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The Dallas Cowboys Off Season Roadmap

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We here at A Cowboy Nation have been asked to participate in a MVN project called Off Season Road Map. The Cowboys Road Map is and has been pretty clear since failing to make the playoffs last year. However this project is focusing on the top three positions of need. As stated here in an earlier post, the needs have not changed!

Tops on the Cowboys agenda (as far as players go) this off-season is a tie! Position 1a I would say is the need for a quality veteran back up quarterback! And do not even try to tell me that we have that with Brooks Bollinger! Do not get me wrong he is a serviceable QB, but in no way shape or form is he a guy that can come in at a moments notice and produce enough to win games. This team needs a guy like Steve Beuerlein was in the 1992 season, backing up Troy Aikman. Now I realize that that may be a tough chore, but they can get better than what we have.

Position 1B is a position that we have been complaining about for years now, at least me anyhow! Safety, now all you dirty Sooners need to just shut up already! This guy is terrible and has been terrible for a looooong time. All he has ever been is a hard hitter. Now notice I said "hard hitter" and not "a great tackler". He has never been worth a crap at tackling, or being able to cover anyone with a number not in the 70's! The only way he ever got any accolades is by laying the thunder on someone, and now he sucks at that too! This team needs a "ball hawking", cover safety, with the ability to TACKLE!

Position 3 is simply this, a run stuffing nose tackle! He would not even have to play in passing situations, just be able to clog the middle! The Ravens, and Giants game taught us some very valuable lessons last year. One Jay Ratliff needs to be a defensive end! That guy is a monster in passing situations, but simply cannot clog up the middle in the running game. This caused the Cowboys depend solely on run support from Pat Watkins, and that is not ever going to work out in your favor. Two, the Cowboys led the league in sacks but think of what kind of mismatches could be created if they could line up D-Ware and Ratt on the same side?

While all three positions are necessities, it will be very difficult for all three to be filled adequately. However at this point any upgrade would be well received!



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5 Comments
  • BTreece

    I’m probably alone in this though, but I disagree with Ratliff being on the same side as Ware, seems both would suffer from too much competition, and it would put extra effort to stop on that side. Ware doesn’t need a great end to help him to be good, he just needs one that can hold a block.
    Ellis and Spencer could use the extra help from the Rat though.
    But I do agree, backup QB, Safety (Biggest need), and NT are needs this year.

  • bags030404

    As much as Ware moves around the likelihood of them both being on the same side for anymore than one play at a time should relieve that competition. Secondly what I was getting to was, that when they did line up that way it forces the offense to make a decision on who to double! As it stands now the only double is going to Ware on the edge and Rat in the middle.

  • BTreece

    That’s a good point. If you can get a good NT in the middle to hold blocks, then you can seriously overload that side with Rat and Ware, and the same basically holds true for James and the others being able to take advantage of the extra attention to Ware.

  • bags030404

    You give yourself soooooo many more options by moving Ratt to DE, no matter which side he is on! With the line the way it stands, the blocking scheme is simple; one guard has to help with Rat, and either your tight end or back has to help with Ware. The problem is that with one being in the middle it gives the offense some maneuverability. With them both on the outside the blocking becomes very thin really fast!

  • BTreece

    It does become thin, I just feat it would constantly leave Rat and Ware fighting through extra blockers. It’s nice for the team since blocking the both of them would open someone else up, but as it stands now, Ware is able to move all around because Rat still requires a guy in the middle to account for him, a guy that can’t help block Ware on the outside.
    I think there are positives and negatives to both sides of this debate. But it all is for nothing if you can’t replace Ratliff in the middle with a solid, hole-stuffing, run-blocking tackle.
    As it stands now, with Rat in the middle, it throws off the gameplan for an offense facing him, because a tackle in the 3-4 isn’t supposed to rush, he’s not figured to be someone you have to block, just someone to deal with long enough to get a back past him.
    Ideally, you’d find another Rat to let Rat move to end, then again, ideally you’d already have two capable ends.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" 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

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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