota Vikings was a glimpse of how productive Cobb can be in this system.
Cobb finished with six receptions for 106 yards Sunday night. This was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 in 2018. Four of his catches went for 20 yards or more, five went for first downs and he scored his second touchdown of the season. Dak Prescott showed supreme confidence in looking for Cobb on crucial third-down situations.
That's exactly what Cobb can do for this offense. He provides another reliable threat in the Cowboys aerial assault. When Cobb plays at a high level it will only free up Cooper and Gallup to wreak havoc on the outside.
Last night's game was a perfect example of this. Cooper had 11 receptions for 147 yards and Gallup added four catches for 76 yards, each scoring touchdowns. It doesn't allow a defense to lock in on one receiver and take them completely out of the game.
Cobb playing well also has an impact on the running game. The better he plays the more defenses will have to focus on stopping himself, Cooper, and Gallup. What does that do? The Cowboys won't face as many eight or nine-man fronts which will give All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to wear down opposing defenses by playing ball control, which is the Cowboys bread and butter.
Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from Cobb as the playoff push heats up. If he can continue to build chemistry with Prescott it will only improve one of the NFL's best passing offenses while simultaneously increasing Elliott's ability to be effective by taking extra defenders away from the box. Will Cobb make this a regular occurrence for the rest of the season? Only time will tell.
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