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Game Notes

Finding the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: Defense Lags Behind In Blowout Loss At Broncos 1
Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post

Every team, on their way to greatness, runs into what the Dallas Cowboys did on Sunday afternoon against the Denver Broncos; an absolute beat down. Let's not forget the thumping that the New England Patriots dynasty took in week one to the Kansas City Chiefs. One game does not a season make. There are 14 more to go.

With the team riding high after an emphatic week one win over the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys played about as poorly as a team could play. The Denver Broncos thoroughly manhandled your hometown heroes to the tune of 42-17.

This team is still a good team. They just got walloped by a good team, on the road, in a stadium that is very difficult to play in.

There’s no other way to look at this one. They were whooped.

You're going to hear over the next few days all the things that went wrong. This site and others are going to be littered with how poorly this team played. If you look really hard, though, there are some positives to take away from this game.

Since I'm an eternal optimist, I'm going to dig those out for you.

It Can’t Get Much Worse.

I can’t imagine a scenario the rest of the season where the Dallas Cowboys can play any worse than they did on Sunday. That includes future matchups with the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons. This was their low point in the season. Better it come in week two than in round two of the playoffs.

The defense was torched, even before losing two of their top three corners.

Players missed tackles all over the place.

They made Trevor Siemian look like an upper-tier quarterback; which he looked like in a week one win against the Los Angeles Chargers.

The offense couldn’t ever sustain a rhythm.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was inaccurate.

The offensive line was manhandled -- not something I ever expected myself to write.

The play calling and the game plan were questionable.

Even when the game was close, it seemed like Ezekiel Elliott was an afterthought.

There were drops, one through the hands of Dez Bryant which led to a Chris Harris interception.

Brice Butler had his patented drop of the game.

It was just a horrible game through and through. But again, it can’t get much worse.

Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten #82, Denver Broncos S Will Parks #34 (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

The G.O.A.T. gonna G.O.A.T.

For all the talk about Jason Witten's age and possible retirement after the 2017 season (guilty, sorry Witt), Jason Witten continues to be one of the most important players on this team. His 10 catches for 97 yards and a touchdown show that he still has what it takes to be an elite tight end in the NFL.

During the game Jason Witten tied Marvin Harrison for fourth all-time in receptions. That is a pretty impressive feat.

Witten is on pace to catch 136 passes this season, which would be a career best for him. I find it unlikely he keeps his 8.5 receptions per game pace, but if teams continue to leave him open, he'll continue to feast.

He did have a bad drop and a false start that hurt a drive, but he's still a great player. As the season goes along, teams are going to have to work harder to take him away. Hopefully his play will open things up more for Dez Bryant on the outside.

DeMarcus Lawrence

I think it's safe to say that DeMarcus Lawrence has finally arrived. No longer injured or facing a suspension, Lawrence had an offseason to get healthy, to get in shape, and to work on his game.

And it's showing.

DeMarcus Lawrence built off of his strong week one showing to perform well again versus the Denver Broncos. Now with four sacks on the season, Lawrence is certainly working his way toward a big pay day.

For a guy who has had as much adversity as Tank has, it's exciting to watch the former second rounder come into his own.

His early season production is really important for the defensive line as a whole. It will only open things up more.

Cowboys Kicking Game is the best in the NFL

Between Dan "Split 'em" Bailey and "The Puntisher" Chris Jones, the Dallas Cowboys kicking game is the best kicker/punter combination in the NFL. And it’s probably not close.

Dan Bailey matched a career long with his 56-yard field goal at the end of the second half. At the time, it was a huge make, which made it an 11-point game going into halftime.

Punter Chris Jones continues to boom the ball and pin teams deep in their end of the field. After having a tremendous week putting the Giants inside their own 10 week one, he did so again in week two. Two of his five punts led to the Broncos starting drives inside their 20, with one at the 6.

No Offensive Injuries

While the defensive unit lost Nolan Carroll (concussion) and Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) to injuries, the Dallas Cowboys offense didn’t lose anyone.

Most importantly it didn’t lose its most important player; Dak Prescott.

There were several times during the game that Dak Prescott got hit and got hit hard. That he made it through the game relatively unscathed is a positive. Now he can rest and set his sights on Arizona.

Sean's Scout: Defense Lags Behind In Blowout Loss At Broncos 1

Denver Broncos QB Trevor Siemian #13 (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Out of Conference Matchup

Every game matters and if it comes down to one game at the end of the season, they’ll wish they played better on Sunday. That being said, it has less of an impact than a division game or a conference game when it comes to tie breakers.

We can only hope that Denver puts a beat down on the rest of its NFC opponents so that the “common opponent” tiebreaker is a wash.

And a little Bonus Optimism for the Cowboys

  • Jaylon Smith played his second game, even though like the rest of the team, he played it poorly.
  • Orlando Scandrick is another week closer to being back.
  • Jourdan Lewis made his debut and had an interception. Let's not speak about the rest of his debut...
  • Chaz Green made it through the game uninjured.
  • Dez Bryant and Dak Prescott seemed to work well against a tough secondary.
  • Terrance Williams was solid, if unspectacular catching four of his five targets. So far with a catch rate of 83% on the season.

It's only week two. In 2016, we were at this same point after two games. 1-1.

We all remember what happened next.


I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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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