The Dallas Cowboys have now appeared on prime time twice this season, coming out victorious both times with an opening night win against the rival Giants and a Monday Night Football win in Arizona last night. Putting the ugly 42-17 loss in Denver behind them with their efforts on both sides of the ball against the Cardinals, there was plenty to love about the way the Cowboys responded from another slow start to escape at 2-1 returning home.
In this latest post game edition of Sean's Scout, we'll break down some of the things that stood out to me watching the Cowboys beat the Cardinals 28-17.
— Chat Sports (@ChatSports) September 26, 2017
- This Dallas defense once again had fans on the edge of their seats early, putting the team in a hole as the Cardinals took the opening kickoff downfield for a touchdown. On the 25-yard Jaron Brown touchdown reception, it was Jeff Heath biting on an underneath route that exposed Anthony Brown in zone coverage. Brown may have the recovery speed to get back into plays, but once he was asked to run with Jaron - who had beat him to the inside - with no safety help, the play was busted as Carson Palmer stepped up and delivered a perfect ball. On top of his poor performance last week, there needs to be real concerns for the Cowboys that Heath is not capable of handling the play-to-play assignments needed to start at safety next to Byron Jones. The hope for Heath taking on this bigger role was that he would consistently prove to be the player he's flashed as in a rotational role. Instead, Heath continues to struggle in coverage but will make plays coming downhill on the ball - particularly when the Cowboys are in man coverage across the board, which they were when Heath made a big stop on the Cardinals' second drive. Fortunately, the Cowboys have Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier to take on snaps at safety when called upon. Additionally, I believe Chidobe Awuzie will ultimately be the player that reduces Heath's role the most once he returns from injury.
Jourdan Lewis has ball skills. pic.twitter.com/REgDhUg80o
- Right now, Jourdan Lewis is this team's best cornerback. A CB trio of Lewis, Orlando Scandrick, and Anthony Brown held their own against everything Bruce Arians threw at them. Should Awuzie actually see more time at safety, these three CBs may be what we see for the rest of the season. What really allowed this group to come together so well was Lewis' ability to hold his own on the outside and not just in the slot. Going back to my thoughts on Lewis from during the draft, I never questioned if the smaller Michigan product could play on the boundary in coverage - only if he would be able to hold up on the edge against the run. Sure enough, Lewis allowed Orlando Scandrick to dominate inside as he does so confidently by playing with his hands on the outside, trusting his eyes, and showing off the fluidity in coverage that will keep him covering some of the game's best WRs for a long time.
- The ability to work the middle of the field on offense remains a concern for the Cowboys, but Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan made up for this very nicely in the second half by getting back to what has always worked best for QB Dak Prescott. In creating numbers to run the football, throws across the field and the moving pocket passes from Prescott are critical. Prior to his keeper for a touchdown, Prescott hit Noah Brown for his first career reception to keep the drive alive. The play was classic Dak, as he rolled out and hit Brown across the field with a perfectly led pass. Brown, who released strong off the line and accelerated through his route, was able to create the separation needed and secure the catch through contact to set up a Cowboys score.
- These scouting notes will never be about speculation, but it is pretty clear that - for whatever reason - Ezekiel Elliott is lacking that finishing speed on plays that could have been home runs against the Cardinals. Of course, the amount of runs that Elliott has found space on the second and third level to run is down from last season thus far, and even as a rookie it took Elliott some time to regain that extra acceleration that made him the best RB prospect in some time. Zeke Elliott is still the reigning rushing champion, and nobody in Cowboys Nation should be concerned about his ability to perform as long as he remains on the field. This new-look offensive line has simply had to hold their blocks a beat longer to clear Elliott in 2017 though - meaning there is a further improvement to be expected in the Dallas running game over the coming weeks.
- The Cowboys absolutely needed to take advantage of the favorable match ups presented to them by the Cardinals' offensive line starting two backups, and they were able to do that all night long in big moments. DeMarcus Lawrence stole the show once again, finishing with three sacks and even more pressures on Palmer. What made Lawrence's performance even more impressive was the lack of push the Cowboys got off of the right edge in support of his efforts on the strong side. Tyrone Crawford is far from the guy you want at that RDE position, but sure enough he was tasked with rushing off of the weak edge and chasing down Palmer - something he did relatively well on plays where Carson held the ball. Making the most impact alongside Lawrence though was again this rotation of DTs for Dallas. Maliek Collins and Stephen Paea played well off of each other again on the move. Damontre Moore made his Cowboys debut in this contest, coming off of suspension with a lot of hype for his ability to go play DE opposite Lawrence. Instead, the two lining up at LDE and 3T respectively on passing downs produced great results. Moore is a rusher that will always work up the field quickly and bend or dip his way towards the point of the quarterback, which paired nicely with Lawrence's power and flatten game off that edge. Even DT Brian Price saw some meaningful snaps at the 1T position, and was impressive in his movement ability for his size - clogging running lanes and only further freeing up Collins and the rest of these rotational linemen for a big night.
- To conclude with another note on the offensive line and running game, I believe Travis Frederick is not yet fully comfortable with Chaz Green as the starter next to him at LG. The Cowboys ask Frederick to do so much for them at the center position, including pull and get to the second level. When Ronald Leary or La'el Collins started at LG, Frederick knew that these blockers would fire off the ball and get to the second level with remarkable consistency and ease. A healthy Chaz Green has been just fine at the point of attack, but his inability to play with elite power or movement ability has held back Frederick in his ability to allow Green to work his defender and move interior run-stoppers away from the ball. Through all of this, Frederick's "struggles" have still seen him handle some great DT talent as he remains an invaluable core starter up front for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are back on track with this win against the Cardinals, setting up a meeting of 2-1 teams at AT&T Stadium this Sunday when the LA Rams come to town. The Rams, resting off of Thursday win at the 49ers, will be ready to spoil any momentum the Cowboys hope to take out of Arizona into the next month of the season.
As we review the tape of the Cowboys' full performance against the Cardinals and look ahead to the Rams, be sure to look for new additions of Sean's Scout!
#SEAvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
The Dallas Cowboys found a way to get their first win last Sunday, defeating the New York Giants from start to finish, 20-13.
Now at 1-1 and locked in a three way tie for 1st place in the NFC East, Dallas is looking to string together a few victories and create some early separation. Seattle is now sitting at 0-2, and while that's typically a hole teams cannot climb out of in the NFL, the Seahawks will be desperately fighting to avoid an 0-3 start.
The Seahawks opened up as 3 point home favorites against the Cowboys, with the over/under set at 44.5 points.
After an abysmal season opener against Carolina, the Cowboys came out firing against the Giants on Sunday night. Dallas led by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, and ended up holding on as the Giants made a late garbage-time run.
Dak Prescott looked as comfortable in the pocket as he as in weeks, finding Tavon Austin for a 64 yard touchdown pass on the opening drive. Ezekiel Elliott scored another rushing touchdown, and the Cowboys defense was straight up dominant.
Now, the Cowboys defensive line has another chance to increase their sack total against the Seahawks' weak offensive line. And you know DeMarcus Lawrence is salivating.
Dallas improved to 1-1 straight up and against the spread, covering the 3 point spread set by Vegas a week ago. Both Cowboys games have gone under thus far as well.
The Seahawks fell to 0-2 on Monday night with a tough road loss to the Chicago Bears. Khalil Mack dominated the Seahawks offensive line, dictating protections and keeping Russell Wilson uncomfortable all night long.
The Seahawks haven't been able to get much of a run game going this season, despite their insistence upon doing so. Russell Wilson is their offense, and if the Cowboys can pressure him and force him into hero-ball throws, they should have success on Sunday. After all, this was the Bears recipe for success on Monday night.
Seattle is 0-2 straight up and 0-1-1 against the spread this season.
- The score total has gone under 5 straight Cowboys' games.
- Dallas is 2-4 against the spread their last six times playing at Seattle.
- Seattle is 1-5 against the spread their last six games at home.
- The under has hit 4 of the last 5 Cowboys/Seahawks games.
While I've thought hard about picking the under for the third straight week (I'm 2-0 doing so), I'll pick the actual game for you guys this time. I think the Cowboys will get this road win and improve to 2-1 behind dominant defensive line play and a strong running game.
This match up favors Dallas in multiple ways and I expect them to take advantage of Seattle's weak spots.
I like the Cowboys +3 a lot this Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks: Inside The Numbers
The Dallas Cowboys will travel to the Pacific Northwest this weekend to face the Seattle Seahawks in an important game for both teams in the NFC race.
The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 and risk being buried in an NFC West that has seen the Los Angeles Rams become the divisional power. With the San Francisco 49ers trending up, the Seahawks might find themselves left behind. On Monday Night Football, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had little answers for a Chicago Bears team that has one of the more underrated defenses in the NFL. Well, maybe not so underrated now. They battered Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line for six sacks and were able to pressure him into an interception they were able to return for a touchdown.
The Dallas Cowboys rebounded from a week one disappointment to take care of business against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. It wasn't a pretty win on offense, save for the first and last drives of the game, but it was a solid win. The defense dominated the New York Giants' offensive line and left them searching for answers at 0-2.
As we get ready for week three let's go Inside The Numbers for yet another important matchup for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 10-8, but have dropped the last two matchups and are 2-3 over the last five games. They've split the last two meetings that played in Seattle, winning the most recent showdown in 2014, 30-23.
If you'll remember, that was the game that had us all believing that Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray led Cowboys team was for real. Sadly the 2014 season ended with the typical heartbreak that we've grown accustomed to in the last 23 years.
Let's take a look at how the matchup breaks down on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks offenses are eerily similar statistically as both rank near the bottom in most offensive categories.
As you can see from the chart above, there aren't many categories where either team ranks inside the top 20 in total offense.
- The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage along the offensive line. They rank inside the top 15 in rush yards, rush TDs, first downs on the ground, and have allowed fewer sacks than the Seattle Seahawks offensive line.
- The Dallas Cowboys have been excellent through two games at protecting the ball, having only turned it over one time; a fumble by Dak Prescott in the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers.
- Through two games, the Seahawks haven't rushed for a touchdown. They haven't run it often and haven't run it very well either. They only average 3.6 yards per attempt on the ground. Advantage Cowboys.
- While the Seahawks have thrown for more yards this season, Dak Prescott has a better completion percentage. For the year, Russell Wilson has completed only 59.4% of his passes. Dak Prescott is at 64.8%.
It's on the defensive side of the ball where the Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage, particularly with their pass rush.
As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys have the statistical edge in nearly every category.
- The Dallas Cowboys rank in the top five in several defensive categories including points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play, passing yards allowed, passing touchdowns, net yards per attempt, first downs achieved through the air, and sacks.
- Where the Dallas Cowboys have struggled in the first two games, particularly against the Carolina Panthers was against the run. Though they're around the middle of the pack through two games, the Panthers were able to find a lot of success on the ground. The New York Giants, not so much.
- The Cowboys are going to have to continue to be careful with the football as the Seattle Seahawks continue to be one of the best at creating turnovers, especially in the secondary. They're tied for first in the NFL in interceptions with five. Through two games, Prescott hasn't thrown one, but he's had a couple potential interceptions dropped. This week he won't be so lucky.
What it All Means
The Dallas Cowboys are going to have a pretty difficult challenge corralling Seahawks' Quarterback Russell Wilson, but the numbers seem to point to it being a long afternoon for Wilson.
The Dallas Cowboys have a decided advantage when the Seahawks drop back to pass. The Seattle offensive line has allowed the most sacks in the NFL. Coming off allowing six sacks to the Chicago Bears, Wilson could be in for another long day against a Dallas Cowboys defense that is second in the NFL -- to the Chicago Bears -- in sacks with nine.
The Seattle Seahawks won't be able to rely on their running game to keep the Dallas Cowboys defense off balance as they only average 3.4 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season. If the Cowboys can get an early lead this Sunday, it will present a really favorable opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys pass rush.
Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks Stat Notes
Dak Prescott hasn't thrown an interception this season. If we can make any observations through two games, it's that he seems to be back to his ball protection ways. As a rookie, Prescott only through four interceptions, before doubling that in 2017 with eight.
Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson are tied for 27th in the NFL in yards per route run. That number is better than Stefon Diggs of the Minnesota Vikings, Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions, Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers, and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Seattle Seahawks have had a hard time getting to opposing passers and have collected only three sacks through the NFL's first two weeks. Prescott was sacked six times in week one, but the Dallas Cowboys offensive line rebounded to keep the New York Giants from collecting a sack in week two.
Tyler Lockett has played 53 of his 79 offensive snaps from the slot, but has only been targeted four times, catching four passes for 85 yards. His 1.60 yards per route run out of the slot is tied for 11th in the NFL among players who have played at least 50% of their snaps from the slot.
Seattle Defensive Lineman Jarran Reed has been the best run defender for the Seahawks, earning a run stop on 13.5% of his run snaps. Overall he sits eighth in the NFL. Among defensive lineman with at least 50% of their team's run snaps, only Da'Shawn Hand and Linval Joseph have a better run stop percentage.
The amount of snaps per reception allowed by Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Anthony Brown. No player who has played at least 50% of his coverage snaps in the slot has a higher snap per reception rate in the NFL than Brown's 19.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson's been sacked on 36.4% of his drop backs this season. Only Ryan Tannehill and Nathan Peterman have a worse percentage of players who have dropped back to pass a minimum of 22 times this season.
Wilson's been under pressure on 38.8% of his drop backs, which is sixth in the NFL.
Dak Prescott's adjusted completion percentage, which "accounts for factors that hurt the passer's completion percentage but don't help show how accurate they are," per Pro Football Focus and "It accounts for dropped passes, throw aways, spiked balls, batted passes, and passes where the QB was hit while they threw the ball."
Prescott's adjusted completion percentage is ninth in the NFL. Better than notable names such as Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Jimmy Garoppolo, Ben Roethlisberger, DeShaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, and Andrew Luck.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
As I look at the run down for this game and after watching these two teams in week two, I see this as a very favorable matchup for the Dallas Cowboys. Obviously, statistics don't tell the whole story, but the Dallas Cowboys biggest strength, it's pass rush, will be facing a Seattle team that is very weak along the offensive line.
This looks to be a Dallas Cowboys win that will improve them to 2-1.
Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win
The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.
What a difference a year makes.
The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.
One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.
Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.
- Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
- Sean Lee - 41 (60)
- Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
- Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
- Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)
Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus). Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.
Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.
Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.
Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.
Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.
Other Snap Count Notes
- Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
- Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
- Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
- Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
- Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
- Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.
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