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Rookie Watch: Ranking Cowboys Top 5 Rookie Performances Against 49ers

Brian Martin

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Rookie Report: Which Cowboys Draft Picks Stood Out Against the 49ers?

The Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie draft class may not be the most impressive on paper, but they are expected to be contributors this year and hopefully for years to come. Last Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers was their first taste of NFL action and some of them lived up to expectations, while others kind of faltered under the pressure. Which ones were which?

Instead of reviewing all of the Dallas Cowboys rookie draft class player by player, I decided to discuss and rank who I believed were the top five performers against the 49ers. You of course can agree or disagree with my rankings, but below are the top five rookies who I believe stood out the most.

#5: RB, Tony Pollard (36)

It was a small sample size, but I believe Running Back Tony Pollard was by far the most impressive ballcarrier for the Dallas Cowboys Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers. He didn't look out of place running behind four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive lineman and was quite impressive doing so, averaging 4 yards per carry. He showed no hesitancy running between the tackles and was decisive with his footwork and vision after receiving the handoff. Overall was a good starting point, but we still need to see a larger sample size.

#4: LBs, Luke Gifford (57) and Justin Phillips (44)

If not for an unfortunate ankle injury, Linebacker Luke Gifford might have ended up as the most impressive Dallas Cowboys rookie against the 49ers. He was flying all over the field pre-injury and was impressive in pass coverage with a pass breakup and interception. Because of the injury though I have him tying with fellow LB Justin Phillips in the No. 4 slot. Phillips benefited from Gifford's injury by receiving more playing time. He was all over the field as well and ended up tying for the team lead in tackles (4) with LB Chris Covington.


#3: DE, Jalen Jelks (74)

Defensive End Jalen Jelks was already turning a few heads in training camp, which is it was good to see him carry that over into the preseason game against the 49ers. His very first snap couldn't have gone any better if he had planned it himself. He ended up sacking the QB on his very first play of the game and continued to be disruptive throughout the contest. That's not too shabby for a seventh-round pick. The Dallas Cowboys may have another late-round steal on their hands if he can continue to play the way he has since arriving in Dallas.

#2: S, Donovan Wilson (37)

Safety Donovan Wilson continues to impress both in practice and now in an actual game situation. He's been good in run support and showed Saturday night against the 49ers he is also pretty adept at knowing has responsibility in pass coverage as well. Like fellow rookie Luke Gifford, Wilson also came away with an interception in San Francisco. He perfectly read the QBs eyes and put himself in position to make the play. It's a long shot he can emerge as a Day 1 starter opposite Xavier Woods, but if he can continue to impress he may earn the job at some point in 2019.

#1: DT, Ricky Walker (68)

Ricky Walker!? I know that's what many of you are thinking. He's without a doubt one of the most unknown rookies with the Dallas Cowboys this year, but he didn't play like it against the San Francisco 49ers. He actually ended up leading all of the Cowboys defensive lineman in tackles (3) and proved to be just the type of disruptive player Rod Marinelli is looking for in his DTs. I'm sad to say, but he outperformed fellow rookie DT Trysten Hill, who Dallas took in the second-round this year. I still have high hopes for Hill, but Walker might be somebody we want to keep an eye on from here on out.

Which Dallas Cowboys rookies stood out to you against the San Francisco 49ers?


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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Game Notes

The Brady Report: Cowboys’ Fast Start Dooms Eagles

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: Cowboys' Fast Start Dooms Eagles

It's been nothing but doom and gloom around the Dallas Cowboys in recent weeks. After a 3-0 start propelled them towards the top of the league's elite, three straight disappointing losses had fans wondering if it was time for a regime change at head coach.

They went into Sunday night's game with the Eagles needing a win to salvage hope at earning a playoff spot, and boy did they answer the bell. The Cowboys dominated the Philadelphia Eagles from the opening snap, routing their hated rivals 37-10 and improving to 4-3 on the season.


Let's get into my game notes from this overwhelmingly positive performance.

  • Let's start with the quarterback. Dak Prescott was tremendous yet again on Sunday night, and we're getting to the point where his sample size of positive play is too large to ignore. Prescott was 21 of 27 for 239 yards and a touchdown (and an interception as well), but he also had a rushing touchdown to add to his totals. Prescott has complete control of the offense, and even checked out of a negative box count to exploit the Eagles blitz look down in the red zone. He leads the league in QBR this season, and he is the unquestioned franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. As he should be.
  • Sticking with praise on offense, Ezekiel Elliott looked like Zeke on Sunday night. From his very first carry you could tell Elliott was running with a different burst and energy than we'd seen in recent weeks, and he later ran right over Malcolm Jenkins to set up the team's second score of the game. Elliott was impossible to bring down all night, to the tune of 111 yards and a touchdown on 5 yards per carry.
  • La'el Collins has been incredible this season, and Sunday was no different. The Cowboys recently extended right tackle shut Brandon Graham down for basically the entire night, and kept Prescott upright and comfortable in the pocket. Tyron Smith was clearly not healthy or himself on the other side, but the rest of this offensive line picked up the slack and had their best performance since the season opener.
  • Connor Williams deserves a shoutout as well. He was getting off double teams to the second level and cutting linebackers off to clear rushing lanes for Zeke all night long.
  • Defensively, the Cowboys had their best performance of 2019. They hadn't been able to force turnovers all season, but they came away with four in this week's win. Xavier Woods' interception of Wentz might've spoken the loudest, as it proved how good this defense can be when the game script is working in their favor. When things go according to plan early for this team, they have the talent to take total control and dominate.
  • Jourdan Lewis was inserted into the starting lineup due to injury, and he was awesome from the opening snap. Lewis came away with a big sack on Caron Wentz and had 4 tackles overall as well. Byron Jones returned from the injury he suffered a week ago, and was back to his old shutdown ways. Jones is clearly the best cornerback on this team, and is one of the better corners in all of football. When he's healthy and playing as he did during Sunday's win, few have an argument over him.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence also had his best game of 2019, creating consistent pressure on Wentz throughout the night. His biggest play, of course, was his sack fumble which set the Cowboys up for a 14-0 lead just two possessions into the game. Lawrence has been taking a lot of heat from the fanbase in recent weeks, but he responded in a big way on Sunday.
  • Those are the linebackers I remember from 2018. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were all over the field during this game, and Sean Lee had a pretty nice game as well once Vander Esch went down. Lee and Smith each finished with 7 tackles, and Smith forced the Eagles' first fumble of the night on their opening drive. Lee made a nice play on the ball on a late fourth down throw that easily could've been an interception as well.


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Game Notes

Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Matthew Lenix

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Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Coming into yesterday's battle for NFC East supremacy against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys defense was looking to regain some swagger. The Green Bay Packers were led by Aaron Jones who had a career day with 182 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 34-24 beatdown of the Cowboys. Last week at Metlife Stadium, the New York Jets got a career day themselves from their former third overall pick in Sam Darnold who threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his return from Mononucleosis that kept him out since Week one. The Cowboys were handed their third consecutive loss 24-22 and their season was headed down the drain.

It would be paramount for the Cowboys defensive unit to set a tone and they didn't waste any time doing so. The Eagle's first possession would only last five plays as Jaylon Smith forced a fumble by Tight End Dallas Goedert that was recovered by Maliek Collins. Just two plays into their second drive, Carson Wentz was strip-sacked by All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence inside the Eagles own 15 which was recovered by Antwaun Woods. Both turnovers led to scores for the Cowboys as they took an early 14-0 lead in the games first six minutes.

After the Eagles scored on a seven-play 87-yard drive with a little over four minutes to go in the first quarter they would only run 12 plays the rest of the first half, and the Cowboys went into the locker room with a commanding 27-7 lead.

The second half would be a continuation of the first 30 minutes of play. After an exchange of field goals in the third quarter, the Eagles were simply out of their misery early in the fourth. Wentz was intercepted by Safety Xavier Woods and he committed his second fumble of the game on the very next drive. In the end, the Cowboys whipped the Eagles from start to finish 37-10 and claimed outright first place in the NFC East.


There were several encouraging signs defensively for the Cowboys vs the Eagles. Maliek Collins matched his season total with five tackles and also recovered a fumble. Both starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn each had a sack showing exactly why the Cowboys put this combo together, to terrorize quarterbacks. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had four tackles and a sack, a great follow up to his four tackle performance with an interception a week earlier, further making his case to be the top guy at nickel corner in this defense. The old veteran Sean Lee didn't go unnoticed either as his seven tackles were tied for of the team lead. He got more snaps due to Leighton Vander Esch's early exit with a neck injury.

You expect an offense like the Eagles to make plays and score points eventually, but the Cowboys defense wasn't having any of it in this contest. In addition to giving up under 300 yards of total offense, they only allowed the Eagles to convert three third downs, go 0 for 2 in the red zone and forced four turnovers. That's a recipe for victory any Sunday.

Now, the Cowboys go into the bye week sitting on top the NFC East throne. This is the perfect time to get guys fully healthy with a clash against the New York Giants on the road awaiting them in two weeks. The Cowboys defense played with their backs to the wall and pulled out a big-time performance when they needed it the most. Consistency is what has kept them from looking like the top seven unit they were in 2018. Was this game the turning point? We shall see, but nonetheless, this showing by them was exactly what the doctor ordered.


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Game Notes

Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 7 Against the Eagles

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 7 Against the Eagles

After three consecutive losses the Dallas Cowboys absolutely needed a good showing in Week 7 in a divisional game against the Philadelphia Eagles. To the surprise of probably everyone, including the Eagles, the Cowboys came out and pretty much dominated from the get-go and left with the victory.

The Dallas Cowboys now sit alone at the top of the NFC East division with the win over the Eagles. If they can hold down their current standing in the division it will not only earn them a playoff spot, but quite possibly let them have home-field advantage as well. It's a good place to sit, but not easily held onto.

Let's not beat around the bush any longer though, let's get to this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I hope you enjoy.

The Good

Blake Jarwin

Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin

There's no need to beat around the bush here. I think the good from Sunday night's game for the Dallas Cowboys was their ability to get out to a fast start against the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting games slowly this year was starting to become their identity as a team, so it was good to see the Cowboys defense get two quick turnovers and the offense turn those turnovers into points.

Getting off to a fast start is a trend I hope the Dallas Cowboys are able to continue from here on out. They've got a tough schedule ahead of them, so getting out ahead of their opponents early on could be the difference in a win or loss down the road. This is a team built to control the clock through the running game and a fast start would definitely allow them to do just that.


The Bad

In a game that pretty much everything went right for the Dallas Cowboys it wasn't that easy to decide what to go with in this category. That hasn't been the case the past three weeks, but what I decided to go with here is starting to become a reoccurring theme. I thought the bad from Sunday night's game for the Cowboys was all of the penalties.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. If you've watched any of their games you shouldn't be that surprised. The refs love to let the laundry fly anytime the Cowboys take the field. More times than not Dallas is guilty, but there are also a lot of borderline calls as well. Regardless of where the fault lies the Cowboys absolutely need to clean up this area of their game.

The Ugly

Tyron Smith

Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I absolutely hate singling out a single person for just about any reason. But, having said that, to me Left Tackle Tyron Smith was the ugly Sunday night for the Dallas Cowboys. He just didn't look like himself. I'm sure he's not 100% and is playing through at least a couple lingering injuries, but he allowed too many pressures that he typically doesn't.

Luckily, the Cowboys are fixing to enter their bye week and that should give No. 77 a little extra time to recuperate. He is absolutely detrimental to the team's success moving forward. Dallas' OL is an entirely different unit with him on the field and the entire offense benefits when they have starting five available. He's still one of the best blindside protectors in the league, but injuries are becoming a concern.

What is your good, bad, and ugly from Week 7 for the Dallas Cowboys?


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