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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

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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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

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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

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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

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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.


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Game Notes

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

Mauricio Rodriguez

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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

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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

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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!


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Game Notes

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

Sean Martin

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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 Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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