I can't remember the last time that Cowboys Nation's hopes were so low. The Dallas Cowboys have faced quite a few tough games in the recent past, but before this team takes on the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles on week 11's edition of Sunday Night Football, fans know this will be more than a tough game.
If the Cowboys lose tonight, playoff hopes won't look very... well, hopeful. On the other hand, should the Cowboys win, this could be the one game they need in order to completely turn around their season.
With that being said, I want to leave something clear. Every Gameday, the one and only wish on our minds is: just win.
My weekly Cowboys' wishlists are meant to be a fun read for all of Cowboys Nation looking for a healthy, light discussion on what would be some fun scenarios. Now, I present to you this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist!
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Wish #1: Rookie Defensive Backs Shine
Although he still has a long way to go, rookie CB Jourdan Lewis has been more than impressive during his first year in the NFL. However, I'm not talking about Lewis right now.
I want to see Xavier Woods and Chidobe Awuzie stand out versus the Eagles. With Jeff Heath unlikely to play this week, Woods is expected to start at safety against an offense led by the MVP front-runner Carson Wentz.
Woods has played very well just about every time he's been on the field, and I truly believe he will end up with Jeff Heath's job once the latter is cleared to return.
Second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie looks ready to come back to the football field after fully practicing for two consecutive weeks. We might see him at cornerback as well as at safety.
With a secondary that has some issues but still is very promising, seeing some results by the defensive backs would brink a needed-spark for a defense that will be playing without its center piece, Sean Lee.
Wish #2: Dak Outplays Wentz With an MVP-like Performance
Oh, the Eagles.
Just when we thought we couldn't hate our rivals more, the Wentz-Prescott rivalry was born. I think it's insanely fun to have a rivalry like this taking place in the division, specially since both QBs are only in their second year of NFL action.
If the Cowboys want to win this game, the key on offense has got to be Dak Prescott.
It doesn't matter if the back-up running back committee is pretty solid, Scott Linehan has to center this offense around Dak. Prescott needs to put on a show at Jerry's World, an MVP-like performance to give this football team a chance at victory.
All of Cowboys Nation would go crazy if Prescott outplays Wentz tonight. Make it happen, 4.
Wish #3: DeMarcus Lawrence Wins the Battle vs Lane Johnson
Speaking of keys to win football games, on the defensive side of the ball, the player who'll have to step up for the Cowboys, is DeMarcus Lawrence. We all know Sean Lee won't be playing so it's time for this pass rush to take it to another level.
Both Lawrence and Irving have been killing it all season long, but this is their chance to prove they can win football games.
Although I'm sure we'll see a bit of Lawrence at RDE, I think he'll be lining up against Eagles' Right Tackle Lane Johnson most of the game. I'm counting on D-Law beating Johsnon to get after Wentz, giving our beloved Cowboys a shot.
Wish #4: Offensive Line Allows Less Than 3 Sacks
Remember that one time when Dak Prescott was sacked a bazillion times in Atlanta? I'm pretty sure we don't want to see anything like that ever again. Tyron Smith hasn't been ruled out yet, but it doesn't seem like he'll play today.
Instead, look for Byron Bell to start at LT for the Cowboys. While I don't expect him to play like Chaz Green a week ago (if you can call that "playing"), I certainly don't expect him to be awesome.
However, as Staff Writer Kevin Brady wrote earlier this week, the Cowboys have had a week to prepare for this game. If Dak Prescott can leave this game without being sacked more than three times, call it a win for this OL... or at least, improvement.
Wish #5: Cowboys Get Away With a Trick Play
Dallas should be desperate to get a win. With a 5-4 record, if they want to be able to play January football there is little room for error. At times like this, NFL teams sometimes go to bold plays to get a spark and try to turn things around.
We saw them trying to pull off a fake punt in Atlanta last week, but I'm thinking about another memory.
Last year, on fourth and eight yards to go, Chris Jones ran a fake punt in the third quarter of a Sunday Night showdown between the Eagles and the Cowboys. I was there, and it was one of the best moments of my life.
We all know how the story ends. The Cowboys rallied from a ten-point deficit to beat the Eagles in overtime.
I would love to see a trick play in the works once again. It would provide this football team a big spark, and they might need it to win this game.
I'm just saying, Jason Garrett... get bold and try something similar.
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On a more serious note, Cowboys Nation's most important wish today will be about only one thing. The 2017 Dallas Cowboys have a chance to shock the world. Philadelphia is coming from a bye week, and it just might be one of those games when the underdog surprises the entire league and its fans.
Dak Prescott is a very special player, and he makes special things happen. Now would be the perfect time to prove it.
Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts
It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.
What a waste!
Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury.
On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter.
The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains.
In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.
It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.
But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.
All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!
Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts
What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.
Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.
The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.
Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.
- The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season.
The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.
Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.
- Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game.
This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.
A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.
- The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard.
The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.
The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.
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The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Indianapolis
In a game we all hoped would clinch the NFC East division, the Dallas Cowboys instead got shut out by the Indianapolis Colts in one of their worst performances of the season. It was a deplorable performance in every aspect of the game and something we hope to never see again.
I knew sooner or later the Dallas Cowboys self-inflicted wounds would catch up to them, and that's exactly what happened against the Colts. They had far too many penalties and mental mistakes once again and it allowed Indianapolis to take over the game. The Cowboys beat themselves plain and simple.
Before I get on a rant about yesterday's game, I better stick to the topic at hand and share with you what I believe to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
In a game where just about everything went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys it sometimes a little difficult to find any kind of silver lining. That was the case this week after the Cowboys were shut out by the Indianapolis Colts. But, the good for me is that Dallas still holds their playoff fate in their hands, despite the embarrassing loss.
Any thoughts of sitting any of the starters for the Cowboys has now gone out the window. They absolutely have to play to win to close out the 2018 regular-season, because they failed to do what needed to be done against the Colts to secure the NFC East division title. Luckily though, it didn't close the door on their playoff aspirations.
With the Buccaneers and Giants left remaining on their schedule, the Cowboys will have to find some way to get back to their winning ways. Hopefully this was just the slap in the face they needed in order to put things in perspective. They simply can't afford another showing like they had against Indianapolis at any point moving forward.
I knew exactly what I was going to put in the section as soon as it happened during the game. The bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys against the Indianapolis Colts for me was without a doubt their banged up, patched together offensive line.
The Cowboys were forced to go with a patchwork offensive line for the majority of the game against the Colts yesterday afternoon after Xavier Su'a-flio left the game after an eye injury, forcing the Cowboys to go with their third string offensive guard Adam Redmond. Su'a-flio immediately had to leave the stadium to have his eye examined by an optometrist, suggesting that it was a pretty significant injury.
Unfortunately, another injury on the OL for the Cowboys leaves them severely thin depth wise at the most inopportune time. Hopefully a week of rest has done Zack Martin's injured knee some good and he will be able to return to the lineup as soon as possible. That would allow Connor Williams to move back to LG and hopefully solidify the offensive line once again.
Maybe I underestimated the Indianapolis Colts offense or maybe I just overrated the Dallas Cowboys defense, but something was clearly off yesterday afternoon on the defensive side of the ball for the Cowboys. After being so good nearly all season, they were just plain ugly against Indianapolis.
The Cowboys defense didn't have an answer for the Colts offense, especially in the running game. Marlon Mack, a solid runner although not spectacular, completely gashed the Cowboys usually stout run defense. He ran for 139 rushing yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns, something that's been unheard of against Dallas' run D.
I was honestly completely shocked he had so much success. There were far too many missed tackles and blown assignments to my liking and I believe the coaching staff will make sure to focus on clearing that up moving forward. This team can't afford to let opposing offenses control the clock with their rushing attack. That's the Cowboys MO.
What's your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against Indianapolis?
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