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Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Must Have Better Plan for Golden Tate in Eagles Debut

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Must Have Better Plan for Golden Tate in Eagles Debut

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.

Tate1

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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.

Tate2

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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.

Tate3

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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.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Must Have Better Plan for Golden Tate in Eagles Debut" 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.

Game Notes

#ATLvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This week's gambling preview focuses on the Cowboys week 11 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. Dallas beat the now 4-5 Eagles last Sunday to improve their own record to 4-5. Atlanta lost on the road to Cleveland last week to drop their record to 4-5 on the season.

It's an 8-8 league, isn't it?

Dallas returns to the scene of the 2017 crime this Sunday, traveling to Atlanta where Chaz Green and Dak Prescott were destroyed almost exactly one year ago. Let's take a look at the line and the quality of these teams to see which way it could go.

The Line

Cowboys +3, O/U 48 points. 

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas saved their season on the road last Sunday night, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles and getting right back in the thick of things in the NFC East race. Still, we can't simply ignore what the other 8 games of data have told us about the Cowboys and their offensive quality.

The addition of Amari Cooper has clearly helped the offense, opening up the passing game a bit and allowing for Dak Prescott to have a reliable "number one" receiver. The team's results overall have been mixed the first two games of the Cooper-era, but he has been consistently good in both match-ups.

Defensively the Cowboys continued to impress last week, though "cornerback opposite of Byron Jones" is quickly becoming a potential need. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith stole the show last Sunday, and both the present and the future of the Cowboys' linebacking corps is strong. It could be argued the Cowboys have yet to see a passing attack like the one Atlanta brings, however, making Sunday a big test for them defensively.

Atlanta Falcons

Similar to the Cowboys, Atlanta has been very much up-and-down this season. In a way, though, they are just the opposite-day Cowboys, with their offense putting up insane numbers most weeks and their banged up defense often letting them down.

Though it looked like they were turning it around in recent weeks, Atlanta had probably their most disappointing loss in quite some time, losing at Cleveland to the young Browns. Still, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lead a prolific passing attack which can strike fear in any defense.

Byron Jones and company will have their hands full with the Falcons' cast of skill players on Sunday, and as usual, stopping their passing attack will all begin up front with the pass rush. Hopefully Randy Gregory can build on his week 10 performance to produce even more results this week.

Trends

  • Surprisingly, the score total has now hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
  • The Cowboys are 2-5 against the spread their last 7 games against the Falcons.
  • The Cowboys are also 2-4 against the spread their last games at Atlanta.
  • Dallas is just 1-4 straight up on the road this season.
  • The score total has gone over 4 of Atlanta's last 5 home games.
  • The Falcons are just 2-5 against the spread their last 7 games.

Prediction

Who the hell knows, man.

This team is incredibly difficult to project week to week, probably about as volatile as they've been since all those 8-8 seasons. This line started at Cowboys +4.5 and has since moved down to just +3, meaning they are valued as a pick 'em on a neutral field.

Given how inconsistent, yet talented, both teams are this line feels exactly right. I'll take the Cowboys and the points because why not? I expect this to be a tight game throughout, and could come down to the kicking game in the fourth quarter.



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Game Notes

X-Factor: Xavier Su’a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

John Williams

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X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 4

Heading into this week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys were down starting Left Guard Connor Williams as well as starting Center Travis Frederick. Getting his first start for the Dallas Cowboys since being signed off the street during the season as guard depth was Xavier Su'a Filo and he played excellent.

Filling in against a front seven as good as the Eagles is a pretty difficult ask, but Su'a-Filo had 31 games in the previous two seasons with the Houston Texans, so he's not your typical interior backup.

In particular, Xavier did a great job of getting to the second level quickly and sealing off the linebacker, which allowed Ezekiel Elliott to spring for several big gains on the day.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

Here on Ezekiel Elliott's big run, you can see Su'a-Filo and Left Tackle Tyron Smith start a combo block on the three-technique defensive tackle. After the initial engagement, Su'a-Filo comes off his block quickly and gets to the linebacker and prevents him from filling the hole and doubling back to cut Elliott off and Elliott runs for 32 yards down the middle of the field.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 1

Again, we see Tyron and Xavier work a combo block before Su'a-Filo comes off his block to engage the linebacker and prevent him from getting back to Elliott after hits the hole to the left side.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 2

This time Xavier Su'a-Filo works with Joe Looney to prevent the one-technique defensive tackle from slanting down the line and disrupting the point of attack. Su'a-Filo then quickly releases to linebacker and seals him to the outside and creates a big hole for Elliott to run through for yet another big gain.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 3

This is another big gain for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys offense that seemed to be able to run right at the heart of the Philadelphia Eagles defense all night. This time Su'a-Filo stumbles off the snap but is able to regain his balance and neutralize the middle linebacker yet again allowing Elliott to get to the second level quickly and get the Dallas Cowboys into field goal range late in the game.

Film Review: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 1

Su'a-Filo is matched up against one of the première defensive tackles in Fletcher Cox. Cox looks to get leverage on Xavier but is unable to fully get to Dak Prescott as he steps up into the pocket. The offensive tackles didn't expect Dak to step up into the pocket and were unable to hold up the Philadelphia Eagles defensive ends and Prescott is sacked. Su'a-Filo, though isn't completely walked back and Dak has a lane to step into in the pocket. Obviously it's not a perfect play for the Cowboys, but Su'a-Filo eventually tosses Fletcher Cox to the ground. That kind of play strength has been missing from rookie Connor Williams.

Film Review: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

In pass protection, Xavier held up well. Cox attempts to use power to knock him off-balance, but Su'a-Filo holds up to the power and Dak Prescott finds Allen Hurns for a big gain down to the one yard line setting up Dak Prescott's rushing touchdown.

The Cowboys run game has had a difficult time getting going for much of the season. Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played their best game of the season. It looked like the dominant run game we've grown accustomed to. Pro Football Focus attributed to hurries to Su'a-Filo on the night, but zero quarterback hits and zero sacks. Running to the left, Elliott ran for 113 yards at a clip of 8.61 yards per carry including three carries for more than 10 yards and Su'a-Filo was a big part of that.

Xavier did a nice job stepping in for starter Connor Williams and had a nice day both in pass protection and in the run game helping to give strength and athleticism at the point of attack. His ability to get to the next level helped spring Elliott for several big runs on the night, which was a huge key to the football game. Coming into the week 10, the Philadelphia Eagles had allowed the second fewest rushing yards in the NFL.



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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Will McClay Breaks Down Cowboys Vision for New WR Amari Cooper 1

Just when all hope was lost, the Dallas Cowboys went on the road and surprised fans with a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Both on defense and offense, it was a game that showed us plenty of silver linings to be excited about. While a playoff run certainly remains pretty difficult to accomplish, at least the team isn't leaving without a fight.

The last Cowboys' victory came approximately a month ago, so it is with great pleasure that I share with you this week's edition of "Takeaway Tuesday!"

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Vander Esch Among Best Cowboys' Players

Just before last game, I wrote about how Leighton Vander Esch could be in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Playing on Sunday Night Football (on national TV), the rookie helped his case a lot with 13 solo tackles and an interception.

Little by little, he's making sure the Cowboys know they can move on from frequently injured Sean Lee down the road. Vander Esch can play. Forget about him being an impressive rookie, he's currently one of the best players on this roster.

Scott Linehan Shouldn't be Off the Hook

As any Cowboys fan, I loved the win. There were quite a few things to like about the offense on Sunday, but there's no denying play calling could've been way better. As much as the Dallas Cowboys are still in the hunt in a mediocre division, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan should remain on the hot seat.

Ezekiel Elliott took the Cowboys to the 5-yard line by leaping over a human at full speed and right after the Cowboys stopped using him on that drive. Against the Titans, the offense found itself on third and 16 twice and ran a running back screen pass. In Philadelphia, they were on third and 16 once and they ran a RB screen once again.

Dallas has left a lot of points on the field this year and in big part thanks to play calling. Linehan shouldn't be safe right now.

Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It

After two games wearing the Star, Cowboys Nation is feeling a lot better about trading a first rounder for Amari Cooper. On the field, he's proven to be an impact player. An impact that has been felt immediately, by the way. Out of 11 catches, Cooper has gotten the Cowboys' offense ten first downs.

Versus the Eagles, though, his impact is felt beyond his single stat line.

On Sunday Night, he accounted for six catches and 75 yards. He helped QB Dak Prescott get 270 yards through the air and most importantly, to spread the football.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

7 different Cowboys have a reception of at least 13 yards tonight.

That stat above is an underrated one. No wide receiver in next year's Draft would have the kind of impact Amari Cooper is having on this football team. In the long run, lots of people could be eating their words after heavily criticizing the Cowboys' trade for the two-times Pro Bowler wide receiver. Hopefully, that's the case.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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