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Game Notes

By the Numbers: Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers

John Williams

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Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys At Green Bay Packers: Game Info (TV, Radio, Stream)
Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

This Sunday marks the sixth time that the Dallas Cowboys will face the Green Bay Packers since 2013, including the playoffs. Outside of the division, no team has become a bigger thorn in the side of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all remember the playoff game from the 2016 NFL Playoffs. It’s still fairly fresh.

Dak Prescott and company got off to an amazingly slow start to roar back to tie the game in the final minutes. If not for a miraculous play from Aaron Rodgers, an offensive holding not called, and an amazing catch along the sideline by tight end Jared Cook, the story might have ended differently.

That Aaron Rodgers to Jared Cook pitch and catch was awarded the 2017 ESPY for the “Best Play.”

Best play sounds like one of Mark Lane’s (@TheRealMarkLane“Fun Facts.” It’s the best… depending on which side of the result you were on.

We all remember the “Dez Caught It” game.

Sorry to rehash the old awful memories, but the Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers are the equivalent of the San Antonio Spurs to the Dallas Mavericks. The Detroit Red Wings to the Dallas Stars. The Detroit Pistons to the Chicago Bulls.

The Packers have been that team which has made life difficult for the home town team. Whether it was Romo in 2014 or Dak last year, it seems that the Green Bay Packers are always around to foil our great expectations.

Yet, here we are again, with an important game against a team that is playing really good football. The good news is this Cowboys core has had success. Albeit a 1-1 record over the last year, one of those wins, however was in Green Bay. That counts for something.

With all that said, let’s dig into the numbers surrounding this week’s game.

Does Cowboys Defense Deserve Pass In Sean Lee's Absence? 3

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley, Dallas Cowboys SS Jeff Heath

-3

After last week’s loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys sit with a -3 point differential on the season.

-1

The current turnover differential for the Dallas Cowboys after giving it up twice to the Los Angeles Rams. One was Ryan Switzer’s muffed punt. The other was on a Dak Prescott interception where it was unlikely he saw the defender after the roll-out.

0.3

The percentage points that Dak Prescott’s completion percentage sits above fellow second-year quarterback and NFC East bunk mate, Carson Wentz. At 60.8, Dak, while un-Dak-like sits 0.8 percentage points above Marcus Mariota.

The five players worse than that trio are; Jacoby Brissett, Carson Palmer, Brian Hoyer, Blake Bortles, and DeShone Kizer.

1

The Green Bay Packers hold a one-game lead in the all-time series with the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are 13-14 all-time. Including the playoffs, Dallas still sits one game back in the all-time series.

Seems like a good time to tie that up.

DeMarcus Lawrence continues to sit alone atop the NFL’s Sack Leaders, now with 7.5 He remains on pace for an incredible 30 sacks. Again, it is very unlikely that he will keep up such a torrid pace, but with David Irving, Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, and Chidobe Awuzie all coming back to the defense, it’s possible it opens things up for Lawrence.

3

Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott have each thrown three interceptions in the first four games of the season.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, and Case Keenum are the only players who have thrown more than 100 passes without throwing an interception this year.

5

This is where the Packers rank in passing yards allowed per game. That’s pretty amazing considering teams are typically forced to throw to keep up with Green Bay. They’ve held two teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals (OT included) to under 200 yards passing.

Five also represents the number of players on the Dallas Cowboys who have caught more than 10 passes through the first four games. Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, and Cole Beasley have each caught more than 10 passes.

10

Aaron Rodgers’ 10 touchdown passes have him tied with Tom Brady for the most in the NFL at the moment. Dak Prescott is in the next group of players who sit just two behind them with eight TD passes. Those other players are Alex Smith and Drew Brees.

12

At 2-2 the Dallas Cowboys sit among 12 teams that are 2-2 or better in the NFC. Of those 12 teams, six of them are 3-1 or better. For comparisons sake, the AFC has only 11 teams at 2-2 or better with only four teams at 3-1 or better.

The NFC is a jumbled mess. Dallas needs to win this one to maintain their playoff standing in the conference.

15

The amount of times that Aaron Rodgers has been sacked so far this season. That’s the third most in the NFL. Only Alex Smith (16) and Carson Palmer (17) have been sacked more times than Rodgers.

Morris Claiborne, Damien Wilson, Packers

Green Bay Packers WR Jordy Nelson #87 (Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

20

Jordy Nelson’s current touchdown pace. With five through four games, Nelson leads the NFL in touchdown receptions. Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Brice Butler lead the Dallas Cowboys with two apiece.

25

Points per game average for the Green Bay Packers. That’s good for eighth in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys are 12th at 23.5 points per game.

28

Green Bay is 28th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. The Packers only average 74 yards rushing per game and haven’t had a single game in 2017 where they’ve rushed for more than 100 yards as a team. That bodes well for a Dallas team that has struggled a bit to stop the run.

69.3

Ezekiel Elliott’s rushing yards per game, which is the ninth best average in the NFL. If you take out his poor 8-yard effort against the Denver Broncos in week two, who’ve only allowed 202 yards rushing for the season, Elliott is averaging 89.67 yards per game.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Giants 4

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott #21 (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

76

Elliott’s 76 attempts rank him fourth in the NFL in rushing attempts. Only Le’Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette, and Todd Gurley have more carries than Elliott in 2017. Gurley is the only one of that foursome that is averaging more than 4.0 yards per carry.

In fact, of the 19 running backs with more than 50 attempts so far, only seven are averaging more than four yards per carry. OUCH!!!

89

Through four games Dak Prescott has rushed for 89 yards, averaging 22.5 yards per game. In 2016, it took till the seventh game of the season for Prescott to reach the 89-yard mark. Dak’s legs have been a nice addition to the offense.

92

The amount of times that Ezekiel Elliott has touched the ball through four games. Barring a suspension, this would put him on pace to touch the ball 368 times.

100.7

Aaron Rodgers’ passer rating, tied for seventh in the league with Tyrod Taylor.

Yes, you read that right. 

Dak Prescott on the other hand is 18th in the NFL with a passer rating of 90.1, just behind Eli Manning and Carson Wentz.

111

The amount of rushing yards that Green Bay has allowed per game. In their week two loss to the Atlanta Falcons, they allowed a total of 141 yards rushing.

Outside of the Packers’ week one win over the Seattle Seahawks, they’ve allowed every team to gain more than 100 yards on the ground.

‘Cause People Like Numbers, Here are More Numbers

  • At 5.0 and 5.2 yards per play allowed on defense, respectively, the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers are virtually identical in that regard.
  • Green Bay is allowing 20.3 points per game and Dallas 24.3.
  • Dallas has allowed opponents to score on 39.1% of their drives while the Packers have allowed opponents to score on only 31% of their drives.
  • Dallas leads the league in defensive starting position.

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I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn’t look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Ryan Switzer’s first target came on a third down — something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can’t catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 – Streamable

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Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender’s face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 – Streamable

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Switzer’s third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback — who is cheating to the inside — with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I’d still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might’ve lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season’s finally over. It wasn’t easy, but we’re still here. Here’s to 2018. Let’s hope it’s a good one for our Cowboys. Here’s this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Coaching Staff Didn’t Help Its Cause

It’s more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett’s job was not an issue. Now, Jerry’s even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it’s true.

While I don’t think we’ll see a new head coach anytime soon, I’d dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would’ve meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a “real action” game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC’s #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can’t help thinking about the coaches.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers’ first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones – Streamable

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Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I’d be surprised if the Cowboys don’t keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he’ll be paid $790,000 next year which isn’t at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn’t been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR – Streamable

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He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he’s used more next season.

At the end of the day, he’s a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on “gadget plays” or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott’s best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it’s too optimistic to expect something like that.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Dan Bailey’s Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey’s 2017 season hasn’t been easy at all. We’ve seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys’ season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it’s all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan “Automatic” Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we’re not sure about calling him “Automatic” anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let’s hope that’s the case.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports… Maybe next year. We’re on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation – despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli’s defense.

We’ll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean’s Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys’ second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles’ eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we’ll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott’s strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open — relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn’t been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn’t now that he’s lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer’s ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer’s spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean’s Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean’s Scout won’t be going anywhere! I’m shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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