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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Scandrick Shines, Switzer Raises Questions

Mauricio Rodriguez



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 @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.

  • 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

#DALvsCIN: Bengals DL Gives Cowboys OL Formidable Test

Kevin Brady



The Star News - Bengals At Cowboys: ITS Staff Picks And Notes
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

During their preseason opener, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line faced its first test of the season. The young, athletic, and downright talented defensive line of the 49ers gave the Cowboys starting five a chance to gauge their offseason progress thus far.

I'd say the starting group passed the test, while the backups and depth players looked a bit more shaky. The good thing about football, though, is that they get a shot to do it all again this Saturday.

This week's opponent, the Cincinatti Bengals, feature some serious talent upfront. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the best interior defenders in all of football, terrorizing centers and guards since he entered the league.Carl Lawson, Auburn

On the edge is one of my 2017 draft favorites, Carl Lawson. Lawson was a draft target of mine for the Cowboys, but it appears the entire league missed on the stud edge rusher during that draft. During his rookie season a year ago, Lawson racked up 8.5 sacks and looked like the best rookie rusher in all of football. It's rare that a rookie defensive end tallies the sack total that Lawson did in 2017, but then again, Lawson is a rare type of player.

Opposite of Carl Lawson is veteran pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. Together, Atkins and Dunlap have been one of the more dangerous pass rush duos for quite some time, but the additions of Lawson and Jordan Willis make them an incredibly impressive group.

During the Bengals' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, their defensive line looked to be in midseason form.

Though Geno Atkins had the team's only sack, the trio of Atkins, Lawson, and Dunlap looked as prolific as ever.

This deep and talented defensive line is a more-than worthy test for the Cowboys this Saturday. Rookie Connor Williams will likely have to block Geno Atkins at some point, and though he looked promising against the 49ers, this week presents a whole different challenge.

Many now expect veteran center Travis Frederick to miss Saturday's game as well, due to his shoulder troubles during training camp. If Frederick were to miss the start, Joe Looney would be thrown into the first against this first team defensive front of the Bengals.

A rookie at left guard and Looney at center might not be the best ingredients against Geno Atkins and company, but it'll be what they have to roll with.

Still, Saturday will give us another chance to see what the 2018 Dallas Cowboys offensive line is all about.

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Game Notes

Film Review: Connor Williams Overall Impressive In Preseason Debut

Kevin Brady



Film Review: Connor Williams Overall Impressive In Preseason Debut

The collapse of the 2017 Dallas Cowboys can be, in large part, attributed to the collapse of their offensive line. When left tackle Tyron Smith was forced to miss time with various injuries, neither Chaz Green nor Byron Bell could get the job done in his place. Not only were these two replacements unsatisfactory, however, they were disastrous.

From the beginning of the 2017 season the Cowboys had a problem at left guard as well. With Ronald Leary departing for Denver and La'el Collins replacing Doug Free at right tackle, the left guard spot was left to an open competition between Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green. Quite frankly, neither was impressive.

As a result Dak Prescott's sophomore season was nowhere near as fun or remarkable as his rookie season, and the Cowboys faltered down the stretch as a team. Trying to rectify these issues, Dallas drafted Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams in the second round of last year's draft.

Though it could be argued that, on paper, the Cowboys had more pressing needs than their All-Pro filled offensive line, adding a player like Connor Williams was exactly what this team needed to do if it wanted to emulate its 2016 success.

So, through one preseason game, how does the rookie look? Let's take to the film to decide just how good (or bad) Connor Williams was in his debut.

dalvssf2018 connor williams

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Let's begin with the bad. Really the only completely poor rep of the night for Connor Williams came on the first drive of the game. Williams is working against former first round pick DeForest Buckner here. Buckner, lined up as the 3 technique over Williams' outside shoulder, knows he is in a one-on-one situation with the rookie.

Buckner immediately swipes Williams' hands down, quickly flipping his hips and getting upfield. Besides not getting a strong enough punch, Williams' biggest mistake is that he stops his feet on contact. This allows Buckner to get him off balance, forcing Williams to bend at the waist and look lost.

Buckner then blows by him for the easy quarterback hit.

dalvssf2018 connor williams 2

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Later on the same drive we see Williams struggle to execute a reach block. Once again Williams is faced with a 3-technique, this time defensive tackle Sheldon Day. Day gets a great get-off, beating Williams initially with his first step. Day then does a great job of stoning Williams' playside shoulder and redirecting the running back.

This is another example of Connor Williams needing to increase his play strength and speed a bit. Multiple Cowboys reporters at training camp have mentioned these issues with Williams' game, and they flashed on tape during this rep.

Thankfully for both Connor Williams and the Cowboys, things only went uphill from here.

dalvssf2018 connor williams 3

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On Dak Prescott's touchdown pass to Michael Gallup we see Connor Williams correct everything he had wrong earlier.

Williams comes out of his stance square, delivers a solid punch, and stones the defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. Williams stays strong with his hands even as the defender attempts to swipe them down as Buckner successfully did earlier.

He allows for no interior pass rush and keeps Prescott's vision clear down the field.

dalvssf2018 connor williams 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Earlier on the same drive we see Connor Williams work well off a double team and on to the second level. Williams delivers a solid punch to the 1-technique on the inside of him, allowing Travis Frederick plenty of time to overtake the man and drive him back.

What's most impressive, though, is how Williams keeps his shoulders square and his eyes on the second level the entire time. He never buries his head or over-commits to the down lineman, allowing himself to be an athlete and help spring Rod Smith for a nice gain.

Despite some legit reasons for concern about Williams' game, I do believe he will be fine moving forward. Connor Williams is an excellent plug and play left guard who provides some tackle depth as well, and is a vital addition to the Cowboys 2018 offense. His debut performance gives all of us even more reasons to be excited about this offensive line.

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Game Notes

What We May Have Learned From the Cowboys Week 1 Preseason Loss

Brian Martin



5 Things We Might Have Learned From Cowboys Preseason Week 1

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately came out on the losing end of the battle in their first preseason contest against the San Francisco 49ers, despite pretty much dominating the majority of the game. The good news is it was just an exhibition game and means relatively nothing in regards to the upcoming 2018 season.

Last week was the first chance for a lot of us to see what this years Dallas Cowboys team could possibly look like. There was a lot of roster turnover this offseason, which means there were quite a few new faces on the field for the Cowboys Thursday night. But, I can't say that I was disappointed in what I saw, at least so far.

Now that I've had time to study and evaluate the Dallas Cowboys game against the 49ers, I wanted to share with all of you some of the things we may have learned. Up until this point we were left speculating about certain things, but I think the picture is much clearer now.

To keep myself from going overboard here, I decided to narrow it down to just five things I think we may have learned about the 2018 Dallas Cowboys last Thursday night. Continue to read below to see what they are.

✭ Rookie WR Michael Gallup the Real Deal✭

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

With so much unknown surrounding the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver position, it was really good to see rookie WR Michael Gallup play well against the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night. Despite being a rookie, Gallup looked like the best WR on the field for either team. I don't believe I'm exaggerating the slightest either.

The highlight of the game might have been when he and Quarterback Dak Prescott were able to hook up on a 30 yard touchdown pass to close out the Cowboys first offensive series. Gallup might have scored a second TD later in the game if QB Cooper Rush's pass wouldn't have been under thrown. But, that's neither here nor there now. If Gallup continues to play like he did Thursday night, he could easily be the Cowboys top WR in 2018.

✭ Blake Jarwin Favorite to Replace Jason Witten✭

Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TEs Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim

Geoff Swaim may have gotten the start and provided some good blocking Thursday night against the 49ers, but it was Blake Jarwin who may have ended up becoming the favorite to replace Jason Witten this season. Out of all of the options in the receiving game for the Dallas Cowboys, it was Jarwin who was on the receiving end of Dak Prescott's first pass of the game. And, if he hadn't had stepped out of bounds later in the game he would've found himself in the end zone.

Now, it's a little early in the process to claim Jarwin as the victor in the Cowboys TE competition, but he was able to carry over what he's been doing in practice into the game. That's no small feat to accomplish. I'm sure we'll see some of the other TEs on the roster receive opportunities to prove themselves, but for now, it's looking as if it could be Blake Jarwin's job to lose.

✭ Tavon Austin More Than a "Gadget" Player✭

Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon

Dallas Cowboys RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon Austin

When the Dallas Cowboys traded for Tavon Austin earlier in the offseason no one really knew exactly what kind of offensive role they had in mind for him. Since arriving in Dallas, Austin has been described as a "web-back", but that made things even more confusing because it sounded like a made up position. The only thing anybody really knew is that Austin has been mostly a "gadget" player since entering the NFL.

I know it was just Week 1 of the preseason, but if Thursday night was any indication of how the Cowboys plan to use Austin, then he will be more than a "gadget" player this season. Austin didn't line up in the backfield or receive any handoffs. He didn't even return any punts or kickoffs against the 49ers. The only thing he did do was lineup at WR and run routes. His role could change and expand later, but it looks as if he will be more involved offensively than we had originally thought.

✭ DE Taco Charlton Looks Much Improved in Year 2✭

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

The Dallas Cowboys defense may not have recorded a single quarterback sack Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers, but they did put consistent pressure on the opposing QBs. One of those pass rushers to consistently pressure the QB was the Cowboys second-year Defensive End Taco Charlton, who looks like an entirely different player this year. He was getting after the QB, making tackles, and deflecting passes.

Charlton is starting to look more and more like the first-round draft pick the Cowboys were hoping he would be last year. He looks bigger, stronger, faster, and more technique sound than he did a season ago, which should be good news for the pass rush this season. He also showed that his knowledge of the game has improved. Last season he would've been fooled by some of those bootlegs, but it doesn't look to be the case now.

✭LB Depth No Longer a Concern✭

Joe Thomas

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas

The Dallas Cowboys played the entire game against the 49ers Thursday night without Sean Lee, their best defensive player. Unfortunately, it may have provided a glimpse of what we could see at some point during the 2018 season since #50 has a problem of remaining healthy. The good news is, it looks like the Cowboys have covered themselves for such scenario.

Yes, all eyes were on Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch against the 49ers Thursday night, and rightfully so. Both players didn't do anything to disappoint, but it was the Cowboys free agent addition, Joe Thomas, who stole the show. Thomas was filling in for Sean Lee and did an outstanding job doing so. He was all over the field and even ended up getting an interception off a Kavon Frazier deflection. The way all the Cowboys LBs played should ease any concerns with the depth of the position heading into the 2018 season.

What stood out for you in the Dallas Cowboys game against the 49ers?

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