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Game Notes

Final Thoughts Before Eagles @ Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Cornerback Morris Claiborne

With just a few hours to go until the first Cowboys-Eagles matchup of 2016, here are all of the things swirling around in this fan’s head. My prediction for the game is at the end.

 - Dak Prescott, #4Prescott vs Wentz: Chapter One

I can only echo the point that so many have already made this week about the two rookie quarterbacks. It really does feel like the beginning of a new personal rivalry.

While the intensity of the Cowboys-Eagles relationship certainly adds flavor, Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz could have this with just about any teams. The story of the fourth-round pick who has outshined the top two in his draft class works anywhere in the NFL. But being in the same conference, let alone division, will give these two so many opportunities to add new chapters to that narrative.

The irony here is that, almost any other year, Prescott and Wentz would be in a two-horse race for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. That would also be a great piece of the story. However, at least through seven weeks, another guy playing tonight has left both in his dust.

The Dez Effect

Leave it to Skip Bayless to say asinine things, which he’s done plenty of the last few weeks in relation to Dez Bryant. The shock jerk Bayless, along with his “UNDISPUTED” co-host Mr. Ed, have been talking up the notion that Dez is a negative influence on the Cowboys and should be traded before he poisons the young team.

While Dez has never been the perfect soldier, he’s never been anything like the kind of Terrell Owens/Chad Johnson pariah that these clowns would have you believe. That is clearly evident by the warmth that his teammates and head coach exude when they discuss Dez or are seen interacting with him.

Cowboys Headlines - Concussed: Dez Bryant And Tyrone Crawford Ruled Out Of Seahawks Game 1Believe me, I’ve questioned Dez’s “leadership” more than once. I think his unbridled passion isn’t always the best method for each situation or teammate, but I’ve never seen him do anything that I’d consider subversive or harmful.

Dez Bryant returns to the field tonight and there is no question that he will bring something positive for the Cowboys offense. Led by Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the offense has risen to new heights since Dez got injured in week 3. If he’s healthy enough to be a superstar, Bryant could potentially take things to an even higher level.

No Sympathy for Eagles Injuries

Philadelphia will be without starting defensive tackle Bennie Logan, their best run defender, as they go up against Elliott and the Cowboys’ top rushing attack. They will also be missing slot corner Ron Brooks, who just went to Injured Reserve, as they face one of the league’s best slot receivers in Cole Beasley.

While these ready-made excuses will no doubt be all over the tongues and keyboards of Eagles fans after tonight, there is no team in the NFL who I have less sympathy for. Ever since the day I had to hear classless Eagles fans cheer while Michael Irvin got carted off the field in Philadelphia, I’ve smirked at every misfortune they’ve ever faced.

But even that personal touch aside, injuries are part of NFL life. The Cowboys have had plenty of losses where one or two changes to the injury report could have changed the outcome. There are no asterisks to wins in the NFL (unless you’re the Patriots) and you take whatever help you can get at every possible point.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys QB Issue That's Really A Nonissue

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott’s Last Game of 2016?

It’s possible that this is the last we’ll see of Prescott this season.  Tony Romo could come back as soon as next week when the Cowboys head to Cleveland. A soft opponent like the Browns would certainly be desirable to help Tony knock the rust off, if he’s healthy enough to go.

The decision between Romo and Prescott should be made with no regard for tonight’s outcome. You’ve seen enough to know what Dak is. It’s all a matter of what you believe Tony Romo can still offer, and if that projection merits the risk of making the big switch at quarterback.

The only difference tonight’s game should make is if the Cowboys are truly torn down the middle about the decision. It’s possible that they see Dak’s mobility and potential as equal to Romo’s experience and proven talent. If so, then that big word “momentum” is about the only tiebreaker you have.

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As promised, my prediction for tonight is that the two teams will continue their current trends. The Eagles won last week at home but before that lost back-to-back road games. Their only road win so far in 2016 was in Chicago, and we know firsthand how weak they are.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have just dispatched their two “toughest opponents to date” in the Bengals and Packers. Neither game was close; Dallas won by 14 in each contest and had firm control in the fourth quarter.

Despite last week’s win against the Vikings, Carson Wentz has started to come back to rookie Earth. He’s posted his two lowest passer ratings in the last two games. Meanwhile, Dak Prescott continues to hit new milestones each week.

The Cowboys have more momentum and will keep in rolling to a 6-1 record. Get your “Victory Monday” polos ready!

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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3 Comments
  • Eric Welly

    Dak is better than Wentz, Philly says so, only because he goes to the better team on offense is Dak better than Wentz, yet for some reason for the last 3 yrs the Eagles only hope was our injuries, the Eagles at this point will give Wentz the Romo treatment, 5yrs of spectacular play while getting the snot beat out of you, because defense wins championships not OL or WR or RB or scoring 30pts a game and holding onto the ball…never work, sacks and stats win games.

    As far as tonite goes, JG could keep it close or just funnel a bit of ol’ JJ vs Buddy tonight and take the sweater off and throw on a pair of knuckle dusters and put the league on notice, fluke plays and empty stats mean nothing to this team, bring your jocks it’s going to be along nite.

    Nobody gave a crap when 2\5s of the OL was on the bench, so I don’t care who is sitting in a tub over there, @ least they have excuses, we have next man up.

    38-24 Cowboys and it’s not close or 27-20 Daks 2nd come from behind win, like I said earlier Dak from behind is a machine, careful what you ask for, you may get it. A 100yd rushing game would scare the crap out of the NFCE and beyond.

    After tonite, they’ll be praying for Romo next game.

  • Mario

    42-10 COWBOYS

  • Eric Welly

    WooHoo OT Baby, shouldn’t have been so hard.

    JG makes it harder than it is.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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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

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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

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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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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