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Preseason Game #1: Chargers 17, Cowboys 7 – Football Is Back!

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Preseason Game #1: Chargers 17, Cowboys 7 - Football Is Back!

Welcome, everyone! Have a seat. Take a deep breath and relax, that really just happened.

We've been starving for Dallas Cowboys football and we got to munch on a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Was it a steak with a baked potato and grilled asparagus? Of course not. But dude, it was food!

As is normal in the high-energy preseason jungle, there were a lot of things that we really liked... and some things that we need to work on.

Keep in mind that this was the first preseason game and that in the grand scheme of things it means very little. The starters were mostly on the sidelines, and tonight was mostly an opportunity for the guys looking to make the team.

First Quarter

The Cowboys received the opening kickoff and got to work early. The starting offensive line (from left to right) was Weems, Leary, Frederick, Martin, and Wetzel. All-World talent Brandon Weeden led the Cowboy offense and looked somewhat poised. He hit Terrance Williams on 3rd and long - a reception that Terrance cut back to his right side, picked up a nice block from fullback Tyler Clutts, and picked up a first down.

Terrance Williams looked really nice out there. Even though he gets things going on Tuesdays with his #TWillTuesday hashtag, it might be time to start considering #TWillThursday as an option. With Dez Bryant holding out earlier this offseason Terrance got a lot of work and it shows in his play.

Unfortunately Brandon Weeden couldn't handle a snap from Travis Frederick. The ball sailed over his right side and, I guess since he's in California he thinks he's a Golden State Warrior, Brandon tried to dribble - a football, mind you - and the Chargers recovered it.

Danny Woodhead scored on a nice draw play, Woodhead was the X Factor when the Chargers beat the Cowboys back in 2013, giving San Diego a 7-0 lead. The first team offense, if you want to call it that, for the Cowboys was done after one series. The second team would punt and the Chargers held the ball as the first quarter came to a close.

Second Quarter

The "first team" defense of the Dallas Cowboys played a second series, and boy were they impressive. Remember these words - Tyrone Crawford is going to be a beast this year. He was consistently behind the offensive linemen, and he is absolutely going to wreak some havoc this season.

We finally got a chance to see Greg Hardy in action and he looks like the man that the Cowboys paid for. He looked very disruptive and didn't miss a beat when he had to float out in coverage to cover the Chargers tight end. It's going to be very exciting to see what the defensive line that Rod Marinelli puts together can do.

The Cowboys offense finally got in gear in the second quarter, when second year quarterback Dustin Vaughan put together a nice drive like a set of legos. He hit both Devin Street and Gavin Escobar like a classic 1-2 punch as he matriculated his way down the field.

Gus Johnson, aka The Gus Bus, showed the Cowboy fans what life at the running back position post DeMarco Murray can look like when he bulldozed his way into the endzone for the game-tying touchdown. Darrion Weems looked particularly great as he cleared the path for the Gus Bus down the highway.

Back on defense, Training Camp standout Damien Wilson showed why everyone is raving about him. He had a nice third down stop where he flew through the hole to get to running back Branden Oliver. Free agent signee Corey White also looked incredible. He was breaking up passes and almost had an interception on a shortly thrown pass. Brought in to replace the departed Sterling Moore, Corey White adds some safety (no pun intended) to the corner position.

Unfortunately the Cowboys, Jeff Heath specifically, got shaken by Branden Oliver near the end of the quarter. Oliver turned on the jukes and left Heath on the ground. The Chargers took their 14-7 lead into the half.

Third Quarter

The Cowboys kicked off as the third quarter got underway at Qualcomm Stadium. By this point we were well into the backups and most people had started to order their Gus Johnson jerseys online.

Randy Gregory, Ryan Russell, and Davon Coleman showed that the depth on the defensive line is certainly talented when they were constantly hanging out near the Chargers backfield. Randy Gregory managed to get his first sack in the NFL tonight, which is a big deal! Hopefully this success is going to translate over to the rest of his career.

Lache Seastrunk finally got into the game in the third quarter, but he didn't show anything particularly special. Someone who definitely wasn't special was offensive tackle RJ Dill (which makes me sad because we share a name) as he struggled. The first penalty finally came during the third when Gavin Escobar was caught holding. This is pretty impressive considering that preseason games are usually filled with penalties, it speaks to how well they're coached.

The third ended with Chargers still in the lead, 14-7.

Fourth Quarter

San Diego managed to put a field goal on the board early to stretch the score to 17-7, Chargers. Quarterback/any position you need him to be Jameill Showers got in the game for the Cowboys and he looked impressive. He lacks the touch that Dustin Vaughan has, but he was definitely impressive in limited action. As noted on the broadcast, his game is similar to that of Russell Wilson.

Rookie offensive lineman La'el Collins had a very productive night out in Qualcomm. He's not exactly going to take away the starting left guard from Ronald Leary just yet, but he showed a lot of promise and reason for why he was touted as highly as he was.

Tight end, and fan favorite, Geoff Swaim got in the game for a little while and looked solid; however, wide receiver Deontay Greenberry had a pretty poor night... dropping almost everything that came his way.

San Diego held on to their lead and as the first game of the preseason wrapped up, with the Chargers beat the Cowboys by a score of 17-7.

Final Thoughts

The Dallas Cowboys lost their preseason opener in San Diego last year by a score of 27-7, so we are officially 10 points better at this point defensively than we were last year!

Seriously though, there is a lot to be excited about. Most of the significant starters at the skill positions didn't play, but Devin Street and Gavin Escobar are going to contribute big time to the offense this year.

Defensively, Tyrone Crawford and Greg Hardy are going to be a big problem for opposing offensive linemen. Randy Gregory, Ryan Russell, and Davon Coleman are going to provide a great sense of depth, too. Damien Wilson is well on his way to being Anthony Hitchens 2.0 which, hold your breath, gives the Cowboys a sense of depth at the linebacker position as well.

Gus Johnson has a long way to go before leading the league in rushing, but he definitely helped his case for being on the team tonight. I'm really looking forward to the battle at the backup quarterback position as Dustin Vaughan and Jameill Showers continue to compete.

Get excited, football is back!


Want to share your thoughts on the first preseason game? Email me at rjochoa@insidethestar.com or Tweet @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Preseason Game #1: Chargers 17, Cowboys 7 – Football Is Back!" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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