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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

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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Game Notes

NFC East Showdown: Cowboys Offense Primed to Dominate Redskins

Brian Martin

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Will Dallas' Recent Offensive Success Continue Against Washington?

The Dallas Cowboys are probably as confident as they have been all season as an offense after completely manhandling the Jacksonville Jaguars defense last week. They were able to put up 40 points on the Jaguar's top-ranked defense and now have to do the same against their division rival, the Washington Redskins.

I don't think there would be any argument if I were to say the Washington Redskins defense isn't nearly as talented as the Cowboys faced last week with the Jaguars. In fact, the Redskins are ranked near the bottom of the league in almost every defensive category, which should have Dallas' offensive players primed for this matchup.

As things stand right now, the Washington Redskins are giving up 21.2 points per game which ranks 24th in the NFL. They are also giving up 344 total yards (25th in the NFL) and 227.2 passing yards a game (24th). The lone bright spot of their defense is stopping the run, where they are currently ranked 12th in the NFL and are only allowing 116.8 rushing yards to opposing running backs.

Luckily, the Dallas Cowboys and Quarterback Dak Prescott looked to have found a groove with their passing game last week against the Jaguars top-ranked passing defense. With the Redskins ranked near the bottom of the league in passing defense, I think the Cowboys should and probably will build upon the success they had last week.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Now, I fully expect the Cowboys passing game to find success once again against the Redskins, but I also believe Running Back Ezekiel Elliott to dominate on the ground like he has in the past against Washington.

Zeke only played in one game against the Redskins last season, but absolutely dominated in that contest. He rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns a year ago and I wouldn't be surprised if he is close to that milestone this week as well, even if it is against the strength of Washington's defense.

I'm really hoping I'm not a being a little overconfident here, but I guess I'm just buying into the success the Cowboys had on the offensive side of the ball last week. The offense finally started to do the things that have made them successful in the past and I'm expecting that to carry over into this week.

I believe we will see Prescott using his mobility once again, although I don't know if he will rush for 83 yards. I'm also expecting to see Wide Receiver Cole Beasley heavily involved in the passing game again because Washington doesn't have a defensive back who can cover him. Of course, let's not forget Ezekiel Elliott. I'm expecting him have a big game as well.

Overall, I really don't see the Washington Redskins defense giving the Dallas Cowboys any problems on the offensive side of the ball as long as they execute the way they did last week. I know when these two teams square off against one another it's usually a slobber knocker, but I think the Cowboys are the better team and is the one that comes away with the victory.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys offense will dominate the Redskins defense?



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