Drawing closer to the Cowboys before halftime with a Cooper Kupp touchdown set up by a Ryan Switzer muffed punt, the LA Rams rode this momentum to win the second half on the road 19-6.
With their 35-30 victory at AT&T Stadium, the Rams sent the Cowboys to 2-2 through the first quarter of the season. Let's talk about what stood out from this loss in another edition of Sean's Scout.
Final from @ATTStadium #LARvsDAL https://t.co/KekR6DgX1K
- Starting with Cooper Kupp, this was likely the best slot receiver that CB Orlando Scandrick has seen all season. Not needing much space in the red zone, Kupp turned a seven point swing on the short field following Switzer's fumble by smoothly leaning to his right while accelerating so effortlessly left towards the goal line. Goff hit Kupp for a walk-in touchdown.
- With Sean Lee out (something that ultimately led to Dallas' demise), I wondered pregame if we would see more of rookie safety Xavier Woods around the line of scrimmage. To turn this game, the Rams put Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli in a tough spot when it came to committing numbers to coverage and needing to stop the run, but early on it was Woods out there in Nickel and Dime sets attacking the football downhill. These Cowboys coaches have a lot of trust in Woods' ability to put himself in the right spot and trust his eyes, something he did on the Rams' second drive to force a punt with a hit on Kupp - who was carried across the field nicely this time by Scandrick.
- While Woods made the most of this opportunity, it was Jeff Heath once again struggling at some critical moments in coverage deep. In Heath and Woods, I believe the Cowboys have two safeties that need to be playing down, but the team simply doesn't have this luxury when looking elsewhere at safety outside of Byron Jones. Even some of Jones' best snaps in coverage today came inside the box. On Todd Gurley's 53-yard touchdown reception, it was a miscommunication between Heath standing at the hash and Damien Wilson carrying Gurley up the seam that allowed the athletic Todd Gurley to free himself for an easy throw from Goff and go-ahead score.
- Lastly, the Cowboys went with a new starter at left guard in this game. Healthy enough to make the active roster, Chaz Green sat out in place of Jonathan Cooper. Inconsistency is something you have to live with when it comes to Cooper's more finesse game, and on the Cowboys' opening drive of the game he was able to get to the second level with some consistency. Sustaining blocks will always be an issue for Cooper, and this drive stalled in the red zone when Michael Brockers powered up the field against him and sacked Prescott on third down. As far as getting thrown into the fire goes, it doesn't get much more difficult up front than Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald, and Cooper generally held his own. On Alfred Morris' 70-yard gash, he likely had his best rep of the day by steering Donald out of the hole with impressive power and hand placement.
Just as the Cowboys will have a chance to break down the tape from this deflating loss, I'll have more in-depth thoughts on what the Cowboys need to improve on in a hurry throughout the week right here at Inside The Star.
The Green Bay Packers are back in town on Sunday afternoon, meaning there will be plenty for Cowboys Nation to discuss in the next six days. Click here to catch up on previous edition's of Sean's Scout.
#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance
It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.
But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.
According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.
Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.
What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.
For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.
As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.
Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.
Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).
Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.
NFC East Showdown: Cowboys Offense Primed to Dominate Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys are probably as confident as they have been all season as an offense after completely manhandling the Jacksonville Jaguars defense last week. They were able to put up 40 points on the Jaguar's top-ranked defense and now have to do the same against their division rival, the Washington Redskins.
I don't think there would be any argument if I were to say the Washington Redskins defense isn't nearly as talented as the Cowboys faced last week with the Jaguars. In fact, the Redskins are ranked near the bottom of the league in almost every defensive category, which should have Dallas' offensive players primed for this matchup.
As things stand right now, the Washington Redskins are giving up 21.2 points per game which ranks 24th in the NFL. They are also giving up 344 total yards (25th in the NFL) and 227.2 passing yards a game (24th). The lone bright spot of their defense is stopping the run, where they are currently ranked 12th in the NFL and are only allowing 116.8 rushing yards to opposing running backs.
Luckily, the Dallas Cowboys and Quarterback Dak Prescott looked to have found a groove with their passing game last week against the Jaguars top-ranked passing defense. With the Redskins ranked near the bottom of the league in passing defense, I think the Cowboys should and probably will build upon the success they had last week.
Now, I fully expect the Cowboys passing game to find success once again against the Redskins, but I also believe Running Back Ezekiel Elliott to dominate on the ground like he has in the past against Washington.
Zeke only played in one game against the Redskins last season, but absolutely dominated in that contest. He rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns a year ago and I wouldn't be surprised if he is close to that milestone this week as well, even if it is against the strength of Washington's defense.
I'm really hoping I'm not a being a little overconfident here, but I guess I'm just buying into the success the Cowboys had on the offensive side of the ball last week. The offense finally started to do the things that have made them successful in the past and I'm expecting that to carry over into this week.
I believe we will see Prescott using his mobility once again, although I don't know if he will rush for 83 yards. I'm also expecting to see Wide Receiver Cole Beasley heavily involved in the passing game again because Washington doesn't have a defensive back who can cover him. Of course, let's not forget Ezekiel Elliott. I'm expecting him have a big game as well.
Overall, I really don't see the Washington Redskins defense giving the Dallas Cowboys any problems on the offensive side of the ball as long as they execute the way they did last week. I know when these two teams square off against one another it's usually a slobber knocker, but I think the Cowboys are the better team and is the one that comes away with the victory.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys offense will dominate the Redskins defense?
Can Dak Prescott Continue His Washington Domination On Sunday?
There has been a lot of change within the Dallas Cowboys since 2016.
One thing hasn't changed these past two years, however, and that is the Cowboys beating the Washington Redskins. In fact, since Dak Prescott took over as the starting quarterback in Dallas the Cowboys are 4-0 against Washington. Even as the sky was falling in Dallas a year ago, and the Cowboys offense looked like the worst in football, they still found a way to dominate Washington 38-14 and snap their then-three game losing streak.
In his four career games against Washington, Dak Prescott has quarterback ratings of 103.7, 108.9, 82.2, and 93.4. To put this into context, Prescott's average quarterback rating this season is 85.5 and that is really driven by his outlier positive rating of 118.6 against the Detroit Lions. To be fair, however, his 54.5 rating against Seattle was also a heavy outlier.
Prescott isn't the only Cowboy who has exercised this dominance over Washington, though. As Staff Writer John Williams has pointed out, Jason Garrett is 11-4 against the Redskins since becoming the Cowboys head coach, and Dallas has won six of their last eight against Washington since 2014.
So heading into Sunday's rematch with their division foe, history says the Cowboys should be feeling rather confident, right?
Well there's another streak occurring the Cowboys will actually be looking to break on Sunday. That, of course, is their winless start on the road this season.
Ironically the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys have actually been a good road team until now, going a combined 12-4 the past two seasons. And, since the new stadium opened in 2009, the Cowboys have been historically better on the road than at home, making this year's 3-3 start even more bizarre.
To put it simply, "somethings gotta give" on Sunday. Either Dak Prescott and the Cowboys will continue to beat up on the Redskins and get a leg up in the NFC East, or this horrendous road start will continue for another week.
Either way, I'm sure the takes will be hot on Monday morning.
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