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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Broncos

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Broncos

The Dallas Cowboys first road game of the 2017 season didn't exactly pan out the way they had hoped. The Cowboys were handed their first defeat of the season at the hands of a dominant Denver Broncos team with a final score 42-17. Dallas will have to quickly compose themselves because they will be on the road once again next week when they travel to take on the Arizona Cardinals for Monday Night Football.

To say that the Denver Broncos dominated all three phases of the game would be an understatement. Offensively, defensively, and special teams for the Cowboys just looked off-kilter the entire game and it was just an all-around poor performance, especially from a team with so much talent.

Unfortunately, not everything can be sunshine and unicorns week in and week out for the Dallas Cowboys, but I don't expect them to be down long. I think we'll see a bounce back performance against the Cardinals next week, at least I hope so.

Having said all that, let's dive into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of the article to voice and of your thoughts and opinions on the topic.

The Good

There wasn't a lot of good for the Dallas Cowboys against Denver Broncos. But, if you're looking for the lone bright spot, it has to be DeMarcus Lawrence's performance. Lawrence might just be the one player for the entire Dallas Cowboys team that showed up in Denver to play.

DeMarcus Lawrence opened the season against the New York Giants with a 5 tackle, 2 QB sack performance and followed that up with another 5 tackle, 2 sacks, and one forced fumble game against the Broncos. Lawrence is finally healthy and playing like a man possessed. It's probably no coincidence that he's in a contract year, but I think he is probably the only player that really showed up against Denver Sunday afternoon.

CB Nolan Carroll

CB Nolan Carroll

The Bad

I hate to kick a man when he's down, but Nolan Carroll was being picked on early and often Sunday afternoon by the Broncos offense. It was obvious the Broncos were targeting him and the best thing that might have happened to him was the injury. It's a harsh thing to say, but probably true.

I don't know about you, but I think Carroll is one of the worst CBs currently on the Cowboys roster. I think the only reason he still remains a starter is because the young CBs have struggled with injuries early in the season, which has slowed their development. Hopefully, Orlando Scandrick can return next week and Chidobe Awuzie can get healthy and take over.

S Jeff Heath

S Jeff Heath

The Ugly

I started to put this in the bad category, but obviously went a different direction. I think the ugly Sunday afternoon for the Dallas Cowboys was their tackling on defense. There were several instances where they had a chance for a tackle for loss or a tackle for a short gain, but they let the offensive players slip through their fingers.

C.J. Anderson is the first 100 yard rusher the Dallas Cowboys defense has allowed since Alfred Morris in 2015. Anderson was simply running through the arm tackles and having Cowboys defenders bounce off of him the entire game. The Dallas Cowboys absolutely to have to clean up their tackling and I'm sure defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will be on their case after watching film from the Broncos game.

What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly for the Cowboys against the Broncos?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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16 Comments
  • Bryan Case

    That was a bad a performance as I can remember from this team. They should all be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for the way they played yesterday. No discipline, seeming lack of energy. They looked confused in all areas of the game. Nolan Carroll should never line up for us again. He is terrible. If I have to watch our secondary get torched, I would just assume it be the kids with a chance to grow in the future. This game was a total embarrassment for all involved, players, coaches, etc…. I am getting just a bit tired of hearing what a guru Marinelli is supposed to be defensively, cause the “coach em up” process is looking pretty tired.

    • Brian Martin

      If they’re not ashamed of their performance, I certainly am. It was tough to watch. They can afford to play like that again this season. They have a tough schedule this year and need to be prepared each and every week. Hopefully they can bounce back against the Cardinals Monday night.

  • Corey

    Well lets talk about the problems with Dallas. The problem starts with Jerry and Stephen Jones. Jerry Jones thinks he knows what he is doing being GM and he still doesn’t have a clue how to do it. Stephen Jones is a penny pincher. He wants something for nothing. Dallas had a chance to add CB Joe Haden and S T.J. Ward and passed on both. One of these guys would have helped the Cowboys secondary immensely, but as usual Jerry and Stephen sat back and watched them sign else where. This story is going to repeat itself this year because Dallas has not done enough to improve this secondary. Jerry and Stephen need to open the check book and get this secondary some help real fast. As for Jason Garrett throwing Prescott under the bus for this loss it B.S. Maybe if Garrett knew how to coach it would be different, but Garrett sucks at being a HC and he always has. He is Jerry Jones “yes man” and that is the only reason Garrett still has his job. The whole organization is to blame for this disgrace, not just one guy. Prescott is ten times the QB Garrett ever was in my opinion. I have just lost a great deal of respect for this team’s management when they put the blame for this loss squarely on one guy.

    • Brian Martin

      I was in agreement with them passing on Joe Haden and TJ Ward. Both players are in their decline and it’s obvious. I heard that Jason Garrett threw Prescott under the bus, but I wasn’t interested in hearing anything they said after their performance. The Cowboys have done a next job building a really good roster. Unfortunately, they just didn’t show up to play against the Broncos. It’s as simple as that.

      • Rishie Cavalera

        They have an awesome roster at offense. The defense has really mediocre players (besides Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith) that haven’t raised their level, the scheme of Marinelli hasn’t worked well while being in Dallas. So basically the boys are trying to win every game by scoring a lot of points and keeping the defense out of the field. It is not that easy whenever they face a first level defense. And if they have a mediocre offense they will beat us like last night.

        • Brian Martin

          The defense isn’t terrible. They are in the midst of a rebuild and have a lot of inexperience on the defensive side of the ball. The Broncos game is going to get blown out of proportion, but nobody really showed up to play for the Cowboys. I am expecting a bounce back game against the Cardinals next Monday from everybody.

    • Russ_Te

      Very little of the problem yesterday was from Dak IMO, except that bonehead throw on the goal line late that went pick 6. The game was over by that point anyway.

      Garrett and Linehan – knew – that Denver would load up the box in an attempt to stop Elliott. They did go spread set to start the game, but then on the few chances they had to run, they played right into it by running between the tackles.

      Aikman has said on broadcasts that his teams faced 8 fronts all the time, and they went at them. But circumstances here said you needed to change up. Denver was determined to stuff Elliott, and if that team gets that on you at home in the 1st quarter, the place explodes. They all feed off it. Now you are in long downs against a very good pass defense.

      Linehan acts like Elliott cannot beat defenders to the edge. Nonsense. You come in to that game with multiple pitch & stretch plays, and you keep attacking it. You activate McFadden and give him a few attempts with it, after Elliott made Denver run side to side. Much better than what they did.

      They got lucky with the rain delay – free halftime – made no adjustments in offensive strategy.

      Garrett, looked like the coach of old… ;^)

      • Brian Martin

        Russ, I agree with everything you said. I was also add that I would’ve liked to seen Elliott being utilized in the passing game to get the ball in his hands. Just little dump off passes or have him slip the line to keep the Broncos defense honest. It was a peculiar coaching attempt by the Cowboys staff. Hopefully they will just all learn from it and be able to move on though.

        • Russ_Te

          I feel it’s more of an aberration than a defensive blueprint outing also. In short, they have speed and game breakers on offense, and fans want to see flexibility and range in how that is used week to week.

          I also think that teams expecting playoff berths, hold some of their repertoire back until the stretch run. All very well, but not worth absorbing an avoidable L for.

          And the OL gets a big ding IMO. Facing 8 on the road, should reduce run yardage from 5 to 4 or 3 per, not to zero. They got whipped by defenders who wanted it more. I also expect that will not be a pattern, they are prideful and will reset.

          There is probably also a cohesion issue for 8 to 10 games, as Collins and Green work in to their jobs.

          • Brian Martin

            I think it’s also important to remember that the Dallas Cowboys played pretty poorly in the first two games last season as well before they got things together. I’m pretty sure that they will bounce back this week against the Cardinals

  • Daniel Bollman

    One thing they could do is find out what shoes grip on that grass in Denver. So many players slipping and falling. Another thing they need to do is throw the slant like Aikman and Irvin used to do. I realize the first int was a slant but Dez has to catch that ball. He was open and he needs to make cb’s come up to defend that so he can run by them to get open on passes down field. The online had their pride stepped on yesterday, but they should come back strong and the defense has to tackle better. Hopefully this is just a wake-up call

    • Brian Martin

      Great observations Daniel. I agree with everything you said.

  • Russ_Te

    Lawrence looks a little heavier to me, with no loss in agility. It appears he has found the right weight to give him a good combo of quicks and power. That bull rush yesterday that caused the fumble, marvelous.

    So now you really have an overload of LDE’s. Lawrence is making a case that it is his job. Do you want to screw with that by moving him back to RDE? If not, does that put Irving mostly at LDT? What about if Taco gets nothing done at RDE? They have too many LDE’s.

    Meanwhile, if there is a RDE it might be Tapper. Or they also get Moore back now, who was big in preseason. Collins – invisible yesterday, except he scooped up (then fumbled), the fumble that Lawrence caused. Need to fall on that.

    Grenade from the Aggrieved ~ Shop Lawrence, right now. He’s at his highest value… ;^)

    • Brian Martin

      It’s doubtful that the Cowboys trade any of their pass rushers. I think we will see Lawrence at LDE, Collins and Paea at DT, and possibly Moore at RDE. Then once Irving returns you can play him all across the DL to find the best mismatch. Could be next to Lawrence at the 3-tech with Collins at the 1-tech or at either DE position. It’s a good problem to have, but hopefully they can find the right combination.

  • TreFKennedy88

    Total team failure, I was searching for the best o line in the NFL yesterday, 2nd, Dak and Dez really have to get on the same page, 3rd Dez needs to work with a route running specialist or something because outside of slants and fade’s what other routes does/ can he run?? Dez is my favorite wr so I’m pulling for him.

    • Brian Martin

      Prescott and Bryant weren’t really the problem. Yes, they can work on their bond more, but they have faced some pretty good secondaries to start on the 2017 season. Unfortunately, probably not going to see him run a lot of different routes. Those are the ones he’s most comfortable with and the ones Scott Linehan keeps calling. I don’t like all the 50/50 passes thrown his way. You need some easy completions to get him going.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles

It was a dramatic win for the Dallas Cowboys but a win nonetheless. The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Cowboys one hell of a fight at AT&T Stadium in a great rivalry game. It was undoubtedly one of the most exciting games this season has seen as it ended with a walk-off touchdown that gave the home team the victory.

Here is this week's Takeaway Tuesday on what we learned from such a thrilling match!

Amari Cooper Trade Shouldn't Even Be a Discussion

Once a complicated debate, the Amari Cooper trade has a clear winner. It's simple, really. If it wasn't for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys would not be 8-5 en route to the NFC East title. Cooper has literally saved the 2018 season for the once 3-5 Cowboys team.

Since becoming a part of the Cowboys, the former Oakland Raider has accounted for 40 catches, 642 yards and six touchdowns. Last Sunday alone, he was responsible for 217 yards and three scores. Not to mention the amount of times he's moved the chains for this offense. The 24-year old can seriously play football. Despite struggles, this offense is very promising with that caliber of a WR1 and an elite RB such as Ezekiel Elliott.

What was it again? A first rounder? Should've asked for more, Raiders.

Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Gregory's journey to be back on a football field was a difficult one. But it was worth it. Versus the Eagles, his presence was constantly felt by Carson Wentz. He was able to get in five pressures, one of which resulted in a sack.

The last couple of games, Gregory has drawn a few costly flags, but his play is still amazing. He's one of the fastest defensive ends in the league and he continues to improve in bending around the corner. He has five sacks in the last eight games. If you weren't convinced #94 should be our starting right defensive end, you should be by now.

Dalton Schultz

Tight Ends Rise

The lack of a tight end did not stand out this past Sunday. But Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin did. With Geoff Swaim out with an injury, this couple of young rotational players had their best games of their careers. Both were targeted in key moments of the game. Blake Jarwin had 56 yards in seven catches and a big third down conversion and Dalton Schultz finished the night with 37 yards.

A promising sign for the Cowboys moving forward. The offense is clicking at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, having a tight end (or a couple) stand up will only make this unit better.

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

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Garrett Deserves a Round of Applause

Whether or not you think Jason Garrett is a good head coach, the guy deserves an applause. I get why you might not like him. In fact, I still question if he should be in Dallas in 2019 if the Cowboys fail to have success in the playoffs. But the way this team has come back from such a terrible start can't be ignored.

The players on this team fight for this guy. The Dallas Cowboys went from a team everyone had written off from playoff contention to legit Super Bowl contenders since they fired Paul Alexander and got Amari Cooper.

Dak Prescott is One of the Best Facing Adversity

Dak Prescott's career continues to cause a great debate among Cowboys' fans. You see, in the NFL, things are not white or black. When judging a player, there are a lot of gray areas. Take last night's performance from Dak Prescott. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once and pretty much played bad football for three quarters. But his night ended with 455 yards and three touchdowns and a 78% completion percentage in 54 attempts.

In the NFL, not any quarterback comes back from turning the ball three times. With the help of his tremendous defense, Dak did. In the fourth quarter, he completed 17 out of 20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. His performance was clutch.

This isn't a one thing either. Since 2016, Dak is tied for the most game-winning drives in the NFL. Prescott might be inconsistent and can have some pretty bad plays. But he's one resilient quarterback. As T.O. would've said: "that's my quarterback."

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player" 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

In Swaim’s Absence And Among Witten Rumors, Jarwin And Schultz Shine

Kevin Brady

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In Swaim's Absence And Among Witten Rumors, Jarwin And Schultz Shine

"Starting tight end for the Dallas Cowboys" has been about as stable a position as there is in sports over the last decade. It's been Jason Witten. End of story.

Beginning in 2018, however, that stability went out the window with Witten's retirement. The starting role was left in the hands of Geoff Swaim, with even younger and more inexperienced players filling out the depth chart behind him. There was clearly reason for concern, and once Swaim went down during the Cowboys' win in Atlanta, those concerns only grew.

Swaim's absence has brought with it rumors of a Jason Witten return, with reports last weekend even suggesting that Jason Garrett reached out to Witten to see if he's looking to end his retirement and rejoin the Cowboys.

His absence has also brought about the emergence of two young tight ends, however, who are each succeeding in their own ways and showcasing why the Cowboys felt confident in allowing them to take the bulk of the tight end snaps while Swaim is injured. Those tight ends, of course, are Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz.

Last Sunday during the Cowboys big overtime victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, both Jarwin and Schultz had impressive days. Blake Jarwin has become one of the go-to third down options for quarterback Dak Prescott, extending drives and getting open over the middle of the field. Jarwin had a career best 7 catches for 56 yards on Sunday, including a spectacular third down grab to make up for Prescott's poor ball placement on his crossing route.

Blake Jarwin looks like the big, athletic, middle of the field threat that many fans wished Rico Gathers could be. The next step in unlocking his potential would be to get him more involved in the red zone. Dallas is struggling to convert and-goal situations into touchdowns, and logic would say a big target like Jarwin should be able to help in those moments.

Fourth round rookie Dalton Schultz had a good day as well, catching 3 balls for 37 yards including a 16 yard reception down the seam. Where Schultz really shines, however, is with his run blocking, as he did at Stanford. The move to more of a zone blocking scheme has benefited Schultz as a run blocker, just as it has the entire Cowboys rushing offense.

Schultz looks to be improving as a pass catcher by the week, and a year in a professional offseason program should do him wonders in terms of play strength, in turn helping him as a run blocker. He may not ever turn into a top 5 or 10 tight end in football the way Witten once was, but he is clearly already a functional and valuable player on this roster.

The Cowboys are insanely young throughout most of their roster, and tight end is one of those young spots. Tight end is also a spot you typically don't want (or need) to address within the first round of the NFL Draft. Dallas is secretly in a good spot moving forward at tight end, with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz emerging as solid players.

This doesn't mean the Cowboys shouldn't look around in the offseason to see what's available, but they should also feel comfortable with what's on their roster at the moment.



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

If an overtime win over the defending Super Bowl champions that ends their dreams of repeating while increasing your own playoff odds can be both ugly and beautiful, then the Dallas Cowboys 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles was certainly that - and a whole lot more.

Extending their winning streak to five didn't come without the Cowboys toying with a total collapse, as Quarterback Dak Prescott turned the ball over three times. Fresh off a win against the New Orleans Saints where the Cowboys managed just 13 points, the Eagles pushed this defense to the edge thanks to continued struggles on offense.

In overtime, Prescott made sure Carson Wentz and the Eagles would never see the ball, putting four indescribable quarters behind him to lead a game-winning touchdown drive. The Cowboys are a win away from claiming the NFC East. The full scope of how this season has turned on its head goes well beyond this most recent Cowboys win, at least back to their first win at the Eagles five weeks ago.

For now, my first attempt at sorting out what we saw at AT&T Stadium on Sunday will have to do, with another post game edition of Sean's Scout.

  • With both Tight Ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz setting new career highs in receptions, I was waiting for the Cowboys patience on offense to pay off with a big play on the outside, finally provided twice by Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.

In the Cowboys previous win over the Eagles, their receivers had their way with a depleted Philadelphia secondary. Dealing with injuries at cornerback mid-game that are still effecting this group, the Eagles were in no position to line up against Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Cole Beasley.

The counter for the Cowboys offense this week was to use heavier formations, pound Ezekiel Elliott, and get their tight ends involved more than they've been all season. Perhaps the only normal thing to come out of this game was Elliott's 40 touches.

Despite it being a career high, there's no reason Elliott shouldn't be this involved in the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys patience with Elliott was eventually rewarded when Cooper scored from 28 yards out to break a 6-6 tie, and again from 75 yards to put Dallas ahead 23-16 in the fourth quarter.

If not for a few missed shots to Michael Gallup and a missed Brett Maher field goal, the Cowboys efforts on offense could have kept this game out of overtime, though their execution on the winning drive is hard to dispute.

  • The Cowboys are last in the league at scoring touchdowns in the red zone over their last three wins, something that has to change quickly in preparation for the playoffs. 

The Cowboys were 3 of 5 in the red zone in the win that started this streak in Philly, and 2 of 3 the following week at the Falcons. Their decline on offense has been a recent trend that must come back up over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Only six of Elliott's 40 touches came in the red zone, which feels inexcusable from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, considering also it was an adjusted play call by Cooper and Prescott that created their long touchdown to force overtime.

Perhaps the trust the Cowboys showed in Schultz and Jarwin will lead to more red zone opportunities for tight ends, of which the Cowboys have no true middle-of-field threat.

  • There is no reason for Prescott to be falling away on his first interception in the end zone, targeting an open Cooper to the back corner. 

Prescott never saw Rasul Douglas break off his man and end up under a throw to Cooper that was placed in a horrible spot. Cooper was open, but thrown into coverage on a ball he never really came close to.

After another look at the play, it's even more disturbing to see Prescott's mechanics. Sliding in a clean pocket, Prescott was falling away slightly when he released the ball. The Cowboys defense would bail out Prescott after probably his most egregious turnover, forcing a three and out.

This was not the case after Prescott's second interception that turned into the Eagles first touchdown, or fumble that lead to a tying field goal.

  • For as good a pass rushing duo as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are, Defensive Tackles Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford don't get enough credit for their all-around game. 

Before kickoff, I wrote about the Cowboys not needing David Irving, who missed his sixth straight game. This is a compliment to not only Collins and Crawford, but Antwaun Woods as well. All three played their part in keeping the Eagles offense in check once again.

Crawford may be playing the best football of his seven-year career. No longer struggling to fit in as either a defensive end or tackle, Crawford is simply a leader by example for the Cowboys defense wherever he lines up.

Carson Wentz is a quarterback you have to make reset his feet defensively, and Crawford was able to force this a number of times. His speed rush ability paired with the power of Collins and Woods on the inside is incredibly disruptive for Dallas.

Following Maher's missed field goal, Crawford turned in one of the hustle plays of the season for the Cowboys to strip Wentz. Beating the left guard off the snap, Crawford dipped Jason Peters at left tackle on his way to a forced fumble that produced another field goal before the half.

This game was that close to having a first half all about the Cowboys taking advantage of Eagles mistakes, instead leaving points on the field and letting the Eagles punish second half mistakes on the way to overtime.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

With a win at the Colts, vs. the Buccaneers, or at the Giants the Cowboys will have gone from 3-5 to NFC East champions for 2018. The merits of just how good this division is will be worth discussing prior to the playoffs, but with two wins over the Eagles and one over the Redskins within an ongoing five game win streak, the Cowboys are objectively one of the hottest teams in the league right now.

Amari Cooper has probably made six or seven plays "better" than his miraculous overtime touchdown, proving his worth more and more each week, though his winning score will surely be a lasting moment from the Cowboys week 14 win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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