When the lights went out at Super Bowl XLVII, a game was still played as the Ravens became world champions. When the lights went out from a power outage on Saturday night from my New Jersey Cowboys headquarters, I was forced to go without watching the team's trip to Los Angeles live.
After getting the chance to review the tape between the Cowboys and Rams though, we're back with another edition of Sean's Scout - discussing what jumped out from a 13-10 loss Dallas suffered at the hands of LA in their second preseason game of five.
- There were more positives from this game on the defensive side of the ball, where we can start with the Cowboys' first round pick Taco Charlton. Recording his first sack of the preseason, Charlton did a much better job throughout this game of playing with improved awareness compared to a week ago. This allowed the lengthy pass rusher to get up the field and flash some of the explosive traits he did at Michigan by not only holding the point of attack but disengaging and flowing to the football. Steady improvement is all the Cowboys can ask for in Taco, as he'll likely be taking meaningful snaps as early as week one at both defensive end positions - getting to the quarterback Saturday night as a RDE.
Congrats to @TheSupremeTaco on the sack last night! ✭ https://t.co/m9YIsRwnUS
- Seeing Damien Wilson take further strides with his game is both encouraging and worrisome, as league discipline could still of course be in play following his July arrest. Against the Cardinals, Wilson lined up almost exclusively at SAM and did not look like himself, playing too fast for his own good and running himself out of position with bad form. Not only did Damien Wilson clean these things up impressively against the Rams, but he did so at both SAM and WILL. Freeing Wilson up to run to the ball some in this game had great results, as the tackling range and speed was there - as was the patience and strength he'll need to play with on the strong side.
- Another player that I thought displayed even more than he did in college was rookie FS Xavier Woods, who was constantly around the ball to the tune of seven tackles. Last week, I wrote about the concerns I had about one of these young players emerging in the third safety role for the Cowboys, but now believe Woods could fit nicely as a more athletic Barry Church-like player in Rod Marinelli's defense. The ability to run to the football and diagnose plays in front of him quickly was always there for Xavier Woods at LA Tech, but it seemed like he had an extra gear to him moving around that was incredibly fun to watch. By far the best thing about Woods' playing speed is his ability to stay in control and still deliver punishing tackles with impressive stopping power, making him a player that can become interchangeable with the rest of Dallas' safeties and give them that true rotation they want in the secondary.
Xavier Woods seems to have a habit of doing this. And look at how quickly he realizes where the ball is going. https://t.co/KXDw3D5zwl
- As a seventh round pick at a position of strength for the Dallas Cowboys, rookie DT Joey Ivie has no shot to make this football team if his pad level does not improve. Ivie's draft-able trait out of Florida was his speed and burst to disrupt as a 3T - something Rod Marinelli has always coveted in his defenses. On more than one occasion though, the Rams hit on big plays by pinning Ivie at the point of attack, who took himself out of these plays from the start by playing above his hands and not getting any push.
- The Damontre Moore hype is real. The Dallas coaches have not only put him out there with every pairing on the defensive line as well as on special teams because they'll need the depth across the board, but because he simply has the ability to greatly help this team everywhere. Focusing on what he did once again off the edge, Moore makes it look easy capturing the corner on a consistent basis, where he has a solid repertoire of rush moves to rally to the football with a contagious relentless effort. If you want an example of what a DE should be doing for the Cowboys to help themselves right now, look no further than Damontre Moore with his bend, bull rush, and hands play.
- For a final note on the defense as a whole, this game provided a pretty good example of what this unit will look like schematically - improving drastically from the Hall of Fame game. A defense built to protect leads, prevent big plays, and always play in front of the ball, the Cowboys were coming downhill and hitting everything that moved across the first, second, and third units. Even more exciting is the fact that the Cowboys did this without rookie CBs Chidobe Awuzie or Jourdan Lewis, who both add more play making ability against the pass.
- Moving on to the offense, the highlight of the night was again a Rico Gathers touchdown that was delivered beautifully by instant fan-favorite QB Cooper Rush. Kellen Moore played the entire first half, and made it very difficult to properly evaluate the rest of this offense. Not only did Rush help himself once again with a confident performance, but he led Gathers perfectly into the end zone to cap off a play that Rico did everything right on. Throughout this game, I saw Gathers moving much more fluidly and not getting caught up as much with defenders going across the field. This allowed for him to celebrate his second touchdown in as many games and further make his case for a 53 man roster that better have Rico Gathers penciled into it at the moment.
- I have a feeling Zack Martin and Travis Frederick are about to prove their worth more so than ever this season at RG and C respectively for the Cowboys, with La'el Collins going through some natural growing pains out at RT. Collins' biggest issue has been allowing rushers to get wide against him, where he will then struggle to reach his man and keep him from disrupting the QB. With Dak Prescott noticeably struggling to feel pressure off of that edge very well in his first year, his ability to climb the pocket will be crucial this season - where Martin and Frederick are as reliable as any at keeping things clean.
The Cowboys play again in five days against the Colts at home, and having already provided us with two games to evaluate the depth on this roster the early reports are that more starters will play including LB Jaylon Smith.
Heading towards their first game at AT&T Stadium for 2017, the Cowboys have to feel pretty good about where they are at just about every position following this loss to the Rams.
Young players are pushing veterans, and literally all 53 spots are being fought for both in these preseason games and through training camp in Oxnard. I have a feeling the September 2nd cut down from 90 to 53 players is going to be one of the most memorable in years, as it will also be a first for the NFL with the elimination of the earlier cut to 75 players.
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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