Connect with us

Game Notes

#SmoothView Pregame Report: Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles



Cowboys Blog - #SmoothView Game Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs Philadelphia Eagles 1

Cowboys Projected Inactive List:

Bryant and Gregory are obvious choices with their injuries; Leary is very interesting as he could play if his groin is better before the game, his missing several days of practice makes his status a game-time decision. If he is not active, take this next part seriously.

Mackenzy Bernadeau starts over La'el Collins. During practice this week - Bernadeau took first-team snaps - Not Collins. Unfortunately, Collins is not yet ready to be an NFL starter. This may disappoint those who have become accustomed to Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin immediately being productive after being drafted, yet it should not.

Not every first round talent (which Collins was largely thought as being) can immediately start in the NFL. It does not mean Collins will never start for the Dallas Cowboys, it just means he is not there yet. Although Jason Garrett did leave the possibility open stating there was a competition between Bernadeau and Collins for the Left Guard spot if Leary is unable to go.

If Brice Butler is even close to being ready, I would take him to the 46 over Street. His drop last week was huge which may have hurt Tony Romo's confidence in the young receiver. Brice Butler has the speed to be a deep threat if he can get a clean release off the line. I favor his big play ability over that of Street. The Coaching Staff could work him into a few packages in the short week allowing him to help replace the Dez Void and provide some immediate production.

Bottom line, if he is comfortable with the playbook, I would play Butler Sunday. I just do not feel he will be.

With Cole Beasley becoming even more important on offense, I would keep Lucky Whitehead active solely for Punt Return duties. I question the reasoning as to why he was active for the game against the Giants, as he was rarely used on offense. This week is a different scenario.

His explosive return ability could be an effective weapon when facing an offense that is better than the New York Giants. Simply flipping field position could be paramount in this game. I have my concerns with his ball security, yet I would give him the opportunity for at least this week.

I do not see how they could make Christine Michael active this week when facing an up-tempo Philadelphia Eagles offense. Davon Coleman has some position flex on the Defensive Line and having an additional body for the rotation would pay dividends. There were, at times against the Giants, plays where the Defensive Line looked a little winded when the Giants played no huddle. Coleman could help keep the unit fresh going into the second half of the game.

Cowboys Offense vs Eagles Defense

The Eagles did not manage much of a Pass Rush against an Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line that is far inferior to that of the Dallas Cowboys. That does not mean one should ignore Fletcher Cox or Connor Barwin as they do have the ability to produce. Yet, it should encourage Cowboy fans that the Eagles rush was only able to produce a sack, a hit, and three hurries the entire game. Yet there is no question they will blitz.

There were also some running lanes the Eagles gave up all night as well, which gives me the impression that the Cowboys will be able to open up some holes for both Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden.

Personally, I would love for Michael to be active and grab a few carries as I feel this Eagles defense can be worn down by a bigger back. The numbers just do not add up to forfeit another position for him though; however, I feel Darren McFadden has more physicality, vision, and speed than Randle and could be the more effective runner against the 3-4 front of the Eagles.

With that stated, if the Eagles are not able to put pressure on Tony Romo, it will be a long day for their secondary. While Byron Maxwell struggled against the Falcons, their other starting Cornerback Nolan Carrol is the player the Cowboys should target. Carrol is projected to play the slot, which is where the Cowboys can exploit him.


While this footage is of him with the Dolphins, his play has not taken a leap with the Eagles, being a mostly average player that is pressed into starting duties because of injury. Him in the slot against either Beasley or Lance Dunbar is a huge mismatch in the Cowboys favor. Especially, if he plays off coverage on either. Each is a better slot option than what the Falcons featured last Sunday.


Malcolm Jenkins is a playmaker for the Eagles, he could be used to cover Jason Witten as he has shown solid coverage skills. The above highlight package also shows that he can tackle in space, which may be a key factor in this game as I feel whether run or pass the Cowboys will be able to get players in space often against this Eagles team.

If he goes into the slot to take Beasley, I do not feel that is a matchup the Eagles will stay with for long. Cole has the quickness to immediately defeat him off the line of scrimmage, but that is a matchup he will have to win if it happens.

While the loss of Dez is a big one, Chip Kelly recognizes the Cowboys offense still presents a serious challenge come Sunday. Without Dez, the Cowboys may face a defense that does not play their Safeties in a different zip code, which could open the back of the defense up for several deep throws. If they give single coverage, Terrance Williams and whoever lines up as the X receiver will have to beat their man and get up the field. Gavin Escobar should also see a significant role in the passing game as he presents a matchup problem.

One or two deep completions will force the Eagles into a more conservative defense and open up the running game even further than I feel it already will be. If for some reason they start the game playing back, we will see a lot of what the Cowboys did last week and Romo will systematically pick them apart.

I could see the Eagles attempting to disguise their defense until the final seconds of the play clock, but that could be a fruitless endeavor. If Romo picks up on that, he will begin to make his adjustments faster to counter that approach.

Key Match Up: Cowboys Offensive Line vs Eagles Front Seven

Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Connor Barwin, and Vinny Curry can disrupt the Cowboys game plan. If the Cowboys Offensive Line can consistently give Romo time, the Cowboys Receivers will have the opportunity to beat coverage and the offense will stay ahead of the chains.

As mentioned above, the Eagles' Cornerbacks are not exceptional, therefore if Romo gets the time then skill players will get open. It will be paramount for Bernadeau - if he indeed starts - to acknowledge the blitz and pick it up. Romo will need to have time.

The Travis Frederick matchup against Logan will be key for the running game. Frederick needs to put Logan on rollerskates and not get defeated by Logan's quickness on the first move. This is the key matchup to watch as the running game will set up everything else for the Cowboys and will keep the Eagles honest.

Keep your eye on the trenches here. If the Cowboys are to win this game, the Offensive Line will need to be effective and prove they are the best unit in the league.

Slight Advantage Cowboys

Cowboys Defense vs Eagles Offense

Do not expect the Eagles to throw the ball fifty-two times again.

The only way that will happen is if they are far behind on the scoreboard. The Eagles spent a lot of money on DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews; it is in their best interest to use those players.

Their Wide Receivers are not overly dangerous, yet they have a number of weapons they can distribute the ball to, let's take a quick look at them:

  • Jordan Matthews
  • Nelson Agholor
  • Josh Huff
  • Riley Cooper
  • Miles Austin

Not one of them presents a huge problem, yet when adding Zach Ertz and especially Darren Sproles to the equation, their sheer numbers make them hard to defend.

This says all you need to know about Sproles. With the way the Eagles run their offense, he should receive 10-12 carries and another 5 receptions per game. The Eagles run east-west quite a bit, which favors Sproles' speed over Murray and Matthews who are nowhere near as quick. He is the biggest matchup issue for the Cowboys defense. You have to hope that the Cowboys can stay accountable for where he is and make sure to swarm around him whenever he touches the ball.

Sproles is by far the Eagles most dangerous weapon, yet his snaps may get limited because of the focus on Murray and Matthews. Which I feel the Cowboys defense is active, tough, and disciplined enough to hold up against either.

Jack Crawford and Jeremy Mincey will have to play a solid game along the front for the Cowboys Defense to have continued success in this game. Also, Nick Hayden's ability to eat up blocks on early running plays will be key.

Key Match Up: Cowboys Defensive Line vs Eagles Offensive Line

Get to the Quarterback. Sam Bradford is not very efficient when he is under pressure; while he does not typically throw the ball down the field, the pass rush is vital. We may not see a number of sacks on Bradford as he does get rid of the ball quickly, but if this Defensive Line is able to get pressure on him, the Cowboys are at a major advantage.

I question the quality of the Guards the Eagles will display; they are far inferior to Evan Mathis whom the team released after a contract dispute. Tyrone Crawford needs to have a big day and consistently get quick pressure on Bradford when he drops back. With Gregory sitting out at least this week, DeMarcus Lawrence will have to step up as well.

Eagles Left Tackle Jason Peters presents a challenge. If the Defensive Ends can get pressure off of Peters, it will bring quite a few headaches for Bradford, especially if Cowboys are getting pressure up the middle as well. Whatever this team can get out of Ryan Russell will be welcomed, as every player on this unit has to play effectively and disrupt the Eagles.

Slight Advantage Eagles

Special Teams Matchup

In a game that could be extremely close, Special Teams could really play a huge role. The Cowboys have an advantage with Dan Bailey being far more consistent than Cody Parkey. Yet, the Punt Return unit will again need to be stout when dealing with Darren Sproles. Chris Jones is a solid directional Punter, so he should be able to help limit Sproles by placing the ball close to the sidelines.

If Lucky does return Punts this week, he will need to make something positive happen.

He has big play ability and several nice returns could be vital. The unit can also ill-afford the same mishap which happened last week when Beasley was kept from fielding a Punt. That cost the Cowboys around twenty yards of field position, that cannot happen this game.

Slight Advantage Cowboys

Final Result?

My prediction was spot on last week, the Cowboys needed to have a -3 turnover ratio to keep the New York Giants competitive. This Eagles team is far more talented on paper than the Giants. If the Cowboys have a ratio close to -3, they will not win this game and it will not be close.

As you read above I feel the Cowboys have a slight advantage on Offense and Special Teams while the Sproles factor gives the Eagles offense a slight advantage over the Cowboys defense. Therefore, this game will come down to coaching. Jason Garrett will have to make sure the team is mentally prepared while Scott Linehan will have to dictate to Eagles Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis.

Rod Marinelli will need to get his defense off the field on third downs. If he is able to do that, the Eagles tempo will make it impossible for their defense to hold through four quarters. Third down defense will be the most critical stat for the Cowboys.

I honestly feel the Cowboys will win this game, the Eagles will have several costly turnovers that Romo will capitalize on. However, I expect this to be a battle as the Eagles are in a vulnerable situation. If the Cowboys are able to move to 2-0 within the division, it really puts them in a great early season position.

The Way Of Smooth

I personally cannot stand when players trash talk to the media.

I have been a fan of Jason Garrett from the beginning due to his constant preachings of worrying about the team, improving each day, and being above useless media squabbling. This mindset led to a mentally tough and disciplined team last year, that allowed their play to do the talking.

The Cowboys do not care about the rumblings outside of Valley Ranch. That is why I have an issue with one Bennie Logan. Jason Garrett uses the mantra; nameless faceless opponent, yet it is hard to forget Logan's comments made last year about the Cowboys Offensive Line. He also made a comment challenging the Cowboys manhood during Training Camp.

Logan is a player that does far too much chirping; I hope Frederick is able to dominate him all game and the Cowboys run game finds holes all night up the middle.

Players like Logan really should worry about their play and not getting their banter spread across social media. Landon Collins found out last week that it is better to keep quiet and hopefully, Logan learns that lesson as well.

Avid Cowboys fan that will provide analytical analysis to the Draft, Film, and everything related to the team. You can find me @TheRealSmoothG on twitter.

Game Notes

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady



Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn't look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Ryan Switzer's first target came on a third down -- something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can't catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender's face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn't be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Switzer's third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback -- who is cheating to the inside -- with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I'd still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

Continue Reading

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez



Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might've lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season's finally over. It wasn't easy, but we're still here. Here's to 2018. Let's hope it's a good one for our Cowboys. Here's this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Coaching Staff Didn't Help Its Cause

It's more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job was not an issue. Now, Jerry's even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it's true.

While I don't think we'll see a new head coach anytime soon, I'd dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would've meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a "real action" game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC's #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can't help thinking about the coaches.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers' first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I'd be surprised if the Cowboys don't keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he'll be paid $790,000 next year which isn't at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn't been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he's used more next season.

At the end of the day, he's a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on "gadget plays" or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott's best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it's too optimistic to expect something like that.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Dan Bailey's Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey's 2017 season hasn't been easy at all. We've seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys' season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it's all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan "Automatic" Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we're not sure about calling him "Automatic" anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let's hope that's the case.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports... Maybe next year. We're on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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!

Continue Reading

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation - despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli's defense.

We'll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean's Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys' second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles' eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we'll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott's strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open -- relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn't been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn't now that he's lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer's ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer's spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean's Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean's Scout won't be going anywhere! I'm shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here