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Takeaway Tuesday: Switzer and Woods Shine, Coaching Becoming a Concern

Mauricio Rodriguez

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For the Dallas Cowboys, things are far from being ideal. After suffering blowout losses in two consecutive weeks, there're a lot of things to think about. At this point, making the playoffs at all would be a huge surprise for a team that's suffered a lot of problems.

It isn't easy watching our favorite team, which was one of the unquestioned favorites to contend for the Super Bowl in 2017, be at the .500 mark with five wins and five losses. A team that right now, doesn't look promising at all and will probably miss the playoffs after being the #1 NFC seed with a 13-3 record less than a year ago.

But here we are, as we should always be. Win, lose or tie, we will always root for the Star. Having said so, here are this week's takeaways!

Ryan Switzer Shines in Special Teams

"Bad" would be an understatement when describing how last Sunday night went. But, let's start this article off with a positive note. Rookie Ryan Switzer had himself a good game versus the Eagles, including a 61-yard opening kickoff return.

Switzer15 - Streamable

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Thanks to Switzer, the Cowboys were able to put three points on the board and take the early lead. While things didn't turn out the way we wanted after that, credit can't be taken away from the rookie returner.

Sometimes, in positions like this, confidence boosts can make a huge difference. Switzer also had other good plays, and this might be just what he needed. He's a player we definitely need to keep an eye on.

Anthony Brown Is a Big Concern

Remember when we were so excited for the sixth-round pick Anthony Brown? His rookie season was more than impressive and it looked like there was a future shut-down cornerback in town.

Life comes at you fast.

So far, Brown hasn't had anything close to a good year, and to be honest, there's not a lot of reasons to be hopeful. He's been burnt by a lot of receivers so far, and we're at a point where we have to have a conversation about #30.

brown - Streamable

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Is it time to downgrade Brown? It may sound extreme, but with young players like Awuzie and Lewis, it would be interesting to give these players opportunities to fight for the starting jobs.

If the season continues to slip out of the Cowboys' hands, competition would be good for this group of guys.

Xavier Woods Should Remain This Team's Starting Safety

After Jeff Heath was ruled out with a concussion last Sunday, it was Xavier Woods' time to shine. Although the Eagles ultimately soared over this Sean Lee-less defense, we did see some promising things.

From the moment Woods was drafted, many of us believed he would end the year having earned the starting role from Jeff Heath. And I truly think he's about to take over.

Woods - Streamable

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This is an example of why Woods should be starting at safety. He brings a unique play-making ability to the table. Notice how he takes away the running back's route just before running towards Wentz to make the stop.

He's done a good job just about every time he's on the field. To be fair, Jeff Heath hasn't done a lot to keep his job and it'd be good for this defense if the coaching staff finally gives the rookie safety the nod.

Running Game Wasn't as Impressive as Stats Say

Life without Ezekiel Elliott continues, as the Cowboys have lost both games they've played without him so far. In neither of the two games has the offense truly worked at all. 

However, the Dallas Cowboys finished the game with over 100 yards rushing, including 91 from back-up running back Alfred Morris. Those are some pretty numbers, considering Zeke isn't on the field.

However, although I hate to be the one with the pessimist takes, I believe the stats lie regarding the running game from this team. Sure, Morris eclipsed the 100-yard mark but was he consistent enough? My answer is no.

Morris - Streamable

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Although Morris had a couple of big gains, the longest one being for 22 yards, the truth is the Cowboys weren't able to establish the run. To me, it felt a lot like 2015.

There were a couple of long runs which bulked up the stats, but there wasn't anything close to a running game that you can trust for those "third-and-short" sort of plays.

I still believe that Rod Smith and Darren McFadden should be given more opportunities to compete for Morris' job, and I think it would bring nothing but good things for this offense.

The Coaching Staff May Be In Jeopardy

Is Jason Garrett The Root Of The Cowboys Problem? 2I've repeatedly said that I'm not a part of the "Fire Garrett" or the "Fire Everyone" team.

Even still, every time I lean more towards this side of Cowboys Nation. This year specifically, the Cowboys have been out-coached pretty often.

Jason Garrett is a solid head coach, but I'm not sure if this is what this team needs anymore. If the Cowboys finish the season with an 8-8 record or worse, (which is not unlikely at all) I think that next offseason is when we'll see a change.

With the talent that this team has, it won't get any worse than this season. If Jerry Jones and company want to make a change, this is the year to do it.

As for the coordinators, I think that Rod Marinelli should be held accountable for the defensive struggles this team has had and a change of scheme would do nothing but good for a defense full of athletic players.

Although I also would be open for a change at the offensive coordinator position, I won't be surprised if the amount of talent this team has on offense will save Scott Linehan's job.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Switzer and Woods Shine, Coaching Becoming a Concern" 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.

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10 Comments
  • Gregory Williams

    I agree about the running game McFadden and Smith should be given more carries and the coaching is terrible, I know Brown is struggling, but it just seems to me when a young player technique is in question that is coaching, bring Deion Sanders to work with on his technique

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Fair. It’d be an amazing story, Sanders coming to Dallas and helping these young players. Let’s hope Brown works on his technique and continues to improve. Thank you for reading, Gregory!

  • Hammer33

    Woods shined? What game were you watching young man. Pay attention at what is happening on the field and not your own personal agenda.

    Actually, why not consider a different career. You suck at this.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Hey there, good afternoon, young man. I stand by it. I know it’s difficult to evaluate a player when the team as a whole struggles and is defeated 39-7, but Woods stood out a few times on tape. He had a good game and should continue as this team’s starter, IMO.
      Thank you for the suggestion, but I love my job. Thanks for reading!

      • Hammer33

        If you think he showed up maybe you should let me point out a few things. He doesn’t move to the ball, he was a bystander. You would think that given the opportunity at hand we would have heard his name called. As many callers to local radio pointed out, we did not. Heath’s rookie start resulted in 9 tackles, a forced fumble and he ran megatron down from behind about at about 60 yards.

        Add to the fact that after taking a poor run fit on a play tat went for over 60 yards on the ground he was seen with a wide ass grin on tv, I’d say he has a way to go. And I don’t remember woods catching up to a middle of the road running back.

        You want woods to replace Heath, fine. You don’t have the facts to do so.

        You can love your job. You’re just not any good at it.

        • Mauricio Rodriguez

          Well, I do think Woods would be better on this defense than Heath. Not that I’m hating on Heath but I’m not making a decision like this by how both players did on their respective first career starts. I’d rather take a look at what 38 has contributed this year, which frankly, isn’t much.

          You can hate my job. That’s what opinions are for, no offense taken.

          • Hammer33

            A little more info for you. Heath is the number one graded dB by the coaches. They like him, they trust him and he has the trust of his teammates.

            He’s very sound in zone. And regardless of missed tackles on occasion, which everyone in the NFL seems guilty of, he’s active against the run.

            Since you like to refer to film, then watch all of it. Everyone can pick a play out here or there to make a point, which you have done. But there’s more to it. Also, you don’t know what Heath or anyone is being asked to do, that that’s also conjecture on your part.

            Believe me, I’ve made a living for 30 years at all levels of this game by being able to break down film. I know a little bit about it. If you were just a casual fan I would say nothing about it. But you’re putting articles on web sites that people read. Work on your objectivity and your accuracy. Try not to be just another ignorant fan..

  • Lee Bigtree Walker

    Jason garrett is not a solid coach. Linehan playcalling is plain as rain.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I do think we’ll see some changes in the coaching staff soon. Thanks for reading, Lee!

  • Jorge Gonzalez

    With all respect everyone talks about Morris was not consistent and they tell me about presscot he had to show that this is done, if he wants to win something important it’s time to show it, come see Aron Rodgers with less offensive line and making a great job, I expected something similar from Dak but I see that it will be another blunt Tony that never led us to win something important

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

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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

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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

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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

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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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