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Game Notes

By the Numbers: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

John Williams

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Predicting Cowboys Team Leaders for 2017
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

The Philadelphia Eagles (8-1) come to town in what is a pivotal game for your Dallas Cowboys (5-4). The teams have reversed roles from the 2016 season and Dallas is looking at the real possibility of missing the playoffs if the injury woes continue to hit them at key positions.

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

November 13th, 2017: - Eagles are 8-1 - Cowboys are 5-4, after a loss in Atlanta A year ago today? November 13th, 2016: - Cowboys are 8-1 - Eagles are 5-4, coincidentally after a win against Atlanta A lot can change in a year.

The most important stat I can give you now is that the Dallas Cowboys sit three games behind the Philadelphia Eagles with seven games to play.

An insurmountable lead?

Not typically, but with the way the Eagles have played this year, it's difficult to see a scenario where they don't win the NFC East. For the Cowboys to have a chance at winning the division, they have to win this game. Dak Prescott and company can't afford to fall four games back in the division.

In the wild card standings, America's Team is one game behind the Seattle Seahawks for the second wild card. So don't let the naysayers tell you that the Cowboys are finished. It's further from the truth.

On a positive side, Dallas leads the all-time series with a record of 65-51 (56%). Jason Garrett's record against the Philadelphia Eagles as the head coach is 7-7, which is pretty Jason Garrett like.

The Dallas Cowboys have work to do. With that, lets look at the statistics surrounding this all-important matchup.

Takeaway Tuesday: 2

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

1

At 8-1, the Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in the NFL, let alone the NFC. Quarterback Carson Wentz is leading the NFL in touchdowns, is second in touchdown percentage, and third in quarterback rating. He's having a tremendous season.

2

The Philadelphia Eagles, led by quarterback Carson Wentz are the second highest scoring team in the NFL, second only to the Los Angeles Rams. After a season in which the 2016 NFL Draft's first and second overall picks struggled, Jared Goff and Wentz now have their teams leading the NFL in scoring.

Further evidence that we shouldn't overreact about a bad quarter, bad game, or even a bad season.

3.6

Philadelphia's run defense is only allowing 3.6 yards per carry, which is fourth in the NFL. They've only allowed one 100 yard rusher this season and have held seven of their nine opponents under 80 yards on the ground.

4

As impressive as Wentz has been in the passing game, the running game has been equally impressive, led by LeGarrette Blount. As a team they've rushed for the fourth most yards in the league. They were a plodding rushing team with Blount, but have received a boost from former Cowboys draft crush Jay Ajayi, who ran for 77 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. They are a balanced team.

Dak Prescott Should Be In The MVP Conversation

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

5

Dak Prescott's five rushing touchdowns are the most at the quarterback position and only two off the lead of Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Mark Ingram.

Quarterbacks Cam Newton and DeShone Kizer, who sit behind Dak with four rushing touchdowns, are only averaging 4.9 and 5.0 yards per carry. Dak is averaging a robust 7.4 yards per carry on 32 attempts.

Carson Wentz is averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 44 carries.

6

Philadelphia's +6 turnover differential sits sixth in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys' +2 is good enough for 12th in the league. Both Carson Wentz (5) and Dak Prescott (4) have done well to not throw it to the other team.

8

Eagles CB Patrick Robinson is eighth in the NFL in passes defensed with 11. He's only two off the leader. Jourdan Lewis, who leads the Dallas Cowboys in the same category, has only registered six.

9

Philadelphia has allowed the ninth most passing yards in the NFL this season, but they've only allowed 14 passing touchdowns, tied for 15th in the league.

10

In points allowed, the Eagles sit 10th in the NFL having given up 179 or an average of 19.88 points per game. Dallas has now dropped to 18th after giving up 27 to the Atlanta Falcons and are giving up an average of 22.78 points per game.

11.5

DeMarcus Lawrence regained the top spot in the NFL with his sack of Matt Ryan on Sunday. With 11.5 sacks through nine games, Lawrence is on pace for 20.44 sacks this season. He'll have a good shot at picking up a couple more this Sunday. As I mentioned above, Philly has allowed the eighth most sacks in the NFL this season. If Lawrence wants to keep the single season sack record within reach, he'll need to pick up the pace a bit.

21

Zach Ertz, who is the leading receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles coming into this game--and has more receiving yards than Dez Bryant--ranks 21st in the NFL in yards and 17th in receptions overall. Among tight ends, only Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots have more receiving yards. Only Jack Doyle from the Indianapolis Colts and Kelce have more receptions.

Byron Jones, you're up.

23

While Wentz has done a number on opposing defenses, those defenses have also sacked him 23 times, which is good for the 8th most in the NFL. Time for David Irving and DeMarcus Lawrence to go to the buffet.

29

The Eagles' 29 first downs allowed in the running game are the fewest in the NFL. This doesn't bode well for a team that is hampered on the offensive line and missing All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

35

Dallas allows 35 points per game when Sean Lee is inactive. After he left the game against the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys allowed 27 points. Let's just say that without Sean Lee, the Dallas defense struggles a bit.

42

Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are tied for the team lead in receptions with 42, though Dez has had 28 more targets than Witten.

53.1

At 53.1 yards per game, wide receiver Dez Bryant leads the Dallas Cowboys. That's a pretty low number for a team leader. He and Dak haven't been able to connect downfield, but they are getting more comfortable underneath.

61.4

Philadelphia has allowed a completion percentage of 61.4%. They've allowed the most attempts and the most completions in the NFL. This looks like one of those games where Dak will be asked to throw the ball 40 times.

Looking on the Bright Side of an Ugly Dallas Cowboys Loss

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)

76.4

Among players with 40 or more receptions, Jason Witten's 76.4 catch percentage ranks seventh in the NFL. The only non-running back that is in front of the future NFL Hall of Famer; wide receiver Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions.

96.3

Dak Prescott's passer rating has him 11th in the NFL at the moment. He's been trending up for more than a month. Hopefully, Tyron Smith is back this week so Dak can get back to slinging it around comfortably, because the run game is going to have some difficulties.

Bonus Stats

  • The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys are neck and neck in offensive yards per play at 5.7 and 5.6, which put them sixth and seventh respectively in the NFL.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, again, they are nearly identical with the Philadelphia Eagles at 5.1 yards per play and the Dallas Cowboys at 5.2.

If there were ever a midseason game that is a must-win, this seems like one. They can do it, but they'll need a little health to be on their side. Don't forget to check out our Staff Picks later this week.

With that, Let's Go Cowboys!!!


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

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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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