On Sunday afternoon the Cowboys will take a big step towards capturing the 2015 NFC East Crown. The first foot in line will be that of the newest starting quarterback for America's Team... Matt Cassel.
A 2007 5th round draft pick was the asking price when the Cowboys called the Buffalo Bills in search of Cassel's services back in September. The deal was done and Cassel was thought to be insurance just in case Weeden got hurt or wasn't cutting the cheese.
In just three starts Brandon Weeden proved that he is incapable of the type of cheese-cutting that the Cowboys are looking for. Insert Cassel.
Cassel has been a bit of a journeyman so far throughout his NFL career. He's had significant stops in New England and Kansas City, but fiddled around in Minnesota for a while and took that quick tour through Buffalo before landing in Big D. He made starts for the first three, and we're going to examine those three performances.
Matt Cassel's First Starts With New Teams
|New England Patriots (9/14/2008)||23||16||165||0||0||Win|
|Kansas City Chiefs (9/20/2009)||39||24||241||1||2||Loss|
|Minnesota Vikings (9/29/2013)||25||16||248||2||0||Win|
Cassel is not unfamiliar with taking over for a franchise quarterback. His first starting experience came with the Patriots after they lost Tom Brady for the season during Week 1. Sound familiar-ish?
Cassel had a week of preparation and managed the game well for the Pats against the New York Jets. In fact Cassel's first start came IN New York, where he'll start for the Cowboys for the first time this Sunday.
After that 2008 season Matt signed with the Chiefs. He had an entire offseason to prepare as the starter and had a poor game against the reigning World Champion Steelers. Dick LeBeau is no joke and that's probably a reason why Cassel threw two picks that day, but look at how many times he threw the ball... 39.
While, yes, Cassel is more capable of getting the ball downfield than another Cowboys QB, he doesn't play as well when he throws the ball a ton. In fact over his career, Matt Cassel is 16-24 when throwing more than 30 times in a game.
Cowboys fans have pointed to Cassel's 2010 as a sign of hope that he'll be what we need while we're without Romo. Matt played 15 games in 2010, going 10-5. This is undoubtedly Cassel's finest season in the NFL to date, he was even named to the 2010 Pro Bowl, and in those 15 games he only surpassed 30 attempts six times. He went 3-3 in those six games.
It's essential that Cassel and the Cowboys try to air it downfield on Sunday. They need to soften the defense up so that the run game can work. The dink-and-dunk play style that we've seen for the last month is not going to get it done; however, a quarterback like Cassel is going to need a solid run game so that he doesn't have to throw it that much (i.e. more than 30 times).
Cross your fingers, do your good luck dance, and hope that Cassel hovers right underneath 30 pass attempts as that seems to be his money range. I'm guessing a solid 27 will get the job done against the G-Men.
Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It
Just when all hope was lost, the Dallas Cowboys went on the road and surprised fans with a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Both on defense and offense, it was a game that showed us plenty of silver linings to be excited about. While a playoff run certainly remains pretty difficult to accomplish, at least the team isn't leaving without a fight.
The last Cowboys' victory came approximately a month ago, so it is with great pleasure that I share with you this week's edition of "Takeaway Tuesday!"
Vander Esch Among Best Cowboys' Players
Just before last game, I wrote about how Leighton Vander Esch could be in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Playing on Sunday Night Football (on national TV), the rookie helped his case a lot with 13 solo tackles and an interception.
Little by little, he's making sure the Cowboys know they can move on from frequently injured Sean Lee down the road. Vander Esch can play. Forget about him being an impressive rookie, he's currently one of the best players on this roster.
Scott Linehan Shouldn't be Off the Hook
As any Cowboys fan, I loved the win. There were quite a few things to like about the offense on Sunday, but there's no denying play calling could've been way better. As much as the Dallas Cowboys are still in the hunt in a mediocre division, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan should remain on the hot seat.
Ezekiel Elliott took the Cowboys to the 5-yard line by leaping over a human at full speed and right after the Cowboys stopped using him on that drive. Against the Titans, the offense found itself on third and 16 twice and ran a running back screen pass. In Philadelphia, they were on third and 16 once and they ran a RB screen once again.
Dallas has left a lot of points on the field this year and in big part thanks to play calling. Linehan shouldn't be safe right now.
Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It
After two games wearing the Star, Cowboys Nation is feeling a lot better about trading a first rounder for Amari Cooper. On the field, he's proven to be an impact player. An impact that has been felt immediately, by the way. Out of 11 catches, Cooper has gotten the Cowboys' offense ten first downs.
Versus the Eagles, though, his impact is felt beyond his single stat line.
On Sunday Night, he accounted for six catches and 75 yards. He helped QB Dak Prescott get 270 yards through the air and most importantly, to spread the football.
7 different Cowboys have a reception of at least 13 yards tonight.
That stat above is an underrated one. No wide receiver in next year's Draft would have the kind of impact Amari Cooper is having on this football team. In the long run, lots of people could be eating their words after heavily criticizing the Cowboys' trade for the two-times Pro Bowler wide receiver. Hopefully, that's the case.
Cowboys Wide Receivers Now a Strength They Can Count On
The Dallas Cowboys (4-5) came away with a big win over the Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) on Sunday Night Football 27-20 and the wide receiver group had an excellent day. What once looked like a weakness for the Cowboys, now looks like a strength on \ offense. With Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, and Allen Hurns, the Cowboys have four players that can hurt opposing defenses all over the field.
Since the Amari Cooper trade two weeks ago, the Cowboys wide receiver group has been better positioned moving forward to help Dak Prescott and the Cowboys move the football. With Cooper, Cole Beasley, Michael Gallup, and Allen Hurns, the Cowboys have really nice depth.
On Sunday Night Football each of the Cowboys top four receivers had a reception that went for more than 20 yards. They accounted for 11 of the team's 14 passing first downs. Of Quarterback Dak Prescott's 270 yards passing, wide receivers accounted for 186 or more than two-thirds of the passing yards. Explosive plays from the wide receivers was something that was lacking for much of the season, but they seem to be turning it on at the right time.
On Sunday night, they all had their moments in the Cowboys win.
Per Pro Football Reference, Cooper was the leading receiver on the team with six receptions on 10 targets for 75 yards. Five of those receptions went for first downs and he averaged 12.5 yards per reception.
Michael Gallup led the wide receiver group in snaps on Sunday and logged another nice game as he continues to assert himself during his rookie season. It may not have been as explosive as the three receptions for 83 yards that he put up against the Washington Redskins a few weeks ago, but he had possibly one of the plays of the game.
With the Dallas Cowboys attempting to extend their lead with under two minutes to play in the first half, they faced a 3rd and 15 from their own 35 yard line with 0:58 seconds left on the clock. Scott Linehan dials up a tunnel screen to Gallup who goes for 25 yards helping to set up the touchdown just before half time. If Gallup doesn't make that play, with help from the blocking downfield, the Eagles get the ball back with enough time to tie the game or potentially take the lead. It was a huge play in the game to allow Dallas to go up by 10 at half time.
Cole Beasley's line wasn't flashy, but he was his typical efficient self, hauling in three receptions for first downs and making a play for 15 yards to get the Cowboys into the red zone after the Eagles had scored on the previous possession in the third quarter to make it 13-13. Beasley's catch helped the Cowboys answer the Eagles touchdown with a touchdown of their own to retake the lead 20-17 in the fourth quarter. Beasley finished the night with four receptions for 37 yards on five targets.
Down in the depth chart with limited snaps, but not at all forgotten is Allen Hurns. Hurns only had two catches (on two targets) for 40 yards on the night, but both catches set the Cowboys offense up with first and goal situations. With 0:40 seconds to play in the first half and the Cowboys looking at a second and nine, Dak Prescott hit Hurns on a deep out route for 17 yards to the Philadelphia Eagles' one yard line. Prescott hurried them to the line of scrimmage and then snuck the ball in for a touchdown to make it 13-3 at halftime. The second reception occurred with the Cowboys facing a third and eight on the game winning drive. Prescott found Hurns for a 23 yard catch and run that helped set up Ezekiel Elliott's game winning touchdown run.
They have four players that can hurt you at various levels of the defense. All four are good to great route runners who can create separation and find the soft spots in zone coverage. Their starters with Cooper, Beasley, and Gallup are a dynamic trio, but being able to bring a guy like Allen Hurns off the bench in sub packages is huge. He's had a thousand yard receiving season in the NFL and showed that he can still win his matchups when he's not required to be a team's WR1.
The move for Amari is proving to be an excellent trade for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the struggles last week in Tennessee, the Dallas Cowboys were able to move the ball through the air as Cooper opens everything up for everyone else on the offense. If you saw some of the windows he provided Dak, you see that Cooper literally makes everything easier.
The Dallas Cowboys took advantage of a bad secondary on Sunday as the Philadelphia Eagles were missing three of their top defensive backs, but they also looked like a unit that is starting to find a groove offensively. For the Dallas Cowboys to continue their upward trajectory that hopefully ends with a playoff berth, the wide receivers are going to have to continue to make big plays down the field.If the last several weeks are any indication, more big plays are coming.
Get your popcorn ready.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia
The Dallas Cowboys surprisingly pulled off the 27-20 upset over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night and in turn somehow keep their playoff hopes alive. They are now two games behind the Washington Redskins, but the NFC East title is still very much within reach if they can continue to play like they did against the Eagles.
The Cowboys looked like the team we've expected them to be from the start of the 2018 season. Yes there were still mistakes, but they were able to overcome those mishaps when they needed it the most. That's not something they've been able to very much of this season.
Today, I want to share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly aspects from the Dallas Cowboys game against the Philadelphia Eagles. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
There were so many different directions I could've gone here for the Dallas Cowboys against the Philadelphia Eagles, but I ultimately decided that the good for me was Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch's play. He is absolutely dominating and making everyone forget about the often injured Sean Lee.
Against the Eagles Sunday night, Vander Esch was all over the field and made his presence felt in a big way. He not only accumulated 13 total tackles, but also recorded his first career interception in the NFL. His play is one of the reasons the Cowboys defense continues to play like one of the better units in the league, even without Sean Lee in the lineup.
No one's doubting No. 55 as the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick any longer. He is a stud and the scary thing is he will only continue to get better.
I hate to admit it, but I was secretly hoping the Philadelphia Eagles would blowout the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night so that hopefully it would convince Jerry Jones to end the Jason Garrett head-coaching era. So, the bad for me is that the Cowboys win likely means Garrett sticks around as the HC after this season.
I don't want you to get the wrong idea about me wanting the Cowboys to get blown out, I just didn't think they had much of a chance of beating the Eagles on the road with them coming off their bye week. I'm happy they won in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, but also disappointed Garrett may be sticking around.
I know many of you will agree with me, but I think it's time to find Jason Garrett's replacement. Unfortunately, this victory over the Eagles may delay Dallas' head coach search a little longer now.
I'm not going to beat around the bush here, I think the way the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and Running Back Ezekiel Elliott dominated the Philadelphia Eagles defensive front was absolutely ugly. The Eagles defensive line was supposed to be the strength of their team, but that certainly wasn't the case against the Cowboys.
Zeke accounted for two touchdowns (one on the ground and one through the air) Sunday night against the Eagles. He also rushed for 151 yards on just 19 carries and averaged an impressive 7.9 yards per carry. That's pretty impressive considering the Eagles were ranked second against the run in the league. But what's more impressive was the blocking No. 21 received from his offensive line.
The Cowboys deployed a beat up OL against the Eagles, but you wouldn't know that by the way they played. They were down one starter the entire game (Connor Williams) and played with two replacements for a while when Zack Martin was injured. They didn't make any excuses though and took it to the Eagles DL.
What was your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Eagles?
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