Familiar faces on both sides of the football are what makes divisional rivalry games so compelling in the National Football League. Unfortunately for the Dallas Cowboys, still searching for their first win away from AT&T Stadium this season, their match up at the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football will feature one more opponent from earlier in the season. Making his debut for the Eagles after a trade from the Detroit Lions, Wide Receiver Golden Tate will play in his second of three meetings against the Cowboys this week.
Tate caught all eight of his targets in week four at the Cowboys, scoring touchdowns of 38 and 45 yards to finish with a season high 132 yards. Joining the Eagles during their bye week, Tate comes into Sunday with the luxury of time spent with his new teammates - all of which should be motivated to play a reeling Cowboys team.
Thanks to the addition of Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard and an infusion of young talent on defense, the Cowboys have stood tall allowing just 18.9 points per game through nine weeks. Their efforts have been enough to give a sputtering Cowboys offense a chance each week.
To ensure this remains the case on a short week leading up to another prime time game, the Cowboys must have a better plan in place to stop Golden Tate. Here's a look at how he was able to hit on big plays against Dallas once already.
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With Tate's other six catches only going for 49 yards, the Cowboys fared pretty well against the former Seattle Seahawk when he was kept out of the end zone. This had to be the only thing on Cornerback Jourdan Lewis' mind when he asked to come off the bench cold and guard Tate with one of his few opportunities this season.
Unfortunately for Lewis (bottom of the screen), he gets caught trying to cut off Tate too early following his break off the combination route. Matt Stafford does a fantastic job throwing this pass with anticipation, knowing that Tate was not only creating separation to the sideline but coming back to the football to create an easier throw.
Lewis offers no challenge to Tate at the catch point before losing his balance and allowing Tate to turn this play up the sideline. With only Jeff Heath to beat, Tate finishes the play with six points for the Lions.
Heath did make a great open-field play on Tate earlier in this game. Lined up in the box before the snap, Heath is responsible for Tate as he motions across the field, and managed to drop him after the catch for a loss of three yards.
Both the Lions and Eagles put an emphasis on quick throws. Stafford and Carson Wentz share just a 0.01 second difference in average time to throw this season. Where the Lions are looking to attack vertically, the Eagles will gladly take underneath throws against the Cowboys all night, further demanding a change in approach from the Cowboys defense.
Giving Tate the same cushions he saw back in week four is inviting nothing but pitch-and-catch throws from his new quarterback. Hardly the only weapon in a versatile Eagles offense, the Cowboys are in for another long game if Tate gets going with the ball in his hands.
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Tate's ability to make contested plays is on full display here. Notice where he is (top of the screen) at the time Stafford rips this pass from entirely too clean of a pocket for the Cowboys front four.
Xavier Woods, forced to pickup Tate as he motioned out of the backfield, is actually in good position to contest the play if he locates the ball. Instead, it's Tate that knows exactly where this pass is leading him, extending away from Woods and dragging Cowboys defenders up the field for a huge gain.
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This last play had the makings of a game-winning score from Tate, if not for the Cowboys responding with a field goal drive. Expecting help over the top, Cornerback Anthony Brown allows Tate to run free on the double move, uncovering as Chidobe Awuzie ran inside despite Kavon Frazier being on top of that route.
Stafford throws one of the easiest touchdowns of his career, with nobody near Tate as he drifts in for another score. Again, this play may not have cost the Cowboys a win against the Lions, but it's hard to imagine such an error not costing them more against the defending Super Bowl champions on the road.
The Cowboys have their backs to the wall and have been counted out by just about everybody in an NFC East that seems destined to play out until the final week of the season. A fair criticism of the Cowboys has been their lack of aggressiveness when constructing the roster, a clash against the bold strategy deployed by the Eagles.
This week, this narrative isn't exactly true, as the Cowboys come to Philadelphia with a new wide receiver of their own. Debuting with a touchdown on Monday night, Amari Cooper can only hope the Cowboys stay in this game long enough for him to make a big play, something the Cowboys surely know Eagles WR Golden Tate is capable of at any time.
Slowing Tate down won't be as simple as shadowing him with one of the best corners in the league this year in Byron Jones either. The Cowboys must have an answer for Alshon Jefferey, Nelson Agholor, and Tight End Zach Ertz in addition to Tate.
I'd fully expect the Eagles to spread the Cowboys out in an effort to run the ball with the same misdirection that the Tennessee Titans used to smash this defense four days ago. The Cowboys safeties must bring the same technique they did against the Lions in coming up for big stops, as Richard will put all of the trust needed in his cornerbacks to win their match ups in man coverage.
The Brady Report: Cowboys Offense Dominant Despite Slow Start
The Dallas Cowboys followed up their dominant performance last week with yet another blowout divisional win on Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 31-21.
While the Cowboys controlled the game for much of the last three quarters, they actually got off to a slow start in Washington. Once again they fell behind to a lesser team 7-0 early, before scoring on nearly every possession to finish off the game.
Let's get into my game notes from the Cowboys' week two win.
- We have to start these game notes by talking about Dak Prescott. The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible for the second straight week to open this season. Despite the early interception, Prescott continued to look poised and calm in the pocket, allowing him to deliver a dime to Devin Smith for the team's first touchdown. Prescott was picking apart the Redskins secondary during the final three quarters to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he was very effective as a runner, including his dynamic 42 yard run on third down and one with the game still tied. If Dak is going to play like this, the Cowboys can beat anyone.
- Ezekiel Elliott looked a lot more comfortable Sunday than he did against the Giants. Not only were his raw numbers better, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, he was back to his ways of falling forward and avoiding the first tackler. He still didn't really explode the way we all know he can, which means opposing defenses should be scared when considering what the Cowboys offense's full potential could be.
- Which receiver didn't ball out Sunday? Michael Gallup seems to be developing an awesome rapport with Prescott, Amari Cooper continues to prove he's a legit WR1, Randall Cobb was once again effective on swing passes and in the slot, and even Devin Smith had himself a monster game. If Devin Smith is going to be the speed deep threat he was against Washington, look out.
- Ok, now that I've congratulated the majority of the offense, let's talk about the one guy who I'm sure would've liked to have a better day. Left guard Connor Williams. The second year guard was solid overall Sunday, but was abused by Daron Payne from time to time. Most notably, Payne went right through Williams both to force Prescott's interception and on the only sack of the game. Williams has to be better going forward, because he is the clear weak link across this dynamic offensive line right now. Luckily, as a whole, this line has been very good through two games.
- Defensively, things could've gone better for the Cowboys. While a lot of the production through the air came through garbage time, Terry McLaurin was still too effective down the field. Chris Thompson was also getting too much YAC against these defenders. Anthony Brown had a rough day in the slot, missing multiple tackles and not being too great in coverage either. Jourdan Lewis, however, did have himself a good game in limited snaps. Both he and Byron Jones made impressive open field tackles on third downs.
- The Cowboys run defense stepped up from a week ago. The tackling of their front seven overall improved as the game went on, and they held Adrian Peterson to just 25 yards on the ground. Part of this was because of how quickly the Cowboys got to their 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but they were solid nonetheless.
- Dallas' pass rush will benefit greatly from Robert Quinn's return next week against Miami. DeMarcus Lawrence created a couple big pressures on Sunday, but Quinn's presence should help free him up a bit to create more of a consistent pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly From Week 2 Against the Redskins
It's still a bit early in the 2019 season, but the Dallas Cowboys ability to go into hostile territory and come away with a victory against the Washington Redskins is a big win. Not only does America's Team remain undefeated to start the season, but they also now sit atop the NFC East in sole possession of the division.
The Dallas Cowboys again got off to a slow start Sunday afternoon against the Redskins but showed their resiliency by continuing to battle throughout the game. I expected a slobber knocker type of game considering the way these two teams battle it out every time they square off against one another and they certainly didn't disappoint. However, it was the Cowboys who prevailed in the end with the 31-21 victory.
But enough with the rehashing of yet another impressive Cowboys win. Let's get to the point of this article and dive into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly this week from the Week 2 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
I really wanted to go with Wide Receiver Devin Smith here this week because he had an impressive game against the Washington Redskins and ended up leading the team in receiving yards (74 yards, 1 TD), but I'm just going to give him a shout out instead. I think the good deservedly goes to Quarterback Dak Prescott. He continues to show he has taken the next step in his development, which is making the Dallas Cowboys offense one of the more lethal units in the NFL.
It may have taken a little while for the Cowboys offense to get going, but when it did it was because Prescott took charge. Once again he looked really good in the passing game, completing 26 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. His efficiency throwing the ball was awfully impressive, but so was his five rushes for 69 yards on the ground. His only little blemish on the day was the unfortunate interception that just so happened to bounce the right way for the Redskins. Overall though, Dak handled more than his share Sunday and did it really well.
Deciding what to put in this category each week is never an easy task. I absolutely hate singling out a single person, but this week I'm going to have to point my finger at Left Guard Connor Williams. He's my nomination for the bad this week due to the penalties he had at the most inopportune times. Last week Zack Martin did the same thing against the Giants and rebounded. Hopefully, Williams can do the same.
Although I put Williams in the section, I think the penalties the Dallas Cowboys piled up throughout the game against the Redskins probably deserve more attention than I'm giving them. It was a sloppy game from start to finish due to the amount of yellow flags flying Sunday afternoon, but it's kind of to be expected considering they are playing a divisional opponent and how early it still is in the 2019 season. Let's just hope the amount of laundry flying from now on is minimal to none.
For the second week in a row the Dallas Cowboys defense has failed to live up to the expectations many of us have had for them entering the 2019 season. For that reason alone I think they were the ugly from Sunday afternoon against the Washington Redskins. They really need to step up their game if they want to live up to the aspirations that we not only all have for them, but they have for themselves.
I honestly don't think the Redskins offense is all that much better than the Giants, who the Cowboys made look better than they truly are last week. I think they did the same thing in this Week 2 matchup as well. They are really struggling to bottle up the running game like they did last year. They're also giving too much cushion in the passing game and have allowed too many easy completions underneath. Hopefully they can bounce back next week against the Miami Dolphins, but if not we should all be really concerned.
What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly from the Cowboys victory over the Redskins?
DAL 31, WAS 21: Dak Prescott Dominant In Comfortable Win
Fourth year quarterback Dak Prescott is up for a new contract t this offseason, and he's playing like he knows it.
After putting up a perfect passer rating in the Cowboys' season opening win, he was once again excellent today. Prescott threw for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns, and also ran for 69 yards on 5 attempts to lead the Cowboys to their 31-21 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Prescott spread the ball around to a multitude of different targets. Tight end Jason Witten caught his second touchdown of the year, Amari Cooper had yet another touchdown as well, Michael Gallup went for 68 yards on 6 catches, and even Devin Smith had a huge day to lead the team in receiving. Ezekiel Elliott eclipsed the 100 yard rushing mark for the first time this season, and got himself a rushing touchdown as well to seal the deal.
Defensively, the Cowboys were not as impressive. While the final statistics are skewed due to garbage time yards and scoring, this defense felt like they were on their heels the entire afternoon. DeMarcus Lawrence came up with a couple big pressures, but outside of Tyrone Crawford's first half sack the Cowboys didn't create many problems for Redskins quarterback Case Keenum.
This defense will need to tighten up if they are to contend with the elite offenses they'll have to face around the NFC going forward.
Dallas is now 2-0 on the season, with both wins coming over division opponents. Of course, they've dominated the two worst teams in the division, and both match-ups with the Philadelphia Eagles still loom large later in this season.
Regardless, the Cowboys are off to an excellent start to their 2019 campaign, and get to come home to play the lowly Miami Dolphins next Sunday.
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