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Going from good to great against the Browns

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Dallas Cowboys Cleveland Browns

On the first Sunday in September, the start of the NFL regular season got under way. The beginning of a new brand of Cowboy defense began as well! The performance put forth against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday was, well let's say very good! I say very good because, well it's week one. I am trying to stay grounded and not go overboard with my review, but if this happens next weekend it will be hard for me to hold it back!

If you watched “Hard Knocks” on HBO you would have heard a phrase used repeatedly by defensive coordinator Brian Stewart; “Good to Great”. This is the battle cry for this defense now. This defensive unit has apparently come to grips with the fact that this year excuses will not be tolerated! Being young and in a new system are no longer facts, and Stewart has let it be known that they must perform or else. I am by no means saying that they played a great game. They did not however sit back and let the browns dictate the game.

The Browns had possession eight times in this game for a total of 22:31, and four of those possessions they were forced to a three and out! One of their possessions was just before half and they had enough time to run the ball once. They had one 16 play 78 yard drive for a touchdown, and a 9 play 61 yard drive that ended with a 34 yard field goal. As I thought about this game throughout the week I wondered what the scheme would be. Well it was very evident what the scheme was KEEP THE BALL OUT OF WINSLOW'S HANDS, and did they ever succeed at this. Now for the last 4 years or so this would have been next to impossible, mainly because they did not have a safety who could cover Winslow, and well they still don't. What they do have though is one Anthony Henry. Roy Willy spent a lot of time watching from the sidelines. This was somewhat surprising given the fact that Terrence Newman was unavailable for this game. This left Scandrick the 5th round rookie covering Braylon Edwards, and I thought Scandrick did a nice job on him (although Edwards had a hard time catching the ball when he was open). Henry did a masterful job all day, he was very physical at the line of scrimmage not allowing their receivers to get off the line clean. They played more zone than I would like to see, zone coverage in my opinion only causes missed assignments when you are playing a mobile quarterback. This specific thing happened to the Boys a couple of times.

The D-Line played very well against the run only allowing 91 yards (24 of that was from Derek Anderson) as the only time the browns were successful on the ground was in passing situations ( Draw play). Marcus Spears continued his stellar play that he started in the preseason. I would like to see more pressure up the middle, but I am not going to complain.

The Linebackers were exceptional Greg Ellis in particular; Ellis was a big contributor to stopping Winslow. Whether he was covering him or getting a good chip on him at the line, I am sure Winslow is in no hurry to see Greg again! DeMarcus Ware saw double and triple teams all day and still managed a sack and a forced fumble on Anderson. Zach Thomas was every where, he reads and reacts to a play better than just about anybody I have ever seen. Bradie James had ZERO tackles, yes the starting inside linebacker, leader of the defense had ZERO tackles.

Step one for this defense is now complete, they are a legitimately GOOD defense. We will see what they are made of next Monday night against the Eagles. The end result for this defense will not be known until the end of the year, but if they can continue what they have started they will have certainly gone from GOOD to GREAT!



Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Cole Beasley is Your Interim WR1

Mauricio Rodriguez

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As Preseason Begins, Does Prescott Have a "Go-To" Receiver After All?

Watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7 was undoubtedly fun for Cowboys Nation. There were not many positive expectations for the Cowboys heading into this game but both the defense and offense put on impressive performances at home in an attempt to remain serious contenders within the NFC East.

We learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday as they beat one of the top defenses in the NFL. Let's talk about in this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

Cole Beasley Is Your Interim WR1

The Cowboys have yet to find their #1 wide receiver, but Cole Beasley is making a serious statement looking like the most reliable target in Dallas. Being 5'8 and a slot receiver doesn't really help Beasley's case to be the #1 guy, but he's making plays.

Last Sunday, he was the only wide receiver on the team with more than one catch. The other player with more than one reception was Geoff Swaim, who only got his hands on the ball twice. Beasley finished the day with nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdown catches. The Cowboys need other WRs to step up but in the meantime, let Beasley put the sauce on opposing defenses. Hopefully he continues to hurt defenses like he did versus the Jaguars' feared secondary.

The team still needs a guy who can be a consistent threat on the outside, though. Third-round rookie Michael Gallup could develop into that, but he isn't there yet. We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, it's all Beasley.

Bright Future for the Defensive Line

Blake Bortles was sacked three times by the so-called "Hot Boyz" last weekend. To be quite honest, the future for this defensive line looks brightest than it ever has. The return of Maliek Collins and David Irving to the field were desperately needed for this defense to take the next step. Collins and Irving were somewhat limited, but their snap counts will surely increase as the season continues.

John Owning on Twitter

A lot of little details went into this sack from Maliek Collins. From his alignment pre-snap to his timing on the spin, it was a beautiful display of rushing the passer by @SavageSevv. https://t.co/CYcfLH6AfB

Randy Gregory also got limited snaps versus the Jaguars, but he was able to make an impact either way. He finished the day with one sack, two hits and one QB hurry. I can't wait until these guys' snaps increase. This should be a very scary unit for opposing quarterbacks.

Dak Prescott's Stats Don't Reflect His Performance

The Jaguars are the best defense this team has faced and yet it's been the offense's best performance. Dak Prescott's passing stats may not look great, but his play was. Even though he failed to cross the 200 yard mark on the air, he rushed for 82 yards and kept Jacksonville's defense honest. Dak has faced a lot of criticism this year and will likely continue to do so.

Even still, we've seen him ball out on various occasions now. Dak can play. He may not be an elite passer, in fact he's far from being that, but he can make this offense work if they play to his strengths.

We've heard players talk about "turning the corner" in Dallas. Cowboys Nation should hope that is the case. What's more frustrating than watching an offense being unable to move the chains and score touchdowns, is knowing they could do it with a better execution and play-calling. Thanks to players like Dak, Ezekiel Elliott and Cole Beasley, there's a silver lining for the Cowboys' offense.

Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Inconsistency is the Problem for Cowboys

Simply put, this is not the team we had witnessed in the first five weeks of the season. Even in the two prior wins this year, the Dallas Cowboys had not looked dominant at all. Specifically the offense. They hadn't faced a defense as tough as the Jaguars', but they were able to drop 40 on them. Now granted, they did it with the help of the defense, but still. We hadn't seen this version of the Cowboys.

Even with a 40-7 win over the Jaguars, it is tough to imagine Dallas will keep this up as the season continues. Hopefully, they do and I'm wrong about this. They need to be more consistent if they want to end up surprising the NFC East and walk away with the division title.

Although they got the big win, they still left points on the field and fail to execute for touchdowns in the second half. Even when the defense forced turnovers. In close games, this cost you wins in the NFL. The Cowboys can't afford to lose many more games, even in a weak division.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Cole Beasley is Your Interim WR1" 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

CB Jourdan Lewis Finally Looks Himself In Cowboys’ Blowout Win

Kevin Brady

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CB Jourdan Lewis Finally Looks Himself In Cowboys Blowout Win

The Cowboys' up and down start to 2018 has been full of both positives and negatives, but the one player everyone can agree on and be excited about has been Byron Jones. And, overall, the one position group Cowboys fans have been excited about through six week are the cornerbacks.

Heading into the preseason, fans could not wait to see Jones and Chidobe Awuzie on the outside, with Jourdan Lewis patrolling the slot. It was Anthony Brown, however, who won that slot cornerback role during training camp, and through the first few weeks of the season Jourdan Lewis was nowhere to be found on defense.

Due to an ankle injury which sidelined Chidobe Awuzie for Sunday's game, Lewis finally got his shot to shine. Playing primarily on the boundary as the outside cornerback in Awuzie's absence, Jourdan Lewis looked like his rookie year self against the Jaguars.

Though Lewis was not credited with a pass defense during the game, he did make two tackles, and remained disciplined in coverage all afternoon. Jourdan Lewis also made a fantastic play on the first third down of the game, breaking on the receiver and joining forces with Byron Jones to force the Jags' first 3 and out.

dalvsjax2018 jourdan lewis

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Lewis also recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Jaylon Smith, making his impact felt throughout the game.

Another area where Jourdan Lewis excelled on Sunday was as a blitzer. The Cowboys have been more apt to blitz on third downs with Kris Richard calling the shots these days, and Lewis (like Awuzie) provides value as a blitzing defensive back.

It's unclear what the Cowboys' plan will be for Jourdan Lewis moving forward. He's too talented to simply waste away on the bench, but he is at his best as an outside cornerback, where the Cowboys currently have two starters that better fit Richard's mold.

While Awuzie is injured Lewis can provide a more-than-adequate fill in, but you have to wonder if they can develop him into a slot cornerback to replace Anthony Brown in the future. Plus, Brown has had a nice bounce back season thus far himself.

The Cowboys suddenly have a surplus of talented young cornerbacks on their roster. Hopefully competition will bring out the best in all four players, including Jourdan Lewis.



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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know what you were personally expecting Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys squared off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but I think it's safe to say what happened was a pleasant surprise. The Cowboys not only beat the Jaguars 40-7, but they did so in an absolutely dominant fashion. Hopefully, this is just a sign of things to come.

The Dallas Cowboys will go on the road this week in a matchup with their division rival, the Washington Redskins, in a game that could ultimately decide who wins the NFC East division. But before we get into any discussion about the Redskins, let's talk about The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Cowboys against the Jaguars.

As always, please feel free to share any of your opinions about what I chose for each category in this article. I also encourage you to share your own good, bad, and ugly in the comment section located at the bottom. I enjoy hearing all of your feedback and look forward to reading what you have to say.

The Good

Cole Beasley, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and WR Cole Beasley

In a game where just about everything fell just right for the Dallas Cowboys, it was a little difficult to narrow down exactly what I wanted to put in this category. It was a great all-around team effort, so I didn't want to go with an individual. Ultimately, I decided the good for the Cowboys against the Jaguars had to be awarded to the entire offense.

All last week I was trying to figure out how the Cowboys were going to move the ball against the Jaguars top-ranked defense. Jacksonville's defense was ranked No. 1 in the passing game and in total defense. I thought if the Cowboys had a chance it would be on the ground where the Jaguars were just ranked 14th against the run. Boy was I shocked at what took place Sunday afternoon.

The Cowboys offense not only moved the ball on the ground with Quarterback Dak Prescott (83 yards rushing) and Running Back Ezekiel Elliott (106 yards rushing), but also found success in the passing game. Prescott and Wide Receiver Cole Beasley connected with one another nine times for 101 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Overall, it was quite impressive to see the Cowboys put up 40 points against one of the league's best defenses.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

For a change, finding something to put in this section this week was extremely difficult. The Dallas Cowboys pretty much played a flawless game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, so I decided the bad had to be that because they played so well our expectations should be for them to continue to play at this level. After all, if they can put up 40 points on the NFL's best defense, why shouldn't this kind of dominance continue.

The sad truth is, we have already seen the Cowboys offense raise our expectations once this season. After the phenomenal performance against the Detroit Lions earlier this season we expected them to pick up where they left off the next few weeks against the Seahawks and Texans. Unfortunately, we know how they played in both of those contest, so we should probably temper our expectations a little.

I don't know about you, but I'm trying not to get too excited about what took place Sunday afternoon against the Jaguars. I'm really hoping that the entire offense is finally starting to click and that Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has figured out how to use his playmakers to the best of their abilities. But for now, we will just have to hope that this bad will actually turn out to be a good.

The Ugly

Cowboys Defense

Dallas Cowboys Defense

I really liked what I've seen for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, but I absolutely loved how ugly they made the Jacksonville Jaguars offense look Sunday afternoon. This defense is playing at a championship level and they aren't quite receiving the recognition as of yet that they probably deserve. But, that could change if they continue to play the way they did against the Jaguars.

Jacksonville's offense had a tough time getting anything going Sunday against the Cowboys defense. They barely had over 200 total yards of total offense and I lost count of how many three and outs they had. What I loved the most though were the turnovers the Cowboys forced. Turnovers have been pretty nonexistent so far this season, so it was good to see that change against the Jaguars.

I honestly can't say enough good things about the Dallas Cowboys defense and how they've played this season. I'm just hoping they are able to do the same against this week's opponent, the Washington Redskins. With the NFC East division up for grabs, how the defense plays against the Redskins could impact the outcome of this game and help secure the division title.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Jaguars?



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