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Game Notes

Irving and Scandrick Are Out; Neal, Jones, and Awuzie Got This

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Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys' Defense?

The 7-6 Dallas Cowboys will be taking on the 6-7 Oakland Raiders on Sunday night in Oakland, California. Both teams are still in the hunt in their playoff pictures and must win out if they want a chance at playing football in January.

Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett said Friday that David Irving (concussion) and Orlando Scandrick (back) would miss a third day of practice each, which was followed by the team listing both players as out for Sunday night's game against the Raiders. This will be the second straight game that both defenders will be inactive due to injury.

Both players suffered their injuries in the Washington Redskins game just three weeks ago and have yet to practice since. In their absence, rookie Lewis Neal and newly signed Datone Jones will get a lot of work at the three-technique position to fill in for David Irving.

Datone Jones, Lewis Neal

Lewis Neal - DT

Dallas Cowboys DT Lewis Neal

In limited playing time last week at the Giants, Datone Jones flashed, especially in the run game. Sunday's game was the first week the Cowboys' dressed Jones since signing with the team last month.

Against the Giants, Jones was credited with two tackles and one run stuff, according to ESPN.

Along with Datone Jones, Lewis Neal will also get playing time at defensive tackle. Of the two players, Neal is the better pass rusher and he's shown that in the limited playing time he's received.

Neal is an undersized defensive tackle that I evaluated as a 3-4 defensive end in last year's draft process. His explosive first step and ability to convert speed to power makes him a tough matchup for offensive lineman when rushing the passer.

While I would prefer to have David Irving on the field, a combination of Lewis Neal and Datone Jones can get the job done and make some big plays while doing so.

Chidobe Awuzie

The other player the Cowboys will be without this weekend, is starting cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Just like David Irving, Orlando Scandrick has yet to practice in the last two weeks. His replacement, Chidobe Awuzie has been phenomenal while filling in for the 10th year veteran.

Sunday Morning Wishlist: DAL Cowboys @ NY Giants 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

Against both the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, Awuzie has gotten the start at left cornerback. In those two games, Chidobe Awuzie was targeted eight times, and in those eight targets, he gave up only two completions for 19 yards. He also has five passes defended and six tackles over the two-game span.

He has performed excellently after spending most of his rookie season on the sideline nursing a hamstring injury.

John Owning on Twitter

Chidobe Awuzie was targeted 5 times against NYG. Allowed only 2 catches for 19 yards. Eli had a 51.3 passer rating when targeting him, per PFF #DallasCowboys

Normally, when the Cowboys' defense looks to be without two of its better players, Cowboys Nation starts to panic, but you shouldn't this week. I have faith in Lewis Neal, Datone Jones, and Chidobe Awuzie to hold down the fort and you should too.

Look for #33, #58, and #66 to make a ton of plays in both the running and passing game this Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders.

What are the Cowboys' chances against the Raiders without Irving and Scandrick?

Let me know below!



Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!

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4 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    This might be the week that Kavon Frazier starts at SS, Woods at FS and Byron Jones flips over to CB to pair with Awuzie. Otherwise you are limiting either the reps of Woods if Jones stays at FS, or you are limiting Jone’s reps as the slot CB. Neither of those last 2 options make sense IMO.

    I expect the Raiders to bring the A game and be a very tough out tonight. The Cowboys will either be ready to match it, or they fly back with an L and the season largely over. I think Garrett will try to use the OL to get the same edge he got in New York, and that we see a lot of Morris 1st half and then Rod Smith with fresh legs in the 2nd.

    I can see Dallas losing this game, but feel like chances are good to get the running game going and take the game over again. Dallas 31-27

    • EverybodyTalks

      Great point on Byron Jones. I wish they would get him back to CB. He is 6’1″, 203 lbs, with 4.3 speed and big time”hops”. Let’s go get another Safety in the draft if we need to. Byron could be a great CB, but not a Great Safety.

  • Kevin Black

    It’s nice to see the depth with the younger players finally start to show up. It takes years to build up that depth and teams tend to struggle and people get fired and rarely see the fruits of a long term vision like this. Stephen Jones along with Jason Garrett and Will McClay seem to be getting awfully close to what their vision was years ago. It’s been painful at times and it’s a shame Romo won’t be here to enjoy the fruits of all this. Hopefully Witten will last long enough so he can finally have a ring on his future HOF finger.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Crabtree had his way for 2 TDs with Awuzie and pulled a huge PI on Lewis, but they still were improving and learning g thro0ugh some hard knocks. Speaking hard knocks, I like Awuzie going hit-4-hit with Beastmode. He was wuzzie, but fearless and came back to stop Crabtreee from getting a 1st down. Anthony Brown seems to be getting better each week. He almost had 2 interceptions. The “almost” in the 4th qtr could have saved me a lot of heartburn. Wood, who many say are disappointed in his tackling, had several, while missing one behind the line on Patterson, that Frazier cleaned up. Holding the Raiders to “0” in the 1st half was impressive. They are making progress. Growing into their roles.

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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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis

In a game we all hoped would clinch the NFC East division, the Dallas Cowboys instead got shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in one of their worst performances of the season. It was a deplorable performance in every aspect of the game and something we hope to never see again.

I knew sooner or later the Dallas Cowboys self-inflicted wounds would catch up to them, and that's exactly what happened against the Colts. They had far too many penalties and mental mistakes once again and it allowed Indianapolis to take over the game. The Cowboys beat themselves plain and simple.

Before I get on a rant about yesterday's game, I better stick to the topic at hand and share with you what I believe to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Good

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

In a game where just about everything went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys it sometimes a little difficult to find any kind of silver lining. That was the case this week after the Cowboys were shut out by the Indianapolis Colts. But, the good for me is that Dallas still holds their playoff fate in their hands, despite the embarrassing loss.

Any thoughts of sitting any of the starters for the Cowboys has now gone out the window. They absolutely have to play to win to close out the 2018 regular-season, because they failed to do what needed to be done against the Colts to secure the NFC East division title. Luckily though, it didn't close the door on their playoff aspirations.

With the Buccaneers and Giants left remaining on their schedule, the Cowboys will have to find some way to get back to their winning ways. Hopefully this was just the slap in the face they needed in order to put things in perspective. They simply can't afford another showing like they had against Indianapolis at any point moving forward.

The Bad

Xavier Su'a-flio

Dallas Cowboys LG Xavier Su'a-flio

I knew exactly what I was going to put in the section as soon as it happened during the game. The bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts for me was without a doubt their banged up, patched together offensive line.

The Cowboys were forced to go with a patchwork offensive line for the majority of the game against the Colts yesterday afternoon after Xavier Su'a-flio left the game after an eye injury, forcing the Cowboys to go with their third string offensive guard Adam Redmond. Su'a-flio immediately had to leave the stadium to have his eye examined by an optometrist, suggesting that it was a pretty significant injury.

Unfortunately, another injury on the OL for the Cowboys leaves them severely thin depth wise at the most inopportune time. Hopefully a week of rest has done Zack Martin's injured knee some good and he will be able to return to the lineup as soon as possible. That would allow Connor Williams to move back to LG and hopefully solidify the offensive line once again.

The Ugly

Marlon Mack, Chidobe Awuzie

Indianapolis Colts RB Marlon Mack

Maybe I underestimated the Indianapolis Colts offense or maybe I just overrated the Dallas Cowboys defense, but something was clearly off yesterday afternoon on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. After being so good nearly all season, they were just plain ugly against Indianapolis.

The Cowboys defense didn't have an answer for the Colts offense, especially in the running game. Marlon Mack, a solid runner although not spectacular, completely gashed the Cowboys usually stout run defense. He ran for 139 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, something that's been unheard of against Dallas' run D.

I was honestly completely shocked he had so much success. There were far too many missed tackles and blown assignments to my liking and I believe the coaching staff will make sure to focus on clearing that up moving forward. This team can't afford to let opposing offenses control the clock with their rushing attack. That's the Cowboys MO.

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



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