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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!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we’re not how you think we are. Host of “Upon Further Review” on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @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

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” 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

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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