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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!

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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

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” 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

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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