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Film Review: Cowboys Need More From Tyrone Crawford

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Spending on Defensive End is a MUST 1

Going into the season opener, Dallas Cowboys fans had serious reasons to be concerned about the depth and talent in their favorite team's front seven.

Despite all of the clear problems, there were a few players who have been constant strong points over the last few seasons. Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford is one of them, or at least, we expected him to be.

It's simple, the Cowboys need more out of Tyrone Crawford.

If they want to be successful defensively at all Crawford must play up to his ability and be a force in the middle of the defense. Especially considering the weak middle linebacker play we saw last Sunday.

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On multiple occasions, Giants running back Rashad Jennings absolutely gashed the Cowboys up the middle. Considering how suspect the Giants offense line had been during the preseason, this gashing should have never happened.

Outside of the poor linebacker play the Cowboys got from Justin Durant and Anthony Hitchens, Tyrone Crawford was the main culprit of this weak run defense.

In the play above you see Crawford take on the double team, and get absolutely blown back off the ball. He doesn't have to split it or even make the play, but he absolutely cannot get blown back like this and blurry the linebackers' vision of the hole.

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A consistent problem I saw when reviewing the film occurred when the Cowboys defensive line decided to slant. Too often, they guessed wrong, and the Giants offensive line was able to just wash Crawford down the line of scrimmage.

It looks way too easy here, but Crawford basically takes himself out of the play before the back even touches the ball.

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Once again Crawford struggles against a combo block here. Mind you, this play occurs during what would become the Giants game winning touchdown drive. Dallas absolutely needed a stop, and yet they continued to give up huge run plays right over their defensive tackles.

Too often, those big plays came right over Tyrone Crawford.

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Crawford actually slants into the play here, and appears to beat the guard off the ball and get the inside track to beat him across his face and make the play. Though he had a great take-off and solid rip at the point of attack, he cannot finish the play as the guard cuts him off at the last second.

The result, a first down run for the opponent.

This play isn't all on Crawford, of course, but when you slant to the playside and get such a good take-off, you'd like to make the play.

Tyrone Crawford is more than capable of returning to form, however.

In fact, we even saw glimpses of how good Crawford can be during Sunday's game.

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Crawford is asked to slant backside here, but is still able to recover and make the play in the backfield. He reads where the ball is going, gets penetration into the backfield, and fights back over the guard to make the tackle.

Of note, the playside defensive end and linebacker fill the hole and win at the line of scrimmage, allowing Crawford time to recover. Defense is truly a "team unit", and all eleven parts need to work together in order for stops to be made. Too many times, these eleven parts were conflicting, which led to some big offensive plays for the Giants.

Tyrone Crawford needs to be better this Sunday for the Cowboys to get their first victory, and I believe that he will be.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Victor Dowell

    September 13, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Dallas need pass rush help they can’t get 2 the quarterback,pressure on the quarterback.”Defensive Win Championships”When is Jerry going to realize he need a pet bull,rockwiller,king cobra,gorillas on defense,we have a offense that can compete but the Dfense is killing us.

    • Kevin Brady

      Kevin Brady

      September 14, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      The pass rush was certainly lacking. The one sack from Benson Mayowa was mostly the result of great coverage.

  2. Mike Young

    September 13, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    It was embarrassing to watch Giants run over DL and most LB’s. 🙁

    • Kevin Brady

      Kevin Brady

      September 13, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      I’m with you, Mike. It sucked to watch. Hopefully Durant and Hitchens can play better and get off blocks this Sunday, or we could be in for another rough week.

  3. Mike Young

    September 14, 2016 at 10:33 am

    By the way thanks for excellent breakdown looking forward to following through out the season. Here’s to better D against the Redskins.

    • Kevin Brady

      Kevin Brady

      September 14, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Thank you for reading! I can’t wait to break everything down each week for you guys.

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Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

DallasCowboys linebacker @VanderEsch38 has been added to the 2019 Pro Bowl Roster. 🐺 Congratulations, rookie! → https://t.co/AYqEUy2tZx

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way

John Williams

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Playoff Scenarios Aim Towards Seahawks vs Cowboys in Wild Card

In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.

This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.

A few Rams Passing Game Notes

  • The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
  • The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
  • The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
  • The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
  • They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
  • The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.

Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.

On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.

The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.

NFL Research on Twitter

Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak

No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.

The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.

This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.



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