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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

Cowboys Defense Stands Out in Blowout Win over Jaguars

John Williams

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Cowboys Defense Continues to Standout in Blowout Win over Jaguars

The Dallas Cowboys defense has found different ways to get the job done at different times during the 2018 season. They're a big reason the team is 3-3 and sits only a half game back of the first place Washington Redskins.

Even last week, I was critical of the defense for giving up a ton of yards and felt like they were very fortunate to only lose by three in overtime to the Houston Texans. They were amazing when the Texans got inside the five yard line forcing a turnover on downs on four first and goal attempts inside the five last week.

After giving up 462 total yards to Deshaun Watson and the Texans in week five, the Dallas Cowboys' defense only allowed 204 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. They held Jacksonville to 4 of 11 on third downs. The Cowboys forced four three and outs during the game and only allowed three drives to cross midfield.

The Cowboys' defense was led by Leighton Vander Esch with 11 total tackles (7 solo) and Jaylon Smith with nine total tackles (6 solo) and a forced fumble. Jourdan Lewis made an excellent hustle play along the sideline late in the third quarter to recover that Smith fumble.

Byron Jones was excellent in coverage yet again on Sunday and if this were hockey, would get a primary assist for his pass deflection that led to the Jeff Heath interception in the third quarter. The Cowboys were able to turn both turnovers into field goals.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive line blocked the Dallas Cowboys front seven pretty well and Quarterback Blake Bortles was really good at avoiding pressure. Bortles was only sacked three times during the game. Randy Gregory and Maliek Collins each had a sack, while Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford combined for the other sack.

Though he didn't register a tackle or a sack on the stat sheet, it was awesome to see Defensive Lineman David Irving on the field for the first time since the middle of the season last year. He had an impact early in the game. Irving had a pressure on Blake Bortles and forced a hold on a punt in the first half of the game. His presence was definitely felt.

As a defense they held Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles to 149 yards passing and a 70.8 passer rating. Even as the Jaguars were down 20 points at halftime, they never could get much offense going in the second half. The Cowboys kept Bortles and the Jaguars passing game in check for most of the night, only allowing a touchdown when Anthony Brown fell down when he released his receiver to try to get to the intended target, Dede Westbrook. Westbrook went relatively untouched into the end zone for the Jaguars score of the day. That play aside, the Cowboys did a really good job limiting big plays against a receiving corp with a lot of speed.

Even with Bortles scrambling, the Cowboys were able to hold the Jaguars as a team to 3.6 yards per carry on the day. The Jaguars' T.J. Yeldon was able to come up with some decent runs, but the defense kept those positive gains from having much of an impact on the game.

The Dallas Cowboys' defense isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a unit that has played really good football for much of the 2018 season. On Sunday, the Cowboys did an excellent job getting off the field on third downs and forcing turnovers and other errors, which were created by the Cowboys pressure.

Everything seems to be coming together for Dallas with David Irving and Maliek Collins getting back into the lineup. If Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie are able to go for the Cowboys next week, this defense is going to make life extremely difficult for Alex Smith and the Washington Redskins next Sunday.

After allowing a ton of yards last week, the Cowboys defense rebounded with a dominant performance against a Jaguars team that played for the AFC Championship last season. For the Cowboys to get to the playoffs in 2018, they're going to have to play at a high level like they did on Sunday.

I, for one, don't doubt that they can.



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Win Big On the Ground, In Trenches With Rout of Jaguars

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Win Big On the Ground, In Trenches With Rout of Jaguars

On paper, the Dallas Cowboys were going to struggle generating any offense against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. The league's top defense matched up against a Cowboys team that came in ranked 30th in pass yards per game, with the defensive front to slow down Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys seemed destined for a 2-4 start through the end of six weeks.

Thankfully, NFL games are not played on paper, and the action on the field at AT&T Stadium would tell an entirely different -- albeit unforeseen -- story of the Cowboys dominance. With a season high 206 rushing yards, the Cowboys ran wild on the Jaguars, making this win look remarkably easy behind a defense up to the task of defending the lead from the opening drive.

The Cowboys improved their home record to 3-0 this season. Now coming off their most impressive effort of 2018, the team earned a shot at first place as they travel to the Washington Redskins in week seven - searching for their first road win of the season.

Here are my initial thoughts on the Cowboys drubbing of the Jaguars, a wonderfully unexpected result that keeps plenty of postseason dreams alive for Dallas.

  • Jerry Jones caught a lot of heat this week for his comments on Head Coach Jason Garrett's job security, but certainly deserves a lot of credit for wanting to see more of Quarterback Dak Prescott as a runner.

Jones called Garrett the "real deal", a sentiment better reserved for Prescott when he's able to take matters into his own hands and run the football. With 82 yards on the ground, Dak was eight yards shy of doubling his previous career high, sprinting down the sideline for the Cowboys first touchdown of the game.

Prescott's rushing ability takes advantage of the Cowboys offensive line's ability to get out in space and block. A fearless runner that can keep defenses honest on his own before unleashing Elliott on the ground, Prescott's legs are the key to the Cowboys repeating a performance like this later in the season.

  • Without Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars are not built to play from behind, and the Cowboys defensive line made sure of this.

The "Hot Boyz" were at full strength with David Irving back on the field for the first time this season. Rushing with DeMarcus Lawrence, Maliek Collins, and Randy Gregory on the Jaguars' third down attempt following Brett Maher's first FG, Irving was able to chase after Bortles and force an incomplete pass out of bounds as he recorded the QB hit.

With Jaylon Smith also blitzing on the play, this had to be an incredibly proud moment for Garrett, Rod Marinelli, and the Jones' upstairs, as their trust in both Irving and Gregory paid off to create a fearsome pass rush.

Knowing they had interior defenders that could get off blocks and finish plays, the Cowboys defensive ends in this game were aggressive rushing up the field and collapsing the pocket on Bortles.

  • Michael Gallup is slowly emerging as this team's number one wide receiver, thanks to his ability to make plays on contested balls. 

Look no further than Allen Hurns' stat line from this win to see why rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup is going to be crucial to the Cowboys passing offense as this season progresses. Hurns was the only receiver targeted that failed to bring in a catch, as Prescott has struggled to find any rhythm with the big-bodied free agent signing.

On the other side of the field, Gallup has flashed similar 'above the rim' abilities to Hurns, while also being a more reliable route runner with big play potential after the catch. Cole Beasley was open all afternoon against the Jaguars secondary, but early in the game when Prescott needed a play he was able to fit some great passes into Gallup.

I include Gallup's touchdown catch that was called back, since it was a safe strike from Dak. Putting the ball where only Gallup could make the incredible catch, Gallup was inches away from scoring his first NFL touchdown.

Instead, with the Cowboys rotation at WR trimmed down due to injury, Gallup staked his claim for a larger share of the snaps in the Cowboys 40-point performance.

  • This was another good game for rookie Left Guard Connor Williams, but I thought he had a chance to prevent the Calais Campbell sack that forced the Cowboys to settle for three points on their first possession. 

As Prescott stepped up in the pocket, Campbell was able to change directions and cut across the face of Williams. With nobody else in front of him, it looked like Williams was in prime position to deliver a shot to Campbell, but was unable to get a hand on the Jaguars top pass rusher.

Reacting late to the whole play, Campbell finished the play for his only sack, a stat the Cowboys will certainly take when evaluating a fairly dominant day for their entire offensive line.

  • The rate at which Linebackers Jaylon Smith and rookie Leighton Vander Esch are making open field tackles is easily the best thing going for the Cowboys defense right now.

Whenever Jaylon Smith appears in the vicinity of an opposing receiver or running back, they better brace for impact. Where Smith has been the enforcer of the Cowboys defense at MIKE, Vander Esch is playing off him perfectly as the second starter with range and athleticism to cover from sideline to sideline.

The Cowboys have allowed an average of 16.67 points over their last three games without Sean Lee, a full point better than the three games Lee's played against the Panthers, Giants, and Seahawks. This is exactly the reason why Dallas was so comfortable drafting Vander Esch.

Even still, having the Boise State product rising to the occasion so early in his Cowboys career alongside Smith gives the Cowboys a LB pairing they can trust for years to come. This is more than they ever signed up for when drafting both players to ideally play with Lee, something they'll still get the chance to do in the coming weeks.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Alternating wins and losses through their first six games, the 2018 Cowboys remain an enigma that (again, on paper) have a lot to build on after defeating the Jaguars soundly. The ease at which the Cowboys moved the ball should at least partially be attributed to how difficult it was for the Cowboys to manage any offense in their three road losses.

With a defense that's shows up each week to keep Dallas in any game, the time is now for the offense to travel away from AT&T Stadium and earn the Cowboys first winning streak at Washington. In doing so, the Cowboys would claim first place in the NFC East.

Given the expectations set on this team before the year, this feels like the only surefire way for the Cowboys to put their tumultuous start behind them, serving as a reminder that the NFL is the ultimate week-to-week league.

Keeping that in mind, this team deserves a day to enjoy their decisive win from Sunday. Welcome back to Victory Monday, Cowboys Nation.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Win Big On the Ground, In Trenches With Rout of Jaguars" 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

Dallas Cowboys Beat Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7: Who are the 3 Stars?

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Beat Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7: Who are the 3 Stars?

What a way to bounce back after a disappointing loss on the road in week five against the Houston Texans. As frustrating as that outcome was against the Texans, this victory was equally as sweet, as the Dallas Cowboys bounced back with a dominating 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That was a much needed win for a team that hopes to be contending for the NFC East title in 2018. And you better believe that at 3-3 on the season, they are still in the thick of that divisional race.

There were a few stand out performances in the blowout victory, but to make this a more difficult exercise for myself, I'm not including any honorable mentions. That's just cheating.

Make sure to let us know who your 3 Stars are in the comment section.

First ✭

Dak Prescott

If there was ever a time and ever a moment in which Dak Prescott needed to have a career defining performance, this was the week that he needed to do that.

The virtual boo birds were out in full force this week following another poor performance for the Dallas Cowboys quarterback in the last 13 games. Prescott responded in a huge way with big time throws on third downs and looking extremely poised and confident.

The final passing line isn't all that extraordinary as he went 17/27 for 183 yards, two passing touchdowns, and a passer rating of 107.5, per NFL.com. Sure, if you just look at passing stats, you can argue it's not that impressive, but when you include his rushing numbers in the discussion, even the staunchest realist or Dak-hater has to admit that Dak Prescott had a great day on Sunday.

Dak Prescott set career highs in carries (11) and rushing yards (82) while adding a touchdown on the ground. It was his first rushing touchdown since week 15 of 2017. For a quarterback to end up only 18 yards shy of a hundred yards rushing is huge for your offense.

They weren't all designed runs either.

Dak Prescott in games past tried to force passes when running lanes were available to him on the outside. On Sunday against the Jaguars, he took his opportunities to run the ball when he was flushed from the pocket and the Jaguars paid dearly.

He looked like the Dak Prescott that took the NFL by storm his rookie season and for eight games in the 2017 season. He was poised in the pocket, confident in his arm and his receivers, and was seeing the field better than he had in the previous 13 games.

All against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Second ✭

Cole Beasley

The Dallas Cowboys needed a big game from a wide receiver in a bad way and Cole Beasley stepped up. After a week of being asked questions about the play and production of the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group Beasley had answers all day on Sunday against a variety of coverages and players when Jacksonville went man-to-man.

After posting nine catches for 101 yards and both of Dak Prescott's two passing touchdowns, Beasley silenced the "wide receivers are the problem" critics with a performance reminiscent of his 2016 career year.

Cole Beasley was getting open at will against man coverage and finding soft spots in the zone matchups often. Beasley's been so vocal about his wish to be compensated as one of the best slot wide receivers in the NFL, and against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he looked like one of the best slot receivers in the NFL.

Third ✭

Randy Gregory

There are several players, as well as the offensive line, who could have been the third star from Sunday's victory over the Jaguars, but I think Randy Gregory deserves mention here.

We all know Gregory's story at this point.

Randy Gregory had a really good game. He was third on the team in tackles with three, had two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, and his first sack since January 1st 2017. A total of 651 days. That was week 17 of the 2016 season. Only Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith had more tackles than Gregory did Sunday.

It's only his second career sack, but what a confidence boost for Gregory who has worked really hard on his sobriety to get himself in a position to play in the NFL.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

After a tremendous win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Dallas Cowboys remain only a half game back in the NFC East divisional race. They'll have a chance to take the lead in the division next week as they travel to Washington to play the divisional leading Redskins next Sunday afternoon.

There's no better way to start a Monday than with a Dallas Cowboys victory Monday. Did I leave someone off this 3 Stars list who deserved to be there? Let us know.

Who were your 3 Stars of the Game?

 



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