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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, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" 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

#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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