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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 @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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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

Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: WR Ryan Switzer Showed Flashes Vs. Eagles
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the Dallas Cowboys passing game faltered in 2017. Though never expected to throw for many yards, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys failed to maximize their attempts down the stretch. The passing game was simply inefficient and ineffective.

One reason the passing game took a step back was the disappearance of slot receiver Cole Beasley. Whether you blame defenses adjusting their coverages on third downs towards Beasley, Beasley growing another year older, or quarterback Dak Prescott, Beasley simply didn’t look like the same player in 2017.

In the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected a wide out who many anticipate could replace Beasley, in time. Rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer rarely got chances to make an impact on offense this season, designated as the return man for much of the year. With Cole Beasley out for the season finale, however, Switzer got his chance to make a name for himself.

While the numbers were far from gaudy, Ryan Switzer showed some things we should be excited about for the future.

dalvsphi2018 switzer – Streamable

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

Ryan Switzer’s first target came on a third down — something Cowboys Nation should get used to heading into 2018. Switzer is lined up inside in trips on the near-side of the formation. The Eagles show man coverage pre-snap, and with just one safety over top and the other rotated down on top of Jason Witten, it is clear to Dak Prescott they plan to bring some pressure.

As soon as Prescott gets the snap, his eyes go to Ryan Switzer.

The cornerback plays Switzer with inside leverage, refusing to be beat with a hot slant route. Switzer instead keeps the defender on his back hip and creates separation with an out-breaking route.

Prescott delivers the ball towards the sideline where the defender can’t catch up to it, and Switzer comes away with the first down.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 2 – Streamable

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

Later in the game, we once again see Ryan Switzer targeted from this inside-alignment.

Switzer is a pretty prototypical slot receiver, and if used correctly he should win in man coverage situations often. The cornerback attempts to maintain inside leverage on Switzer and get physical at the top of his route. Ryan Switzer does a nice job of fighting through that physicality and crossing the defender’s face over the middle. He flashes open pretty quickly, and Prescott delivers a strike for the completion.

If Switzer can create this type of separation often, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be a focus of the offense in 2018.

dalvsphi2018 switzer 3 – Streamable

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

Switzer’s third target is actually an incompletion, but it is worth studying, regardless. Switzer is in the slot on the far side and the Cowboys once again are in trips alignment. The cornerback over Switzer is in man coverage, but gives him room to breathe at the line of scrimmage.

Switzer exploits the cornerback — who is cheating to the inside — with his footwork and route running. He gets to the sticks, breaks to the outside, and creates enough separation for a first-down completion. Prescott delivers the ball a bit late and behind Switzer, causing an incompletion instead.

I’d still like to see Switzer adjust to the ball and make this catch, but I put more of the blame for this play on Prescott.

With a full offseason to work within the offensive system, as well as to develop chemistry with quarterback Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer will prove to be an important piece to the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer's Good Game 1
AP Photo / Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys put an end to a long, long season last Sunday after they defeated the Eagles in Philadelphia in a game that had absolutely no meaning for either team. Surprisingly, the Cowboys played with their healthy starters most of the game, but were barely able to put six points on the board, which were enough to take the win home.

The Cowboys might’ve lost more than what they actually won, and most of the fans were unhappy with the victory. Despite it being a pretty boring football game, we still learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys.

The season’s finally over. It wasn’t easy, but we’re still here. Here’s to 2018. Let’s hope it’s a good one for our Cowboys. Here’s this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday!

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Coaching Staff Didn’t Help Its Cause

It’s more than fair to say that a lot of us want to see changes in Dallas. And specifically, changes in the coaching staff. After the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett’s job was not an issue. Now, Jerry’s even talking about Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan being back in 2018. Who knows if it’s true.

While I don’t think we’ll see a new head coach anytime soon, I’d dare say that after the horrible game versus Philadelphia the front office at least got to thinking.

Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, HC Jason Garrett

Coming into this game, the team had a choice to make: play with the starters to win it, or let guys like Cooper Rush in the game and see what happens. A loss would’ve meant a better draft position for the Cowboys and a chance to see what rookies and other young players could bring to the table.

But they decided to manage the game like it was a “real action” game. Being conservative. Not going for it when there was nothing to lose. They did so after a team that, with the NFC’s #1 seed secured, basically played with its B team. Not only that but for the Eagles, most of the game was played by a third string QB.

Despite all this, the Cowboys could hardly beat the Eagles 6-0. Poor execution and all, I can’t help thinking about the coaches.

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Cowboys Should Keep Datone Jones for 2018

In late November, the Dallas Cowboys signed Datone Jones after he was released by the San Francisco 49ers. The former Packers’ first-round pick made an impact when he was given the chance. His play at DT was pretty solid and he showed very promising flashes.

DatoneJones – Streamable

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Jones will be under contract in 2018 and I’d be surprised if the Cowboys don’t keep him another year. Per Over The Cap, he’ll be paid $790,000 next year which isn’t at all expensive for a 27-year-old player.

The Cowboys would add depth and even a potential starter at DT for next season.

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Ryan Switzer Can Play as a Wide Receiver

With Cole Beasley missing the game because of an illness, we finally got to see Ryan Switzer at WR. We had already seen good things from him as a kick returner, but on offense, he hasn’t been as involved as Cowboys Nation expected him to be.

Last Sunday though, Switzer was used for more than a jet sweep.

SwitzerWR – Streamable

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

He still has a long way to go, but I was impressed by his ability to create separation. I really hope he’s used more next season.

At the end of the day, he’s a fourth-round pick. He should be playing more on offense, not just on “gadget plays” or special teams. Could Ryan Switzer be Dak Prescott’s best friend in the future? Only time will tell. Right now, it’s too optimistic to expect something like that.

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Dan Bailey’s Confidence is Shattered

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey’s 2017 season hasn’t been easy at all. We’ve seen him miss kicks we never imagined he would, including extra points. One of the most painful moments of the Cowboys’ season came late in the season finale when he lined up to kick a simple 20-yard field goal.

The ball went up, but failed to split the uprights. Dan Bailey stood in complete disbelief, with a blank look in his face. His confidence, shattered.

For kickers, it’s all about confidence.

For years, we referred to Dan “Automatic” Bailey as the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Now we’re not sure about calling him “Automatic” anymore. Bailey will have a lot of time to pick himself up though, and will probably be back at it next year.

Let’s hope that’s the case.

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For now, the only thing left to say is one of the most encouraging, yet sad phrases in sports… Maybe next year. We’re on to the offseason.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Datone Jones Should Be Back, Switzer’s Good Game” 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

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Starters Produce Uninspiring Week 17 Win

Playing more than enough of their starters in hopes of ending this 2017 season on a high note at the Eagles, the Cowboys produced a lackluster 6-0 win that will surely leave a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys Nation – despite it being a victory.

The win put the Cowboys at 9-7 on the season, and it is a shame they had nothing to play for in this regular season finale. Once again in week 17, it was the offense holding back another fantastic performance by Rod Marinelli’s defense.

We’ll discuss both units in this final 2017 Dallas Cowboys version of Sean’s Scout.

  • You have to love the way Chidobe Awuzie was able to bring physicality to a young Cowboys secondary that had another solid game. 

There were times earlier in this season when it seemed the Cowboys’ second-round pick would have a lost season due to multiple hamstring injuries, but Awuzie quickly tuned around his rookie campaign by coming in and playing with exceptional technique and awareness.

With enough length to turn and run, Awuzie thrived in this zone scheme by keeping everything in front of him, as he did on his interception of Nick Foles. With Dallas in Cover 2 on the play, Chidobe read Foles’ eyes the whole time to the boundary and was in position to cut off the pass.

This is a topic we’ll now have much more time to discuss, and it is a hollowing one considering it was truly the Cowboys offense that kept them from the playoffs this season. The need for new talent at WR is clear, but the need for a target that better suits Prescott’s strengths going into year three is even more important.

His pass catchers, along with inconsistencies in pass protection, were the main reasons Prescott struggled in 2017, although in this game it seemed like the only time he was affected in the pocket was when forcing the ball late to Bryant.

Coming from a spread system in college, Prescott simply does not have experience throwing his receivers open — relying on route combinations and separation ability to hit open targets. Dez Bryant hasn’t been that type of player through his career, and certainly isn’t now that he’s lost a step.

  • 9 wins for a team unlike their usual selves up front offensively is still pretty impressive. 

The Cowboys got nearly no impact from any of their free agent signings this season, which is why the depth of the team held them back once again. Veteran Byron Bell was brought in as a backup swing tackle, but he is simply not a scheme fit at tackle here.

Dak Prescott should not have been playing with Bell as his LT, and eventually Joe Looney at LG after Jonathan Cooper went down.

Bell lacks the quick-twitch ability and athleticism needed to be successful on every down, and it showed as he was again beaten by both speed and power against the Eagles.

The Cowboys have proven their acumen drafting young OL talent that performs at a high level early and often. So, instead of relying on more free agents, like Bell and Looney, drafting talent up front to spark the running game and give Prescott adequate protection is likely the best answer.

  • Ryan Switzer’s ability to separate late in the down really stood out, as he finally got his chance at WR without Cole Beasley

Growing calls for more of Ryan Switzer on offense will surely take root this offseason after he caught four passes for 32 yards in the absence of Cole Beasley yesterday. More of a one-speed player at North Carolina, Switzer’s spacial awareness and smoothness in giving Prescott somewhere to throw the ball as plays developed was really impressive.

In order to be a great team at the NFL Draft, you have to accurately scout your own roster. It will be fascinating to see just how the Cowboys feel about their current pass catchers, with not only Ryan Switzer but the likes of Lance Lenoir and practice squad addition K.D. Cannon in the fold as well.

  • The Cowboys found themselves a valuable addition to their rotation at DT with Datone Jones. 

Jones was able to push the pocket throughout this game in Philadelphia, and has done so consistently since getting here, at both the 1T and 3T positions. Using his hands to generate power as a down-the-line player, Jones plays with great pad level. That allows him to shoot gaps when needed, or anchor the line of scrimmage.

The Cowboys have not prioritized adding premier talent at DT in recent years, and may forego it again this offseason as well. The Cowboys expect Maliek Collins to contribute further with another season at 1T and David Irving back at 3T.

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To everybody who made this 2017 season at Inside The Star as enjoyable as ever, I would like to thank the readers of Sean’s Scout. All this aspiring scout can ask for is to enhance the fan experience through both wins and losses, and your feedback on this series helped me to confidently do just that.

As we prepare for an even better 2018, Sean’s Scout won’t be going anywhere! I’m shifting my full attention towards the NFL Draft, looking for prospects that could help the Dallas Cowboys reach the playoffs again next season.

Thank you for another roller-coaster ride we call football season, Cowboys Nation. Truly the best fans anywhere.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Starters Uninspiring in Week 17 Win” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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