The Dallas Cowboys shutout loss at the Indianapolis Colts was historic for all the wrong reasons, the first time this team's been blanked on the scoreboard since 2003 and a deflating end to a five game winning streak. The inability for the Cowboys to score culminated with Running Back Ezekiel Elliott carrying the ball just 18 times for 87 yards.
The Cowboys have won only two games this year when Elliott has less than 20 carries, though he was much more of a receiving threat in both outcomes over the Giants at home and Eagles on the road. Against the Colts, Elliott did catch seven passes, none of which went for a score of course - coupled with his fourth down stuff from the three yard line to negate an early Cowboys scoring attempt.
The impetus on the Cowboys scoring a point in their first of three chances at locking up the NFC East hardly falls on Elliott, but this doesn't make a statistic posted by his mother on Twitter any less amazing.
Ezekiel has been playing football since 2002 (ever since he was 7). It just occurred to me that Sunday was the first game, in his entire career, that the team he's played on didn't score.
The closest the Cowboys came to scoring on Sunday (blocked Brett Maher field goal attempt aside) at the Colts was the play before Elliott was tackled for a loss on fourth down. Fullback Jamize Olawale dropped a walk-in touchdown on a well designed play, putting the play in the books as nothing more than another that Elliott nor his Quarterback Dak Prescott could control.
The duo of Prescott and Elliott had accounted for a touchdown in all of their games together in Dallas, and you have to go back to September of 2015 to find the last collegiate game Elliott didn't score in. The third week of his final season at Ohio State, Elliott's Buckeyes managed to win 20-13 over Northern Illinois behind his 108 yards on 23 attempts.
Elliott not partaking in a shutout at any point in his football career before week 15 of his third professional season shows how maddening the Cowboys ebbs and flows on this side of the ball are. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan calling the plays, the Cowboys toe the line of overusing Elliott and forgetting about him at a rate that's already added pressure to their chance at winning the NFC East.
Linehan has fairly had to shoulder much of the blame for the Cowboys abysmal performance against Matt Eberflus' Colts defense, my own take on the matter summed up here:
"The talk of the league outside of "what happened to Dallas?" this week seems to be a much more global "what is going to happen in the NFC playoffs"? The Cowboys, Linehan included, would love to have something to say about both questions, yet have more than a large enough sample size of inept offense to see how things could go horribly wrong." - Matt Eberflus Exposed Cowboys Biggest Weakness for Playoff Run (12/19).
"OC responsible for keeping an Ezekiel Elliott offense scoreless for the first time ever," is hardly the latest revision Linehan wants to make to his resume considering the uncertainty of his job status at points earlier this season. Even listing such an "accomplishment" alongside another playoff appearance should have the Cowboys searching for an upgrade at Linehan's position this offseason.
The good news for the Cowboys is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to town this weekend, their last place red zone scoring defense a potential remedy for whatever it was that happened at Indianapolis. Elliott has faced the Bucs once in his career, ripping off a career-high 159 yards and - yes, a touchdown.
The Cowboys path back to proving their most recent loss is an anomaly that won't slow their drive towards the postseason feels simple. Having total confidence in the Cowboys offense after last week would be reckless, but so too is expecting Ezekiel Elliott to do anything less than assure Dallas himself they won't be shutout again while restarting this personal streak.
Add in a potential return from Right Guard Zack Martin and Left Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo against Tampa Bay, and the time is now for the Cowboys to lock up the division with a week to spare behind a hungrier-than-ever Elliott.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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