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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 @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 @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

#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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Game Notes

#INDvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Has RB Rod Smith Emerged As Ezekiel Elliott's Primary Backup? 2
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

For once, the Cowboys are not playing what feels like a do-or-die game on Sunday, needing just 1 win over their final 3 to win the NFC East. This week the 8-5 Cowboys go on the road to face the 7-6 Colts, with each times vying for playoff spots in their respective conferences.

Both the Cowboys and Colts have turned around what looked like dead seasons, but there is no doubt the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do to keep pace for the 6th seed in the AFC.

The Line

Cowboys +3, O/U 47 points. 

Dallas Cowboys

The once 3-5 Cowboys are now head and shoulders above the rest of their division, after winning their fifth straight in thrilling fashion over the Eagles last Sunday. The team which seemed so disjointed and inconsistent through 8 games has found their identity, and is playing complete team football as of late.

Dak Prescott is coming off a career-best game in terms of yardage, and despite some poor turnovers is still playing some of the best football of his career. This is due in large part to two stars in Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott, who have shouldered the production load of this offense the last 5 weeks.

And, of course, there is the defense which continues to make life a living hell for opposing offenses. Randy Gregory is coming into his own as a pass rusher, getting another sack last week and getting flagged for what should have been his second sack of the day.

Dallas is playing the brand of football they told us they would before the season, and are beginning to make their front office and decision makers look very smart in the process.

Indianapolis Colts

At 7-6 and fighting for the final AFC playoff spot, the Colts need this one more than the Cowboys do. Getting shut out by the lowly Jaguars two weeks ago may ultimately keep the Colts out of the playoffs, but a win this Sunday and a little help elsewhere could set them up nicely down the stretch.

Indy has quietly one of the best passing offenses in all of the NFL, with star quarterback Andrew Luck playing his best football in quite some time. Luck is healthy and looks like himself again, and the selection of Quenton Nelson to sure-up the offensive line has gone a long way to improving this offense as well.

Defensively the Colts have been even more impressive lately. Though they have a roster comprised of no-names nationally, the Colts defense is 11th in DVOA. Darius Leonard has been a revelation for the Colts at linebacker, and their young defense seems to be improving by the week.

The Colts are coming off of a big road victory over the Houston Texans a week ago, and will look to defeat the Texans' in-state rivals on Sunday to improve to 8-6.

Trends

  • The Cowboys are 5-0 against the spread their last 5 games, and have won all 5 straight up.
  • The score total has hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
  • But the score total has gone under 4 of the Colts' last 5 games.
  • The Colts are 4-1 straight up their last 5 home games.
  • Dallas is 6-3 their last 9 games against the Colts.

Prediction

The Cowboys' winning streak has to end at some point, right?

Well, unlike Vegas, I don't expect that ending to happen on Sunday. The Cowboys have been playing desperate football over the last 5 games and they are well aware what a win over Indianapolis would mean.

A victory would clinch them a division title for the third time in five years, and just as they did in 2014, I expect the Cowboys to get that clinching victory over the Colts. Give me the Cowboys and the points this week.



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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles

It was a dramatic win for the Dallas Cowboys but a win nonetheless. The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Cowboys one hell of a fight at AT&T Stadium in a great rivalry game. It was undoubtedly one of the most exciting games this season has seen as it ended with a walk-off touchdown that gave the home team the victory.

Here is this week's Takeaway Tuesday on what we learned from such a thrilling match!

Amari Cooper Trade Shouldn't Even Be a Discussion

Once a complicated debate, the Amari Cooper trade has a clear winner. It's simple, really. If it wasn't for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys would not be 8-5 en route to the NFC East title. Cooper has literally saved the 2018 season for the once 3-5 Cowboys team.

Since becoming a part of the Cowboys, the former Oakland Raider has accounted for 40 catches, 642 yards and six touchdowns. Last Sunday alone, he was responsible for 217 yards and three scores. Not to mention the amount of times he's moved the chains for this offense. The 24-year old can seriously play football. Despite struggles, this offense is very promising with that caliber of a WR1 and an elite RB such as Ezekiel Elliott.

What was it again? A first rounder? Should've asked for more, Raiders.

Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player

Gregory's journey to be back on a football field was a difficult one. But it was worth it. Versus the Eagles, his presence was constantly felt by Carson Wentz. He was able to get in five pressures, one of which resulted in a sack.

The last couple of games, Gregory has drawn a few costly flags, but his play is still amazing. He's one of the fastest defensive ends in the league and he continues to improve in bending around the corner. He has five sacks in the last eight games. If you weren't convinced #94 should be our starting right defensive end, you should be by now.

Dalton Schultz

Tight Ends Rise

The lack of a tight end did not stand out this past Sunday. But Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin did. With Geoff Swaim out with an injury, this couple of young rotational players had their best games of their careers. Both were targeted in key moments of the game. Blake Jarwin had 56 yards in seven catches and a big third down conversion and Dalton Schultz finished the night with 37 yards.

A promising sign for the Cowboys moving forward. The offense is clicking at wide receiver with Amari Cooper, having a tight end (or a couple) stand up will only make this unit better.

Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Garrett Deserves a Round of Applause

Whether or not you think Jason Garrett is a good head coach, the guy deserves an applause. I get why you might not like him. In fact, I still question if he should be in Dallas in 2019 if the Cowboys fail to have success in the playoffs. But the way this team has come back from such a terrible start can't be ignored.

The players on this team fight for this guy. The Dallas Cowboys went from a team everyone had written off from playoff contention to legit Super Bowl contenders since they fired Paul Alexander and got Amari Cooper.

Dak Prescott is One of the Best Facing Adversity

Dak Prescott's career continues to cause a great debate among Cowboys' fans. You see, in the NFL, things are not white or black. When judging a player, there are a lot of gray areas. Take last night's performance from Dak Prescott. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once and pretty much played bad football for three quarters. But his night ended with 455 yards and three touchdowns and a 78% completion percentage in 54 attempts.

In the NFL, not any quarterback comes back from turning the ball three times. With the help of his tremendous defense, Dak did. In the fourth quarter, he completed 17 out of 20 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns. His performance was clutch.

This isn't a one thing either. Since 2016, Dak is tied for the most game-winning drives in the NFL. Prescott might be inconsistent and can have some pretty bad plays. But he's one resilient quarterback. As T.O. would've said: "that's my quarterback."

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Randy Gregory is a Big Time Player" 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!



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