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Game Notes

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

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Cardinals 1

The primetime Monday night matchup on the road against the Arizona Cardinals was a tale of two halves for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cardinals pretty much dominated the entire first half, but the Cowboys were able to rebound and come away with a 28-17 victory and improve to 2-1 on the season.

This was an important victory for the Dallas Cowboys in order to keep pace with the rest of the NFC East division. With the exception of the New York Giants, everyone else in the division is sitting at 2-1 right now, so the race to become the division winner once again stays within reach for the Cowboys.

This week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was a little difficult to write because of the mix of emotions that happened throughout the game for the Cowboys. It was a range of emotions for me as well from the beginning to end, but when all was said and done I was proud with the way my team handled themselves.

So, without further ado, here's this week's good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Arizona Cardinals. As always, please feel free to take advantage of the comment section below to express any of your own opinions or thoughts on the topic.

The Good

Do the Dallas Cowboys finally have their "War Daddy" Jerry Jones has been desperately wanting? That certainly looks to be the case with the way DE DeMarcus Lawrence has played in these first three games of the 2017 season. He has been so dominant in fact that he is now leading the NFL with 6.5 QB sacks.

Lawrence was virtually unblockable against the Cardinals in prime time Monday night. He put pressure on the Cardinals QB Carson Palmer the entire evening and ended the night with a total of three QB sacks. If not for his pressures, the Cowboys defense would've been in trouble. When Palmer had the time, he was able to find an open receiver in the passing game. Fortunately, Lawrence forced him to get rid of the ball quickly for the majority of the game.

CB Jourdan Lewis

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Bad

If not for DeMarcus Lawrence's dominant performance Monday night against the Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys defense would have been shredded by Carson Palmer in the passing game. Like I mentioned earlier, Palmer had no problem finding an open receiver when he had the time to throw, but fortunately Lawrence didn't allow him time to get comfortable in the pocket.

The struggles in the Cowboys secondary is somewhat excusable considering all of the youth that had to play significant snaps due to injuries, but they are going to have to improve and quickly. The Cowboys were already without Nolan Carroll and Chidobe Awuzie to start the game, but then Orlando Scandrick left briefly due to an injury, but was able to return later in the game.

The good news is here that Xavier Woods and Jourdan Lewis didn't look out of place and made some really good plays, especially Lewis. I wouldn't be surprised of Lewis is a key contributor on defense, maybe even a starter, sooner rather than later. He was sticky in coverage all night and was equally impressive in the way he was able to make solo tackles in the open field. Unfortunately, the entire defenses performance leaves much to be desired.

Cowboys pass rushThe Ugly

The ugly this week was obviously the way the entire Dallas Cowboys team struggled nearly the entire first half against the Arizona Cardinals. On offense they couldn't get anything going in either the running or passing game, and on defense they are allowing the Cardinals to move the ball up and down the field at ease.

Fortunately, they were able to continue to fight and stay in the ballgame until everyone started to settle down and execute on both sides of the ball. They were able to come away with the win, but it was an altogether ugly victory. Of course, the Dallas Cowboys will have games like this, especially with the tough schedule they have ahead of themselves. This was a good early-season test and they were able to respond accordingly, despite being dominated early.

What's your good, bad, and ugly for the Cowboys against the Cardinals?



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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6 Comments
  • Hobbes49

    Last night’s win was an important one. Ugly for sure, but the ability to win ugly forges champions. Dak proved his abilities last night, not allowing a poor start to end his game. He took control of things offensively and led them to victory. Not sure this is much else to say about Lawrence, he is a beast!! Malik Collins and Damontre Moore flashed their skills as well. Lewis looks like he is going to be a big part of our defense moving forward, and Woods looked good as well. Solid tackling all night, which was nice to see. Get Chido back in there soon and our future secondary has a great upside. Nice to see Brice Butler get back on his game, he makes a big difference with his deep play ability. All in all, a win to build on, and now we move on to the Rams. That is a game they have to stay focused for, not get cocky over this one. I think Zeke will build on this performance and I think he will get juiced to play opposite Todd Gurley this Sunday. Needs to show the world who the big dog really is at the RB position.

    • Brian Martin

      Very well stated. Thanks for commenting.

  • Russ_Te

    I remember the tail end of the Meredith / Lilly era as a kid, when my father got me interested in watching the Cowboys. Pretty alert to when a swoon is coming.

    The Denver game had all the look of the kind of loss that sends a team into a tailspin and drains confidence. This game started that way, and then the Cowboys refused to let that stand. Their tenacity and will to win was really on display – from Dak’s somersault into the endzone right over a defender at the 2, to Dez plowing through 5 Cardinals to score, to Butler getting deep and cashing it in, to Demarcus Lawrence again bringing the A game. And all on the road. They earned it.

    Had Dak struggled in this game the national media would have been relegating him to also-ran NFL quarterback & definitely not elite. Instead, he proved the opposite.

    It is time to start Butler and see if he can build on Monday night. If secondaries have to worry about him getting behind them, it should get some of the focus off Dez.

    • Brian Martin

      Very well stated Russ. I don’t know if Butler will see an increase in playing time though. We saw Monday night against the Cardinals every single WR get involved on offense. I think we might see Linehan use specific packages to get each WR more involved. But, I wouldn’t disagree that Butler might just need to see more playing time to see if he can overcome his inconsistency problems.

  • Russ_Te

    Lawrence: As I mentioned last week he looks a bit heavier to me. He has a bull rush now that to my recollection he never had. And no loss in burst. And the guy wants it – biggest key to pass rush. I think it rubbed off on Collins.

    Lawrence has apparently found the right weight, and combined it with some kind of corner turned on technique. It’s all fallen in place for him. You have to look at this now and make some decisions:

    – I’m not moving him from LDE. Whatever that will mean for Taco and Irving in the rotation.

    – We know he’ll now face a lot of double teams. Who should be at LDT to cash that in? Collins has the most DT talent, but messing with moving him from RDT is risky IMO for his development curve. But I wouldn’t mind seeing OL’s having to deal with that right next to Lawrence.

    Williams vs Butler: This might be “why not” week. I think it’s worth starting Butler and letting him drag the FS deep while Dez works underneath. If you do this and it’s an uptick, then shop Williams. There is enough depth to, so why not…

    • Brian Martin

      I think the difference with Lawrence is that he’s finally healthy. Back injuries have been a problem past several years, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue right now. They do need to find somebody to start opposite of him. I really like Moore and think he will see more playing time now that he’s back from suspension. I think on obvious passing downs we could see the combination of Lawrence, Collins, Irving, and Moore.

      I don’t think we will see a Williams/Butler battle. The coaching staff really likes what Williams brings to the table. He does a lot of dirty work that goes unnoticed and had a pretty good game against the Giants. Unfortunately he’s been dealing with an ankle injury all season, but I doubt we seen any changes anytime soon.

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.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

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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