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Takeaway Tuesday: Dez Bryant Officially a Problem, Charlton Improving?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Dez Bryant Officially a Problem, Charlton Improving?

Well, after 16 weeks of suffering, the 2017 Dallas Cowboys' season has come to an unfortunate premature end. Ruining Christmas' Eve for a lot of die-hard Cowboys' fans, the Seahawks finished their playoff hopes and eliminated them for the year. The worst part of it all, is the fact that it didn't even feel like the Seahawks actually eliminated the Cowboys. If we're being honest, our 'boys defeated themselves.

After getting early Christmas' presents from the Bengals and the Saints, they let it all go to waste by completely auto-destructing. Dak missed throws, Dez dropped balls, Zeke missed blocks and even Dan "Automatic" Bailey failed to be... well, automatic.

Ezekiel Elliott said it best after the game: "Whatever could go wrong, went wrong." 

As every week, let's talk about what we learned this week from the Dallas Cowboys. Here is this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday.

Dez is Officially a Problem, WR a Top Need

Coming into this game, we knew there were a lot of concerns around Dez Bryant. He's been having a very rough season this year and despite having some good moments, he's had a lot of bad ones. Dez has been out of the "elite WR" conversation for a while now, but what we saw from him this Sunday ended many fans' hopes on him.

Despite knowing he isn't a top receiver in the NFL anymore, I had trouble admitting that this football team would be better off without him. Now, this isn't just about his skills. I believe Dez might still have something in him. We've seen a lot of ups-and-downs in his career. Who knows when he will bounce back?

Kevin Brady on Twitter

The WR you're paying $16 million this season fumbled and batted a ball into an INT in an elimination game.

To me, it has become about the money the Dallas Cowboys are paying him. His play doesn't even come close to backing up the checks he's been getting. The Cowboys would save quite a bit of money if they were to release 88.

Yeah, the Cowboys still need help in defense. But neglecting the fact that WR is among the top needs for this football team is wrong. It may as well be the #1 priority. Whatever they decide to do with Dez, they should be looking at another WR1 and bring him to Dallas.

The Cowboys Need Changes in Coaching

We've been discussing this all year, haven't we? It's a very polemical topic. But right now, I'd be surprised if someone in Cowboys Nation wouldn't even be open to the idea of seeing a different coaching staff next season.

Personally, I'm all in for it.

I definitely think one of the main reasons why the Cowboys lost last Sunday was Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan. His play-calling was more than questionable. In the running game, Elliott was thriving. For some reason though, it seemed like the Cowboys were allergic to giving Zeke the ball when they got close to the end zone and that ended up costing them big time.

Jason Garrett

I know it's not likely to see a scenario in which an NFL team changes its Head Coach and its two coordinators, but right now... would it really be that bad? I certainly wouldn't mind. This is a very young football team, and a fresh coaching staff could do amazing things for them.

Bring in an offensive mind like Matt LaFleur or Josh McDaniels to nurture Dak Prescott's potential. Jason Garrett may not be the worst in the NFL, but he hasn't proven to be anything special. I think it's time to admit a change would do the Dallas Cowboys franchise good.

Is Taco Charlton Showing Signs of Improvement?

Taco CharltonEven with the season being over, I felt the need to include at least one positive takeaway from the game. The defense did a good job of keeping the game close. Sean Lee was amazing, DeMarcus Lawrence had an epic sack and even the secondary had some good plays.

But I want to point out rookie Taco Charlton's performance. This last couple of weeks, 97 has shown a few impressive flashes. This Sunday, he shined with a sack, a big open-field tackle and some pretty good rushes.

Could it be a spark? Could Taco Charlton turn out to be a good pick in the future? We're a long way from knowing, but it certainly will be interesting. For now, he (along with Lawrence and Irving) is at least giving the front office a reason to look at other positions other than DL in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Blame is Not on One Guy

In sports, it's always the same story. Especially when you're talking about a fan base as big and passionate as Cowboys Nation, endless debates about who's responsible for the team's failures are inevitable.

Some will say this is all on Dak Prescott and his missed throws. Some will say this is exclusively about Jason Garrett. Add the people who're ready to say that the Cowboys won't make the playoffs only because of Dez Bryant. And believe me, there're more players and coaches being exclusively pointed out by a lot of fans.

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It's high time to realize that this is an NFL team. That this isn't just about one player or coach. This is about Dak's development not being good enough. It's about Dez Bryant forgetting how to catch a football. It's about Linehan's play-calling and Garrett's head coaching.

It's also about Dan Bailey missing kicks and Tyron Smith and Sean Lee being constantly injured. Heck, it's even about Ezekiel Elliott being suspended for six games. Whether he was treated unfairly or not... well, he was in trouble because of his actions.

It's easy to point to a specific player (most of the time the QB), blame it all on him and just move on. Yes, Dak's missing throws but his wide receivers are not getting open. Ezekiel Elliott's missing in pass protection. Jason Witten drawing a holding call in one of the most crucial moments of the game doesn't help either.

The Dallas Cowboys, despite everything we believed coming into the season, are an NFL team full of needs. As fans, we have to admit that. Let's hope they change that this offseason.

On to 2018.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Dez Bryant Officially a Problem, Charlton Improving?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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 @MauNFL.

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42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Edmund Burke

    December 26, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    Ummm. You forgot to mention the owner. Isn’t that where the buck truly stops?

    • Bryson Treece

      December 26, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      Yes, but he’s the owner. Jerry is the only guy in that organization who can’t be fired. If he was gonna hire a real GM, thinking he’d have done it during the early 2000s with those 6-10 seasons and revolving door at HC.

      Sorry, just don’t see why that’s still a comment worth making in 2017. Jerry is Jerry. Coaches and players, however, are options. Thanks for reading.

  2. TreFKennedy88

    December 26, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    All valid points every single one

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      December 26, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you for reading!

  3. Frances Chavira

    December 26, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I completely agree that as someone who was considered an “elite” wr, Dez needs to do better. However, I would like to point out that his drop in numbers is directly related to the loss of Romo. Romo was injured and did not play most of 2015, and then Dak took over in 2016. Dez’s stats dropped off considerably in 2015 (Dez missed quite a few games as well in 2015) and has never picked back up. The Cowboys would have fared better by keeping Romo as the starter for another year and let Dak learn from one of the best. Given the situation, Romo wasnt going to be willing to mentor his replacement while he sat on the bench. And all you people that trashed Romo back then are starting to realize that he made our team better than they really were. He did more with a lot less than Dak has around him now. Sure he threw a lot of interceptions, but he also threw the ball an insane number of times because we lacked a decent rb for years.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      December 26, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      Let me start off by saying that I’m a HUGE Tony Romo fan. I agree that Dez’s stats have dropped off since Romo stopped playing because injuries or Dak. I do believe sticking with Dak was the right call, and I also believe Prescott will have a pretty good career despite having a tough second season.

      It’s an interesting topic, really. But it could also work both ways. Could it be possible that Dez actually wasn’t as good as we thought he was and that simply his chemistry with 9 was awesome? As I said, I’m a huge fan of Romo and I agree that a large portion of Cowboys Nation trashed Romo. I also think we’re starting to see the same but this time with Dak.

      Dak’s to blame in part, he deserves to be blamed for his poor performance this season. But he’s going to be a good QB down the road, I’m sure. His development will be key. At this point, be it because of his lack of chemistry with Dak, or because he simply isn’t good anymore, Dez Bryant isn’t worth $17M right now. Thank you for reading!

      • JuN SuPerStaR

        December 26, 2017 at 5:54 pm

        Good point.

      • Kevin Black

        December 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

        If you watched Dak’s play last year and then this year, it becomes clear that he really requires open receivers to excel. This isn’t a bad thing per se, but plays where the WR is one on one and can do a battle for the ball in the air is not something Dak is best at. That’s not to say Dak can’t do better, but he needs a more open window from the receiver than Romo did. It’s also a part of the reason why Dak threw so few interceptions last year. This year defenses adjusted and made the windows much tougher and worried less about yards after catch, something the Dallas WRs don’t excel at anyways.

        Going forward, we are going to need better route runners and our number 1 receiver is going to need better speed so that the safety will need to cheat more to that side to open up the rest of the field. Dez used to require that, but he’s lost a step speed wise and it shows. Defenses are not needing to cheat an over the top player as much as they used to.

      • Russ_Te

        December 26, 2017 at 8:45 pm

        Dak to me got to the point Sunday of looking unsure and aiming his throws. I never thought that when he struggled earlier in the year. First thing is he was getting beat up, so we don’t know if there was a cracked rib or something that he never told anyone about.

        There is no way I’m bailing on him. The best idea is to get a better coach for him, better protection and better receivers and passing game scheme.

        I’ve had enough of both Garrett and Linehan.

        • Jorge Sure

          December 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm

          I’m just like your respect to our HC but it hurts Jerry does not think that and he’s going to leave, I do not understand why waste time on someone who will never take you to a superbowl, so I think we’ll have JG for other years.

    • JuN SuPerStaR

      December 26, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      Well said. I agree.

      • teamUSA

        December 26, 2017 at 8:13 pm

        I think it has to be pointed out, Does Dak have good chemistry with any of the receivers let alone Dez? Jason, Terrance and Beasley , all had career lows I believe.

        • LD Jackson

          December 27, 2017 at 6:52 am

          Actually, it appeared to me that Dak and Brice Butler had a thing going earlier in the year, before Butler was injured. They connected on several big throws, if I recall correctly.

  4. Jorge Sure

    December 26, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    It is really exasperating not to see a change of HC and that Jerry even seeing the poor performance is determined to give him confidence, I think the performance of the team is so mediocre and we do not think we will improve if there is no change, JG should already give the thank you and bring someone to take advantage of all that young talent or wait for the next season that will be winning and then another loser and so we take it for another 10 years, incredible that they did not sit down to DB, JW we had young receivers in the bands that arian better plays, another thing DAK showed that it will be an average marshal nothing special, there is no improvement, disappointed the truth of this team that has young potential but their HC they do see it from BAD to MEDIOCRE ..

  5. Russ_Te

    December 26, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    To answer the headline, yes and yes IMO.

    I think Dez is viable still as a power possession receiver, who works single up while a speed WR stretches coverages. To me the fact that Linehan and Garrett could never implement that even though they had the speed WR (Butler), was Dez’s biggest problem. And one of Dak’s problems. This receiving corps underperformed this year and it needs churn in a big way.

    I can’t pay Dez half the cap for it however. I want to keep him for less $ and with the above changes to the unit. Try for a speed WR in the draft and also keep Butler. And go to Gathers in a big way next year. I will trade Terrance Williams if there is any good offer, and same for Beasley.

    Beasley can get back to his old self if the other unit churn gets the lockdown coverages off of him. But you can probably get the same from Switzer, so if there is an offer good enough for Beasley then take it. The unit has to be much more formidable next year.

    Taco: I like it. He looks like he trimmed down from his draft videos, and when he’s gotten reps at LDE he has shown quicks & burst. If we are to lose Lawrence to FA, he should be the starter next year next to Irving at LDT. That’s 4 long arms to obstruct right-handed passers with.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      January 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Hey, man. I’m late to checking out the comments. I agree, the receiving corps were horrible this year. Despite the fact that Dak wasn’t as good as expected and should improve, some people overlooked the fact that his receivers were never open. Let’s hope Taco keeps improving, too.

  6. Russ_Te

    December 26, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    And we may not need to draft a speed RDE, because Gregory will be eligible next year… ;^)

    • elindio42

      December 26, 2017 at 10:53 pm

      Gregory will be thirty before he will be eligible to play. Plus what has he shown when he did play? Nada!

  7. Kevin Black

    December 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    After last year’s season, it’s not surprising that the team fell back a bit. They played more quality QBs than last year and more quality defenses. Defenses also adjusted to Dak and his tendencies.

    To counter this, the coaching staff is going to have to make some tweaks to their offense to fix these situations. The scouts will need to find some better players, especially along the offensive line and perhaps the linebackers. WRs will also have to be looked at, but they usually take time to groom, so don’t expect an immediate impact from there.

    Firing any of the coaches at this time would be a mistake. They had a rough year. Everyone can have that. Will next year be better? If it is, then they learned from it and got better at their craft. If they didn’t, then it’s time to look to replace some of the staff.

    The real key is how does the staff respond. Just dumping coaches for the sake of dumping coaches is a poor choice. People are frustrated and their emotions are raw. Take some time to relax and look back at this season.

    Dak had some good games and some bad ones. It’s time he learned from both and come back better next year. Zeke performed well, but he needs to be on the field every game. The WR corps needs to get better, either by improving internally or by making some moves. The backup tackle needs to be addressed, hopefully finding someone in the draft who could backup now and perhaps start in a few years. It would also be nice to find a Lee replacement soon as he won’t last forever and a 1 tech would be nice so Collins could move back to his natural position at the 3 tech.

    Let’s see how this staff uses the off season and see if they get better. Next season will have the staff on the hot seat, but firing them now is not in the best interests of the team.

    • LD Jackson

      December 27, 2017 at 7:01 am

      I understand your sentiment, with one caveat. From what I can see, the coaching staff is either unable, or unwilling, to make changes and adjustments. Their play calling is predictable and as a result, unproductive. I believe something has to change. But as one local fan told me in a discussion earlier this month, what coach would want to work for Jerry Jones, given that it is common knowledge that they would be coaching with one hand tied behind their back, subject to the whims of an owner who needs to let the football minds do what they do?

      • Kevin Black

        December 27, 2017 at 10:29 am

        I would counter that with what happened last year. They did a pretty amazing job of adjusting and dealing with the changes, especially at QB. However, they did have an easier schedule than last year and seem to have the same up and down record from season to season that the Carolina Panthers are currently doing. They were great two seasons ago, bad last season, great this season again. I don’t like being on that roller coaster, but it is what it is… for now.

        You have to give a staff a chance at redemption. As bad as the Giants were, it’s a shame they didn’t give the staff a chance. Most bounce back. You learn way more from your loses than your wins and this staff has a ton to learn. Give them that opportunity. If they don’t learn and next year they don’t bounce back, then it’s time to move on. You’d want the same exact opportunity if it were you out there doing the coaching. Plus, how many times have we seen a coach get dismissed after one bad season only to pop up at another spot and succeed. (cough Bill Belichek). I’m not saying that Garrett will be the next Belichek, no one will be, but the odds are that you will regress than move forward.

        • Jorge Sure

          December 27, 2017 at 6:07 pm

          You talk about waiting, when Garret has already been 7 years old and there is no significant change in the team, season with a winning record eliminates you in the first postseason game, the next bad one and so it has been, personally I think you should have a change in HC, there is talent but there is no adjustment plan in every situation, it was lived on Sunday instead of running in the yard 2 passes when you have the best runing in the league, explain that, the whole season never fit you think really that they learned something, sorry but I doubt it and let’s be realistic if there is not a change in the HC we do not cfeo get to a super bowl while JG continues.

          • Kevin Black

            December 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm

            I’m talking about this year. No one complained last year. In fact people were praising the staff by getting to 13-3 (should have been 14-2 but they didn’t care about the last game) and should have won against Green Bay, but the officials ignored the GB guard who tackled David Irving to the ground on the miracle play. So, how can a staff go from being one of the best to being fired?

            They had a bad season this year, so give them a chance to redeem themselves. You’d want the same courtesy extended to you.

            That still puts them on the hot seat for next year. Their contracts will expire next year anyways, so everyone will understand that either they get it done or they will be looking for work.

            Getting rid of them this year doesn’t make sense, especially financially. You are more likely to get where you want to go with the current staff than by firing them.

          • Jorge Sure

            December 28, 2017 at 6:17 pm

            At the point of the contracts I agree with you it’s a year but you do not think that this team has young talent to waste that year with JG, I would go more to make a change are 7 years of a roller coaster where we never stay up or give that step that this team deserves, man go do not think that this team should improve even with the suspension of ZEKE or injuries, it was JG’s job and its coordinators do the game plan week by week, you speak of greenbay but our DC has never could stop ROGERS that you hope to get back to a playoff game and get out again, we understand this team has talent we need HC and look right now there are many to choose from and help the growth of our rookies, the losing record would be even forgiven if we had seen that the team fought in the whole game but understands we were swept in the second half that is the annoying thing that JG always has that idiot smile and does not know how to recompose Your team or tell me what answer you have to me not to run the ball in the yard 2 having the best running in the league.

          • Kevin Black

            December 28, 2017 at 8:54 pm

            I understand your frustration. I just don’t agree that you dump the staff. They had a great year last year. They had a bad year this year, but if you look closely, they made significant progress with the defense. I’m still a bit worried about it when Sean Lee isn’t on the field, but the secondary grew up pretty fast and we have some good young corners. Our DL looks solid as well, finally, but that doesn’t mean the defense couldn’t use a player or two to make it even better. The offense regressed, but when you consider that the entire NFL studied Dak and our offense and worked all offseason to develop a way to stop it, it’s not surprising. Most NFL pundits expected a pull back from the amazing year we had last year. When we lost those three games in the middle of the season, we had basically four All Pros missing from the lineup (Lee, T. Smith, Zeke and Bailey). While injuries happen all the time, losing four of your top six players on your team will wreck havoc when you are replacing them with players that might not make other teams, mainly for T. Smith, but the others suffered as well. No team took our running game seriously with Zeke and Smith out of the lineup.

            Look, I understand you want the get rid of the coaches. I just don’t agree. I thought I could convince you otherwise, but it’s clear that no amount of information that I provide will change your mind. That’s your right. It’s also my right to disagree with you and I firmly believe this staff should be allowed to stay for 2018.

            As for your last statement about not running the ball, you can blame Dak on that one. He choose to keep the ball on the run-option. Some think that Linehan shouldn’t have run that play and not even given Dak the option, but that play has been run at the goal line all year and has had a ton of success. Just goes to show you that if it works, everyone thinks you are a genius and when it doesn’t, you must be and idiot. When the reality is that the players didn’t execute. If they had done a run only and not made it in, we’d all complain about how they went away from the run-option and that it worked all year, why go away from it now.

            Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.

          • Jorge Sure

            December 31, 2017 at 10:16 am

            I also understand your point of view and the same way I appreciate your way of explaining the reasons why JG and his OC DC should remain, but I ask you that we have not been working with this team for 4 years now and it is always a good season and another bad one I do not see how they can lead us to win that ring.
            Regarding talent I agree that you have a lot but I think it is not used as it should be, my point of view is we have talent but an HC to get that extra to be a champion.
            the injuries all teams have during the year but an example Seatle with less talent and we favored a defeat that is not merit of them without belittling the other team I rather believe was the gift of our team that should make the game plan , all the fault JG and company.
            I appreciate that you are a person with whom you can express different opinions and above all respect those that are not consistent with yours, I would like to change your point of view and not only take 2 years as a parameter but the story from 7 years commanding and I think you understand that it is not the way since DALLAS must follow with JG and his team is time to change personnel and really give this team someone who takes advantage of this talent that I think many would want on their team.
            It is also time to switch to DEZ, WITTEN, TERRANCE and some other that has already completed its cycle.

          • Kevin Black

            December 31, 2017 at 10:43 am

            I’ve always been of the opinion that when a team has a down year, you give the coaching staff one year to turn it around. Two down years and then it’s time to show them the door.

            That being said, if Dallas wins today, that puts them at 9-7, giving them two winning seasons in a row, something we haven’t seen since Switzer, or at least it seems that long. To be honest, I’d rather have Dallas lose to get the better draft position, but then fans would want JG’s head even more, so I’d be fine with a win as well.

            Look at it this way: Dallas played the one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. If Tyron Smith plays against Atlanta, we probably win that game and would still be in line to make the playoffs. That includes completely revamping the defensive secondary. This team has way more positives than people are willing to admit. Do they have negatives? Yes, they do, but unless you go deep in the playoffs, just about every team has them. This team is still on an upward track in my opinion.

            One of the things they do need to do is make this offense even more Dak friendly. As much as I love Dak, he hates to have to throw into tight windows. And while he throws very well on the run, he needs to feel secure in the pocket to have confidence that he can finish his progressions and make his throw without harassment.

            With that in mind, don’t be surprised if the Cowboys make the Notre Dame OG their first round pick to put between Tyron Smith and Fredbeard. As much as I was cheering for Cooper to be the first team left guard, he just doesn’t have the athleticism the team wants and it puts undue pressure on Tyron and Frederick.

            Once that’s settled, I could see the Boys going LB and WR to help out those squads. Most likely Brice Butler will be gone and so will our only deep threat. Dez does command attention, but he’s not a true deep threat. Williams can also get deep, but he doesn’t really threaten the defense. Dallas needs a real speed demon that makes defenses take a step or two more away from the line of scrimmage. This would open up a ton of room for Dez, Wililams and Witten. The one who might lose out here is Beasley. I could see Dez moving into the slot a lot more, just like Fitzgerald did in Arizona, and create a bunch of possible mismatches. This is predicated on having someone on the outside the defense respects: one with the speed to get deep, the discipline to run good routes and hopefully has hands that won’t tip balls to the defense (I’m lookin at you Dez).

            The team isn’t perfect, but it actually got better by having to play a much tougher schedule and learn what they have to do to take the next step in the NFL. Nothing teaches like failure and this team will be stronger next year. Replacing the coaching staff will make 2018 a rebuilding year when it could be so much more with the current staff.

          • Jorge Sure

            January 1, 2018 at 1:24 pm

            very good argument the truth you left me speechless to debate 100% the only thing I would like then if the plan turns out as you describe it seems to you a change with DEZ that lieberen and look for a better receiver in the free agent market, which thank Jason W. more opportunity for Rico G. Desaste de Williams and keep Brice, do not think it would be improvements immediately I look at the game and obsess that DAK has that chemistry with BRICE note the annotation and you will see that between them things seem to flow easily and with DEZ it is more to strength than chemistry.

          • Kevin Black

            January 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm

            I like Brice a lot. He frustrates me also. He will make the tough catch and then come back and drop easy ones. I think he has concentration lapses and it’s probably the only thing that keeps him from being a full-time receiver. I know Dak connects with him very well.

            Dak and Dez’s chemistry issues are odd. I know Dez flourished under Tony, but that’s yesterday’s news. I do agree there are times Dez runs good routes, but the line play kept Dak from seeing him, but Dez needs to run good routes on EVERY play, not just some of them. I think he can, but due to his emotions, he can be up and down during a game.

            I’d love to see Rico Gathers in the line up next year. I still don’t think he’s ready to supplant Witten, but he could take the number 2 or 3 job. His concussion that he received does bother me though. He seemed to never recover from that. How much of that is the Cowboys being over protective or seeing a solution to stashing the player without losing a roster spot we may never know, but I’d prefer to see him on the field.

            Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys draft the Notre Dame guard in the first round though. They really need to shore up the OL. Tyron and Travis can’t keep covering for the LG and as well as Cooper did this year, he doesn’t have the athleticism that the Cowboys prefer. WR takes time to groom, so don’t be surprised if they wait until the 3rd round. Also, don’t sleep on Noah Brown. He’s a Dez starter kit, but I’m hoping that since he was a 7th round pick that he will work at the nuances of the position and become the technician that Dez never was, but has the same level of athleticism as Dez, just way to raw right now.

          • Jorge Sure

            January 2, 2018 at 4:15 pm

            If in that you are right but do not think that this year I would have been better as a second receiver in place of WILLIAMS or even sit for DEZ because he constantly fights for more game to him but never makes the key moves for example compares LARRY of the Cardinals surrendering big with whom you put to throw him.
            A guard I think would be the right decision in that part we think we agree, DAK backed down in part because of the lack of protection and we never saw LINEHAN calm him down and change the game plan to make him feel more comfortable.
            Hopefully DALLAS make an aggressive move as soon as free agency starts and I let DEZ out I think that would give us another dimension to the offensive and note that it was very hard to send them to, remember the 2016 season when it was not in the field for a DAK injury looked very good without him.
            the positive thing that I take this year frustrating and I still expect changes in the technical body hahaha, is that the defense was noted that there is a lot of talent and next year with a good replacement of LEE will see an impressive improvement.

          • Kevin Black

            January 2, 2018 at 5:18 pm

            Don’t expect much in FA. Stephen Jones pretty much said just that on the radio today. It’s also pretty much in line with how they operate now. They might sign some veterans to lesser deals, but they won’t be involved in any high stakes FA deals.

            Best place to improve for Dallas is from the draft and from within. I’m a HUGE draft nut and will listen to Brian Broaddus any chance I get on The Draft Show. Dane Brugler is usually on the show also and he’s got a great eye for college talent. The problem for Dallas will be the position at 19th. When you are in the bottom half, it’s much harder to get a stud, but it’s not impossible. Hopefully teams will draft a lot of QBs high in the draft and push some quality players down to us.

          • Jorge Sure

            January 3, 2018 at 10:10 am

            Look, they have a lot of money invested in DEZ. I am of the idea of cutting it if it does not accept a significant salary reduction. It is not a receiver number 1, so it will be saved for this year of ROMO and what can be the DEZ adjustment I think we are in the possibility of hiring something better to continue with the defense and look for a receiver in the DRAF if they think to maintain that nucleus of receivers I think we will be talking about another year where we qualify for the postseason but they eliminate us in the wild card, also I still think they should change to LINEHAN at least.

          • Kevin Black

            January 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

            Before you cut Dez, who do you think would be the No. 1 receiver on this team? Not every team has a No. 1 quality receiver and Dez has the capability to be one, even if he hasn’t reached that level lately. No. 1 receivers don’t just drop out of the sky and the draft rarely gives you one that is ready out of the gate, especially at the 19th pick in the draft.

            On top of that, his dead money would be around 16m. That would pretty much keep us from resigning Hitchens and severely hamper negotiations with Zak Martin. You’d have just enough to franchise Lawrence and hopefully persuade Zak to take a less than optimal contract. You’d also probably have to move money in the form of changing salaries into up-front bonuses to spread the amount over the life of the contract to keep from being over the cap, which just pushes money into future years creating more cap issues. We already have 14m in dead money from Tony Roma’s contact in 2018. I’m not sure we can afford another 16m on top of that.

          • Jorge Sure

            January 4, 2018 at 5:40 pm

            we do not have a receiver number 1 but we remember in 2016 it was not DEZ and there was a good pass game since it was not forced in sending to a single receiver as it was noticed this 2017, quality players are on the DALLAS roster only that badly taken advantage of by LINEHAN Czech we had COLE and RYAN both players with court equal to DANI of the patriots besides BUTTLER to make the field long to that you accommodate to RICO in truth I am more excited that panorama than to have DEZ back, it is that’s why I told you LINEHAN should go and bring someone more creative, you do not want to change JASON ok let’s make a change of OF that will help us have a more versatile game, just tell me the SAINTS they got rid of several star receivers even so they have an impressive offensive, if we get these defense guys to keep improving like at the end of the season I’m sure we’ll be contenders but that if we change something in their technical body so that JASON does not Be sure and be more creative.

          • Kevin Black

            January 4, 2018 at 5:59 pm

            Where do you suggest we get a No. 1 receiver?

          • Jorge Sure

            January 5, 2018 at 2:45 pm

            I would love him in the DRAFT and what I have in space I assign him to the defense, personally I feel that DAK would feel less pressured in looking for a receiver and you would give him more freedom to distribute the game, for me the retreat of our offensive was that LINEHAN design plays with DAK and DEZ but there was never that chemistry, I invite you to see the annotation of DALLAS to PHILADELFIA understand that BUTTLER has that chemistry with DAK without being forced is a movement of both naturally, it is not about have a receiver of more than 1000 yards if not a consistent and very well balanced offensive imagine 4 receivers of DALLAS with 800 yards each and join the best running of the league.
            I know I am a dreamer but believe me I see that potential in the team that LINEHAN does not know how to get the most out of it, the most healthy in my opinion is to remove DEZ, WITTEN, WILLIAMS and LINEHAN to bring someone to make a creative offensive, tell me your PATRIOTS Best receiver ROB he has 1000 yards and is a tight end they do not have a WR No. 1.
            Tell me now is it necessary to have a WR No.1?

          • Kevin Black

            January 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm

            Why have a WR No. 1? Most teams want a player who will demand the attention of the defense to allow the rest of the players on the offense work in more open space. When Dez gets double teamed or the safety cheats to his side, it opens up room for Witten, Beasley and Williams as they will be facing zone most likely or if it is man-to-man, they only have one person to beat, not one plus a safety. While the Patriots do have Gronkowski, they play him on the wings a lot, but even in the slot, he commands attention so that the WR get one on one attention. As far as I know there’s only 1 Rob Gronkowski in the league. There are no TEs in this draft anywhere close to his ability, so unless you can get him via free agency, that’s not going to happen.

            Okay, not that’s out of the way…

            Right now there is maybe one WR1 capable player in the first round and he will never make it to 19. You can trade up if you give up your 2nd and 3rd picks for him.

            Once you do that, you’d have to release Dez. Once that’s done you have to restructure about 10 contracts to make the dead money work assuming you want to pay Demarcus Lawrence and Zak Martin. If you don’t mind them walking, then you’d only have to restructure about 5 contracts. That also assumes Hitchens is allowed to leave via FA in either scenario.

            So, in 2019, you’d probably have to let go Tyron and Williams, perhaps even Lee to get under the cap and then try and find their replacements in the draft. Finding a number 1 left tackle is probably the hardest of the three to replace, but finding another capable WR who won’t take 2-3 years to groom would be another. You’d also lose Lee’s ability to get everyone in the right position on each defensive play.

            Basically, what you want and what you can do are two different things. The draft gives you what it gives you. You either work with it or whine about it.

          • Jorge Sure

            January 5, 2018 at 7:31 pm

            Regarding if we have something similar to ROB I say YES, he was in the infirmary all year but when we saw him in the preseason, I said a guy TONY GONZALEZ and he is RICO G. this player if they play him in 2018 will be an unstoppable personal weapon is in that sense to let go in this case to WITTEN.
            Now let’s see a WR No.1 I think it’s not so necessary anymore if you know how to play with COLE and SWITZER 2 types with characteristics equal to DANNY AMENDOLA so for slot receivers there is no problem, otherwise recruiting in the first round and high level a WR You want your No. 1 does not assure you that it will be for everything it takes time and development but we return to the same subject DEZ is no longer a No.1 rather it is already a hindrance to this offensive with its constant complaints and always asking for more plays for the end be butter hands in the defining games personally I do not want DEZ to return to DALLAS and better start building some WR as SAINTS do.
            The money is compromised by the bad decisions of JERRY in wanting to make TOP players to everyone who has a PRO BOWL season so money open I think so but the development of talent depends on JASON G, LINEHAN etc. If they can not detect the talent, I do not know what they do in that position besides being playing the roller coaster (one good season the other regular to bad).
            about 2019 if you choose well in the draft

          • Kevin Black

            January 6, 2018 at 11:32 am

            Just to clarify my position, I LOVE Rico Gathers. I can’t wait to see him play in the NFL. Physically he’s on Gronk’s level. NFL skill-wise, he’s at Gronk’s level as a freshman in college. It’s not even close. That’s not to say he can’t get to Gronk’s level, and I hope 2018 will be a coming out party for Rico, but he won’t be at Gronk’s level this year. He won’t demand double-teams, period.

          • Jorge Sure

            January 8, 2018 at 5:27 pm

            I totally agree that it is not at the Gron level, but I think this will be a case like that of TONY GONZALEZ with the GRON physicist. He needs a lot to be on par but if this year he manages to play it we will be seeing a great tight end.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      January 3, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Hey, man! I’m late to the comments, my bad. But definitely agree. I really have a lot of faith in Dak and what he can accomplish down the road. I think WR and LB may be our top needs right now, to be honest. Personally, I’d love to see a coaching change, but I know it won’t be the case this year. You’re right about it probably coming later.

  8. Jonathan Young

    December 28, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Jerry Jones = Cancer. From Tom Landry to Jason Garrett. Jason is only a puppet for JJ, I do believe that we need a change. DC is not the problem = our defense is good and maybe a few players away from elite.
    First a GM = Will McClay,
    Second a HC = ???
    Third a NEW Offensive coaching staff, not sure who all we have but we have a young team and we need to move forward with new blood. (not a problem if a few remain)
    Top 3 or 4 rounds.
    #1 depends on who’s available. LB, OL or WR
    #2 Depends on our #1 pick
    You get the point.
    Our #1 needs to be a day 1 starter…
    My top pick, we’re going to pick anywhere from 15 to 19.
    LB – Georgia’s – Roquan Smith
    OL – Notre Dame’s – Mike McGlinchey(OT)
    WR – Alabama’s – Calvin Ridley
    I’m not going to say we need to drop Dez, we need another QB to compete with Dak.

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Game Notes

Jason Garrett’s Decision Making Stands Out in Playoff Loss

John Williams

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett? 2

The 2018 NFL season has come to an end for the Dallas Cowboys. The Los Angeles Rams were simply the better team on Saturday night in the Coliseum and it showed in the 30-22 loss. While it was a disappointing performance, there were several things to take away from the game to give us reason for optimism moving forward. Connor Williams played well against Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the interior, Dak Prescott kept the team in the game despite little help from the running game, and Head Coach Jason Garrett perhaps coached his best game from a management point of view.

After the first drive, this game had one of those, if the Dallas Cowboys have to punt, it's likely going to be a loss feels. The defense's inability to force more than one punt or create a turnover was going to make it really difficult for the offense to keep up, and yet at the end of the game, the Cowboys were within a score and had a shot to win. Dak Prescott deserves a lot of credit for that, but so does Jason Garrett.

Here's why.

4th and 1's

Jason Garrett has long been viewed as a conservative coach in the NFL, and this season he didn't do much to help his reputation, but that game on Saturday should change some of that perception. On a night where it looked like his defense didn't have it, he called the game he needed to maximize his team's possessions.

On the opening drive of the game for the offense, the Cowboys got to the Rams 49 yard line, but faced a 4th and 1. Garrett didn't waste any time going for it and the Cowboys were able to convert on Ezekiel Elliott's five yard run. A Marcus Peters' unneccessary roughness penalty gave the Cowboys an extra 15 yards and the Cowboys scored on the next play on Amari Cooper's 29 yard catch and run to give the Dallas Cowboys the lead.

It would be their only lead of the night.

Again, in the second half, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1, this time it was at the Rams 41 yard line and this time, the Cowboys were down 23-7. This was not nearly as difficult a decision as the Cowboys were in catch up mode and needed to get a score to bring the game within striking distance, and they did just that. Again, Elliott picked up five yards when the Cowboys needed one and Elliott capped off th drive with a one yard touchdown run after Michael Gallup's long reception on a broken play.

At the Rams 35 yard line and the game within reach, the Cowboys went for it again on fourth down, but this time were stopped short of the first down marker when Ndamukong Suh made an excellent play to prevent Elliott from picking up the yard. On the play, you can see Suh start to Joe Looney's left, which forced Elliott to go to Looney's right and Suh followed Elliott into the hole. There was much Looney could do as Suh had the necessary leverage to make the play. It was absolutely the right call to go for it in that situation, but the Cowboys went to the jumbo formation-Elliott inside run one too many times. It was clear where the ball was going to go in that situation, and they were stuffed.

On what turned out to be the final drive of the season for the Dallas Cowboys, they needed to score and score rather quickly to have a chance to get the ball back one more time. The offense scored, but took a little too much time doing so as the drive took just over five minutes off the game clock. Again, on the drive, they were faced with a fourth and 1, but this time they used Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on a speed option to the right and they were able to convert and eventually get the touchdown.

For the game, the Dallas Cowboys went three for four on fourth down attempts.

Point After Decisions

In the middle of the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys scored to make it 23-13. Generally in the NFL, teams don't go for two until they have to go. Knowing that possessions were going to be few and far between the Cowboys were likely going to have to score on every possession the rest of the game, Garrett went for two and the Cowboys converted to make it an eight point game.

Then after the Dallas Cowboys scored to make the game 30-21, there was much discussion on social media on whether the Cowboys should have gone for two there or just kicked the extra point, which was a bit surprising.

To me, it was simple. Kick the extra point to make it 30-22 and hope your defense gets you the ball back and you can score again. If you go for two in that situation and don't make it, the game is essentially over with just over two minutes remaining. Taking the extra point kept you in the game, even if it was still only a slight chance to pull out a win.

Declining Penalties

With about 3:20 to go in the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys defense faced a third and two situation around midfield against the Rams. They were able to force Rams Quarterback Jared Goff into a hurried throw and he overthrew Josh Reynolds in the flat for what would have been a first down.

On the play there were two penalties, offensive holding and offensive pass interference and Jason Garrett declined the penalties.

To me it was one of the boldest coaching decisions has made in his career on something that seemed very innocuous.

Sean McVay and the Rams were having their way with the Dallas Cowboys defense as Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson gashed their way to over 100 yards rushing each. With the Rams facing a fourth and two on the Dallas Cowboys side of the 50 yard line, most people thought the Rams would go for it there and completely steal the soul of the Dallas Cowboys.

Johnny Hekker did his best to get the Dallas Cowboys to think he was going to run a fake, but the Cowboys never panicked and stayed onside as the punter attempted to game them.

It was a huge call in that situation. If Garrett accepts the penalties, the Rams would have faced a third and 12 at their own 43 yard line, but would have had another opportunity to convert the first down and extend the drive.

I really liked the call, because it put McVay in a difficult position himself. If the were to go for it and fail to convert on fourth down, the Cowboys would have gotten the ball at about midfield with a chance to tie the game.

Kicking Deep vs Onside Kick

With the new rules governing kickoffs, mainly that teams have to keep a amount of players on each side of the kicker, onside kicks have become less and less successful in today's NFL. Even before the rule changes, recovering an onside kick was less than a 50/50 proposition.

Kicking deep was really the only decision to make. The hope is that your defense is able to get a stop and the Cowboys would get the ball back with decent field position.

And it nearly worked.

The Dallas Cowboys run defense came up big on first and second down, holding the Rams running game to three yards setting up a third and seven. Just as everyone was expecting the Rams to throw it, they ran a play action with a naked bootleg that left Jared Goff all alone on the outside with a ton of room to run, and zero Cowboys in position to prevent him from picking up the first down.

Ball game.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

On Saturday, Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, reported the Cowboys were looking to extend for Jason Garrett this offseason. It should come as no surprise as he helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround from 3-5 to 10-6 and NFC East champions all while fielding one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Jason Garrett has grown a lot as an NFL head coach and in the playoff loss, made excellent decisions to keep the Cowboys in the game. He's going to be around here for a long time and there should be a lot of optimism heading into 2019 that the Cowboys can make some strides.



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Game Notes

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Brian Martin

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season had to come to an end at some point. Not many of us would have predicted earlier in the season that it would've come at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round, but that's what happened and it's kind of bittersweet.

I don't know how you feel today, but I don't find myself all that upset the Dallas Cowboys season is officially over. Yes, I would've loved to see them completely dominate the LA Rams and advance in the playoffs, but I'm surprisingly really pleased with the way this team played this season. We have to remember that this is a young team and this is hopefully just the beginning of something great.

Today, I want to share with you some of the positives and negatives from the Cowboys game against the Rams Saturday night. This of course will be the last edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys 2018-2019 season.

The Good

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Finding the positive after a loss isn't always the easiest thing to accomplish. The Dallas Cowboys didn't particularly play their best football Saturday against the Rams, which makes it even more difficult. But for me, the good has to be the resiliency and grittiness the Cowboys played with in LA.

I don't think anyone would argue that the LA Rams pretty much dominated the entire game Saturday. They put the Cowboys on their heels pretty much from the get-go, which took them out of their game. Dallas was never really able to establish their running game and couldn't get the Rams offense off the field. They've been able to pretty much do that against all their opponents this season, but just fell flat at the wrong time.

Despite getting manhandled, the Dallas Cowboys continued to fight back and never quit. They could've easily rolled over and given up, but they didn't. I think that really speaks volumes to the kind of players Dallas has on the roster. This is a really talented young team with a bright future ahead of themselves.

The Bad

C. J. Anderson

Los Angeles Rams RB C. J. Anderson (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Anyone who watched the game Saturday night pretty much knows what goes in this category. The bad for me and probably everybody else is how the Dallas Cowboys defense was gashed by the Los Angeles Rams rushing attack. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley absolutely dominated on the ground, leading their team to victory.

I knew the Rams rushing attack would give the Cowboys defense problems, but I never imagined they would rush for nearly 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley may be the ones earning all the praise with their performances, but they definitely wouldn't have found as much success as they did if not for their offensive line.

Dallas' front seven has been really good against the run all season. They only allowed a couple of 100 yard rushers this season (Chris Carson, Marlon Mack) until Anderson and Gurley both rushed for over 100 Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Cowboys DL just got overpowered by the Rams OL and it definitely impacted the outcome of the game.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

What was pegged to be a matchup between two of the best running backs in the NFL, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, ended up being pretty much a one-man show. That is why the ugly Saturday night for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion was their rushing attack.

We all know the Cowboys offensive blueprint is to establish the running game to help control the clock and game speed. That unfortunately never materialized Saturday night against the Rams, a team by the way that was giving up 5.1 yards rushing to opposing running backs. It was supposed to be a matchup that favored Zeke and Dallas' ground game.

I'll give credit where credit is due though. The Rams defensive line stepped up their game and didn't allow Zeke to get any kind of momentum going in the running game. They gave the Cowboys OL all they could handle and pretty much made their offensive attack one-dimensional. They wanted to put the game in Dak Prescott's hands and for the most part accomplished what they set out to do.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the LA Rams?



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

The last round of the Dallas Cowboys fight in 2018 came at the hands of a hungry Los Angeles Rams team, ending their season in the Divisional Round behind 273 rushing yards. Effectively, the third seed in the NFC beat the Cowboys at their own game with the bye week to prepare. The fallout from this loss won't be fully realized until the sting is gone, but sweeping changes aren't expected in Dallas after a resurrection from 3-5 saw the Cowboys within a few plays of the NFC Championship Game.

How those plays were made and what the Rams did to execute a near flawless game plan is the subject of this final Sean's Scout of the season.

  • The Rams' success on the ground against Richard's defense was stunning for a lot of reasons, none more so than the way Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith struggled to react and fight off blocks.

The Cowboys issues at linebacker were a result of their front four getting blown off the ball all game by LA's offensive line. I wrote in my final game preview piece about how the Cowboys needed to win the line of scrimmage on both sides, losing with their own offense when the game was in the balance and never putting up a fight on the defensive line.

To the Rams' credit, even the simple things Sean McVay's team executes are done with an attention to detail that makes them very difficult to contain. The Rams did a great job scheming blockers to the second level, where Smith and Vander Esch were handled to the point of playing tentatively and taking poor angles.

In what could be his final game with the Cowboys or the end of his career, Sean Lee played 21 snaps, one shy of his week 17 total when the Cowboys played the Giants with the division already wrapped up. Getting caught in a game they couldn't possibly win against the better team at home, the Cowboys defense had no answers for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.

  • Dak Prescott's "in the grasp" call when he scrambled into La'el Collins' arms on third down was a bad look for the officials, but also an injured Cole Beasley, who was late working his route back to Prescott and into his line of vision. 

If Beasley was at full strength, he's likely able to stop his vertical route sooner and give Prescott an easy throw underneath as he rolled to the right. Left with nowhere to go, Dak had the play blown dead after Right Tackle La'el Collins wrapped his arms around Prescott while scrambling.

With the way the Rams came out on offense, it became clear that every Cowboys possession would be of dire importance. Losing one on a strange call like this was a blow Dallas never had a chance to recover from.

  • Lost in the Cowboys turnover on downs in the fourth quarter, the final time they touched the ball within a score, is the incredible third down throw Prescott made on the run to Noah Brown. 

To give his offense a chance on fourth and short, Prescott delivered a strike to Brown on the sideline for 13 yards. Without being able to set his feet, Prescott felt the pressure well and put the ball where only Brown could secure it falling out of bounds.

It's unfortunate the next play became the defining moment of the season for Dallas. Deciding to attack the strength of the Rams' defense, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers were ready for an Elliott rushing attempt right up the middle out of 12 personnel.

Not only was Center Joe Looney beat on the play, but Collins lost leverage and was beat across the face to further clutter the middle of the field for Elliott to be stopped short. Making matters even worse, the Rams came out and attacked the Cowboys defense by flashing the misdirection plays that worked all night.

In just 12 plays, Anderson scored his second touchdown to all but put the game away for LA. The Cowboys would use Prescott's legs much too late on the ensuing drive, getting into the end zone but failing to get the ball back.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As mentioned, this won't be an offseason of drastic change for the Cowboys. Bowing out in the divisional round for the second time in three seasons, adjustments to both the coaching staff and roster are needed for this team to take the next step.

For a team that looked nothing like a postseason contender for much of the regular season, the Cowboys improbable run of close wins came to an end against the Rams - determined to not lose their first playoff game in consecutive seasons.

They won't be happy with the result, but the Cowboys should be proud of their final outcome on this year.

As always, I'd like to thank Cowboys Nation for reading another season of Sean's Scout. Win or lose you make this job fun.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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