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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Chargers Spoil Thanksgiving By Removing Morris, Targeting Young CBs

Sean Martin

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The fall of 1961. No, this is not the start of some Thanksgiving history lesson. This was the last time that the Dallas Cowboys - founded in 1960 - lost three consecutive games by 20 or more points until now.

Thanksgiving 2017 started off well for the Cowboys, as a Vikings win in Detroit against the Lions set up a prime opportunity for Dallas to get back on track favorably in the NFC Wild Card race.

Instead, the return of LT Tyron Smith and K Dan Bailey did nothing to stop the Cowboys' collapse on this lost season. With the Chargers turning a 3-0 halftime lead into a 28-6 Turkey Day victory, the 5-6 Cowboys left a ton to be desired on the field in week twelve.

Here are a few notes on the game in my post game Sean's Scout.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Growing Pains Spoil Thanksgiving Vs Chargers

  • It is simply a shame that Alfred Morris only carried the ball nine times in this game, gaining 36 yards on the afternoon. 

The Cowboys were having success running the ball right at the Chargers' premier bookend pass rushers in Melvin Ingram at RDE and Joey Bosa at LDE early in this game. Unfortunately, the confidence level in this offense putting up big numbers and points is so low that Scott Linehan became desperate trying to get ahead. Los Angeles took a 16-0 lead before the Cowboys finally scored, effectively taking Alfred Morris out of the game.

The absence of Ezekiel Elliott is rapidly becoming less of an excuse for the Cowboys' lackluster offensive performances, as Alfred Morris continues to prove why he was brought here as a veteran with the zone-running experience that allows plays to develop with his patience and vision.

  • Defensively, the Cowboys' linebackers struggled once again without their leader Sean Lee, but I thought Justin Durant had a few encouraging moments. 

Coming off of one of his most impressive performances on the season, MIKE LB Jaylon Smith was able to take on a limited role again in this game - with Justin Durant emerging to take on a bigger workload in the middle.

The veteran Durant is no longer the physical player against the run with sideline to sideline range that he once was, but he was able to find ways to be effective in pass coverage. This Dallas defense once again did everything they could to keep the Cowboys alive for as long as possible, and early on a big part of this was Durant taking away underneath throws and moving well doing so.

With the way the Cowboys pass rush was neutralized, Durant likely limited even more explosive plays from a LA offense that eventually erupted to clinch the game.

  • Give Philip Rivers a ton of credit for throwing at rookie CB Jourdan Lewis, a player that can be beat at the catch point when targeted. 

Throws against the Cowboys' third round pick out of Michigan have been few and far between this season. At just 5'10", Lewis is beatable at the catch point - particularly against a quarterback like Rivers that has never shied away from ripping passes into tight windows where only his receiver can make a play.

Working Keenan Allen against Lewis, Rivers and Allen were able to beat Lewis both in the air and across the field as Allen's quick-twitch speed proved to be too much for the rookie to handle without adequate safety help.

This was a humbling game for a player that's likely been the Dallas Cowboys' best draft pick of 2017 thus far.

  • The most concerning part about Anthony Brown's regression is the difficulty he's having executing the simple things that helped him play so well in 2016. 

On LA's last offensive touchdown of the game, Brown was beat in two ways that we simply never expected to see following his rookie season. First, Allen was able to accelerate right past Brown and create separation at the pylon.

No longer able to run with even the fastest of WRs, Brown did his best to recover and look back for the ball, but his attempt at shooting his hands between Allen's at the catch point was way too early. Allen elevated in stride to secure a smooth touchdown, as the Cowboys secondary had an overall miserable day.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys will be in action on Thursday once again next week, returning to NFC East play at 5-6 against the Washington Redskins at home.

Losers of three straight, this Cowboys team feels years removed from the one that gutted out a win in Washington four week ago - and Ezekiel Elliott is far from the only problem in Dallas.

I hope that, despite another Cowboys loss, you all enjoyed Thanksgiving with the people who matter most to you as well as this edition of Sean's Scout!

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Chargers Spoil Thanksgiving By Removing Morris, Targeting Young CBs" 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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9 Comments
  • oneputter

    this team is bad. i mean we look no better than the giants, browns, 49ers or even the colts.

    we have the worst secondary in the league. jones and heath should not be starters in this league. 30 has one good season and he thinks he’s “primetime” and forgets how to play technique.

    the qb is not seeing the field and honestly i don’t think he will figure that part out since he’s not been able to, to this point.

    these coordinators are complete garbage. they need to go.

    2017 is over

    • Matthew Harrell

      The coordinators aren’t bad. The QB is. If we had a good QB, people would be talking about what a goo OC Linehan is. Marinelli too, as his defense would look much better when playing with a leaf instead of no pints from the offense

      • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

        You’re still not even a full year removed from having an OC and QB that everybody was praising constantly

        • oneputter

          back then our game plan was small, dak was not given the control he has now, where is makes his own calls at the LOS. he routinely does this and calls into the wrong play.

          scale back the offense, take away his LOS control, and stay away from sponsorship. last year he did none of this and this year that’s all he does…..where is is focus?!

      • oneputter

        the coordinators are bad. we rarely throw over the middle, we don’t incorporate all of our wr’s, we call short routes on 3rd and longs, the route concept is complete trash.

        we need deep to intermediate crossing routes, we need a TE going up the seam, to clear things out, we can no longer have witten go 5-7 yds and sitting.

        as for defense, we run the same stunt over and over. we hardly blitz, when we do its the same darn corner blitz and just about every team, fan, knows what’s coming and they light us up.

        yes the coordinators are bad.

        • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

          The coordinators deserve criticism, and you’re spot on about one need for the offense in a middle of field threat. The Cowboys’ hope is that Rico Gathers will pay off to be this player at TE.

  • Matthew Harrell

    Know who does shy away from ripping balls into tight windows? Prescott.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Good eye

    • oneputter

      i completely agree here, wr’s have been open, they are open on their breaks more often than not, yet dak does not know how or can’t see/anticipate the opening. yes it’s on him but it’s also on his coordinator/coach to point this out in film study.

      rip the ball in there instead of having happy feet in the pocket.

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys are halfway through their 2018 preseason. Given the injuries they're left to deal with to Zack Martin, Xavier Woods, and Jameill Showers, the Cowboys were happy to see their first home game of the season come to an end when it did. Despite the 21-13 loss, the Cowboys starters made another strong impression before exiting for backups that once again failed to hold the lead.

This is a game I'm looking forward to getting another look at on film, but for now here are a few thoughts the first time through.

  • Rookie Connor Williams is still a work in progress at guard, as he'll get himself in trouble trying to catch rushers too often. 

This "catch blocking" is not uncommon for young offensive linemen, particularly ones learning a new position in preparation to start on the league's best front. On the Cowboys second drive of the game, Williams was caught back in his stance dealing with a twist from the Bengals with Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

The result of the play was an incomplete pass on third down from Dak Prescott. With Williams' footwork being as consistent as it has, I wouldn't worry too much about his upper body technique and strength improving greatly before week one of the regular season. Perhaps most importantly, Williams has looked smooth playing in space, something the Cowboys are prepared to ask the second round pick to do plenty of.

  • With Randy Gregory back in the lineup, the Cowboys potential to have a great rotation of defensive ends was on full display. 

The play that stands out is a tackle for loss by Safety Jeff Heath. On the play, Defensive End Tyrone Crawford did a great job setting the edge against the run, allowing Heath to come down and make the aggressive play.

Crawford created penetration against a tight end, staying disciplined in his rush lane from the right defensive end position to force the run outside.

On the Bengals' offensive series prior to this play by Heath, the Cowboys forced a punt following a missed Andy Dalton throw to A.J. Green. Despite not being tight in coverage on third down, Randy Gregory looked sharp coming off the edge to rush Dalton slightly.

With Taco Charlton also looking strong against the run, and rookie Dorance Armstrong continuing to develop as a weak side pass rusher, the possible match ups the Cowboys can create up front are seemingly endless.

Almost all of them will include last year's sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence, who was also disruptive on nearly every snap in this game.

  • Give credit to Joe Looney for handling the reps he did at center, but the backup interior lineman left a lot to be desired from this position. 

It should come as no surprise that Looney is a better guard than center, or that the Cowboys would look significantly worse at center without Travis Frederick in the lineup.

Overall, this was a disappointing game for the Cowboys thin offensive line depth. Paul Alexander's unit was unable to give quarterbacks Cooper Rush and Mike White a fair chance to settle into the game.

Looney's contact balance was suspect throughout the evening. Not the most powerful player, it's important for Looney to play with leverage and balance, which he did inconsistently last night.

Awaiting news on Zack Martin's first quarter injury still, the Cowboys should have already been concerned about their backups at tackle, with the guard position becoming a late concern now.

  • This is becoming the standard for Jaylon Smith, but I did not see one Bengals blocker effectively slow him down.

The power that Smith is playing with is an outstanding sign for continued success. Not only is Smith physically up for the challenge of starting at MIKE for the Cowboys, but he's physically dominating opponents with strength, speed, and range.

Whether he was running laterally and avoiding blocks with great awareness, or attacking the pocket, Smith's path to the ball was rarely impeded against the Bengals.

No matter who the Cowboys lined up in their front seven, the group did a great job setting a strong tone. Antwaun Woods was once again impressive at the one technique position inside, and Brian Price made a flash play from this position late in the game as well.

Thanks to Smith's gap shooting ability, and the Cowboys willingness so far this preseason to be creative with the Notre Dame product, the team's defensive tackles don't have to be asked to do too much. Holding their spots while drawing blockers will be more than enough to free Smith and the rest of the Cowboys linebackers to make plays.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CBs Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

  • Chidobe Awuzie's interception in the second quarter is a reminder of just how high the second-year cornerback's potential is. 

Sure, Awuzie's length put him at an advantage to take a leap into year two once Kris Richard arrived as the Cowboys passing game coordinator.

Being productive on the ball, as Awuzie was here, is a testament to just how athletic he is as a boundary cornerback though. A beat late recognizing the ball coming his way, Awuzie remained in perfect position to get a hand on this pass.

Doing so with an explosive leap off the ground and full extension, Awuzie snagged the ball with one hand before bringing it into his body to secure another turnover for the Cowboys first team defense.

The Cowboys cornerback depth proved suspect beyond Awuzie and Byron Jones in this game, but being as good as they already are on the boundary is a huge step in the right direction for Rod Marinelli's defense.

I also thought that UDFA Tyree Robinson did a great job answering the bell at safety, showing up a number of times in run support with the Cowboys in desperate need of depth at his position.

It's in the slot, where Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis continue to feel the pressure of competition, that the Cowboys are struggling to find the right starter - even trying Lewis on the outside well into the fourth quarter of this game.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys will remain in their home state to conclude their training camp and preseason. Needing to see more out of their second and third team, practices will resume at The Star on Monday before another preseason game at AT&T Stadium.

This time, it will be the Arizona Cardinals coming in for a Sunday Night Football tune up. The Cowboys starters could very well see even more playing time than they have through the first two weeks, giving them a better chance of sustaining success and coming away with a preseason win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

CIN 21, DAL 14: Dak Prescott Continues Strong Preseason in Loss

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott, Bengals

The games may not count yet, but Dak Prescott looks ready for the 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback continued his strong preseason play in the team's 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Prescott played three series, going 10/15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. He got the offense out of trouble a few times with his feet, avoiding sacks and ultimately getting the scoring pass off on a redzone scramble.

Dak's strong play has coincided with shutdown performances from the starting defense. The Cowboys' first-team defenders have yet to allow a score in two preseason games. Tonight, the Bengals were forced into four punts and two turnovers on their first-half possessions.

Overall, the Cowboys are a combined 24-7 in the first halves of their first two preseason contests.

The second half has been the problem, and for two weeks now Dallas' reserves have squandered halftime leads and given up losses. Thankfully, most of the responsible players will not be on the final 53-man roster.

Other Notes

  • There were several concerning injuries for the Cowboys tonight. None was scarier than when All-Pro guard Zack Martin went out with a knee injury, but it does not appear to have been serious. Starting defensive backs Byron Jones and Xavier Woods also got banged up; Byron returned to the game but Woods did not. Defensive lineman Datone Jones also left with a knee injury.
  • Even more concerning was the play of the second-team offensive line. Chaz Green was typically awful, but we also saw swing tackle Cam Fleming struggling and just an overall lack of protection for the backups quarterbacks. Green got benched in the second half and may have finally played his way off the team.
  • Credit to Terrance Williams for getting open in the endzone to give Dak Prescott a receiver for the touchdown throw. Even with his warts, Williams' two years of experience playing with Dak can't be ignored in deciding who makes the team.
  • Tight end Blake Jarwin continues to run with the starters on offense and may have quietly taken the job away from Geoff Swaim.
  • Darius Jackson took advantage of some extra playing time tonight after Bo Scarbrough left with a hip injury. He broke off a few nice runs to amass 42 yards on just six carries, plus had four receptions.
  • We finally get to see Dan Bailey kick a field goal again, and it was an easy 35-yarder with no issues.
  • Shout out to Chidobe Awuzie for one of the pretty interceptions that a Cowboys DB has made in some time. Awuzie had to bend like Beckham (Odell, that is) to get a hand on the ball, then tipped it to himself for the pick.
  • Preseason fun continues for the Cowboys next Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football.



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Game Notes

#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?

Kevin Brady

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Lance Lenoir

Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.

But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.

After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.

Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.

Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.

During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.

This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.

Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.



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