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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?

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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

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” 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

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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