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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Second Loss

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Second Loss 1

This Dallas Cowboys season has been a roller coaster of emotions. Win. Loss. Win. Loss. This week, Cowboys Nation is trying to get over a very upsetting loss to the Los Angeles Rams. After going into halftime with an eight point lead, the Cowboys saw the win slip through their fingers in the second half.

It was frustrating. It was more frustrating than week 2. Because the Dallas Cowboys were playing good football during the first two quarters.

But they couldn't execute for 60 minutes.

Just like every loss, we learned a lot from this football team last Sunday. Here are my takeaways from the Cowboys high-scoring game versus the Rams.

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Xavier Woods Should Be Starting At Safety

During the offseason, one of the most debated positions among Cowboys fans was the safety position. With JJ Wilcox and Barry Church leaving Dallas, a battle was about to take place.

Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier would have to fight throughout training camp and preseason to earn that starting job. To start the season, Heath was given the nod. Four games later, it's clear he isn't cut out to be a starter.

Xavier Woods, on the other hand, has been pretty impressive so far.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Xavier Woods needs to be a starter. https://t.co/WWYeFBlxNN

At this point, the Cowboys should give Woods the opportunity to start. From the moment he was drafted last April, we all knew he was going to be a steal for this team. The Dallas Cowboys should start Woods as soon as next week. 

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This Defense Needs David Irving Back

The Cowboys offense hasn't lived up to the hype. That is true. But this defense remains a problem for this Dallas Cowboys football team.

Even though DeMarcus Lawrence has been amazing so far, with 7.5 sacks through four games, the defense isn't cutting it. Yes, Lawrence is trying to earn the "War Daddy" title. We can argue he is succeeding at it.

Maliek Collins, David Irving, Bucs

Dallas Cowboys DL Maliek Collins and David Irving (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

But the truth is, there's no other Cowboys DE that opposing defenses fear other than 90. Not Taco Charlton, not Benson Mayowa, not anyone.

The next time the Cowboys take the field, they'll have David Irving right there. We don't know if Rod Marinelli will try to to get them both on the field at the same time, or if he'll rotate both as LDEs.

Either way, the Cowboys need someone to pressure QBs when D-Law isn't there, or our "War Daddy" won't be enough.

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The Cowboys Need to Dominate the Clock

RB Ezekiel Elliott Again Preparing For "Dress Rehearsal" Debut 1This Cowboys team is made to win on offense. Even with a promising young group of players on defense, they aren't the guys who will carry this team and pull off the important wins.

One of the most important things for this team is controlling the time of possession. Something they haven't been able to do as well this season. With a "bend-but-don't-break" type of defense, the Cowboys need to keep that defense off the field for as long as they can.

The defense may be decent. But they're not elite. They need the offense to be on the field as long as possible. Last year, the Dallas Cowboys ended the season as the third best team on average time of possession.

In 2017, after four games, they are ranked at 23. That needs to change.

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There's No Chemistry Between Dez and Dak

Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Second LossIn 2016, we saw Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant pull off a lot of big plays. Naturally, all of Cowboys Nation thought we would be seeing that a lot more of that after Dak and Dez had an entire offseason of practicing together.

We thought they would develop a chemistry that would destroy opposing defenses.

However, that chemistry doesn't seem to be there.

This doesn't mean that Dak Prescott won't be able to have success with 88. Not at all.

Maybe, if this offense starts trying to move the ball with Beasley, with Witten, Dak will find his groove back. It's not about avoiding Dez. It's about stop forcing it to Dez.

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The Offensive Line Might Be This Team's Biggest Problem

La'el CollinsThe offensive line is not the worst unit on this team. But it might be the biggest problem.

This unit is supposed to be the Cowboys' biggest strength. And when they struggle, both in the passing game and running game, the entire team will struggle.

Now, the "Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are only good because of their OL" is a false narrative. But we'd be lying to ourselves if we said it didn't help. Dak Prescott is being pressured way more than he should be. Ezekiel Elliott is fighting for every yard.

Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper are not being able to fill Ron Leary's shoes. La'el Collins has a long way to go before we can call him a quality starter.

If the Dallas Cowboys want to keep being one of the best offenses in the NFL, the OL needs to pick it up.

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The Cowboys face the Green Bay Packers next Sunday at Dallas. It won't be easy for Jason Garrett's team to win this game, but it won't be impossible either. This is supposed to be a Super Bowl team. Can they execute, not just for a half, but for 60 minutes? This will be a very telling game for this football team.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Second Loss" 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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1 Comment
  • SAMMIE

    HELLO, AND YES I THINK WOODS SHOULD BE STARTING AT SAFETY AND YES I WOULD PUT LAWRENCE AND IRVIN ON THE FIELD AT THE SAME TIME WITH COLLINS AND CEDRIC THORNTON AND WHY NOT PUT TIGHTENDS ON THE LINE TO HELP THE OFFENCE OF LINE OUT AND WHY DOESNT SCOTT LINEHAN HAVE PLAYS FOR ALL OUR PLAYERS ,SWITZER IS A WEAPON USE HIM SO THAT OTHER PLAYERS DOSENT GET DOUBLE TEAMED.THESE COACHES HAS TO START THINKING AND LEARNING HOW TO CONTROL A CLOCK.AND STOP FORCING THE BALL TO DEZ AND USE OTHER PLAYERS .BOY I MISS JIMMY JOHNSON.

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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