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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New “Wrinkles” in Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin

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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys are 1-2 through their first three games of 2018, appearing to fall behind the rest of the NFL's true contenders with each passing week. Faced with a crucial game on Sunday against a Lions team with a lot to prove, the Cowboys have put themselves in this position thanks in large part to pedestrian coaching and poor execution.

Dating back well before the Cowboys opened this season with a 16-8 loss in Carolina, managing only 232 yards of offense (a number eclipsed by both the LA Rams and Minnesota Vikings in the first half of Thursday's contest), Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has been the Cowboys coach under the most fire.

Linehan's failures to maximize the Cowboys talent on offense, which is seemingly eroding in front of a helpless staff's eyes so far this season, can be attributed directly to Cowboys losses a year ago. Perhaps unfortunately for Dallas, last year was put behind them before it was even over, written off thanks to injury and Ezekiel Elliott's six game suspension.

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys OC Scott Linehan hints at more creative game plan vs. Detroit for a team that ranks No. 30 on offense. "We're obviously searching for some things that will help us. I think we've got some good stuff this week. Maybe just a few more wrinkles to it.

Fortunately, there is still time to salvage this season with Elliott very quietly leading the league in rushing.

Take last year's debacle in Atlanta as an example of Linehan's shortcomings. The eternal optimists of Cowboys Nation will see that not one but two games reminiscent of that loss to the Falcons have happened already, leaving nothing but room for the Cowboys offense to develop.

Thanks to the early hole they've dug themselves in the NFC East, the Cowboys must "develop" on offense as soon as Sunday. They'll have to do so in what has the makings of another memorable match up against the Lions.

Familiar faces will line up on the field for the Lions, but patrolling their sideline is first-year Head Coach Matt Patricia. The defensive coordinator for three Super Bowl winning New England Patriots teams, Patricia is coming off an emotional win against his former team on Monday Night Football. The Lions held Tom Brady to 133 passing yards, his lowest output in 46 games (week 17 of 2014).

Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott has yet to play 46 games in his career, another reason for the Cowboys not to quit on him entirely, but has also failed to eclipse 200 yards in his last five games.

Turning Prescott into a statistical juggernaut is also not a winning formula for the Cowboys, who have been at their best when passing the ball efficiently. To do so against Detroit, Prescott's play caller has acknowledged the need for more creativity on offense.

Scheming against a Lions team that's first against the pass and last against the run shouldn't be inherently difficult for a Cowboys team only feeding Elliott 16 carries per game right now. Such is the position the Cowboys have put themselves in by running on suspecting defenses and intimidating nobody with their passing concepts.

The Cowboys young skill position players are going to separate themselves this season one way or another - be it by making plays to win games for a desperate team or through continued poor performances in a lost season.

If Linehan's comments hold up about the Cowboys adding wrinkles to this week's game plan, something his quarterback doubled down on, this separation could begin as early as Sunday. The Cowboys are playing one of just five scheduled early kickoffs on Sunday, taking the proverbial spotlight off of them just enough to potentially address their issues and earn a needed win at AT&T Stadium.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott on this week's game plan against Detroit: "There are going to be some different things you'll see.

Without a record-evening win to show for this forced innovation, the calls for Linehan to lose his job will only continue from the Cowboys fan base. A confident locker room at the moment, a lot is riding on the Cowboys ability to perform under pressure this Sunday, something unknown to many of the players that will decide the team's fate against a Lions team that won't back down from any challenge.

Tell us what you think about "Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New “Wrinkles” in Cowboys Offense" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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1 Comment
  • dallas1966

    Waiting for the 2021 NFL Draft, that’s when Clemson Freshman quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, 6-6 220, will be eligible. With all this young talent, maybe Lawrence, will be the one to take this wallowing in mediocrity and stuck in NFL Purgatory, franchise, to the promise land, like Staubach and Aikman. Of course, that also means, a new coaching staff. Which, imho, Garrett, will probably , still be jn charge in 2021. Until then, the Cowboys organization need to stack up the cupboard on talent, til he arrives.
    This kid is the Real Deal, watch some of his high school tapes, making throws, that Tom Brady makes, is only 18 years old. Will be shy of his 21st B-Day, when drafted, definitely has a 15 year NFL career ahead of him, in addition, for room, to grow into becoming a NFL Quarterback, and maturing into a true leader of men. I’m watching the Clemson-Syracuse game. Hope Will McClay, will be watching, as well. Especially , if Dak doesn’t live up to his contract extension, in 2019, that would leave a dead year in 2020. One can dream right, tired of being in NFL purgatory and wallowing in mediocrity.

Game Notes

NFC East Showdown: Cowboys Offense Primed to Dominate Redskins

Brian Martin

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Will Dallas' Recent Offensive Success Continue Against Washington?

The Dallas Cowboys are probably as confident as they have been all season as an offense after completely manhandling the Jacksonville Jaguars defense last week. They were able to put up 40 points on the Jaguar's top-ranked defense and now have to do the same against their division rival, the Washington Redskins.

I don't think there would be any argument if I were to say the Washington Redskins defense isn't nearly as talented as the Cowboys faced last week with the Jaguars. In fact, the Redskins are ranked near the bottom of the league in almost every defensive category, which should have Dallas' offensive players primed for this matchup.

As things stand right now, the Washington Redskins are giving up 21.2 points per game which ranks 24th in the NFL. They are also giving up 344 total yards (25th in the NFL) and 227.2 passing yards a game (24th). The lone bright spot of their defense is stopping the run, where they are currently ranked 12th in the NFL and are only allowing 116.8 rushing yards to opposing running backs.

Luckily, the Dallas Cowboys and Quarterback Dak Prescott looked to have found a groove with their passing game last week against the Jaguars top-ranked passing defense. With the Redskins ranked near the bottom of the league in passing defense, I think the Cowboys should and probably will build upon the success they had last week.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Now, I fully expect the Cowboys passing game to find success once again against the Redskins, but I also believe Running Back Ezekiel Elliott to dominate on the ground like he has in the past against Washington.

Zeke only played in one game against the Redskins last season, but absolutely dominated in that contest. He rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns a year ago and I wouldn't be surprised if he is close to that milestone this week as well, even if it is against the strength of Washington's defense.

I'm really hoping I'm not a being a little overconfident here, but I guess I'm just buying into the success the Cowboys had on the offensive side of the ball last week. The offense finally started to do the things that have made them successful in the past and I'm expecting that to carry over into this week.

I believe we will see Prescott using his mobility once again, although I don't know if he will rush for 83 yards. I'm also expecting to see Wide Receiver Cole Beasley heavily involved in the passing game again because Washington doesn't have a defensive back who can cover him. Of course, let's not forget Ezekiel Elliott. I'm expecting him have a big game as well.

Overall, I really don't see the Washington Redskins defense giving the Dallas Cowboys any problems on the offensive side of the ball as long as they execute the way they did last week. I know when these two teams square off against one another it's usually a slobber knocker, but I think the Cowboys are the better team and is the one that comes away with the victory.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys offense will dominate the Redskins defense?



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Game Notes

Can Dak Prescott Continue His Washington Domination On Sunday?

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott, Redskins

There has been a lot of change within the Dallas Cowboys since 2016.

Veteran playmakers like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are no longer around, Tony Romo lost his starting quarterback job, and Dallas has jumped from league best to worst to average seemingly every week.

One thing hasn't changed these past two years, however, and that is the Cowboys beating the Washington Redskins. In fact, since Dak Prescott took over as the starting quarterback in Dallas the Cowboys are 4-0 against Washington. Even as the sky was falling in Dallas a year ago, and the Cowboys offense looked like the worst in football, they still found a way to dominate Washington 38-14 and snap their then-three game losing streak.

In his four career games against Washington, Dak Prescott has quarterback ratings of 103.7, 108.9, 82.2, and 93.4. To put this into context, Prescott's average quarterback rating this season is 85.5 and that is really driven by his outlier positive rating of 118.6 against the Detroit Lions. To be fair, however, his 54.5 rating against Seattle was also a heavy outlier.

Prescott isn't the only Cowboy who has exercised this dominance over Washington, though. As Staff Writer John Williams has pointed out, Jason Garrett is 11-4 against the Redskins since becoming the Cowboys head coach, and Dallas has won six of their last eight against Washington since 2014.

So heading into Sunday's rematch with their division foe, history says the Cowboys should be feeling rather confident, right?

Well there's another streak occurring the Cowboys will actually be looking to break on Sunday. That, of course, is their winless start on the road this season.

Ironically the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys have actually been a good road team until now, going a combined 12-4 the past two seasons. And, since the new stadium opened in 2009, the Cowboys have been historically better on the road than at home, making this year's 3-3 start even more bizarre.

To put it simply, "somethings gotta give" on Sunday. Either Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will continue to beat up on the Redskins and get a leg up in the NFC East, or this horrendous road start will continue for another week.

Either way, I'm sure the takes will be hot on Monday morning.



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Face Latest Challenge Fighting for First Road Win at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Face Latest Challenge Fighting for First Road Win at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars feels like just the introduction to this season's story. Whether or not the body of this story tells a disappointing tale or one of triumph can be revealed as early as this Sunday.

When the Cowboys travel to Washington, they'll be looking for their first road win of the season, and with it the NFC East lead over a Redskins team that would fall to 3-3 and 0-1 inside the division.

Early season losses at the Panthers, Seahawks, and Texans do little in predicting the Cowboys faith at the Redskins. These three teams are a combined 6-2 at home this season, with the Cowboys most recent loss in Houston falling much more on coaching than it did on-field execution.

Making their week six win over the NFL's top defense look extraordinarily easy, the Cowboys continued on a seemingly timeless trend under Jason Garrett. Returning to AT&T Stadium at 2-3, the Cowboys won their 12th game at one under .500 under Garrett.

Their 378 total yards on offense against the Jaguars brought their average in three home games up to 363.3, nearly 88 yards better than their road performances this season. The Redskins have allowed 326.2 yards per game this season, ranked fifth in the league just behind the Cowboys at 315.2 yards a game.

Garrett has gone 11-4 in his head coaching career against the Redskins, winning his last five at FedEx Field by an average of less than 10 points a game. The Redskins have turned the ball over just five times this season and allow a stout 90.2 rushing yards per game, meaning this game has all the makings of another classic between historic NFC East rivals.

In an ongoing effort to learn just who these 2018 Cowboys really are, a close win on the road would go a long way, beyond the slack they were afforded earlier this season to tighten up their game and make a serious push for the division.

The Cowboys will be on their bye week following Sunday's game. It comes at the perfect time for players like Sean Lee, Chidobe Awuzie, and Tavon Austin. With Austin struggling to make a sustained impact in the Cowboys offense, Awuzie conceding snaps to Jourdan Lewis, and Lee looking on at Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch dominate at LB, these three Cowboys among plenty of others know how important this game is for remaining relevant down the stretch.

Shortening this rivalry's history to just the games quarterbacked by Dak Prescott, the Cowboys are 3-0 with Prescott completing 65.3% of his passes - easily his highest mark against any NFC East foe.

The Cowboys confidence in getting to 4-3 should rest in Prescott using both his arm and legs to give the Cowboys the lead, than force Alex Smith to beat this defense.

The Redskins aren't a team that will beat themselves, leaving this one for the taking of a Cowboys team buried after week five's loss and crowned NFC East leaders 'elect' by week seven. A funny game this NFL is, and one the Cowboys don't want to play around with too much when considering Sunday's opponent - as well as the task at hand of earning a win on the road the latest in a season since 2013 for Dallas.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Face Latest Challenge Fighting for First Road Win at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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