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#SmoothView Game Recap: Doomsday Defense Reborn!

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Cowboys Blog - #SmoothView Game Recap: Doomsday Defense Reborn!

Cowboys Inactives Vs. Philly

  • Dez Byrant
  • Christine Michael
  • Randy Gregory
  • James Hanna
  • Ronald Leary
  • Ken Bishop
  • Ryan Russell

James Hanna having his knee scoped this past Saturday made him unable to even make the trip to Philadelphia. Ronald Leary was also unable to go due to his injured groin, which should heal in time for him to play this Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

The surprise came with Russell being kept inactive. Early last week everyone within the organization spoke highly of Russell, showing excitement that he would have his opportunity to produce on the field. That sentiment really tapered off after Wednesday's practice; the Coaching Staff deciding to not play Russell is telling.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Jeremy Mincey, and Jack Crawford were all productive from the Defensive End position on Sunday. It is safe to say that Russell's spot on the 53 will be in question once Greg Hardy finishes out his four game suspension.


Cowboys Offense

The Cowboys offense did not look fluid, even before Tony Romo went down with the broken clavicle there were issues finishing drives. However, I did feel that Darren McFadden set the tone early in the 2nd Quarter for what would turn into a physically dominating performance in all three phases by the Cowboys.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

McFadden runs over Kendricks. https://t.co/2Uf6HH9HpZ

McFadden is proving to be a physical player that is not afraid to do whatever it takes to help his team succeed.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

McFadden wearing down the defense. https://t.co/PCxPX3kqgx

These are the type of runs I expect to see more of from McFadden. He is close to breaking a big play.

He along with Joseph Randle will be key players with Romo missing extended time.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Weeden's first throw to Beasley. https://t.co/B5NJxQFwJW

This throw shows off the arm talent of Brandon Weeden. Simply put, he can easily make every throw. His challenge comes from reading defenses and being accurate with the football. I personally would like to see him eliminate that slight pat before throwing as that could tip off a defense sitting in zone.

Weeden would connect with Terrance Williams on another Slant against a Cover 0 look from the Eagles. For some reason Eagles Cornerback Byron Maxwell was playing about ten yards off Williams while shading Williams on the outside. Maxwell invited the Slant and with no Safeties in the defensive backfield, Weeden and Williams ran the play against air.

Brandon Weeden will have to make throws down the field in order for the Cowboys to be successful. He has the arm to challenge teams vertically and if he is able to complete some passes over twenty yards he will open up running lanes for Randle and McFadden.


Cowboys Defense

If there was ever a time to believe we may see another Doomsday Defense the time is now.

At times it looked as if Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy "The Manster" White, D.D. Lewis, and Everson Walls were lining up on Sunday.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Tank Lawrence runs past Kelce to get Murray. https://t.co/kcxCMlamu0

Ignore the caption; Brent Celek (87) is the player who was assigned to block Lawrence on this play; as you can see, he does not even get a hand on him allowing Lawrence a free run at DeMarco Murray.

Also, take notice of the discipline and unselfishness shown by Mincey. He sealed off the backside and any hope for a cut back. The entire Defensive Line was able to get up field and push the line of scrimmage backwards, the play had little chance for success.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Mincey follows up Lawrence's stop with one of his own. https://t.co/f3JUzfG4wv

This zone read run by the Eagles had little chance at success as well. Mincey immediately beats Jason Peters off the line gaining instant penetration into the backfield. Allen Barbre (76) also fails to get a hand on Mincey. Tyrone Crawford beat the cut-off block and Nick Hayden kept Jason Kelce from getting to the second level.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Bradford gets pressured and Patmon makes another play. https://t.co/O7cBHABJLY

Sam Bradford saw quite a lot of this on Sunday; the Cowboys were able to get home while only rushing four.

Tyrone Crawford commanding a double team made it possible for Mincey and Davon Coleman to hit Bradford. Kelce was so concerned with Crawford he abandoned his gap allowing Mincey and Coleman to converge on Bradford. I believe the other rusher was Jack Crawford, who was also able to move his man backward.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Good coverage by Byron Jones leads to Wilcox pick. https://t.co/VLRXaTMDJK

This play was all about the effort of Byron Jones.

His play on the ball allowed for the deflection right into the hands of an alert JJ Wilcox. I will give Wilcox credit; for a player who has had problems being where he needed to be in the past, he has shown to have improved in that area these last two games.

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Sean Lee's 13th career INT. https://t.co/1MrEyLvvxl

This throw should have never been made, but you cannot take away from Sean Lee making the play on the ball. Throughout his career, Lee has shown ball skills and has a knack for making a big play. He was all over the field on Sunday and looks comfortable playing Will Linebacker in Rod Marinelli's defense. If he stays healthy, he will start drawing comparisons to Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who was a dominant Will Linebacker in a similar defensive scheme.

If you take away the final drive, where it became clear the Cowboys were sitting back to not allow the big play, the Eagles were only able to gain 146 yards. The defense was simply dominating and there is no other way to look at it. They were even able to completely eliminate Darren Sproles from the game, who I highlighted as the Eagles' most dangerous weapon.

While there were some drops, the play of Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Tyler Patmon, and Barry Church cannot be ignored. The improved pass rush has definitely allowed the Secondary to play aggressive and not have to worry about being in coverage for five or more seconds.


Overall Impressions

Patrick I'M IN DRAFT MODE Conn on Twitter

Cowboys block the punt and score. https://t.co/9Zw7IEmgMF

Special Teams deserve a lot of credit.

Danny McCray with the block, Kyle Wilber with the scoop, and Jeff Heath with the liver quivering thump block. This was a huge play for the team, that was set up by the effort shown by Byron Jones to draw the personal protector to him.

Chris Jones also kept Darren Sproles from being a factor at all with his exceptional directional Punts.

Basically, there was not a single facet of this game where the Cowboys did not dominate. With Tony Romo out for two months, this performance gives hope that the playoffs are a reasonable expectation. With that, I will simply close with...

#FinishTheFight



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

Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys are halfway through their 2018 preseason. Given the injuries they're left to deal with to Zack Martin, Xavier Woods, and Jameill Showers, the Cowboys were happy to see their first home game of the season come to an end when it did. Despite the 21-13 loss, the Cowboys starters made another strong impression before exiting for backups that once again failed to hold the lead.

This is a game I'm looking forward to getting another look at on film, but for now here are a few thoughts the first time through.

  • Rookie Connor Williams is still a work in progress at guard, as he'll get himself in trouble trying to catch rushers too often. 

This "catch blocking" is not uncommon for young offensive linemen, particularly ones learning a new position in preparation to start on the league's best front. On the Cowboys second drive of the game, Williams was caught back in his stance dealing with a twist from the Bengals with Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

The result of the play was an incomplete pass on third down from Dak Prescott. With Williams' footwork being as consistent as it has, I wouldn't worry too much about his upper body technique and strength improving greatly before week one of the regular season. Perhaps most importantly, Williams has looked smooth playing in space, something the Cowboys are prepared to ask the second round pick to do plenty of.

  • With Randy Gregory back in the lineup, the Cowboys potential to have a great rotation of defensive ends was on full display. 

The play that stands out is a tackle for loss by Safety Jeff Heath. On the play, Defensive End Tyrone Crawford did a great job setting the edge against the run, allowing Heath to come down and make the aggressive play.

Crawford created penetration against a tight end, staying disciplined in his rush lane from the right defensive end position to force the run outside.

On the Bengals' offensive series prior to this play by Heath, the Cowboys forced a punt following a missed Andy Dalton throw to A.J. Green. Despite not being tight in coverage on third down, Randy Gregory looked sharp coming off the edge to rush Dalton slightly.

With Taco Charlton also looking strong against the run, and rookie Dorance Armstrong continuing to develop as a weak side pass rusher, the possible match ups the Cowboys can create up front are seemingly endless.

Almost all of them will include last year's sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence, who was also disruptive on nearly every snap in this game.

  • Give credit to Joe Looney for handling the reps he did at center, but the backup interior lineman left a lot to be desired from this position. 

It should come as no surprise that Looney is a better guard than center, or that the Cowboys would look significantly worse at center without Travis Frederick in the lineup.

Overall, this was a disappointing game for the Cowboys thin offensive line depth. Paul Alexander's unit was unable to give quarterbacks Cooper Rush and Mike White a fair chance to settle into the game.

Looney's contact balance was suspect throughout the evening. Not the most powerful player, it's important for Looney to play with leverage and balance, which he did inconsistently last night.

Awaiting news on Zack Martin's first quarter injury still, the Cowboys should have already been concerned about their backups at tackle, with the guard position becoming a late concern now.

  • This is becoming the standard for Jaylon Smith, but I did not see one Bengals blocker effectively slow him down.

The power that Smith is playing with is an outstanding sign for continued success. Not only is Smith physically up for the challenge of starting at MIKE for the Cowboys, but he's physically dominating opponents with strength, speed, and range.

Whether he was running laterally and avoiding blocks with great awareness, or attacking the pocket, Smith's path to the ball was rarely impeded against the Bengals.

No matter who the Cowboys lined up in their front seven, the group did a great job setting a strong tone. Antwaun Woods was once again impressive at the one technique position inside, and Brian Price made a flash play from this position late in the game as well.

Thanks to Smith's gap shooting ability, and the Cowboys willingness so far this preseason to be creative with the Notre Dame product, the team's defensive tackles don't have to be asked to do too much. Holding their spots while drawing blockers will be more than enough to free Smith and the rest of the Cowboys linebackers to make plays.

Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1

Dallas Cowboys CBs Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

  • Chidobe Awuzie's interception in the second quarter is a reminder of just how high the second-year cornerback's potential is. 

Sure, Awuzie's length put him at an advantage to take a leap into year two once Kris Richard arrived as the Cowboys passing game coordinator.

Being productive on the ball, as Awuzie was here, is a testament to just how athletic he is as a boundary cornerback though. A beat late recognizing the ball coming his way, Awuzie remained in perfect position to get a hand on this pass.

Doing so with an explosive leap off the ground and full extension, Awuzie snagged the ball with one hand before bringing it into his body to secure another turnover for the Cowboys first team defense.

The Cowboys cornerback depth proved suspect beyond Awuzie and Byron Jones in this game, but being as good as they already are on the boundary is a huge step in the right direction for Rod Marinelli's defense.

I also thought that UDFA Tyree Robinson did a great job answering the bell at safety, showing up a number of times in run support with the Cowboys in desperate need of depth at his position.

It's in the slot, where Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis continue to feel the pressure of competition, that the Cowboys are struggling to find the right starter - even trying Lewis on the outside well into the fourth quarter of this game.

 ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys will remain in their home state to conclude their training camp and preseason. Needing to see more out of their second and third team, practices will resume at The Star on Monday before another preseason game at AT&T Stadium.

This time, it will be the Arizona Cardinals coming in for a Sunday Night Football tune up. The Cowboys starters could very well see even more playing time than they have through the first two weeks, giving them a better chance of sustaining success and coming away with a preseason win.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

CIN 21, DAL 14: Dak Prescott Continues Strong Preseason in Loss

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott, Bengals

The games may not count yet, but Dak Prescott looks ready for the 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback continued his strong preseason play in the team's 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Prescott played three series, going 10/15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. He got the offense out of trouble a few times with his feet, avoiding sacks and ultimately getting the scoring pass off on a redzone scramble.

Dak's strong play has coincided with shutdown performances from the starting defense. The Cowboys' first-team defenders have yet to allow a score in two preseason games. Tonight, the Bengals were forced into four punts and two turnovers on their first-half possessions.

Overall, the Cowboys are a combined 24-7 in the first halves of their first two preseason contests.

The second half has been the problem, and for two weeks now Dallas' reserves have squandered halftime leads and given up losses. Thankfully, most of the responsible players will not be on the final 53-man roster.

Other Notes

  • There were several concerning injuries for the Cowboys tonight. None was scarier than when All-Pro guard Zack Martin went out with a knee injury, but it does not appear to have been serious. Starting defensive backs Byron Jones and Xavier Woods also got banged up; Byron returned to the game but Woods did not. Defensive lineman Datone Jones also left with a knee injury.
  • Even more concerning was the play of the second-team offensive line. Chaz Green was typically awful, but we also saw swing tackle Cam Fleming struggling and just an overall lack of protection for the backups quarterbacks. Green got benched in the second half and may have finally played his way off the team.
  • Credit to Terrance Williams for getting open in the endzone to give Dak Prescott a receiver for the touchdown throw. Even with his warts, Williams' two years of experience playing with Dak can't be ignored in deciding who makes the team.
  • Tight end Blake Jarwin continues to run with the starters on offense and may have quietly taken the job away from Geoff Swaim.
  • Darius Jackson took advantage of some extra playing time tonight after Bo Scarbrough left with a hip injury. He broke off a few nice runs to amass 42 yards on just six carries, plus had four receptions.
  • We finally get to see Dan Bailey kick a field goal again, and it was an easy 35-yarder with no issues.
  • Shout out to Chidobe Awuzie for one of the pretty interceptions that a Cowboys DB has made in some time. Awuzie had to bend like Beckham (Odell, that is) to get a hand on the ball, then tipped it to himself for the pick.
  • Preseason fun continues for the Cowboys next Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football.



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Game Notes

#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?

Kevin Brady

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Lance Lenoir

Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.

But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.

After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.

Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.

Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.

During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.

This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.

Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.



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