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?
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.
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?
Even 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.
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.
Brett Maher’s 62-yard FG Gives Cowboys 6-0 Halftime Lead over Eagles
Brett Maher drilled a 62-yard field goal, a new Dallas Cowboys record, to give his team a 6-0 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles at halftime.
A holding penalty by Tyron Smith seemingly took the team out of field goal range, but Maher bailed him out with the monster kick.
The lead could be bigger it not for some Dallas mistakes. Dak Prescott threw an interception on an otherwise strong drive, and Maher ended another drive with a missed field goal.
However, the Eagles have also struggled. A strip sack by Tyrone Crawford ended their last drive of the half. Randy Gregory also got a sack on Carson Wentz earlier in the game.
Overall, though, Philadelphia just isn't converting downs and being stifled by this exceptional Cowboys defense. They only have 70 total offensive yards at the half.
Ezekiel Elliott is putting together a big day, already with 72 rushing yards and another 20 yards receiving. Rod Smith also has 24 yards of offense, adding to the major production from the RB position.
Speaking of position production, the Cowboys tight ends have already accounted for six catches for 37 yards. Blake Jarwin has four of those receptions, which is a new career high.
The Eagles will get the ball to start the second half.
Cowboys Vs Eagles Leads NFL in Playoff Leverage for Week 14
The Dallas Cowboys are certainly playing like a playoff team as of late, but aren't in the clear yet when it comes to holding off Sunday's opponent -- nor the Washington Redskins -- in the NFC East. At 7-5, the Eagles and Redskins sit a game behind the Cowboys with identical 6-6 records.
The Cowboys going 5-0 from their first win at the Eagles in week 10 to their third divisional game of this stretch would go a very long way in cementing the Cowboys mid-season turnaround. As has always seemingly been the case in this division though, the same is said of the defending Super Bowl champs.
With a loss, the Cowboys stand just over a 50% chance at the postseason. A win would add 42 percentage points to this figure, setting up the Cowboys favorably through a December schedule that features the Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants.
NFL playoff leverage week 14
The only team with more at stake today is the visitors of AT&T Stadium. The Eagles gain 47 percentage points on their playoff hopes with a win, though even this marginally moves the needle over 50% for them. An Eagles loss all but ends their chances of repeating as NFC East winners.
Though the Redskins are reduced to their third quarterback in Mark Sanchez, their early kickoff at the 4-8 Giants provides hope that they'll remain in contention through the regular season. In a division that will be dictated by the moves made at the trade deadline, it sure feels like the Cowboys and Eagles are pulling away however - with Dallas in prime position to lap the competition starting Sunday.
If the Cowboys and the Giants win today, Dallas would have to lose out, and the Redskins or Eagles would have to win out in order for the Cowboys to lose the division. In other words, Dallas and NYG winning today would mean one more victory and the Cowboys clinch the NFC East.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper has made a bigger difference than Dallas could have ever hoped for. With the Eagles secondary banged up again for their meeting with the Cowboys, a home team with sights set on playoff football could begin to fine tune their offense to match a defense that set the tone against Philadelphia last time out.
National pundits may be forecasting a "classic" late season collapse for the Cowboys, but fans know better than this. It was in fact early season losses that dug the hole the Cowboys are viciously fighting out of. Asking for this opportunity against the Eagles is as good as it gets for Jason Garrett's young team, once 3-5 after eight weeks that feel like ages ago.
So does any dominant stretch of football from the Eagles, though the Cowboys shouldn't be quick to find out just how much Philly wants to play spoiler.
Cowboys Wishlist: Dak Prescott Exploits Eagles’ Secondary
It's rivalry weekend for the Dallas Cowboys as they get ready to host the Philadelphia Eagles. It will undoubtedly be a special game since the Eagles are practically playing to save their season this time around. Tables have turned for these two teams with now the Cowboys as home favorites for this fun matchup.
As always, here's this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist. Enjoy!
Wish #1: Get Jourdan Lewis Playing Time
Cornerback Jourdan Lewis did a fantastic job versus the New Orleans Saints last week and I'm intrigued to see if the Cowboys will continue to find a job for him and get him on the field. Lewis had an interception and some other key plays in just eight snaps. Lewis has been an interesting narrative this year.
He's a good player and getting him more involved could result in good things for this team. We'll see if the Cowboys use him in this important divisional game.
Wish #2: Get The Early Big Lead, Rest Elliott
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has done an amazing job for the Cowboys over the past four weeks. Both in the passing and running game, Zeke has been able to consistently move the chains as he's received a huge workload to carry the offense and control the time of possession. He currently leads the league in touches per game.
If the Cowboys are able to get a big lead early, I wish we get to see a lot of backup RB Rod Smith. As much as we all love to watch Zeke be fed, this time Cowboys Nation should appreciate seeing him on the sideline a bit more than usual. For that to happen, though, an early considerable lead is required.
Wish #3: Improve on Red Zone
So far, the Dallas Cowboys have been able to efficiently move the ball and get first downs. What they have struggled with though, is the red zone. Many times, we've seen the offense settle for three instead of getting seven.
This Saturday I argued why, if the Cowboys are able to improve on red zone, this could be a playoff caliber unit. This team shouldn't struggle as much in this area. With Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, Amari Cooper lined up and a mobile QB, Scott Linehan's squad simply needs to do better.
Wish #4: Dak Prescott Gets 300 Yards
The Philadelphia Eagles have placed CB Jalen Mills on IR. With Ronald Darby out already, the Cowboys are about to face a very injured secondary. Philadelphia ranks 26th in passing defense. Dak Prescott's stats have greatly improved since week 7.
However, a big 300-yard performance has yet to occur. I wish he gets just that against the Eagles. For this, he'll certainly need help from his receivers, including Amari Cooper, who has been outstanding with a Star on his helmet.
What are your wishes for this week's matchup versus the Eagles?
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