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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

Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed 3

The Dallas Cowboys didn't look like they did during their five game winning streak when they entered Lucas Oil Stadium to face a hot Indianapolis Colts team. In fact, they had one of their poorest showings of all season, failing to score a single point all game. Heading home after being shutout 23-0, there isn't much to be said about the Cowboys' performance.

Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday. This time, instead of talking about many takeaways, I needed to get one big takeaway off my chest. I hope you enjoy. Make sure to let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL.

Scott Linehan's Job Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Going into the Playoffs

As tough as it is to fire one of your three main coaches when your team is headed into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys should not rule out moving on from Scott Linehan. One win away from clinching the NFC East, it's not something you easily pull off but Linehan's play calling has been terrible all year long.

The truth is, despite Dak Prescott's struggles and a disastrous offensive line, the offense shouldn't be as inefficient as it is.

Watching a unit that counts with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott run a screen pass to Allen Hurns on fourth down and 14 was truly a microcosm of what this year has been for the offense.

Despite having a playoff berth practically clinched, the Cowboys should consider a change at offensive coordinator. Even if they don't fire Linehan, it's clear his play-calling is not good and could cost this team a real opportunity at a legit shot in the postseason. It would be an aggressive measure, without a doubt. The Minnesota Vikings did something similar by firing John DeFillippo a week ago. Based on their 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, being aggressive sometimes pays.

3 Quick Fixes to Jumpstart Cowboys Anemic Offense 3

The Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and yet they continue to misuse him. Whether it's turning their backs on their star tailback or over-using him, this offense has a hard time reaching balance. Dak Prescott's strengths could be exploited even more, but this OC refuses to do so.

As hard as it is to make a drastic change in coaching two weeks before the regular season ends, it truly could end up being a great move by the front office. Sure, Amari Cooper has had monster games since joining the Cowboys, but he could be even more dangerous under another coach.

Cowboys versus Colts was a coaching battle between Scott Linehan and former Dallas Cowboys LB coach, Matt Eberflus. It was the matchup of the week, and one we expected to be fun. Instead, we saw one side completely dominate the other. In the NFL, coaching matters. Probably even more than talent on a roster.

The biggest problem would be, who'd take over play-calling?

Since there isn't a promising candidate within the team, the team's only option would probably be letting HC Jason Garrett take over. It may not be ideal, but it could end up being an improvement over Linehan. Of course, it could also let the front office see what Garrett has to offer as a play caller and consider that when deciding how this coaching staff will look like in 2019.

It's unlikely that we see such a thing occur for the Cowboys, but if the offense has another letdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don't see how the front office doesn't at least consider this. They should.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe" 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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Game Notes

Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts

John Williams

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3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks

It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.

What a waste! 

Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury. 

On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter. 

The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains. 

In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.

It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.

But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.

All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Can't Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.

Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.

The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.

Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.

  • The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season. 

The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.

Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.

  • Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game. 

This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.

A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.

  • The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard. 

The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.

The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss 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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