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Game Notes

Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal

Brian Martin



Cowboys Headlines - Unanswered Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal

The Dallas Cowboys square off against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night for their "dress rehearsal" preseason game. What this means is that we will likely see the starters played a lot more than they did the first two preseason games and even see little more game planning on the coaching staff's part.

Heading into this contest against the Seahawks, I still have a lot of unanswered questions that I will hopefully get the answer to.

If these questions are not answered Thursday night, then it's unlikely they will be answered until the 2016 season is underway. This is because we are unlikely see very many of the starters in the fourth preseason game against the Houston Texans. This game is generally used by the coaching staff to evaluate the players fighting for the final few roster spots.

So, without further ado here are a few questions that I would like answered.

Where is the pass rush?

Cowboys Headlines - Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Okay, the defense has actually performed a lot better in the first two preseason games then anyone probably could have expected. I think we can all agree with that right?

But let's get real here for second. The questions surrounding the pass rush for the Cowboys defense has to be one of the biggest concerns heading into the dress rehearsal game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday night.

It's pretty sad when Shaneil Jenkins was just signed about two weeks ago and he is the one that has shown up the most when getting after the opposing QB.

So far, the main pressure has been coming from the interior defensive line and the carousel of defensive ends has yet to make much of an impact. This is in large part due to the injuries they sustained to some of the key pass rushers, so it maybe it's just a matter of getting everyone healthy.

Nevertheless, the pass rush still has to be the biggest unanswered question for me.

How will Cowboys top draft picks perform?

Cowboys Headlines - Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal 1You might not have noticed because it's kind of flown under the radar, but the only draft picks to see any preseason action were all selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, with the exception of Dak Prescott.

Prescott of course has far exceeded anyone's expectations, but Darius Jackson, Anthony Brown, and Rico Gathers are the only other Cowboys draft picks to receive any NFL experience.

Ezekiel Elliott is expected to be the lead running back and should make his NFL debut against the Seahawks, so we will finally get to see him in action. Also, Maliek Collins is expected to play Thursday night and he could end up being a key rotational player along the defensive line. And then we have Charles Tapper, who has been sidelined with a sore back. We're still unsure if his athleticism as a defensive end can improve the pass rush for the Cowboys defense or not.

With the exception of Jaylon Smith (unlikely to play in 2016), Elliott, Collins, and Tapper are still unknowns. They were expected to be impact players in some capacity, so hopefully we can see something out of the top draft picks against Seattle.

Are the Cowboys confident in the backup quarterback situation?

Cowboys Headlines - Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal 2When the expected backup quarterback Kellen Moore went down with a leg injury, the Dallas Cowboys kind of went into a panic mode. They thankfully calmed their nerves and took the wait-and-see approach instead of signing a veteran player.

As things stand right now, I don't think the Cowboys could possibly be more pleased with what they have seen so far from Dak Prescott.

The reason this is still an unanswered question for me is the fact that as head coach, Jason Garrett has always preferred to have a veteran backup. I personally think Prescott has done enough to be the backup QB, but I think this question will still remain unanswered until #4 is confirmed as the backup to Tony Romo.

Of course, this question means nothing if Romo remains healthy the entire 2016 season.

Can Chaz Green be the swing tackle in 2016?

Cowboys Headlines - Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal 3In all honesty, the swing tackle position for the Dallas Cowboys is more concerning to me then just about any other unanswered question on this list.

I think we can all agree that the bookends on the offensive line are arguably the most important positions on the team with the exception of quarterback. They are in charge of keeping the opposing defenses best pass rusher's from teeing off on the person in charge of operating the offense, the quarterback.

Tyron Smith has been cautiously monitored due to a pinched nerve in his neck. He has yet to make an appearance in the preseason and might not see the field until week one against the New York Giants. Doug Free isn't getting any younger and has struggled with injuries himself over past few years. If either player goes down with an injury for any amount of time the Cowboys offense is in trouble.

Chaz Green has played left tackle the first two games of the preseason and has had his ups and downs. Right now, the swing tackle position is his to lose, but he really needs to become more consistent.

The coaching staff may choose to sit Tyron Smith and that would mean that Green would get the opportunity to prove himself against a talented Seattle Seahawks pass rush.

Are there any unanswered questions that still concern you?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share with us your remaining unanswered questions.


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • George Johnson

    Brian, We know they are going to have a very potent offense as long as they don’t have too many key injuries. Elliot is likely to be a star. T Romo and D Bryant are likely to get back into form. This should be exciting to watch. The concern is the defense. Can you expect to get very far in the playoffs without a strong defense? They will most likely need a strong defense in order to even get to the playoffs or progress to the Super Bowl.

    • Brian Martin

      George, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’ve actually been pretty pleased with the way the defense has performed so far. I know these are just preseason games, but they are not giving up big plays and are putting pressure on the opposing QB’s. I think if they can get a lot of their players healthy, the defense will only get better. If you think about it, we still haven’t seen Charles Tapper, Benson Mayowa,, Orlando Scandrick, or even Tyrone Crawford play. Those were all players that I think should help the overall performance of the entire defense. The defense may not be what is considered playoff caliber, but I think if they finish somewhere in the middle the pack they can make a strong playoff push.

  • John Williams

    I’ve been surprised by the amount of pressure the defense has been able to create. Love the amount of confidence that the secondary is playing with as well. If the offense is as good as we think it’s going to be, then the defense is going to have a lot of opportunities to be looking pass.

    • Brian Martin

      I know I’m speaking for myself, but the way the Cowboys have performed so for in the preseason and has really raised my expectations for 2016. I think it’s even more impressive when you consider all of the injuries to some of the key players.

      • George Johnson

        Lets see how they do against Seattle a very strong defense and offense. My understanding is Seattle will likely play their starters into the third quarter and Dallas will likely pull their starters after a few series. This will also be a good test for D Prescott. If he is playing with the 2nd team and Seattle is using the 1st team on defense, watch out as the rookie and inexperience in him may start showing up. He has not had much pressure yet and receivers have been pretty open in the first two preseason games. The Seattle game could be quite different. I hope I am wrong and Dallas also plays their starters into the 3rd quarter with the exception of T Romo. I don’t want T Romo in the game until the third quarter as this would unnecessarily expose him to possible injury.

        • Brian Martin

          George, I think I agree with just about everything you said. I think this is going to be a really good “dress rehearsal” game for the Cowboys. I really like the matchup between the two ball clubs. The Cowboys rely more on their offensive output, whereas the Seahawks rely heavily on their defense. So, it’s kind of strength against strength. It should be a good measuring stick for what the team might look like when the season kicks off. I personally wouldn’t play Romo more than a quarter and then I would put Prescott in and see how he performs against a talented Seahawks defense. I’m really interested to see if he can rise to the occasion and continue his impressive performance.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady



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



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



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.

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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, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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