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The Morning After: What Happened To The Dallas Cowboys On Sunday?

Kevin Brady

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Last week, I published an article flashing us back to the last time the Cowboys faced the Denver Broncos. It was 2013, and after a shootout for the ages, the Cowboys suffered a heartbreaking defeat.

Well, yesterday, the Cowboys played like it was 2013 once again. For the first time since that 8-8 season, a Cowboys team which had its real starting quarterback got absolutely demolished.

That's it, demolished. From start to finish the Denver Broncos controlled the game, en route to an embarrassing 42-17 defeat. And, for once, it was a complete team failure.

No, you can't simply blame the defense.

Sure Dallas couldn't get off the field on third down whatsoever and seemed to fold on every single key down, but offensively they simply had no answers for the stingy Denver defense. The offensive line could not open any real running lanes for Ezekiel Elliott and not a single receiver seemed to create any separation from the Broncos secondary.

Dak Prescott, who I firmly believe is the future of this franchise, played about as poorly as we have ever seen him play. Though one of his two interceptions was clearly not his fault, Prescott was still rather inaccurate all night long, finishing the day off with a pick six to Aqib Talib.

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Domata Peko (94) of the Denver Broncos Todd Davis (51) and Adam Gotsis (99) tackle Ezekiel Elliott (21) of the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter on Sunday, September 17, 2017. The Denver Broncos hosted the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

But, with all that being said, this is not completely on the offense either.

This was, by far, the worst tackling performance by a Cowboys defense in two seasons. There are obvious holes in this defensive unit which we have all acknowledged, but when Byron Jones and Sean Lee have bad days, the unit simply doesn't stand much of a chance.

Just about the only bright spot from this 42-17 loss was defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who pressured Trevor Siemian multiple times and came away with a strip sack to set up a Cowboys touchdown. Besides Lawrence, and a Jourdan Lewis interception, the defense was abysmal.

But, even with all of that said, I can't blame this all on the players either. Dallas was completely out-coached yesterday, from the top down. Jason Garrett made some very questionable decisions late in the game which, while may not have really affected whether a comeback would have happened, still caused me to scratch my head.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan tried to get cute a little too often, and left his young quarterback in some terrible situations. Especially on the road against this defense. And, of course, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's unit just did not seem ready to play whatsoever.

The season is far from lost, though, Cowboys Nation. The Cowboys now travel to Arizona to play a 1-1 Cardinals team which barely squeaked by the lowly Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Then, they face an improved Los Angeles Rams team at home, in another game in which they should be favored.

The point is, the Cowboys should have plenty of time to right this ship and get back to playing the way they did over 17 games last season, and have once this season already.

This is still a very talented football team, and one that should win a lot of games and compete for the NFC East crown. It's been a long time since the Cowboys were beat down like they were yesterday.

Maybe they were just due.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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9 Comments
  • Reynaldo Laporte

    Good article brah, I look forward to the content this site provides…. Now onto the task at hand.

    This game came further highlighted an area where we have been struggling for some time and that is coaching and the failure to adapt both seem to be our Achilles heel. I swear if I see JG clapping on the sideline one more time I’ll go crazy. I am so happy that this was only week 2, but we have to get it together and fast.

  • Matthew Harrell

    Sadly the USS Prescott will have to actually hit the bottom before anyone sees it’s a ship full of holes. He just can’t throw deep and he can’t pick up an offense. Man I miss watching Romo carve up defenses. He did it with no RBs, no blocking, on the road, against top defense. Teams used to talk about fearing Romo and how they had to game plan to stop him. No one will ever say the key to the game is stopping Dak’s passing. No one.

    • Wayne Young

      I strongly disagree. Dak showed several times last year that he could overcome adversity in a game and pick up the team. Just don’t expect him to do it on a timely basis, YET. You forget this is only his second year and this was by far the worst game he’s had so far. He was definitely due for one. Romo certainly would have fared better yesterday than Dak, but that’s only because Romo has been there and done that time and time again. Like any young player Dak needs time to grow and get experience. It is completely unfair to expect that he can just put the entire team on his shoulders in only his second year in the league and win games by himself. It took YEARS for Romo to be able to do that and even then, he always had one or two games where he had a complete meltdown. What will be telling of Dak is how he responds the next few weeks. Usually Romo played just fine the rest of the season once he got that one terrible game out of the way. So far nothing shows that Dak will not overcome this game. Another thing, this offense is built to run the ball, not have a second year quarterback chuck it 50+ times. The Cowboys usually didn’t fare well when Romo had to throw it that many times either. Regardless of who it is they’re playing, they can’t start the game throwing 10 times out of their first 15 plays. That’s not who they are. JG and Linehan got out coached on the offensive side of the ball. They needed to keep running it to protect Dak and keep Denver’s dominant defense honest and they didn’t do it. Anybody talking about Dak not being the answer for the long term success of the Cowboys after ONE game needs to chill out.

    • Herman Taft

      Are you always this wrong? “…carve up defenses” to the tune of TWO playoff wins in ten years?!

  • Hector Espindola

    You nalied it: outcoached. But still we need help on the backfield and Caroll is not the answer, but hey there is a roster spot wasted on Moore. The problem can go beyond week 2…

    • l.a

      Your right about Carroll not the answer

  • l.a

    Lack of effort all together players coaches not 1 player but all as a whole need to reevaluate and fans relax

  • l.a

    And Shannon Sharpe is just a hater

  • l.a

    And make a note of la Collins being exposed by Miller several times

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" 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

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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