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Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Come Up Short, Lack Execution in Home Loss

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Come Up Short, Lack Execution in Home Loss 1

In a time of the year filled with hope everywhere, the Dallas Cowboys receiving the early Christmas present of Ezekiel Elliott back into their offense was not enough to save a chance at the playoffs. Coming up short 21-12 at AT&T Stadium against the Seahawks, the Cowboys will now start off the new year with a meaningless week 17 game in Philadelphia before a long look in the mirror ahead of 2018.

There will of course be much more time later to dive into what this football team has to build on moving forward, and what needs to improve, but for now here are my initial thoughts on everything that happened in this ugly game against the Seahawks.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Come Up Short, Lack Execution in Home Loss 2

 

  • Taco Charlton's third career sack looked exactly like a play he made with much more consistency a year ago at Michigan. 

For the first time, we really saw Charlton prove that he could be the player he was on tape at Michigan - a lengthy defensive end with upside for the next level. Adjusting to this increase in competition has been a struggle at times for the rookie, but his recent play to end this season provides hope that he'll be a valuable part of this rotation in year two.

Charlton captured the edge with some nice initial quickness on his sack, continuing through the block of the right tackle with a strong base and active hands. Once he was even with Russell Wilson in the pocket, Charlton took advantage of his hand placement and was able to power right back into Wilson to finish the play.

  • Jourdan Lewis covered Jimmy Graham about as well as you could have asked for in a goal line situation. 

Graham's touchdown put Seattle on the board, and ended up being an easy play for him and Wilson. Lewis did very well to keep in contact with Graham through the play, also understanding that he could not lose ground in the end zone either. Lewis planted on the goal line and looked like he expected a cut to come from the big Seahawks TE, but the pass was already in the air.

The ball beat Lewis trying to fight through the bigger target, and all Graham had to do was secure it for six.

  • Sean Lee had a few plays in this game that very few linebackers besides him regularly make, many of them set up by strong play on the defensive line. 

We already talked about Taco Charlton, but last year's sack leader in Benson Mayowa was also able to show up and play with the consistent motor that earned him the starting RDE position through much of this season.

Mayowa was able to use his speed to flatten the corner and then chase down plays, and with Charlton and DeMarcus Lawrence finding success on the strong side, these edge rushers set the line of scrimmage defensively for Dallas.

This allowed Lee - who doesn't need any extra time to read a play - to react to everything happening in front of him and shoot gaps for TFLs.

Maliek Collins and Datone Jones also deserve credit for being tough to move at DT, but this was once again a game where David Irving was missed, especially every time Wilson extended a play with his feet.

  • Byron Bell put in an admirable performance in emergency duty for Tyron Smith, but his issues against the speed of the Seahawks had Dak Prescott uncomfortable. 

This was another abysmal performance from Dak Prescott in a big moment, and one of the factors that contributed to his frantic play was undoubtedly Byron Bell's play at LT. Bell was probably better than expected, having played a higher volume of snaps compared to previous appearances against the Falcons and Raiders.

With experience at both guard and tackle, Bell's biggest issue was dealing with speed on the edge. The only chance he had against the pressure Seattle sent his way was to get depth in his pass sets back towards Prescott, which he did to an extreme measure at times.

Bell's positioning paired with the lack of quick recovery skills to slide late in the down led to Dak Prescott rarely throwing from a clean pocket, forced to step up or escape entirely far too often.

  • Ezekiel Elliott looked every bit the player I expected him to be after cutting weight before his return and staying focused. 

In other words, I would have loved to see how this game could have gone differently if Dan Bailey's first missed field goal from 34 yards was instead a first and goal carry for Elliott from two yards out.

Elliott's ability to play even faster than he did a year ago while still being patient enough to find the right hole and hit it with power was impressive, as he effortlessly turned the limited carries he did receive into rushes that kept the Cowboys offense on schedule.

Not being able to control this game and ultimately win it through Elliott is going to look bad on these Dallas coaches for a long time, and may even lead to changes on the offensive side of the ball - where one thing is certain.

Ezekiel Elliott is the player to continue building this team around.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

For those of you that have been following along with Sean's Scout this season, or those that have now been introduced to these articles on Christmas morning, I'd like to thank all of Cowboys Nation for their consistent feedback in putting these together following every win or loss.

As the entirety of Inside The Star slowly begins turning our attention towards the looming offseason, I will of course be continuing to use this platform to discuss the 2018 NFL Draft and potential targets for the Dallas Cowboys.

For now, enjoy the rest of your holiday, and share your thoughts on this second-to-last regular season Sean's Scout with a comment below!

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Come Up Short, Lack Execution in Home Loss" 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

    To compliment Zeke, the Cowboys need to clean house @ wide receiver, like they did with the defensive secondary. With a overhaul, the Cowboys will have to go through the rookie mistakes, and growing pains, but the upside of having youth and speed, in return, will help Zeke in the running game, in the long term, and take The Cowboys passing game to a higher level of success. The offense will be able to up the passing game by being more aggressive in various routes. Teams have the book on Dez, Beasley, and the aged Witten, who needs to be a part time player @ RE, he not a threat to go over the top of a defense anymore, plus you can put a linebacker on him. Where’s with Rico, you will have to use a linebacker and defensive back, because Rico can do the seam routes, as well as stretch the football field. We need at least 3 young receivers, with the speed of Brice Butler, to stretch the football field. This will help Zeke in the running game. The youth in the receiver corps, will also help Dak, in the passing game, with reps, and getting use to how Dak likes to throw the football in different situations and circumstances,

    Cowboys need to check out Wyoming defensive end, Carl Granderson, reminds me of a raw Charles Haley, when Haley, came out of James Madison in 1986. Granderson, came to Wyoming @ 6-6 185, now a junior @ 6-6 250, with a mean streak.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn't look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer - Streamable

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Ryan Switzer's first target came on a third down -- something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can't catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 - Streamable

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Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender's face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn't be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 - Streamable

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Switzer's third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback -- who is cheating to the inside -- with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I'd still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.


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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might've lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season's finally over. It wasn't easy, but we're still here. Here's to 2018. Let's hope it's a good one for our Cowboys. Here's this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

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Coaching Staff Didn't Help Its Cause

It's more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job was not an issue. Now, Jerry's even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it's true.

While I don't think we'll see a new head coach anytime soon, I'd dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would've meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a "real action" game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC's #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can't help thinking about the coaches.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers' first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones - Streamable

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Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he'll be paid $790,000 next year which isn't at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

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Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn't been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR - Streamable

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He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he's used more next season.

At the end of the day, he's a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on "gadget plays" or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott's best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it's too optimistic to expect something like that.

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Dan Bailey's Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey's 2017 season hasn't been easy at all. We've seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys' season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it's all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan "Automatic" Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we're not sure about calling him "Automatic" anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let's hope that's the case.

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For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports... Maybe next year. We're on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game" 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

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation - despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli's defense.

We'll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean's Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys' second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles' eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we'll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott's strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open -- relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn't been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn't now that he's lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer's ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer's spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean's Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean's Scout won't be going anywhere! I'm shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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