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Game Notes

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

Brian Martin

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It's always difficult to write about the Dallas Cowboys when they lose, and even more so when they get completely manhandled like they did against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon. But, I'm not going to let the Cowboys 27-7 loss keep me from doing my duty.

In all honesty, with the exception of the game against the Denver Broncos, this was arguably the worst the Dallas Cowboys have played all season. I knew not having Ezekiel Elliott would affect the offense, but not having their starting left tackle Tyron Smith might have impacted the game even more. Then it turned into a trifecta of bad juju when Sean Lee once again injured his hamstring.

Unfortunately, the trifecta of not having Elliott, Smith, and Lee allowed the Atlanta Falcons to pretty much dominate the game from start to finish. It's this kind of game that always makes writing my weekly edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly extremely difficult. But, I prevailed and as always encourage you to share your own thoughts and opinions about this topic in the comment section located at the end of the article.

DB Xavier WoodsThe Good

After being so thoroughly manhandled by the Atlanta Falcons, it was a little difficult to find just about anything good about what the Dallas Cowboys did Sunday afternoon. But, there was one player that continued to show up, which is why I decided to go with Xavier Woods for the good  this week.

I know this might be a bit of a reach considering some of the other players I could've gone with such as DeMarcus Lawrence or David Irving, but I'm continuously impressed by Xavier Woods week after week. Woods continues to play like one of the best defensive backs in the Cowboys secondary and absolutely deserves more playing time.

Although Woods won't necessarily show up in a big way on the stat sheet, he did make two huge plays that could have been game changers. First he made an outstanding diving interception off of an Anthony Brown deflected pass. Then on special teams, he downed a Chris Jones punt on the 2 yard line. Unfortunately, Woods' best game of the season was not enough to help the Dallas Cowboys overcome the Falcons.

Dak Prescott, Jonathan Cooper, and Chaz GreenThe Bad

I think just about anybody that watched the Dallas Cowboys play Sunday afternoon knows what the bad was against the Atlanta Falcons. The play of their left tackles was horrendous. It would be easy to single out Chaz Green based on his individual performance, but Byron Bell wasn't any better when he took over.

Chaz Green was expected to be an adequate fill-in for the Dallas Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith against the Falcons, but it was absolutely terrible timing for him to have the worst game of his career. Green continuously made mistake after mistake and made it look as if Adrian Clayborn was the second coming of Lawrence Taylor or Derrick Thomas. Unfortunately, Byron Bell didn't fare any better when he took over.

The coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys failed to make any changes to get either one of their fill-in left tackles any help and they were lucky Dak Prescott escaped unscathed. This simply can't continue to happen. Hopefully, this is the last we see of the backup LTs and Tyron Smith can return to the field healthy.

QB Dak Prescott

Nov 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY

The Ugly

I'm continuously shocked week after week that the Dallas Cowboys can't get a fair shake from the referees. There have been so many missed penalties that should've been called on their opponents that it's beginning to look as if there's some kind of conspiracy. And, that is why I think the ugly this week is all of the missed penalties that should've been called against the Falcons.

Now, I don't know if there's some kind of pressure being placed on the refs to not call penalties against the Cowboys opponents or not, but there sure seems to be way too many missed calls. For instance, two of Adrian Clayborn's sacks should have been wiped out because he grabbed Dak Prescott's facemask (see picture above). But, there was plenty of others that were obviously overlooked.

It's going to be really tough for the Dallas Cowboys to win very many games when they not only have to beat their opponent each week, but they have to beat the refs as well. This will continue to be a problem for the Cowboys until they get a fair shake. I'm not asking for them to get preferential treatment or anything, just for the refs to call penalties both ways.

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



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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2 Comments
  • oneputter

    First off CGreen should be released immediately this morning. he has never been nor will he ever be able to contribute to this team. we’ve wasted lots of time on this guy for him not to be able to block, fundamentally just horrible. i coach 5-6 graders who have better fundamentals than this guy.

    secondly, all this mess jerry has created with the league, i’m convinced roger has had talks with officials about penalties or non-penalties against us. how else can he get back at jerry? it’s obvious over the last 3-4 weeks.

    lastly, i’ve said it once and i’ll say it again, dak needs to throw the ball. this happy feet, standing in the pocket for 5 secs is not going to work. make a read, pre-snap, trust it and turn the ball loose. if you can’t read/anticipate the defense pre-snap then you surely don’t belong. so many open WR’s on breaks yesterday and all year for that matter, but this continues to hold on to the ball way to long. it’s 2-3 seconds and out.

    yesterday, was just a total butt kickin’, they were ready and we weren’t. this team win’s a big game and suddenly they act like they’ve done something. these 1-2 yr players walk around like they are all world. how about putting consistent football on the field for consecutive games before proclaiming yourself an all-pro!?

    • Brian Martin

      It’s hard to argue with what you said about Chaz Green. Yesterday he looked like a player that doesn’t belong in the NFL. But, he has filled in for Tyron Smith before and the offense didn’t miss a beat. He just picked the absolutely worst time to play bad. Hopefully, Smith can return to the lineup and stay healthy.

      And I don’t know what’s the deal with the refs missing so many penalties against the Cowboys opponents. I hate to think there’s some kind of conspiracy theory, but I can’t think of any other explanation.

      I also agree with you about Prescott. He’s grown too accustomed to having time in the pocket and holds onto the ball way too long now. He needs more quick sets and simpler route combinations to get the ball out quickly. Cole Beasley absolutely needs to be more involved.

      Unfortunately, soft tissue injuries are going to happen. They happen around the league, but I guess we just noticed them more because we focus on the Cowboys.

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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