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Game Notes

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

Brian Martin

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

It's always difficult to write about the Dallas Cowboys after a disappointing loss. After watching the Cowboys fall to the Los Angeles Rams 35-30, it might be time to admit that all of Cowboys Nation might have set the bar too high for this year's team. Maybe they just aren't as good as we all thought or hoped they would be coming off of a playoff season.

Fortunately, there are a lot of games to play and hopefully the Dallas Cowboys can turn things around quickly. They have a tough matchup next week against the Green Bay Packers, but they have their bye the following week to gather themselves. Hopefully, things will only get better from here on out.

Having said all of that, let's jump into The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly for the Cowboys this week against the Los Angeles Rams. As always, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Good

It's always difficult to look back and find some positives from a game the Dallas Cowboys probably should've won. When both teams went in at halftime, it looked as if the Cowboys were on their way to another victory because they were finally able to get Ezekiel Elliott involved on offense.

Ezekiel Elliott looked much like the player we saw last season. The same one that led the NFL in rushing and the same one that was in conversation to win NFL MVP. He was effective in both the running and passing game, finishing with 85 yards with one TD on the ground and 54 yards through the air and one TD.

Unfortunately, as effective as Elliott was in the first half, things didn't go quite as well the second half against the Rams. I don't think it was anything to do with Elliott. I think it had more to do with the offensive playcalling and the adjustments the Rams defense was able to make. But, at least the Ezekiel Elliott we all grew so fond of last season has finally made an appearance. It might've been the only good to come from the game.

S Jeff Heath, DE Benson Mayowa

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Bad

Deciding what the bad was for the Dallas Cowboys against the Los Angeles Rams was easy one for me. The Jared Goff led Rams offense was able to move the ball at will up and down the field pretty much the entire game. Luckily though, they had to settle for seven field goals and just two touchdowns. It could've been a lot worse.

I knew that the defense would go through some growing pains due to all of the youth playing for the Cowboys, but none of the veterans are really stepping up either. Sean Lee has been one of the only consistent veteran players, and his absent was absolutely one of the reasons the overall performance of the defense was so bad.

Todd Gurley was able to rack up over 200 total yards of offense, 121 rushing and 94 receiving. I don't think he would've had as good of a game as he did with Sean Lee playing. But, even Jared Goff was able to carve up the defense. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 255 yards and two TDs. Unfortunately, the entire defense is to blame and it might be time to admit they are a lot worse than we wanted to believe.

LB Damien Wilson, S Byron JonesThe Ugly

I started to go a different direction here, but ultimately I decided the ugly this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Rams was the performance of the special teams. I honestly believe that it was a special teams for the Cowboys that allowed the Rams to get back into this game and ultimately come away with the victory.

I think two plays in particular ended up resulting in 10 points for the Rams offense. The worst of the two was when rookie return specialist Ryan Switzer muffed the punt, allowing the Rams to recover. This led to the first touchdown for the Rams. The other special-teams letdown was when Pharaoh Cooper returned a kickoff into Cowboy's territory. The defense was able to hold them to a field goal, but it was still points on the board.

If not for those two bad plays on special teams, the Dallas Cowboys would've likely come away with a victory. They only lost by five points to the Rams, but that 10 point swing because of poor special-teams play was more than they could overcome in the end. This will absolutely have to be cleaned up as soon as possible.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Cowboys against the Rams?


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
  • Donny King

    Something else that could have made a difference when Tank strip-sacked Goff, that would have given the offense a short field….I guess you can call that an ugly because no one was their for Dallas to recover

    • Brian Martin

      That definitely could have been a game changer for the Cowboys. Also, if Anthony Brown would’ve been able to come up with the interception later in the game.

  • Russ_Te

    Switzer had been making suprisingly good decisions fielding the ball for a rookie, until yesterday. He brought 2 out from deep in the end zone which made no sense also, and cost Dallas about 11 yards total.

    The play he was in for the spread / empty, then went to RB – was Linehan outthinking himself IMO. Switzer has done nothing yet as an offensive player, and appeared to influence nobody on the play.

    We knew on paper this defense was gutt-able to start the year – no dominant DL’er and lots of new parts in the secondary. It’s been better than expected until yesterday.

    But it did stop 7 Ram touchdowns… ;^)

    Biggest problem in 2017 IMO – Dak is getting hit. He had almost no pass plays with good protection yesterday, and that will force you into the diminished play we’re seeing from him. No concern about him as a player going forward, although it is up to Garrett and Linehan to guide him through his first real downturn as a pro QB.

    But it’s not the best OL in football right now. That is the problem on offense IMO. Super run by Morris yesterday, more speed than I thought he had.

    Woods: every time he gets on the field he seems to make an impact. We’re moving quickly to the situation I mentioned in pre-season / if he starts it has to be at FS. That will likely move Jones to corner not SS, might as well try it at this point. Brown is my other starter there. That still leaves you Scandrick at slot CB, where he’s best used. If Awuzie could ever stay on the field, that would help the long downs.

    • Brian Martin

      I really think they need to simplify things for Prescott. Move the pocket and make it easier for him to get through his reads quicker. That way he only has about half the field to read and can use his mobility to his advantage. I think he’s in the most inaccurate when he’s asked if there out of the pocket.

      I completely agree with you about Xavier Woods. I would start him at safety, but still paired with Byron Jones. Woods can be the deep safety and Jones can be used to man up against TEs. I’m not sure about Anthony Brown. He has struggled these past couple of games. Awuzie really needs to get healthy and stay that way. Like Woods, he could be utilized at CB or S.

      • Russ_Te

        To me Dak’s inaccuracy is coming from too much pressure, and then trying to do to much because his offense is struggling. Will agree there is a lot that can be done with his sprint out & bootleg game that may help right now. Same reason I want more pitches for Elliott. Let them beat the defensive front with their individual skills while their OL gets better.

        Which brings up: Cooper was no upgrade from Green. I think the Cowboys have to deal for a proven OG if they want to contend in 2017.

        • Brian Martin

          There are quite a few things that the coaching staff can do to help Prescott. Whether that happens or not is something we will have to wait and see.

          I was never a fan of Cooper to begin with. There is a reason he has bounced around the league. Unfortunately, I don’t see the Cowboys trading for anybody this year.

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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