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Dallas Cowboys

Garrett’s Cowboys Have Mixed Results After Bye Week

Jess Haynie

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The Dallas Cowboys are headed to San Francisco for Week 7 after resting up during their bye week. Today, I thought we'd take a quick look at how the Cowboys have fared in the game following their bye week during Jason Garrett's tenure as head coach.

Yesterday, CheatsheetWarRoom.com sent me some data about the last five years of Cowboys' performances immediately after their bye week. I looked up 2011 also to get the full range of games since Jason Garrett took over in Dallas.

  • 2016 - Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (OT)
  • 2015 - Giants 27. Cowboys 20
  • 2014 - Cowboys 31, Giants 28
  • 2013 - Cowboys 24, Giants 21
  • 2012 - Ravens 31, Cowboys 29
  • 2011 - Patriots 20, Cowboys 16

It's probably not a big surprise to see that Garrett is 3-3 after bye weeks. This is the same coach who went 8-8 for three straight seasons, and who went 4-12 after going 12-4. A cosmic balancing act has seemingly followed Jason throughout his time with the Cowboys.

What's really important to look at here is the quality of these opponents. Did the bye week really factor in to the outcome?  Should Garrett's record following bye weeks encourage or discourage us for this Sunday's game?  Does it really matter?

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett

The 2011 Patriots and 2012 Ravens were no slouches. New England went 13-3 that season and reached the Super Bowl, losing to the Giants. 2012 was Baltimore's championship season with Joe Flacco.

Despite their 8-8 record those seasons and both games being on the road, Dallas was competitive in these contests. The 2011 loss came on a last-minute touchdown drive by Tom Brady.  The 2012 loss to the Ravens was by just a two-point margin.

Did the extra rest and preparation time from the bye week make Dallas more competitive in these games?

It's arguable, given how the rest of those seasons went. Dallas was still trying to rebuild following the change from Wade Phillips to Jason Garrett and significant roster turnover. As I've said many times, the fact that Garrett even had this team at 8-8 during those years is an accomplishment. They were not on the level of conference and Super Bowl championship teams at that time.

So yes, given how close those contests were, I'll say that the bye week had a positive effect even in losses. It's a reasonable assumption that the Cowboys would've fared worse against those high-caliber opponents without the time off the week before.

Cowboys Headlines - Tony Romo And Jason Garrett Visit "The Boss" At MSG 2

QB Tony Romo and Jason Garrett

2013-2015 gave us three-straight meetings with the New York Giants coming off our bye week. 2013 was another 8-8 season for the Cowboys but the Giants were only 7-9 themselves. With Tony Romo healthy and under center, Dallas took that game despite it being in New Jersey. They'd won a narrow 36-31 meeting against the Giants in the season opener that year, so getting another win on the road was impressive.

In 2014, Dallas had their breakout season under Garrett and went 12-4 on the way to the playoffs. The Giants were only 6-10.  Given that, Dallas only winning 31-28 in that year's game is a little disappointing. You'd have expected a more decisive victory, but division games do often take a life of their own. In this case, the bye week didn't seem to matter much.

2015 was, of course, the abysmal season of Romo's collarbone injury and Dallas going 4-12 with Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore at quarterback. That year's post-bye game came during Cassel's run at QB and was actually one of the better showings Dallas had that year; a 27-20 loss on the road. If not for three interceptions by Matty Yikes, the Cowboys might've stolen that game.

These three years give us a mixed bag of evidence. The bye week seemingly helped in 2013 and 2015 but appeared inconsequential in 2014. The fact that all of these games came against a division rival taints things as well; the usual metrics and principles tend to go out the window in rivalry games.

Last year's bye week follow-up was at home against the Eagles, and it was an overtime thriller with the Cowboys winning 29-23 on a Dak Prescott touchdown throw to Jason Witten.

In this case, it's arguable that the bye week actually hurt the young Cowboys. They'd taken a five-game winning streak into the bye and then came out flat in a division game at home. Dak Prescott threw only his second interception in seven games and Dallas was down 23-13 in the third quarter. They finally rallied to force overtime and get the victory, but it definitely took them some time to wake up following the bye week.

Obviously, the circumstances of that game and this year's meeting with the 49ers are very different.  Dallas limped into their 2017 bye week after consecutive narrow defeats to the Rams and Packers. They are a 2-3 team desperate to get their season back on track. There's no room for complacency to set in, which could improve their post-bye performance from what we saw last year.

One thing that's clear from this six-year history is that Dallas' success after bye weeks had been consistent with the quality of their opponents. They weren't as good as 2011 Patriots or 2012 Ravens and lost those games. They got beat in 2015 with Matt Cassel at quarterback, as they did in almost every other game without Tony Romo.  In the other three years, they were victorious when even or superior to their NFC East rivals.

That's good news for this 2017 game as the 49ers are, seemingly, a much worse team than the Cowboys. They've just changed starting quarterbacks after going 0-6 and seem to already be thinking about the future. They haven't been total pushovers in their losses but there is no excuse, even on the road, for the Cowboys to lose this game.

Based on everything we've considered, I think the bye week will help Dallas in this game. The extra preparation may not help much given the QB change in Frisco, but the rest and opportunity to reset mentally was much needed following two difficult losses. The Cowboys will also get back Sean Lee, whose absence may have been the deciding factor in those defeats.

Will Jason Garrett be over or under .500 in games following bye weeks? We'll find out on Sunday!



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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4 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    Maybe the defense a show up Probably not. Bye weeks aint fixing that D.

  • Ddenney1

    NO DEFENSE FOR @) YEARS!!!!! Jason seems like a good guy but he just isn’t a head coach. He has TERRIBLE CLOCK MANAGEMENT!

    • Joe Hernandez

      I have been saying that for years…Great minds think alike..

  • Russ_Te

    Whatever coaching skills Garrett has picked up over the years, he has to bring it all to the fore now if this season will be a contending one. A loss to the 49’ers would be a body blow to team confidence. Garrett needs to field a team of rabid dogs this week, that simply refuses to go 2-4.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark

When the Dallas Cowboys took the field last Sunday against the New York Giants, they did so very differently than last week, starting with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to connect with WR Tavon Austin in the third play of the game. Although there are still many things this team must continue to work on, they looked like a very improved unit in week 2.

Here are my main takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' first win of the year. Let me know what yours are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL and let's talk football!

Cowboys' Secondary Capable of Holding Top WR

If there was one player who could've changed the outcome for the New York Giants, it was WR Odell Beckham Jr. Widely recognized as one of the best wideouts in the nation, Beckham was the biggest challenge the cornerbacks, led by Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, have had in the first two weeks.

None of them followed Beckham all over the field, each stayed on their side of the field and still managed to limit him to four receptions for 51 yards in nine targets. The Giant's offense is not known for being one of the best in the league, but it's the fact that this defense was able to limit exactly the player they needed to. They did their job.

Also, props to the defensive line for keeping the pressure on Eli Manning.

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Taco Charlton Was Dominant VS Nate Solder

With Randy Gregory ruled out for the game, Taco Charlton had a golden opportunity to stay on the field for more snaps. He took advantage of this, as he finished the night with three tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Charlton still has a long way to go in order to prove he was worthy of a first round pick, but we can't deny he hasn't stopped developing. It will be interesting to see how he does now that Gregory is expected to return for week 3.

Dak Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Needed Spark

One of the things I liked the most about the Cowboys' game versus the Giants was how Dak Prescott was utilized. Criticized after a poor performance in Carolina, Prescott came out with a chip on his shoulder.

We've been talking a lot about how Scott Linehan must play Prescott to his strengths and that's precisely what he did by letting Dak run for 45 yards in seven carries. It's completely understandable if the Cowboys don't want to run him as much as the Panthers do with Cam Newton, but the truth is, if #4 hurts defenses with his leg, Ezekiel Elliott won't receiver all of the defense's attention.

Also, shoutout to how they used Tavon Austin. With Elliott, Prescott and Austin being a threat on option plays, this offense could take a step on the right direction.

If Activated, Where Does Rico Gathers Fit Offensively?

Rico Gathers Will Be Used

The Cowboys' Rico Gathers project is moving in the right direction. The 2016 sixth-round pick was active for the first time in his career last Sunday. The first question that popped into our heads was whether or not he'd be actually used in the game. He was.

He even managed to get open in the end zone in a play that could've been TD but Prescott didn't throw a good pass. However, the mere fact that he was able to get open and that the coaches actually put him on the field told us a lot about his future. Cowboys Nation should be excited to see him involved.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark" 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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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys vs the New York Giants: Stock Up and Stock Down

John Williams

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The Jaylon Smith We've Been Expecting Is Finally Here

The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in a big way against the New York Giants in week two. Several players bounced back as well after struggling a bit in week one against the Carolina Panthers. Other players continued to struggle or saw a drop in play from week one to week two.

Here are the Dallas Cowboys who saw their stock rise and some who saw their stock fall this week.

Stock Up

Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

Jaylon Smith has been really good to start the season and had an excellent game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Every day Smith is removed from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final game at Notre Dame is a day closer to realizing the elite play that many expected of him before the injury.

Pro Football Reference credited the starting middle linebacker with seven solo tackles and three assists. Pro Football Focus had Jaylon Smith with 3 stops -- plays that were a "loss" for the offense -- while becoming a stabilizing force for the linebacker position.

Byron Jones, Cornerback

The fourth year player who has made a successful move from safety to cornerback, Byron Jones has been everything the Dallas Cowboys hoped he'd be when they made him their first round pick back in 2015.

Shame that it took so long to get him to cornerback.

Against a potent New York Giants receiving corp, Jones only allowed one reception on five targets on Sunday night. He also had six solo tackles and three stops, per Pro Football Focus.

The one reception that Pro Football Focus credited to Byron Jones was by Running Back Saquon Barkley and that catch went for zero yards.

So on the night, Byron Jones allowed zero yards into his coverage areas. He's really good at cornerback and is taking to Kris Richard's coaching quite nicely.

Dak Prescott, Quarterback

After much gnashing of teeth after the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott rebounded with a strong, confident performance in the Dallas Cowboys week two win over the Giants.

He completed 64% of his passes for 160 yards and ran for 45 yards on seven carries. The passing yardage isn't huge, but on a night in which the defense was absolutely dominant, Dak Prescott made the plays that needed to be made for the Dallas Cowboys to win the game.

He was great in the read-option on Sunday night, perfectly executing it for several really good runs.

The throw to Tavon Austin on the third offensive play from scrimmage was a great throw that set the tone for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the night. His yards per attempt and passer rating were both improved from week one and he just looked better.

If Dak Prescott can continue to put together performances like this, the Dallas Cowboys will win a lot of games this season.

Connor Williams, Left Guard

After getting pushed around for much of last week's game by Kawann Short, rookie Connor Williams rebounded with a really nice game.

Williams didn't allow a pressure all night and the offensive line was much better as a whole. The unit didn't allow a sack against the New York Giants.

According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott's biggest run of the night came behind Connor Williams at left guard.

Williams is an important piece to the puzzle and if he's playing well, it will provide better pockets for Dak Prescott.

Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver

After seeing only 10 snaps in week one, Tavon Austin was on the field for nearly twice as many and made them count as he ended with two receptions for 79 yards and had one rush for 15 yards.

That's 94 total yards on three touches. The "Tavon Effect" was in full force last night as the team used his speed to their advantage. Even when the ball didn't go his direction he had an effect on the game.

Damien Wilson, Linebacker

Seemingly the odd man out after the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Damien Wilson had an excellent game in his limited playing time.

Wilson played 17 defensive snaps and 22 snaps on special teams and was credited with three solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He's was excellent on Sunday night in the snaps he was given.

It's unlikely that we'll see a big snap increase for him with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart, but he provided very valuable snaps when given the opportunity.

Stock Down

Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver

Terrance Williams who has been a starter for several years now with the Dallas Cowboys, and even started week one, saw his snap count drop from week one to week two. After seeing 19 snaps against the Carolina Panthers, he was onlyon the field for 10 snaps in week two.

There's been speculation as the Dallas Cowboys have resigned former Wide Receiver Brice Butler that Terrance Williams could be the odd man out of the wide receiver room. That snap count is either an indication of his status on the team or the game plan they had against the New York Giants.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Williams moving forward.

La'el Collins, Right Tackle

A week after allowing four pressures, most along the offensive line, La'el Collins allowed three more pressures on Sunday night against the New York Giants. He was the only offensive lineman to allow multiple pressures and appeared to struggle with the Giants blitz and stunt schemes.

The New York Giants had rushers go unblocked at times on Sunday night.

Dak Prescott wasn't sacked against the Giants, but he had to avoid some pressure on that side to throw the ball away.

Collins has to be better against the pass rush going forward to keep Dak Prescott clean and able to play better.

Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends

The Dallas Cowboys' tight end group of Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers did not have a single catch to their name on Sunday night. There were opportunities that were missed, like the Dak Prescott overthrow to Rico Gathers in the end zone. However, not being able to come up with a single catch against the Giants is a bit surprising.

Speaking frankly, their isn't a receiving threat on the TE depth chart. They need to become a factor at some point to help take pressure of Dak Prescott and give him another option in the passing game. The Dallas Cowboys prefer to run most of their formations with a tight end on the field. They need to be a factor

The Cowboys Nation Twitter account asked David Helman from DallasCowboys.com to look up when the last time the Dallas Cowboys tight ends finished a game without a reception.

Mark Lane from WFAA.com and the Texans Wire found the information.

Mark Lane on Twitter

@HelmanDC @CowboysNation @SullyBaldHead @Marcus_Mosher @CHQ_Jordan @FO_ScottKacsmar When you do, Dave, tell them that Mark Lane found it at 1:15 a.m. Central Time. It was Dec. 1, 2016 at the #Vikings. https://t.co/XS3FVrWhT8

It's unbelievable that there was a game played in which Jason Witten was around for that he didn't have a reception, and yet, there it is.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Were there any players that moved the needle in either direction for you?

Let us know in the comment section. 

 



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Dallas Cowboys

Will Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Return This Week?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

The Dallas Cowboys have been without one of their defensive starters for the first two weeks of 2018; safety Xavier Woods. A preseason hamstring injury has kept him in street clothes so far, but Woods could make his season debut this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

The positive update on Woods' status was provided by Owner Jerry Jones in his regular radio appearance this morning.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said it appears Randy Gregory (concussion) will be available to play Sunday at Seattle. Jones also thinks Xavier Woods (hamstring) has a chance to play this week after missing the first two games

Gregory has already played this year, suffering his concussion and leaving the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Even in his absence last week, the Cowboys got six sacks on Eli Manning in their victory over the Giants.

That's not to say getting Randy back isn't noteworthy, but the real news here is the potential for Xavier Woods to take his place as the team's starting free safety.

While Woods has been out, Jeff Heath has been the free safety while Kavon Frazier has started at strong. The plan going into 2018 was for Heath to play strong safety, putting him closer to the line of scrimmage where his skills are best suited.

Xavier was one of the team's most exciting rookies last year, flashing the potential to be a game-changing presence.

Woods' upside is one of the reasons some fans haven't been as desperate about the Earl Thomas situation. While Thomas would be an upgrade in almost any defense, including the Cowboys, the chance to see what Xavier has mitigated disappointment over not acquiring the All-Pro safety.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods

If Woods can provide what the team hopes for at free safety, it has a positive ripple effect for the roster. Not only do you upgrade at FS, but Heath moving to his ideal role at SS is another improvement.

It also moves Frazier, who's been solid in his playing time, into a valuable bench role. It gives Dallas depth at safety which, up til now, they've lacked in Xavier's absence.

The loser in this deal would likely be either veteran backup Ibraheim Campbell, who Dallas signed two weeks ago to deal with their depth issues, or undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson. Robinson has been with the team since they signed him immediately after the 2018 NFL Draft.

With talk that the Cowboys are looking to bring back WR Brice Butler, a roster spot will be needed. Xavier Woods' return could allow for that spot to come from safety rather than receiver, where Dallas is hesitant to part with any of its current players.

In the end, all we have right now is a "maybe" about Woods' status. But with Dallas' defense already performing well this year, the thought of getting even better is enticing. With the tough road environment of Seattle and Russell Wilson coming up this Sunday, getting Xavier back could be timely.



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