The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a disappointing week one effort that saw them fall at the hands of the Carolina Panthers 16-8. On the offensive side of the ball there wasn't a lot to get excited about, but the defensive side showed the potential that we've been excited about all offseason.
They're a unit that has lived up to the high expectations placed on them during the preseason. They have the talent and the coaching to make plays and to help keep opposing offenses at bay. Hopefully the offense can turn it on and make this a complete team.
They'll need to figure it out in a hurry with division rival the New York Giants coming to town in an must-win week two matchup.
Yes, you read that right. This is a must-win game for both of these teams.
HOU @ TEN LAC @ BUF DET @ SF NYG @ DAL SEA @ CHI Over 90% of 0-2 teams miss the NFL playoffs. We have five elimination games this week https://t.co/Y37WqHG7SM
Both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants opened the season with a loss, which means that the loser of this game will have a slim chance to make the playoffs. As Justis Mosqueda points out, teams that start the season 0-2 have only made the playoffs 10% of the time.
So, pretty much a must-win. The Dallas Cowboys have playoff aspirations in 2018 and if they want to make the playoffs, they need to win this game.
The Dallas Cowboys have done it before. As Jerry Jones pointed out on 105.3 The Fan Tuesday morning, they started 0-2 and won a Super Bowl. It can happen, but it puts your team playing catch up to make the playoffs.
Well, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, lets take a look at this week's matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 64-46-2. Under Jason Garrett's tenure, they're 9-7 including winning the last two games in 2017.
It was an important opening week for Dak Prescott last season as the narrative that he couldn't beat the New York Giants was being thrown around like it was a fact. He made short order of that narrative with a 19-3 victory in week one last season.
Then again in December of last season, amidst a really poor stretch of football, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys went out and beat the Giants 30-10. In that game Dak threw for 332 yards, three touchdowns and posted a passer rating of 137.1. The Dallas Cowboys played that game without Ezekiel Elliott.
Inside The Numbers
One of my favorite stats when we talk about the New York Giants is to remind everyone that Eli Manning has averaged an interception per game for his career. He continued that pace in week one with an interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which isn't necessarily an indication of Eli's play as the Jaguars boast the best secondary in the NFL.
Eli Manning could be in for a career year with new Head Coach Pat Shurmur, who helped Case Keenum cash in with the Denver Broncos after his stellar year in Minnesota.
The Dallas Cowboys had opportunities to create turnovers last week, but were unable to cash in. They'll get chances again this week, but the need to catch those balls that get thrown the defenses' way.
The amount of times that Dak Prescott has had a passer rating over 90 in the last eight games. Prior to week nine of 2017, he had a passer rating greater than 90 18 times in his first 25 games.
Something is different about Dak Prescott over the last eight games of his career. Whether it's coaching or mechanics or play calling or his supporting cast, something's different.
He needs a bounce back game.
Dak Prescott's 83.3 completion percentage when getting rid of the football in under 2.5 seconds is third in the NFL. He was 10 of 12, had a quarterback rating of 95.5, and was only sacked twice. On the flip side, when he held the ball longer than 2.5 seconds, he was 9 of 17, had a passer rating of 67.5, and was sacked four times.
Moral of the story. Get the ball out of your hands quicker Dak.
The New York Giants allowed 4.9 yards per carry to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one. The Dallas Cowboys were slightly better with a yards per carry allowed of 4.6.
In week one, both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants allowed less than 5 yards per play. The Giants only allowed 4.9 yards per play which was 11th in the NFL in week one. The Dallas Cowboys only allowed 4.8 yards per play, good for ninth in the league.
Both teams will have a chance to improve upon that number in week two if Dak Prescott or Eli Manning prove incapable of pushing the ball down the field.
The Dallas Cowboys six sacks allowed in week one to the Carolina Panthers is tied for the second most allowed in the NFL in week one with the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks. Only the Cleveland Browns had more sacks allowed.
Dak Prescott held the ball an average of 2.98 seconds per attempt last week. Excluding Lamar Jackson, who only had six pass attempts, Prescott's average time to attempt was the fourth longest time in the NFL. Only Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and DeShaun Watson had longer times to attempt in the opening week of the season.
Cole Beasley's seven receptions are tied for 15th in the NFL. Equal to Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Tyreek Hill, Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, and Jarvis Landry. His 73 yards receiving is 30th in the NFL after one week.
This has a chance to be a huge year for Beasley as he's on pace for 112 receptions at this point and his first 1,000 yard season. That would be really good timing for him in a contract year.
Odell Beckham Jr. just got paid and he rewarded the New York Giants with 11 catches for 111 yards in their week one loss against the Jacksonville Jaquars. Those 11 receptions are second in the NFL to Michael Thomas' 16 for the New Orleans Saints.
Beckham was most effective going over the middle of the field where he caught 6 of 8 targets for 58 yards. When he was targeted by Eli Manning over the middle and greater than 10 yards, Manning had a passer rating of 102.1. Manning's passer rating was 88.3 when targeting OBJ over the middle and less than 10 yards down field.
Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee better get ready for a heavy dose of Beckham in the middle of the field. That's the same area of the field where Christian McCaffrey did most of his damage in week one.
The amount of points the New York Giants scored in week one against the vaunted Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Giants had a chance at the end of the game to take the lead before turning it over on downs with a little more than a minute left to play.
The Dallas Cowboys 232 total yards in week one has them ranked 30th in the NFL only in front of the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills. Coincidentally, those are the only two teams who scored fewer than the Dallas Cowboys eight points last week.
It's only been a week, but that's not good company to be in.
Taco Charlton tied for the team lead in snaps with Defensive Tackle Antwuan Woods on Sunday with 49. That was one more than DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford.
In those 49 snaps, Charlton had two pressures, three total tackles, and a pass defensed.
Cornerback Anthony Brown received the best coverage grade from Pro Football Focus at 78.3, which was slightly better than Byron Jones at 77.
Heading into 2018, it was assumed that Brown would be the odd man out in nickel situations given the play of Jourdan Lewis in 2017, but Brown has held him off and maintained a role with the Dallas Cowboys defense.
In the loss, he was targeted only twice, allowed only one reception, and was credited with a "stop." PFF defines a stop as a play that results in a "loss" for the defense.
DeMarcus Lawrence had a heck of a game against the Carolina Panthers in week one. He totaled five tackles, five "stops," one sack, four tackles for loss, and four hurries. He was the Dallas Cowboys best player in week one and is off to a great start to lead the team in sacks again in 2018.
Saquon Barkley's 106 rushing yards are third in the NFL heading into week two. That done on 18 carries with a 62 yard long, which gives him a 5.9 yards per carry. If you remove the 62 yard run for a touchdown, then he had yard per carry of 2.58.
He's an explosive player that can take the ball for a score when he touches it. The Dallas Cowboys will have to play sound defense to limit his opportunities to get into the open field.
Stat of the Week
Last season, #Dak put up 13/18 for 183 yards, two touchdowns, and took one sack against James Bettcher's defense last year when he was the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator.
Jason Garrett’s Decision Making Stands Out in Playoff Loss
The 2018 NFL season has come to an end for the Dallas Cowboys. The Los Angeles Rams were simply the better team on Saturday night in the Coliseum and it showed in the 30-22 loss. While it was a disappointing performance, there were several things to take away from the game to give us reason for optimism moving forward. Connor Williams played well against Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the interior, Dak Prescott kept the team in the game despite little help from the running game, and Head Coach Jason Garrett perhaps coached his best game from a management point of view.
After the first drive, this game had one of those, if the Dallas Cowboys have to punt, it's likely going to be a loss feels. The defense's inability to force more than one punt or create a turnover was going to make it really difficult for the offense to keep up, and yet at the end of the game, the Cowboys were within a score and had a shot to win. Dak Prescott deserves a lot of credit for that, but so does Jason Garrett.
4th and 1's
Jason Garrett has long been viewed as a conservative coach in the NFL, and this season he didn't do much to help his reputation, but that game on Saturday should change some of that perception. On a night where it looked like his defense didn't have it, he called the game he needed to maximize his team's possessions.
On the opening drive of the game for the offense, the Cowboys got to the Rams 49 yard line, but faced a 4th and 1. Garrett didn't waste any time going for it and the Cowboys were able to convert on Ezekiel Elliott's five yard run. A Marcus Peters' unneccessary roughness penalty gave the Cowboys an extra 15 yards and the Cowboys scored on the next play on Amari Cooper's 29 yard catch and run to give the Dallas Cowboys the lead.
It would be their only lead of the night.
Again, in the second half, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1, this time it was at the Rams 41 yard line and this time, the Cowboys were down 23-7. This was not nearly as difficult a decision as the Cowboys were in catch up mode and needed to get a score to bring the game within striking distance, and they did just that. Again, Elliott picked up five yards when the Cowboys needed one and Elliott capped off th drive with a one yard touchdown run after Michael Gallup's long reception on a broken play.
At the Rams 35 yard line and the game within reach, the Cowboys went for it again on fourth down, but this time were stopped short of the first down marker when Ndamukong Suh made an excellent play to prevent Elliott from picking up the yard. On the play, you can see Suh start to Joe Looney's left, which forced Elliott to go to Looney's right and Suh followed Elliott into the hole. There was much Looney could do as Suh had the necessary leverage to make the play. It was absolutely the right call to go for it in that situation, but the Cowboys went to the jumbo formation-Elliott inside run one too many times. It was clear where the ball was going to go in that situation, and they were stuffed.
On what turned out to be the final drive of the season for the Dallas Cowboys, they needed to score and score rather quickly to have a chance to get the ball back one more time. The offense scored, but took a little too much time doing so as the drive took just over five minutes off the game clock. Again, on the drive, they were faced with a fourth and 1, but this time they used Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on a speed option to the right and they were able to convert and eventually get the touchdown.
For the game, the Dallas Cowboys went three for four on fourth down attempts.
Point After Decisions
In the middle of the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys scored to make it 23-13. Generally in the NFL, teams don't go for two until they have to go. Knowing that possessions were going to be few and far between the Cowboys were likely going to have to score on every possession the rest of the game, Garrett went for two and the Cowboys converted to make it an eight point game.
Then after the Dallas Cowboys scored to make the game 30-21, there was much discussion on social media on whether the Cowboys should have gone for two there or just kicked the extra point, which was a bit surprising.
To me, it was simple. Kick the extra point to make it 30-22 and hope your defense gets you the ball back and you can score again. If you go for two in that situation and don't make it, the game is essentially over with just over two minutes remaining. Taking the extra point kept you in the game, even if it was still only a slight chance to pull out a win.
With about 3:20 to go in the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys defense faced a third and two situation around midfield against the Rams. They were able to force Rams Quarterback Jared Goff into a hurried throw and he overthrew Josh Reynolds in the flat for what would have been a first down.
On the play there were two penalties, offensive holding and offensive pass interference and Jason Garrett declined the penalties.
To me it was one of the boldest coaching decisions has made in his career on something that seemed very innocuous.
Sean McVay and the Rams were having their way with the Dallas Cowboys defense as Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson gashed their way to over 100 yards rushing each. With the Rams facing a fourth and two on the Dallas Cowboys side of the 50 yard line, most people thought the Rams would go for it there and completely steal the soul of the Dallas Cowboys.
Johnny Hekker did his best to get the Dallas Cowboys to think he was going to run a fake, but the Cowboys never panicked and stayed onside as the punter attempted to game them.
It was a huge call in that situation. If Garrett accepts the penalties, the Rams would have faced a third and 12 at their own 43 yard line, but would have had another opportunity to convert the first down and extend the drive.
I really liked the call, because it put McVay in a difficult position himself. If the were to go for it and fail to convert on fourth down, the Cowboys would have gotten the ball at about midfield with a chance to tie the game.
Kicking Deep vs Onside Kick
With the new rules governing kickoffs, mainly that teams have to keep a amount of players on each side of the kicker, onside kicks have become less and less successful in today's NFL. Even before the rule changes, recovering an onside kick was less than a 50/50 proposition.
Kicking deep was really the only decision to make. The hope is that your defense is able to get a stop and the Cowboys would get the ball back with decent field position.
And it nearly worked.
The Dallas Cowboys run defense came up big on first and second down, holding the Rams running game to three yards setting up a third and seven. Just as everyone was expecting the Rams to throw it, they ran a play action with a naked bootleg that left Jared Goff all alone on the outside with a ton of room to run, and zero Cowboys in position to prevent him from picking up the first down.
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On Saturday, Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, reported the Cowboys were looking to extend for Jason Garrett this offseason. It should come as no surprise as he helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround from 3-5 to 10-6 and NFC East champions all while fielding one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Jason Garrett has grown a lot as an NFL head coach and in the playoff loss, made excellent decisions to keep the Cowboys in the game. He's going to be around here for a long time and there should be a lot of optimism heading into 2019 that the Cowboys can make some strides.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss
Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season had to come to an end at some point. Not many of us would have predicted earlier in the season that it would've come at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round, but that's what happened and it's kind of bittersweet.
I don't know how you feel today, but I don't find myself all that upset the Dallas Cowboys season is officially over. Yes, I would've loved to see them completely dominate the LA Rams and advance in the playoffs, but I'm surprisingly really pleased with the way this team played this season. We have to remember that this is a young team and this is hopefully just the beginning of something great.
Today, I want to share with you some of the positives and negatives from the Cowboys game against the Rams Saturday night. This of course will be the last edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys 2018-2019 season.
Finding the positive after a loss isn't always the easiest thing to accomplish. The Dallas Cowboys didn't particularly play their best football Saturday against the Rams, which makes it even more difficult. But for me, the good has to be the resiliency and grittiness the Cowboys played with in LA.
I don't think anyone would argue that the LA Rams pretty much dominated the entire game Saturday. They put the Cowboys on their heels pretty much from the get-go, which took them out of their game. Dallas was never really able to establish their running game and couldn't get the Rams offense off the field. They've been able to pretty much do that against all their opponents this season, but just fell flat at the wrong time.
Despite getting manhandled, the Dallas Cowboys continued to fight back and never quit. They could've easily rolled over and given up, but they didn't. I think that really speaks volumes to the kind of players Dallas has on the roster. This is a really talented young team with a bright future ahead of themselves.
Anyone who watched the game Saturday night pretty much knows what goes in this category. The bad for me and probably everybody else is how the Dallas Cowboys defense was gashed by the Los Angeles Rams rushing attack. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley absolutely dominated on the ground, leading their team to victory.
I knew the Rams rushing attack would give the Cowboys defense problems, but I never imagined they would rush for nearly 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley may be the ones earning all the praise with their performances, but they definitely wouldn't have found as much success as they did if not for their offensive line.
Dallas' front seven has been really good against the run all season. They only allowed a couple of 100 yard rushers this season (Chris Carson, Marlon Mack) until Anderson and Gurley both rushed for over 100 Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Cowboys DL just got overpowered by the Rams OL and it definitely impacted the outcome of the game.
What was pegged to be a matchup between two of the best running backs in the NFL, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, ended up being pretty much a one-man show. That is why the ugly Saturday night for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion was their rushing attack.
We all know the Cowboys offensive blueprint is to establish the running game to help control the clock and game speed. That unfortunately never materialized Saturday night against the Rams, a team by the way that was giving up 5.1 yards rushing to opposing running backs. It was supposed to be a matchup that favored Zeke and Dallas' ground game.
I'll give credit where credit is due though. The Rams defensive line stepped up their game and didn't allow Zeke to get any kind of momentum going in the running game. They gave the Cowboys OL all they could handle and pretty much made their offensive attack one-dimensional. They wanted to put the game in Dak Prescott's hands and for the most part accomplished what they set out to do.
What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the LA Rams?
Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles
The last round of the Dallas Cowboys fight in 2018 came at the hands of a hungry Los Angeles Rams team, ending their season in the Divisional Round behind 273 rushing yards. Effectively, the third seed in the NFC beat the Cowboys at their own game with the bye week to prepare. The fallout from this loss won't be fully realized until the sting is gone, but sweeping changes aren't expected in Dallas after a resurrection from 3-5 saw the Cowboys within a few plays of the NFC Championship Game.
How those plays were made and what the Rams did to execute a near flawless game plan is the subject of this final Sean's Scout of the season.
- The Rams' success on the ground against Richard's defense was stunning for a lot of reasons, none more so than the way Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith struggled to react and fight off blocks.
The Cowboys issues at linebacker were a result of their front four getting blown off the ball all game by LA's offensive line. I wrote in my final game preview piece about how the Cowboys needed to win the line of scrimmage on both sides, losing with their own offense when the game was in the balance and never putting up a fight on the defensive line.
To the Rams' credit, even the simple things Sean McVay's team executes are done with an attention to detail that makes them very difficult to contain. The Rams did a great job scheming blockers to the second level, where Smith and Vander Esch were handled to the point of playing tentatively and taking poor angles.
In what could be his final game with the Cowboys or the end of his career, Sean Lee played 21 snaps, one shy of his week 17 total when the Cowboys played the Giants with the division already wrapped up. Getting caught in a game they couldn't possibly win against the better team at home, the Cowboys defense had no answers for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.
- Dak Prescott's "in the grasp" call when he scrambled into La'el Collins' arms on third down was a bad look for the officials, but also an injured Cole Beasley, who was late working his route back to Prescott and into his line of vision.
If Beasley was at full strength, he's likely able to stop his vertical route sooner and give Prescott an easy throw underneath as he rolled to the right. Left with nowhere to go, Dak had the play blown dead after Right Tackle La'el Collins wrapped his arms around Prescott while scrambling.
With the way the Rams came out on offense, it became clear that every Cowboys possession would be of dire importance. Losing one on a strange call like this was a blow Dallas never had a chance to recover from.
- Lost in the Cowboys turnover on downs in the fourth quarter, the final time they touched the ball within a score, is the incredible third down throw Prescott made on the run to Noah Brown.
To give his offense a chance on fourth and short, Prescott delivered a strike to Brown on the sideline for 13 yards. Without being able to set his feet, Prescott felt the pressure well and put the ball where only Brown could secure it falling out of bounds.
It's unfortunate the next play became the defining moment of the season for Dallas. Deciding to attack the strength of the Rams' defense, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers were ready for an Elliott rushing attempt right up the middle out of 12 personnel.
Not only was Center Joe Looney beat on the play, but Collins lost leverage and was beat across the face to further clutter the middle of the field for Elliott to be stopped short. Making matters even worse, the Rams came out and attacked the Cowboys defense by flashing the misdirection plays that worked all night.
In just 12 plays, Anderson scored his second touchdown to all but put the game away for LA. The Cowboys would use Prescott's legs much too late on the ensuing drive, getting into the end zone but failing to get the ball back.
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As mentioned, this won't be an offseason of drastic change for the Cowboys. Bowing out in the divisional round for the second time in three seasons, adjustments to both the coaching staff and roster are needed for this team to take the next step.
For a team that looked nothing like a postseason contender for much of the regular season, the Cowboys improbable run of close wins came to an end against the Rams - determined to not lose their first playoff game in consecutive seasons.
They won't be happy with the result, but the Cowboys should be proud of their final outcome on this year.
As always, I'd like to thank Cowboys Nation for reading another season of Sean's Scout. Win or lose you make this job fun.
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