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Game Notes

Questions Remain Ahead Of Cowboys Dress Rehearsal

Brian Martin

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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.

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6 Comments
  • 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

L.P. Ladouceur Insists “Nothing Different” on FG Attempt

John Williams

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Cowboys Blog - Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur Is Greatest 91 In Dallas Cowboys History

There were other plays that certainly had as much of an impact on the outcome of the Dallas Cowboys loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. However, sequence of events surrounding L.P. Ladouceur and the game-tying field goal attempt are front and center.

Prior to Brett Maher's game-tying 52 yard field goal attempt clanged off of the left upright as time expired, backlash on social media had already begun to spread about the so-called "snap infraction" that moved the Dallas Cowboys from what would have been a 47 yard field goal attempt to the 52 yarder that Maher pulled.

Five yards closer and Maher gets that kick through the uprights and the Dallas Cowboys go to overtime with a chance to take the division lead. It didn't and the Cowboys fell to 3-4, now a game and a half behind the Washington Redskins as the Cowboys head into the bye.

After the game, many of us were watching the snap and trying to figure out what exactly he did wrong to warrant the penalty. According to L.P. Ladouceur, he did nothing wrong and was adamant about that in the rare post game interview.

“I just adjusted down so I could put my hands on the bottom of it so I could snap it in the right direction. Exact same thing I’ve been doing for 14 years … I’m not even trying to get him offside. I know the situation. Just too bad.” 

L.P.Ladouceur - via Todd Archer, ESPN.com

It was a rare "miscue" for the 14 year veteran deep snapper. Seriously, I can't remember a time when this call was made on a deep snapper or when Ladouceur had a bad snap. He's been excellent. If deep snappers could get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, L.P. would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. He's been that good.

As Cowboys Nation attempted to make sense of the call, the NFL Officials Twitter account had an explanation of the penalty call after the game, which may give you more understanding, or more frustration.

NFL Officiating on Twitter

The illegal ball movement by the center in #DALvsWAS causes the defense to come across the neutral zone and contact a lineman." -AL https://t.co/Cv8Ugwb99p

Their argument was that Ladouceur moved the ball in his snap and that is an "illegal ball movement." It was that movement which caused the defender to come into the neutral zone and make contact with the offensive lineman.

I'll have to admit, watching deep snapper All-22 film is not something I'm going to find myself doing and so, we'll lean on Mike Garafolo here.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Just watched a few of L.P. Ladouceur's snaps in recent weeks. He moves the ball a lot at times. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The difference could be that nobody jumped on previous snaps. https://t.co/kc10gtMJ11

If what Garafolo says is true, that L.P. Ladouceur does move the ball a lot on his snaps, then how come he hasn't been called for it before. Mike could be right in that he hasn't been called for this before because no one has ever jumped offsides when he moved before. Regardless, the call has me wondering one of two things as to why they called it all of a sudden. 1) Either the officials don't usually see the ball movement or 2) they don't care. And both leave me a bit frustrated.

If they don't typically see the ball movement, then that means they didn't see the movement on Sunday and relied on the movement of the interior defensive lineman jumping offsides to make the call. To me, that is a problem. The officials need to be the ones making the call in these situations, especially a game-tying field goal attempt where five yards can make a huge difference. A defender is always going to act like he got drawn offsides. It's the officials job to make that call. Not the defense's.

If they don't typically care what long snappers are doing with the football prior to the snap, then why did they call it this time? A long snapper, like a kicker and punter, has a routine they go through prior to the snap to get their mind and body right. There's zero chance after 14 years in a game-tying situation that L.P. Ladouceur changed his approach to snapping on this particular field goal try.

The NFL Officiating body of the NFL says what he did is a penalty. Ladouceur says that's how he's always snapped.

So it begs the question, "why now?"

If that's always been a penalty and he's always snapped it like that, why did they pick that time in that situation to make that call. It may have been the right call, but it was a ticky-tack call and it inserted the officials into the outcome of the football game. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys killed themselves with a lot of penalties in really bad situations on Sunday. Like the Connor Williams hold to negate the Cole Beasley first down reception prior to the Ryan Kerrigan strip of Dak Prescott that led to a touchdown. However, you never want a penalty to decide a game.

On Sunday, the officiating crew asserted themselves to call a penalty on a play they either didn't see or didn't care about in L.P. Ladouceur's 14 year career to date. And while, Maher still could have -- and should have -- made that kick, there's no denying that the penalty had an impact on the game.

You never want to point to officiating as the reason your team loses a game, because there are always calls that go against either team that you could argue were bad calls. Unfortunately, this bad call pushed Brett Maher's field goal attempt back five yards, which had a direct impact on the game.

It may have been a penalty, it was a weak call at a really bad time for the Dallas Cowboys. With only nine games remaining in the 2018 NFL season, that call certainly hurt their chances of making the playoffs.

It's just another in a long line of officiating decisions that has hurt the Dallas Cowboys and that act is getting old.



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Game Notes

3 Stars from Cowboys Loss to the Redskins

John Williams

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Cowboys Roster: Dallas Made Right Decisions on Unproven Skill Players

Loss. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. That's where we stand after seven games with the Dallas Cowboys alternating home wins and road losses and through nearly half the schedule en route to their 3-4 record.

It was a disappointing loss after a defensive effort that held the Washington Redskins to 13 points on the day. The offense had some good moments, but the road inconsistency and penalties killed throughout the NFC East matchup. The Dallas Cowboys playoff chances took a substantial hit with the loss. With only nine games left in the season, the Cowboys are probably going to have to go 7-2 to make the playoffs.

It's not impossible they could get on a run, but it certainly looks bleak.

Before we move forward, let's look back and highlight this week's 3 Stars of the game.

First Star

Ryan Kerrigan, Washington Redskins

There were several players that gave the Dallas Cowboys offensive line fits on Sunday, but Ryan Kerrigan's strip-sack of Dak Prescott in the fourth quarter was the difference in the football game.

The Cowboys were trailing by three and after being backed up because of a holding penalty on Cowboys' Left Guard Connor Williams. Dallas was facing a 3rd and 14 at their own 10 yard line. Dak Prescott had good initial protection, but held the ball too long allowing Kerrigan to get to him, strip the ball, and Preston Smith recovered in the end zone to put the Redskins up by 10 with less than five minutes to play.

Kerrigan finished the game with five tackles (4 solo), two sacks, one tackle for loss, a pass deflection, the forced fumble, and two quarterback hits. It was a strong day for one of the longtime Redskins greats.

Second Star

Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins didn't really have a lot of offensive weapons at their disposal aside from Tight End Jordan Reed and Running Back Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson had a good game against a stout Dallas Cowboys run defense, which kept the Cowboys defense off-balance most of the afternoon.

His 22 carries for 99 yards may not be the best game ever, but his ability to hit some big runs early and run with consistency early in the game put the Redskins ahead of the chains. On a day when the Redskins were down three of the top four receiving targets, Peterson needed to be effective for Washington to have a chance. He was a big reason the Redskins put up the 13 points on offense that they did.

Peterson ran hard "All Day" and made life difficult for the Dallas Cowboys defense.

Third Star

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys

After last week's performance, I wrote a piece predicting that a breakout game was imminent for rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup.

He delivered the best game of his career Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins hauling in three receptions on five targets for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Gallup's touchdown reception was a beautiful double move that left the Redskins corner in the dust on his way to his first career touchdown. It was a huge play at the end of the first half that put the Dallas Cowboys on the board. They hadn't really gotten much going prior to that drive. It was a nice step forward for Gallup who has been making strides since some early season struggles.

The Dallas Cowboys have needed someone to step up on the outside to take some of the pressure off of Cole Beasley in the slot and Ezekiel Elliott and the running game. With another solid performance under his belt, Gallup is proving that he is a starter for the Dallas Cowboys now and in the future.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Who were your 3 Stars of the game in the Cowboys disappointing loss Sunday?



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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Redskins

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Redskins 5

Well, here we are again. The Dallas Cowboys lose another close game, but this time it might hurt a little bit more since it was to the division rival the Washington Redskins. This was definitely a game that could've gone either way since neither team played well, but in the end things just happened to go the Redskins way this time.

One or two things going just a little differently for the Cowboys likely would've been enough to secure the victory Sunday afternoon and I'm not even talking about Brett Maher's missed field goal. For instance, what if Quarterback Dak Prescott would've taken the safety instead of fumbling and letting the Redskins defense score a TD. That mistake it definitely hurt!

I could sit here and play the "what if" game with you all day, but we have nearly two weeks to do just that since the Cowboys are now on their bye week. Today, I want to share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from the first of two meetings between these two teams. Enjoy!

The Good

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

In yet another sloppy performance on the road, there was very little good to take away from the first meeting of the 2018 season between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. I think the one thing I will remember the most, in a positive way, from this matchup is Wide Receiver Michael Gallup's long touchdown pass from Quarterback Dak Prescott.

Michael Gallup continues to make plays when given the opportunity. In another offense with a better play caller and maybe even a better QB, Gallup would likely be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but has failed to make much of an impact with the Cowboys so far. Hopefully that will change after the bye week though.

If I'm the Cowboys coaching staff, I'm going to find ways to get Michael Gallup more involved in the passing game coming out off the bye week. Other than Cole Beasley, he is the only one who is having much of an impact and definitely needs to see more targets. I would make that a top priority moving forward.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

There is so much that I could put in this section, but I think the worst thing that happened Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Redskins was the fact that we will have nearly 2 weeks of having to listen and talk about it. For me, that is the bad!

Yes, you read that right. Now that the Cowboys are heading into their bye week, we have two entire weeks to dissect and analyze everything that has gone right or wrong this year, especially what happened against the Redskins since it's the freshest in our minds.

This was definitely a tough loss, and one that could come back and hurt the Cowboys when it comes to playoff seeding at the end of the season. Too many mental mistakes and penalties definitely assisted in the letdown, but in the end they just weren't good enough to win on the road. That's absolutely something that needs to change since they haven't won a road game all season.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

I'm going to have to go with both the offense and defense for the Dallas Cowboys as the ugly against the Redskins Sunday afternoon. Neither unit really played all that well, even though they both probably played well enough to win the game if just a few things would've gone just a little bit differently.

On the offensive side of the ball the Cowboys couldn't get anything going for nearly the entire game. The Redskins did an excellent job of bottling up Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott couldn't get anything going in the passing game until the fourth quarter. They did have a few big plays called back due to holding penalties, but overall it was a pretty sloppy performance.

Defensively things weren't much better. The Cowboys have been pretty good at stopping the run this season, but for some reason couldn't find an answer of how to stop Adrian Peterson. The defense probably played better than the Cowboys offense, stopping the Redskins in the red zone on several occasions and only giving up one TD, but in the end it just wasn't enough.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Redskins?



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