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Takeaway Tuesday: Scandrick Shines, Switzer Raises Questions

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Scandrick Shines, Switzer Raises Questions

The Dallas Cowboys finally won two games in a row for the first time this year, improving to a 4-3 record, and beating the Washington Redskins on their own turf. It wasn't the prettiest of wins, as the Cowboys did have to catch a break or two in order to take the W home.

And just when things started to look good for this football team, Ezekiel Elliott was denied a preliminary injunction and is expected to start serving his six-game suspension this week. 

It's been a season full of adversity, and it just continues to get tougher. The Cowboys have a tough schedule ahead of them, and missing one of their biggest stars certainly won't help. We are about to learn what this Dallas Cowboys team is made of, but for now, here are this week's takeaways from the Cowboys' fourth win of the season!

Orlando Scandrick Still Has It, Has Season Best Performance

Orlando ScandrickLast Sunday, we got to see vintage Orlando Scandrick! We saw the veteran CB play like his 2014 self in the preseason, and now we saw his best game of the regular season yet. He excelled on defense and special teams and was a key contributor on the win.

During the most important play of the game, Tyrone Crawford blocked a field goal which would've extended the Redskins' lead to 16-7. Orlando Scandrick picked up the ball and returned it all the way for a Cowboys' first and goal, and the Cowboys took the lead 14-13, swinging the momentum in their favor.

Scandrick also was very good in coverage and ended the game with 7 solo tackles and a tackle for a loss. Orlando's most physical game of the season left us very excited to see him on that field again. Will he continue to dominate as he did versus the Redskins?

Ryan Switzer Has a Very Long Way to Go

Cowboys' rookie WR Ryan Switzer has arguably been misused by this organization. It feels like Dallas has only used Switzer on special teams and for gadget plays on offense. The rookie out of North Carolina could be doing more for this team.

Switzer has only two targets and two receptions through seven games. A fourth-round draft pick shouldn't be treated as a "Lucky Whitehead" type of player.

On the other hand, 10 hasn't been as effective on special teams as we expected him to be. He's made some questionable decisions, such as kneeling at the 14-yard line in a kickoff return.

Mike Leslie on Twitter

Jason Garrett says Ryan Switzer did do what he was supposed to do on the kickoff return, by kneeling. No blocking set up due to poss. onside

Garrett defended the rookie on this specific play, but it sure was a weird call by Switz.

Throughout the game, Switzer made some other mistakes while fielding punts. He might be what the Cowboys need on special teams, but he's shown that he has a long way to go, which is kind of disappointing, for a big part of Cowboys Nation expected him to make an instant impact on this team.

Brice Butler, Cole Beasley Need More Targets

It's been surprising to see how little Cole Beasley has been involved in this offense throughout seven games. After being such a big part of the passing game last year, we have seen close to nothing from ol' Bease.

Every week, we expect Beasley to see more targets. And it seems every week, we're disappointed. Against the Redskins he only caught two passes before being ruled out with a concussion.

Cole Beasley

For the second consecutive week, Brice Butler hasn't been targeted. After having a few big plays, and after some poor plays by Terrance Williams, some of us expected to see a lot more from Butler, but that hasn't been the case at all.

Naturally, Cole Beasley's lack of involvement is way more surprising than Butler's, but I wonder if the Cowboys will try to target these two guys more often, specially with Ezekiel Elliott out for six games.

Ezekiel Elliott Will Be Deeply Missed

If Ezekiel Elliott Must Sit, The Time is NowWith Ezekiel Elliott expected to serve a six-game suspension, the Cowboys will have to put their famous RB committee to the test. Alfred Morris, who's been this team's RB2 so far will probably get the nod, although there's no doubt in my mind that the Cowboys will give Darren McFadden and Rod Smith the chance to compete for the starting running back role.

Whoever starts at RB, the Cowboys will miss Ezekiel Elliott. Sure, this offensive line is pretty good, and with decent guys playing the position, the running game shouldn't be a very big concern.

But truth be told, it's won't be the same. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best in the league, and the Cowboys will have to rely heavily on Dak Prescott to pull off some incredible wins versus a lot of tough opponents.

After a "slow" start to the season, Ezekiel Elliott had had awesome performances in the last couple of weeks, and he was just getting started. But now, we'll have to wait for him to come back.

The Dallas Cowboys Need To Do More

The Cowboys have won two games in a row, but they can be much better. Versus the 49ers, things could've gotten ugly if they hadn't forced a fumble right after the offense's first drive of the game, which resulted on a three and out.

Of course, Dallas ended up with a blowout victory on the road, but things could've been much different.

Sean's Scout: Zeke's Big Day, Defensive Line Dominance Carry Cowboys To Win

Last Sunday, the Cowboys were facing a very beaten-up Redskins team, and until Crawford blocked that FG, things weren't going as good as they should have. A fumble later by Washington led to this game being on complete control of the Cowboys, but if that hadn't happened, who knows what the outcome would've been.

I'm not by any means saying that the Cowboys shouldn't have won the game, but this team needs to do more to avoid these situations. There're tough games ahead of this Dallas Cowboys football team, and those kinds of mistakes can be killers on close matchups which Prescott will have to win for his team.

There are nine games left, and the Cowboys' season is far from over. Adversity makes teams in the NFL improve. Can Dallas overcome that adversity? We're about to find out.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Scandrick Shines, Switzer Raises Questions" 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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2 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    Switzer also let 2 punts bounce rather than call fair catch, costing the offense a lot of yards each time. Either he, coaches or both were very worried about him fumbling with the ball that wet.

    Fortunately games in the rain are infrequent, or a player like that couldn’t take up a roster spot. He is effectively Beasley’s backup on offense, so he will play about as much as Cooper Rush…

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      You bring up a good point mentioning the weather. I’d like to see more of him, though. As you said, he’s basically Beasley’s backup, but we all talked in the offseason about this offense exploring having 10 and 11 on the field at the same time. I wish the Cowboys used him in different ways.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.

Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
  • DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
  • DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
  • G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable

The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.

Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.

The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.

Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.

Atlanta Falcons

  • LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT

It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.

The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.

So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.

As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.

The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.

It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.

Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.

Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.

If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.

The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.

In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.

Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.

It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.

The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.

Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

Do Or Die: Chidobe Awuzie Must Improve Sunday, Or Cowboys Season Could End

Kevin Brady

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Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys' Defense?

Coming into the season there was a lot of hype surrounding the Dallas Cowboys' cornerbacks. With Byron Jones moving from safety full time, and now second year player Chidobe Awuzie playing opposite Jones after a promising rookie season, there was a lot for Cowboys fans to be excited about.

Through the first 10 weeks of the year, though, only one of those two has maintained fans' excitement. While Byron Jones has been arguably the best cornerback in all of football, Chidobe Awuzie has been damn-near an automatic completion when thrown at.

Awuzie has a -5.8 coverage rating this season, 65th among cornerbacks in the NFL. Coverage rating is a metric which factors in how often a cornerback is targeted as well as how many passes they've defensed per target. Quarterbacks also have a 116.6 passer rating when targeting Awuzie, compared to just 64.5 when targeting Byron Jones. For comparisons sake, Jones' coverage rating is a +45! So you can see why "cornerback opposite of Jones" is becoming a need for the Cowboys.

What's perplexing about Awuzie's season, though, is that he is only giving up an average 0.95 yards of separation, 27th in the league (courtesy of playerprofiler.com). So while Awuzie is playing relatively sticky coverage, he's still being targeted often, and he's still allowing completions way too often.

This week, Chidobe Awuzie will be tested once again, this time by the dynamic passing game of the Atlanta Falcons. The match-up many fans are focusing on is that between Byron Jones and Julio Jones, but how Awuzie does against Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu may play a bigger factor in the result.

Both Ridley and Sanu are solid supporting receivers, and considering how much attention the defense typically has to pay to Julio Jones, they tend to get man coverage often. This allows for a precise route runner like Ridley to take advantage of opportunities, and come away with the types of big plays we've seen from him this year.

When matched up with either of these weapons, Awuzie will need to continue to stay close, but play and defense the ball better. He must continue to make it hard on these receivers and force them into contested catches, but hopefully he can improve on his play when the ball gets to the catch point.

Sunday will be another big test for the Cowboys' young defense. And as well as they have played most weeks, this game has the potential to be a season ender if certain guys do not step up. One of those guys who will certainly play a key role in influencing the result in Chidobe Awuzie.



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