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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys’ Issues Underrated, Coaching Must Improve

Mauricio Rodriguez

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It wasn't easy to watch. The Falcons beat the Dallas Cowboys by 20 points, handing America's Team its fourth loss of the season. Without a doubt, this is probably the worst loss of the year for this football team.

You could argue the blowout at Denver felt worse at the moment, but last Sunday's defeat could've killed the hopes we all had on the 2017 Cowboys.

Now at 5-4, with a few NFC teams rising and competing for the Wildcard spots, Dallas has almost no room for error. In a season where they need to win just about every single game left on their schedule, the Cowboys will miss Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Dan Bailey for a few weeks.

After the Falcons game, a huge part of Cowboys Nation was left with a lot of questions. Just like in every loss and every victory, it's important to learn from experience.

Here is this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday.

Without Sean Lee, Winning is Impossible

We were all concerned about not counting on Ezekiel Elliott to be on the field for a long time and now, it seems like the least of the concerns in the heads of Cowboys fans... and rightfully so.

Once again, the Cowboys will have to play without the guy who is arguably their most valuable player after Dak Prescott.

Sean Lee's Absence Leaves Huge Hole

Without Lee, this defense crumbles completely and with reports stating that the team expects their LB to miss the next three games, things are not even close to being "promising." We've seen what happens when Lee isn't healthy.

Jaylon Smith has proven many times now that he isn't ready to be playing starter snaps in the NFL yet, but the Cowboys may not have a choice. Probably, LB should be a top need for this team in 2018.

Tyron Smith Is Even More Valuable Than What We Thought

Well, let me start off by apologizing. Before Sunday's game, I wrote about how Chaz Green would do fine for the Cowboys in Atlanta. Clearly, I was more than wrong.

In 2016, Chaz Green filled in for Tyron Smith in two games. One versus the Bears, the other against the 49ers. Green proved capable of doing a decent job covering the LT position and naturally, I thought he could pull it off.

I'm sure I wasn't the only fan who thought of this, which is why not many fans were that preoccupied with 77's injury.

SackDak - Streamable

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But, you know the story. Dak Prescott ended up being sacked eight times in total, and six times by Adrian Clayborn. To add perspective, Clayborn is only the fourth player in NFL history to record at least six sacks in a single game.

If Smith isn't ready to go next Sunday, it will be a long day for Dak Prescott, for Byron Bell didn't do a good job either.

Coaching Must Improve

Jason GarrettI always hesitate to blame coaching after a team loses. And I won't put the blame exlcusively on them, because that would be wrong. At the end of the day, they were missing their All-Pro left tackle, their defense centerpiece, their super kicker and their star running back.

However, there're things this coaching staff could've done to change things up.

For starters, Chaz Green should've left that field way before he did.

But why didn't they at least lend him a hand by sending the RB or a TE to block with him every passing play? Why not change your personnel groups when you're not working offensively? Why not try to roll Dak out a few times? Why keep giving the Falcons' receivers the amount of cushion this defensive backs did?

I'm not a Jason Garrett hater. But sometimes it feels like this coaching staff is too stubborn to change things up in a game to try to turn things around.

Dak Prescott Is Still Playing Great Football

On a positive takeaway, I wanted to mention Dak Prescott.

Every time a football team loses, most of the people will blame the coaches and the quarterback. Surely, that was the case this Sunday for Prescott even though he was sacked eight times and pressured just about... every play of the game.

But, man, is Dak Prescott impressive. In more than a couple of plays, Dak did some impressive plays.

Dak1 - Streamable

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It's difficult to compliment a QB when he was only able to lead his offense to a TD in a 21-yard drive. However, this loss falls on Green's shoulders.

When he wasn't pressured, and even in moments in which he was, Dak shined and had a lot of amazing plays. Unfortunately, his performance wasn't reflected on the scoreboard or on his team's performance.

Cowboys Woes Are Bigger Than We Realized

Let's take a look at some facts...

  • The Cowboys started the season 2-3.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles have only lost one game all season.
  • The Cowboys lost Dan Bailey, Sean Lee (twice) and Tyron Smith to injuries.
  • Ezekiel Elliott is currently serving a six game suspension.

As Cowboys fans, we always have hope on this Cowboys football team. And after winning three in a row, things were looking good. We overlooked the fact that Ezekiel Elliott was suspended and that Tyron Smith would miss a game to a lingering injury.

We thought "We'll be fine, this team is awesome." I think we were right to feel that way.

Conspiracy Theory: NFL Referees Are Out To Get Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Now, things have changed. Little by little, we're realizing that we were underrating the issues surrounding the Cowboys. To be honest, I would be impressed if this team makes it to the playoffs if Sean Lee and Tyron Smith continue to miss games.

Once again, the adversity that the Cowboys are facing is huge. They're sitting at 5-4, in the hunt for a Wildcard spot. No Zeke, no Lee, no Bailey and possibly no Smith. As they get ready to host the Eagles next Sunday Night, things are not what Cowboys Nation wanted.

Having said that, the Dallas Cowboys are my biggest passion, and I won't ever stop rooting for them. Win, lose, or tie, Dallas Cowboys for life!

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys’ Issues Underrated, Coaching Must Improve" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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9 Comments
  • Matthew Mabrey

    by the title picture on this article the refs missing 5 obvious facemask calls needs to improve….

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Yup, definitely.

  • Ruben Aguilar

    Time for a new coaching staff. Jason Garrett has had plenty of time going 13-3 a few times and just can’t get us over that hump. Our coaching staff doesn’t adjust properly and Chad was getting eaten up but as a coach you would have helped him.

    • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

      He didn’t got 13-3 until they brought 3 former HC’s in basically do his job for him…… It’s not only time for him to go he shouldn’t have gotten the job to begin with…. but Al Davis Jr will defend him they’ll blame this season on missing players and the circus will go on meanwhile they are wasting yet another somewhat talented team on a guy that they call a “HC”……It’s pretty obvious the owner cares nothing about fans..why? Because like lemmings they just keep bringing him their cash..

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I’d de open to changing the coaching staff, although I don’t necessarily think they should fire Garrett. But it’s an intriguing situation and will likely be a cool story once the offseason is around.

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    This organization is a joke. Not geared towards winning …geared towards $$$$$..winning is just a bonus. They need a REAL HC, but they refuse to do anything about it. The same sound bites over and over again yet nothing changes…. They have NO idea how to develop players …matter of fact they had a PERFECT opportunity to turn one of the three first round running backs into more draft picks but they didn’t trade any of them….. instead they stock pile players while their lack of decent backups shows yet again….. they put all their eggs in one basket ‘hoping’ it’s enough. So let me refresh….Lack of a real coaching staff compounded by no depth…. equals…..they’ll be watching from home again….. so 22 years later and still nothing…. that should tell the fans that the owner really doesn’t care about winning……

    • Datschu

      Dude you’re just now realizing all of this? Lmao…
      Dallas Cowboys in a nut shell…
      Few mediocre seasons… followed by a terrible season… obtain a last place division schedule… win division with 12-4,13-3 record… lose first playoff game…
      Next season mediocre… followed by mediocre season… followed by terrible season… obtain last place schedule…. go 12-4,13-3 following season… lose first playoff game….

      ITS BEEN THIS WAY FOR 20+ years! They WASTED Tony Romos career!
      The guy was so exciting to watch and such a breath of fresh air after years of failed miserable qbs after Troy…. he deserved a better orginization to support him

  • Ervinlang318

    Anytime your Head Coach CLAPS after a penalty against his own team there is something seriously Wrong. He may come from a Coaching Family but they are all Mediocre. His father went 0-10 at Columbia, 39-11-1 at Susquehanna University. On Jasons watch as QB Coach the Dolphins was 13-19. QB’s had 41TD’s and 42 INT’s. Somehow he became a Offensive Coordinator after this.

  • Mauricio Rodriguez

    It was ridiculous.

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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