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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

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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