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Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Offense Surgical, Defense Taking Shape

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Offense Dominates, Defense Plays Fast 1

The Cowboys took care of a depleted Indianapolis Colts team last night, making their 2017 debut in front of Cowboys Nation at home. Rolling out most of their starters for a few series, the Cowboys were sharp on both sides of the ball and left me with plenty of impressive takeaways for my latest edition of Sean's Scout.

Let's get right to what stood out from this 24-19 win over a Colts team making their first trip to AT&T Stadium since week 16 of 2014 - when Dallas clinched the NFC East with a convincing 42-7 victory.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Offense Dominates, Defense Plays Fast

  • There is no doubt that the Cowboys' rushing attack was boosted by the starting offensive line winning convincingly across the board against a weak Colts front. You still have to love what you saw from Darren McFadden early on as a decisive runner that was putting his foot in the ground and playing with some finish. The Cowboys' staff has shown plenty of commitment over the past seasons to McFadden, and he was finally able to prove why once again after struggling to get anything going with limited reps earlier in the preseason without the starting line in front of him.

 

  • Here is a scary thought for opposing defenses - WR Dez Bryant playing with an extra gear as he rapidly improves his chemistry with Dak Prescott. There's much more intrigue than concern at the WR position as Dallas will have to make some tough decisions in shaping their roster, but knowing that Bryant can return to form as a vertical threat that's already the best in the league at winning with physicality at the catch point will only elevate the play of Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer. I don't know if there is a team in the NFL that currently has the defensive backs to line up against the Cowboys and deal with these weapons all across the field.

 

  • La'el Collins is learning how to use his power to hold up at RT, transitioning from a LG position where he consistently showed off his rare combination of power and speed. The struggles for Collins at his new position have come in his mechanics both with his feet and hands to control rushers. Against the Colts, when rushers were able to capture the corner against La'el, he was still able to handle them well by sealing the edge with some force and guiding the DE around the pocket. Dak Prescott could deal with this much better than pressure in his face or a straight rusher knocking him off his spot, and the results were pretty obvious with Dak's comfort in the pocket.

 

  • For the second straight week, I believe we got a good look at what Rod Marinelli's defense will be schematically - with the results being even better on Saturday night thanks to the addition of Jaylon Smith. With all eyes on him, Smith was far from perfect in his angles and reads in coverage, but he found ways to move with some burst in getting to the football. Overall, having speed at linebacker is going to help this defense tremendously - particularly the fresh faces in the back-end. FS Byron Jones was able to thrive playing closer to the line of scrimmage as a match up piece with these LBs so solid in their drops, and the likes of Jeff Heath, Robert Blanton, and Kavon Frazier all drove downhill to the ball well. Simply put, this is a defense that wants to force other teams to throw the ball into them and limit chunk plays, something they could excel at with the personnel available for the scheme.

 

  • When Orlando Scandrick plays with balance, he is still one of the stickiest cover guys on this team. Getting him off the field was never going to be easy for a rookie like Jourdan Lewis or Chidobe Awuzie, especially now with the setbacks they've suffered with injuries in camp. With his feet under him, Scandrick was flying around making plays that he'll be asked to execute well into the upcoming regular season as the Cowboys slowly prepare their draft picks at the position.

✭✭✭✭✭

The Cowboys will focus on finishing out training camp after a strong preseason showing against the Colts, with their week three "dress rehersal" set for Saturday the 26th against the Oakland Raiders from AT&T Stadium. An extended look at the starters that performed so well here should have Cowboys Nation more than ready for meaningful football back at home against the Giants in week one.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Offense Surgical, Defense Taking Shape" 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
  • Alfredo Martinez

    Great night for this 3 young WRs:
    Uzoma Nwachukwu,4.45 at 40..5-11, 194, Texas A&M
    Lance Lenior, 4.61 at 40, 6-0, 201, Western Illinois
    Noah Brown, 4.55 at 40.6-2, 222, Ohio State

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Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?

Kevin Brady

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Was Sunday A "Wake Up Call," Or A Flashback To Reality?

Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.

Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.

Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.

The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."

Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?

Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.

No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.

The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.

All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.

After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.



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Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?

Brian Martin

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Scott Linehan

Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.

It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.

I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.

I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.

Kellen Moore

Dallas Cowboys QB Coach Kellen Moore

Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.

Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.

The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.

Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?



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Star Blog

Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern

Kevin Brady

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Zack Martin

What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?

Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.

Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.

The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.

That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.

With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.

There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.

The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.

Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.

I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance

A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.

It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.



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