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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

#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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Game Notes

#INDvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Has RB Rod Smith Emerged As Ezekiel Elliott's Primary Backup? 2
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

For once, the Cowboys are not playing what feels like a do-or-die game on Sunday, needing just 1 win over their final 3 to win the NFC East. This week the 8-5 Cowboys go on the road to face the 7-6 Colts, with each times vying for playoff spots in their respective conferences.

Both the Cowboys and Colts have turned around what looked like dead seasons, but there is no doubt the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do to keep pace for the 6th seed in the AFC.

The Line

Cowboys +3, O/U 47 points. 

Dallas Cowboys

The once 3-5 Cowboys are now head and shoulders above the rest of their division, after winning their fifth straight in thrilling fashion over the Eagles last Sunday. The team which seemed so disjointed and inconsistent through 8 games has found their identity, and is playing complete team football as of late.

Dak Prescott is coming off a career-best game in terms of yardage, and despite some poor turnovers is still playing some of the best football of his career. This is due in large part to two stars in Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott, who have shouldered the production load of this offense the last 5 weeks.

And, of course, there is the defense which continues to make life a living hell for opposing offenses. Randy Gregory is coming into his own as a pass rusher, getting another sack last week and getting flagged for what should have been his second sack of the day.

Dallas is playing the brand of football they told us they would before the season, and are beginning to make their front office and decision makers look very smart in the process.

Indianapolis Colts

At 7-6 and fighting for the final AFC playoff spot, the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do. Getting shut out by the lowly Jaguars two weeks ago may ultimately keep the Colts out of the playoffs, but a win this Sunday and a little help elsewhere could set them up nicely down the stretch.

Indy has quietly one of the best passing offenses in all of the NFL, with star quarterback Andrew Luck playing his best football in quite some time. Luck is healthy and looks like himself again, and the selection of Quenton Nelson to sure-up the offensive line has gone a long way to improving this offense as well.

Defensively the Colts have been even more impressive lately. Though they have a roster comprised of no-names nationally, the Colts defense is 11th in DVOA. Darius Leonard has been a revelation for the Colts at linebacker, and their young defense seems to be improving by the week.

The Colts are coming off of a big road victory over the Houston Texans a week ago, and will look to defeat the Texans' in-state rivals on Sunday to improve to 8-6.

Trends

  • The Cowboys are 5-0 against the spread their last 5 games, and have won all 5 straight up.
  • The score total has hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
  • But the score total has gone under 4 of the Colts' last 5 games.
  • The Colts are 4-1 straight up their last 5 home games.
  • Dallas is 6-3 their last 9 games against the Colts.

Prediction

The Cowboys' winning streak has to end at some point, right?

Well, unlike Vegas, I don't expect that ending to happen on Sunday. The Cowboys have been playing desperate football over the last 5 games and they are well aware what a win over Indianapolis would mean.

A victory would clinch them a division title for the third time in five years, and just as they did in 2014, I expect the Cowboys to get that clinching victory over the Colts. Give me the Cowboys and the points this week.



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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles

It was a dramatic win for the Dallas Cowboys but a win nonetheless. The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Cowboys one hell of a fight at AT&T Stadium in a great rivalry game. It was undoubtedly one of the most exciting games this season has seen as it ended with a walk-off touchdown that gave the home team the victory.

Here is this week's Takeaway Tuesday on what we learned from such a thrilling match!

Amari Cooper Trade Shouldn't Even Be a Discussion

Once a complicated debate, the Amari Cooper trade has a clear winner. It's simple, really. If it wasn't for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys would not be 8-5 en route to the NFC East title. Cooper has literally saved the 2018 season for the once 3-5 Cowboys team.

Since becoming a part of the Cowboys, the former Oakland Raider has accounted for 40 catches, 642 yards and six touchdowns. Last Sunday alone, he was responsible for 217 yards and three scores. Not to mention the amount of times he's moved the chains for this offense. The 24-year old can seriously play football. Despite struggles, this offense is very promising with that caliber of a WR1 and an elite RB such as Ezekiel Elliott.

What was it again? A first rounder? Should've asked for more, Raiders.

Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Gregory's journey to be back on a football field was a difficult one. But it was worth it. Versus the Eagles, his presence was constantly felt by Carson Wentz. He was able to get in five pressures, one of which resulted in a sack.

The last couple of games, Gregory has drawn a few costly flags, but his play is still amazing. He's one of the fastest defensive ends in the league and he continues to improve in bending around the corner. He has five sacks in the last eight games. If you weren't convinced #94 should be our starting right defensive end, you should be by now.

Dalton Schultz

Tight Ends Rise

The lack of a tight end did not stand out this past Sunday. But Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin did. With Geoff Swaim out with an injury, this couple of young rotational players had their best games of their careers. Both were targeted in key moments of the game. Blake Jarwin had 56 yards in seven catches and a big third down conversion and Dalton Schultz finished the night with 37 yards.

A promising sign for the Cowboys moving forward. The offense is clicking at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, having a tight end (or a couple) stand up will only make this unit better.

Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Garrett Deserves a Round of Applause

Whether or not you think Jason Garrett is a good head coach, the guy deserves an applause. I get why you might not like him. In fact, I still question if he should be in Dallas in 2019 if the Cowboys fail to have success in the playoffs. But the way this team has come back from such a terrible start can't be ignored.

The players on this team fight for this guy. The Dallas Cowboys went from a team everyone had written off from playoff contention to legit Super Bowl contenders since they fired Paul Alexander and got Amari Cooper.

Dak Prescott is One of the Best Facing Adversity

Dak Prescott's career continues to cause a great debate among Cowboys' fans. You see, in the NFL, things are not white or black. When judging a player, there are a lot of gray areas. Take last night's performance from Dak Prescott. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once and pretty much played bad football for three quarters. But his night ended with 455 yards and three touchdowns and a 78% completion percentage in 54 attempts.

In the NFL, not any quarterback comes back from turning the ball three times. With the help of his tremendous defense, Dak did. In the fourth quarter, he completed 17 out of 20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. His performance was clutch.

This isn't a one thing either. Since 2016, Dak is tied for the most game-winning drives in the NFL. Prescott might be inconsistent and can have some pretty bad plays. But he's one resilient quarterback. As T.O. would've said: "that's my quarterback."

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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