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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Win VS 49ers

Mauricio Rodriguez

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How ’bout them Cowboys! Dallas walked away with a blowout win versus the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday after a long and busy bye week. They needed this win. Even though the 49ers came to the game with zero victories, the Cowboys took care of business after winning 40-10.

It was an important win for Dallas since they needed to regain confidence and adjust after starting the season 2-3. Will the Cowboys continue to roll? Maybe, maybe not. But it sure looks like it.

In their way to victory, the Cowboys showed us quite a few positive things about this team. Here is this week’s Takeaway Tuesday edition!

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David Irving, DeMarcus Lawrence Continue Dominance

Has Cowboys DT David Irving Become A Dominant Force?I can’t believe we’re talking about the Cowboys having something similar to a pass rush, but that’s exactly what they have shown us after six games. This team has made the right decision of keeping both on the field at the same time and that has paid off so far.

This season, the Cowboys have sacked the QB 21 times. There are only five teams in the NFL that have more. From those 21, DeMarcus Lawrence has 9.5, and David Irving (who has played only two games) has 3.

Both have also impacted the run game, too. That’s right. The Cowboys have two quality defensive linemen in their defense, and that’s more than enough reason to celebrate. The front office will have to find a way to keep them both in Dallas next offseason.

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Jonathan Cooper Is This Team’s Starting LG

The offensive line hasn’t been as dominant early in the season as we expected it to be. La’el Collins is progressing week after week at right tackle, but left guard has given the Cowboys a couple of headaches.

After giving a chance to both Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green in the first games of the year, I really believe Cooper should be this team’s LG1 and that Dallas should forget about the Chaz project at LG.

Chaz Green isn’t even a better guard than Cooper, and being as injury-prone as he is, I wouldn’t understand if this coaching staff insisted on playing 79.

John Owning on Twitter

Jonathan Cooper didn’t allow a pressure all game against SF, per PFF. Needs to be starter from here on out

Not only was Cooper great versus the pass rush last week, but he was excellent at run blocking, as the entire offensive line found its groove at the running game. Cooper should be this team’s starter at left guard. Period.

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Ezekiel Elliott Had The Game He Needed to Have

Speaking of the running game… what can I say about the show Ezekiel Elliott put on in San Francisco? It was more than epic. I will let the numbers speak for themselves:

  • 26 carries, 147 yards, 2 rushing touchdowns.
  • 1 reception, 72 yards, 1 receiving touchdown.

Ezekiel Elliott’s 219 yards performance was just what the Cowboys needed. Specifically, what he needed. There’s been a lot of criticism around Zeke for multiple reasons. Whether it’s the off-field drama or that he “lost a step”, “isn’t in shape”, or anything like that, Elliott could use some motivation.

Elliott is still a great running back, and a performance like this could get the Cowboys’ superstar to another level this season. After putting what was arguably best career game yet against the 49ers, you can bet on Zeke being hungry every week now.

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Reducing Jaylon Smith’s Snaps Is a Good Thing

Jaylon Smith’s career has been a crazy one so far. We were all excited about seeing 54 on the field this year and we were surprised to watch him play a lot early in the season… until we realized he was hurting this defense.

This obviously doesn’t mean that he won’t be a good player going forward, but forcing him to play as much as he could.

Last week, we saw a lot of Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens, who were together on the field for the first time in the season, and the snap count for Smith was reduced. He played in less than half of the Cowboys’ defensive snaps. We saw some flashes from Jaylon Smith in San Francisco, including a sack and a forced fumble.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Here’s Jaylon Smith’s first sack and forced fumble. https://t.co/Pu07our4FC

I like the idea of playing Jaylon less from now on. It’s good for the team, and you can use him in different ways to get him going throughout the game. When he is healthier and more prepared, unleash the beast!

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Rod Smith Should Be RB2

For my final takeaway, I wanted to go in a different direction. The Cowboys were beating the 49ers in such a way that we saw a lot of backups late in the game. Cooper Rush was in, and so was Rod Smith.

One of the debates Cowboys Nation has had this season is, who should be this team’s backup running back? Darren McFadden has surprisingly been inactive all year, letting Alfred Morris take care of the RB2 duties.

However, Rod Smith should be the backup running back for the Dallas Cowboys. The only thing Morris is probably better at, is experience. But the upside Smith would provide to this team as a long-term backup to Ezekiel Elliott should give 45 the edge.

RodSmith1 – Streamable

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On Sunday, he ran for 61 yards in eight carries and he seemed ready to play. Obviously, with the uncertainty of Zeke’s availability going forward, this is a more relevant matter than what it may seem.

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The Cowboys may have beaten an 0-7 team, but there are a lot of promising things for this football team. There’s a lot of football left to be played, and Dallas is on time to change their destiny and get to the playoffs. For now, on to the Washington Redskins.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Win VS 49ers” 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.

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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