The Dallas Cowboys will play their first NFC East action tonight when they host the New York Giants in Arlington, TX. Both teams will be looking for their first win on the year and playing on prime time, this is bound to be a fun football game. For the Cowboys, there are many things to improve after week 1 if they're to turn things around. Let's talk about some of the things we want to see from the Dallas Cowboys tonight.
Let me know your wishes in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!
Wish #1: Win in the Trenches
The Cowboys front seven should win the battle against a weak Giants offensive line. New York added talent to their unit in the offseason to make things better, but Dallas has the edge here. DeMarcus Lawrence will face RT Ereck Flowers, which is a battle I expect him to win all night long.
Pressuring Eli Manning is a must to try to avoid any sort of big plays by the visiting offense.
On the other hand, the Cowboys offensive line needs to improve as well.
Tyron Smith wasn't at his best against the Carolina Panthers, La'el Collins was responsible for a couple of holding calls, and Connor Williams got beat in his NFL debut versus Kawann Short. They have a lot to prove versus the Giants rush defense.
Wish #2: Throw the Ball Downfield
Well, it's time we address the most discussed topic in Cowboys Nation this week.
Scott Linehan's offense has caused a lot of frustration for Cowboys fans due to a lack of long-yardage plays. Dak Prescott hasn't had many opportunities to throw downfield and, when he has had the chance, his throws have been inaccurate.
The Cowboys have NEVER lost a regular season game when Dak averages over 7 yards per attempt. They are a perfect 18-0. In all his other games, they're 4-11. Dak must throw the ball down the field if the Cowboys offense is going to be successful. @NFL #NYGvsDAL #DallasCowboys
It's time the Cowboys use the wide receivers they acquired in the offseason and put Dak in positions where he can feel comfortable throwing it deep.
Wish #3: Feed Zeke 20+ Times
The main attraction on this offense is Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, who carried the ball only 15 times last week. The Carolina Panthers loaded the box literally half of their defensive snaps. In order to win tonight, Elliott & Co. must confront a tough Giants defense by establishing the running game early. It's important for them not to give up on their rushing attack.
Without it, the passing game will end up suffering a lot as well. So, feed Elliott, let him do his thing, and this offense will be able to move the chains.
Wish #4: Top-3 Rookies Shine
Connor Williams' first test against one of the best defensive tackles in the league didn't go as planned, but he should improve as the season continues. His success is very important for the rest of an offensive line that is already playing without its starting center, Travis Frederick.
Leighton Vander Esch expects to have a bigger role on defense tonight after finishing last week's game with only two tackles. Dallas Cowboys media member Bryan Broaddus even hinted at Vander Esch starting at SAM versus the Giants, which is worth keeping an eye on.
Finally, I really hope Michael Gallup is more involved in the Cowboys second game of the year. Gallup has the talent to be a starter but - for some reason - his participation versus the Panthers was very limited. I really wish they give the third-round rookie more snaps in an attempt to get him going.
Wish #5: Limit Odell Beckham
Whoever wins this Sunday Night Football matchup will likely be determined by the defenses. Both offenses have been mediocre, for different reasons. In such a close game, one player can make all the difference. For the Giants, this player is undoubtedly WR Odell Beckham Jr.
The Cowboys know this.
Even more than the second overall pick, Saquon Barkley, the Cowboys' key to win this football game will be limiting a wide receiver that needs only one play to turn a game around.
Sean’s Scout: Poor Execution, Timely SEA Passing Game Doom Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have yet another disappointing loss to put behind them, or at least attempt to, as their struggles on offense carried into Seattle for week three. A desperate team in search of their first win at home, the Seahawks took full advantage of the Cowboys lack of preparation in the first half before capitalizing on mistakes to pull away 24-13.
The Cowboys dropping their second game in three weeks, both in similarly lackluster fashion, this will be a long week at The Star before Dallas kicks off against the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday.
Perhaps the Cowboys need not look any further than their next opponent to realize not all hope is lost for 2018. Like the Seahawks, the Lions were fighting to save their season yesterday, and did so with a home win against the now 1-2 New England Patriots.
If the Cowboys are going to reclaim their status atop the NFC East at any point this season though, some drastic changes are needed on offense. As always, here are my immediate notes on a Cowboys team that relied on their defense a few too many times in this latest loss.
- I understand the Cowboys plan to use heavy personnel on offense against a defense with as much lateral speed as the Seahawks, but once again the execution from their wide receivers and tight ends was very poor.
By inviting defenders near the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys were challenging their offensive line to beat the Seahawks off the ball and potentially create some big plays for Ezekiel Elliott on the ground. Elliott did find some success as the game became further out of reach for his team, partially because of his own miscues.
The Cowboys' offseason approach at WR is yielding no immediate results, but so too is their confidence in Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers to step up in the absence of Jason Witten. While Witten isn't the missing piece for the Cowboys pushing the ball down the field, their lack of a threat at tight end is a serious detriment to Dak Prescott.
An early second half sequence that really hurt the Cowboys in this game began with a Gathers false start, the team's second straight penalty. Byron Jones' holding penalty on a Seahawks punt backed the offense up to their eleven yard line, and Gathers' ensuing procedural penalty had Dallas driving from their own six.
The Cowboys would do well to earn a manageable third down, despite a predictable run for no gain on first and 15, but Michael Kendricks' sack of Prescott forced a three and out.
- This will do little to take the heat off Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, but the Cowboys bigger issue on offense was execution compared to play calling in this loss.
Yes, execution is also part of coaching, which makes not only Linehan but the rest of the Cowboys coaches along with Head Coach Jason Garrett responsible for the team's floundering 1-2 start.
The Cowboys finally saw Elliott involved in the passing game on an apparent second quarter touchdown, only to have Elliott step out of bounds before the catch. Settling for early field goals with good field position is typically a sign that a team is in for a long day on the road, and this is exactly the type of afternoon it was for Dallas.
Adding another Elliott fumble and two Dak Prescott interceptions only provides further context on how well the Cowboys defense is playing, keeping this game within reach until the closing minutes.
The Cowboys offense is a house of cards right now, deliberately played by those that should have been held to higher standards as early as last season. With enough talent on this side of the ball to turn things around, the Cowboys must quickly figure out the right layers to peel away before discovering the root of their offensive woes.
Whether or not this ends up being Linehan, or if he simply becomes the scapegoat for a team that's never truly wavered in their commitment to Prescott, it's hard to argue with a change in philosophy for a Cowboys offense still searching for identity.
The Cowboys certainly weren't more creative in this loss, even on their deceptive pitch to Tavon Austin for his second touchdown in as many weeks. That exact play has been used by plenty of teams in that situation this season. With each successful conversion, more teams will add it to their arsenal - the Cowboys being the latest, with nothing to truly show for it.
That Tavon Austin TD? Yep, it's a copycat league. https://t.co/ggILr2TRGi
- The Seahawks first touchdown came as a result of two of the worst defensive plays of the year for the Cowboys.
After being a great blitzing team through two weeks, the Cowboys poorly executed an aggressive third down blitz with the Seahawks on their 35-yard line. The result was a 19-yard conversion to running back Chris Carson. Both Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith were picked up easily by the Seahawks pass protection on the play.
On the very next snap, the Seahawks' speed beat the Cowboys as Jaron Brown freed himself for a 16-yard touchdown. Of course, Seattle would never look back after this second quarter score to open a 7-0 advantage.
The Cowboys issues in coverage didn't stop here either, with Russell Wilson making the timely plays that Prescott left on the field. On Tyler Lockett's touchdown, pushing the Seahawks lead to 14-3, Kavon Frazier was beat to the spot in helping Chidobe Awuzie down the sideline.
Expecting the safety help to be there as it had been with Jeff Heath or even Xavier Woods (playing in his first game of the season), Awuzie still struggled to slow down Lockett, giving a below average cover player like Frazier no chance to get back in the play.
The Cowboys are committed to rotating their linebackers and safeties this season, and while the results have mostly been positive, they simply got caught with the wrong safety in the wrong spot here.
To make matters even worse, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made these gaffs a "what could have been" moment for the Cowboys, turning the game with two interceptions against a team that may still make a push for his services.
Earl Thomas said a couple of Cowboys coaches said to him before the game, "You ready for the trade tomorrow?
- It took a rough outing from Chidobe Awuzie to be fully appreciated, but Byron Jones was able to show why he's the best cornerback on the Cowboys right now.
On a positive note, the Cowboys are absolutely being rewarded for moving former first-round pick Byron Jones back to cornerback. This was one of the first decisions Kris Richard made upon his arrival to Dallas, looking to bring the Seahawks model to the Cowboys secondary.
Jones size and frame gave him a great chance to succeed under Richard before ever suiting up, but his awareness at cornerback has been off the charts. As opposed to dealing with players already at full speed or at the catch point when he was a safety, Jones is embracing being able to break on the ball and make more plays.
When the Seahawks needed a play through the air, they picked on Awuzie, who was exposed a bit for his tendency to sit on deep routes and react late to anything across his face. To start the game though, the Seahawks learned quickly that targeting Jones was a losing battle, unable to get anything behind him.
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Week three was a great example of how much the NFL is a week-to-week league. Before kickoff in Seattle, the Cowboys were perceived to be entering an easier stretch to their season. Now, the Seahawks look like a team that can climb back into the playoff race, as do next week's opponent in the Lions for the Cowboys returning to AT&T Stadium.
It feels safe to say that at least two things are true of the Cowboys through these trying three games however. The Cowboys defense is already one of the best in the league, with the potential to get even better. Meanwhile, their offense is objectively one of the worst.
Whether or not the Cowboys offense is fixable is a question this staff must answer between now and next Sunday. As mentioned, it may feel like a long time until then, but for a team with as many issues as Dallas right now there will be little reprieve from salvaging relevancy (or trying to) in week four.
3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks
After an impressive all around performance a week ago against the New York Giants, here we are again looking for answers after a deflating 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks were the better team Sunday, but they weren't ten points better. The Dallas Cowboys hurt themselves -- with the officials help -- with a lot of mental miscues. Whether it was a drop that led to an interception or a blown coverage or a penalty that stalled or extended a drive, the Dallas Cowboys didn't really give themselves a shot at winning this football game.
Every game matters and in a week where every other NFC East team won, this loss hurts even more. There were several stand outs from Sunday's game, and here are this week's 3 Stars.
Earl Thomas, Safety
This one hurts to write as I've been in the camp hoping that Earl Thomas would have a star on his helmet for months now.
The drama surrounding the Earl Thomas saga has been relentless, yet he put on an incredible performance in front of the Dallas Cowboys that should assuage any distraction or drama-filled narratives out there.
It was a heck of a game from the All-Pro safety that showed what kind of impact he can have on the outcome of a football game. Thomas was the best Seahawks player on the field today and certainly answered any question of whether he's motivated or not.
The guy is a player and the Dallas Cowboys might have messed around and hurt their chances at signing him in the offseason by not going to get him this year.
Seattle Seahawks Offensive Line
For a team that had allowed the most sacks in the NFL through the first two weeks of the season, the Seattle Seahawks' Offensive line did an amazing job of protecting Quarterback Russell Wilson.
After allowing six sacks in each of their first two games, they only allowed Wilson to get sacked twice. The Dallas Cowboys had come into the game second in the NFL in sacks. They handled the Cowboys' blitz packages and stunts very well and Russell Wilson helped himself by getting the ball out of his hands quickly.
The Seahawks offensive line paved the way for Running Back Chris Carson to run for 102 yards on 32 carries. Not a huge number when you look at his yards per carry (3.18), but they were tough effective yards that kept the Dallas Cowboys defense on their heels and extended drives.
Where would this team be without Ezekiel Elliott?
Terrible, that's the answer.
I know that there is still gnashing of teeth when people talk about the 2016 NFL Draft and who the Dallas Cowboys selected at number four overall. A lot of people wanted Jalen Ramsey, and for good reason, but Ezekiel Elliott is a game changer in his own right. Even when everyone is looking to stop him, he makes things happen to move the ball down the field.
Elliott ran for 127 yards on 16 carries (7.94 yards per carry), and aside from the fumble was the best player for the Dallas Cowboys tonight.
If you haven't figured it out by now, Corner Back Byron Jones is the Dallas Cowboys' best corner. After Russell Wilson tried Jones' side of the field in the first half, with little success, he began looking elsewhere to get the ball moving through the air.
Any success they had through the air was to the middle of the field or to the left side of the defense.
Looking at you Chidobe Awuzie.
Was it just me, or did it seem like Seattle Seahawks Defensive End Frank Clark was in Dak Prescott's face a lot?
You saw that too?
I would have thought that he would have had more than just one sack in the game. On the Dallas Cowboys first possession of the second half, Clark beat Left Tackle Tyron Smith on a straight speed rush with a little fake inside before getting past Smith in an instant. Tyron isn't typically beaten that easily and though Clark didn't come away with a sack, he certainly provided pressure to keep Prescott off balance.
Leighton Vander Esch
Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys in tackles with 11 (9 solo) and a tackle for loss. He played a really good game with family and friends on hand.
Earlier this week, I relayed a stat on Twitter that Anthony Brown had allowed the fewest receptions per slot coverage snap in the NFL in the first two weeks of the season.
Brown stood out to me several times in this game. On special teams and in his defensive role, he made several open field tackles that either went for a loss or no gain. He's a gamer.
Brown may not be the best corner on the team or in the league, but he's got the drive and tenacity that you need from a slot corner.
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Who were your 3 Stars of the game?
Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bad Play in Seattle Continues
There's no need to sugarcoat anything about the way the Dallas Cowboys played Sunday afternoon on the road against the Seattle Seahawks. Although winless so far this season, the Seahawks thoroughly manhandled the Cowboys in all three phases of the game and continued their domination over America's Team.
I don't know how you're feeling today, but I'm personally still a little heated just thinking about the Dallas Cowboys performance yesterday. On second thought, I'm fed up and you should be too!
Normally, I would be telling all of you to remain patient because it's still early in the season. But, I'm finding it really difficult to find any optimism in the way the Cowboys have played through the first three weeks of the 2018 season. That's difficult for me to admit because I'm typically a glass half-full kind of person, but not today.
Today, my glass isn't even half empty. It's completely dry. Not even a drop of moisture remains. I'm that fed up and it's way past time for some serious changes to be made!
Accountability has obviously been thrown out the window. When is Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones going to hold Head Coach Jason Garrett accountable for the poor coaching? When is Jason Garrett going to hold his players accountable for stupid mental mistakes? When are the players going to hold their teammates accountable?
Quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys passing game continues to hurt offensive productivity. Pinpointing the problem seems to be an issue. No one really knows if the blame should be placed on Prescott or his receivers, but it's probably a combination of both. The sad thing is, there really isn't any glimmer of hope to build on.
With the struggles in the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott is finding it really difficult to find any running room. Opposing defenses will continue to stack the box against him. He was able to put up 100+ rushing yards on the Seahawks yesterday, but the Cowboys aren't going to win games if he's the only one showing any kind of production.
The Dallas Cowboys defense has been a bright spot so far this season, but they didn't perform up to their best against the Seahawks either. The secondary unfortunately had a few blown coverages and it resulted in some easy touchdowns. It was truly unfortunate, because I believed Kris Richard was the difference maker. I was obviously mistaken.
Like I said, it's time for a change. The Dallas Cowboys can't continue to play the way they did against the Seattle Seahawks for the remainder of the season. If things continue as they are, they'd be lucky to finish 8-8. But, being just average seems to be acceptable for this organization anyways.
Unfortunately, I just don't think we will see much change. If we don't begin to see quite a bit of improvement before the Cowboys bye week, I'm personally going to start a petition to fire Jason Garrett and I'll throw in Scott Linehan as well. Who's with me!?
How fed up are you with the Dallas Cowboys performance this season?
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