Connect with us

Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly for Cowboys Against Panthers

Brian Martin



The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly for Cowboys Against Panthers

It's always difficult to write about the Dallas Cowboys after a loss, even more so after they've played as sloppily as they did against the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon. But, I'm not going to let the 16-8 defeat keep me from doing my duty.

In all honesty, this game gave me flashbacks of the Dallas Cowboys matchup with the Denver Broncos last season. Just like against the Broncos, the Cowboys continuously found themselves behind the chains and unable to move the ball with much success. Ezekiel Elliott, the engine of the offense, couldn't even find much running room. Let's just hope that this isn't something that continues to happen.

Today, I want to bring back my weekly column The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. If you have forgotten or are perhaps a new reader, this is a column in which I like to try to identify some of the positives and negatives from the Cowboys previous matchup, in this case the game against the Panthers. It's not always easy to write, but I hope you enjoy it regardless.

The Good

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

From the outside looking in, you wouldn't guess that there was very much good to write about from the Dallas Cowboys game against the Carolina Panthers, and you are probably right. I really had to dig deep to sift through all of the bad, but the silver lining I came up with is the way the defense was able to battle for an entire four quarters.

The way the Dallas Cowboys defense played Sunday afternoon was far from flawless. There was plenty of mental and physical mistakes to go around, but you have to applaud the way they continued to fight throughout the game. In fact, I was pretty impressed with the play of the defensive line and secondary.

The Cowboys front four not only continuously put pressure on Quarterback Cam Newton, but they also pretty much contained the running game as well. DeMarcus Lawrence and Company are off to a good start and should only continue to get better. As for the secondary, they made things pretty difficult for Newton and his receivers in the passing game. I'm really excited to see how they progress.

The Bad

Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan

Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett and OC Scott Linehan

I don't know about you, but identifying the bad from the Cowboys game against the Panthers was pretty easy for me. Of course you may disagree, but I think we should look no further than what happened on the offensive side of the ball. I personally place the blame on both the players and the coaching staff.

The playcalling by Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan was once again questionable. It's really getting tiresome to talk about, but I was reallly expecting to see more creativity Sunday, especially with all of the new faces that were brought in this offseason. Unfortunately, it was much of the same and that is simply unacceptable.

Quarterback Dak Prescott continues to hold on the ball way too long while trying to find an open receiver. This has been a problem of his since entering the league and will continue to be so until something changes. As far as the running game goes, both Ezekiel Elliott and his offensive line struggled to get things going. Since this is the driving force of the entire offense, it needs to be fixed as quickly as possible.

The Ugly

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

I was personally expecting some sloppiness in this game from the Dallas Cowboys, but that was mostly due to the fact the weather was supposed to be wet and rainy. I didn't really think they would come out and play the way they did, so there was quite a bit of ugly to sift through. What I decided to put in this section was the play of the Cowboys linebackers.

After being so highly touted for the majority of the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys linebackers certainly didn't live up to expectations. There were way too many times they were caught out of position or couldn't come up with the tackle. Sean Lee in particular might have just played his worst game since entering the league.

With several weeks to prepare for Cam Newton and the run/pass option (RPO) offense the Panthers utilize, Dallas' LBs looked really unprepared and failed to execute their assignments. Both Damien Wilson and Sean Lee gave up huge gains to Newton because of this. This definitely needs to be cleaned up before next week, because Shaquon Barkley is an entirely different animal to contain.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Panthers?

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.



  1. oneputter

    September 11, 2018 at 8:01 am

    So many things to point out Brian.

    1 – play calling as you stated is bad. i think they tried to get to cute at times instead of running power football, line up and run down hill with some PA. i saw to many motions, counters, fake end arounds, fake screens….just jr league crap. line up and run the darn ball.

    2 – yes lb’s were garbage, sean lee doesn’t practice or play in the preseason because we are afraid of him getting hurt, well that is the result of no practicing. 54 was trying way too hard and over running just about every play, 57 started good but suddenly fell asleep. where was joe thomas?

    3 – OL was bad, and don’t give me 72 being out as the reason, everyone has injuries, you sak up and over come. 77 was bad, 71 was bad, 52 was pushed around like a HS kid (he might be good later, right now too weak to handle these NFLers)

    4 – HC geez, JG you had 6 months to get ready for this game and this is what you give us? i have wanted this HC to succeed but i think i am done with him. he simply is un-motivating to this team. at some point you have to get in their butts during a game, he never does or will.

    5 – can we please stop with all the earl thomas talk, how about trading for a veteran WR?

    6 – dak, this guy has gone from being on the top to being an absolute joke at right now. drop back and throw the ball son! this is the NFL, your windows are small. there were open WR’s all over on sunday, turn it loose. he’s gun shy and worried about INTs / STATS. can you read a blitz at the LOS? this a QB driven league, if you don’t have a QB you don’t have jack.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 11, 2018 at 8:12 am

      Nicely said. I agree with everything you stated here.

    • Hector Espindola

      September 11, 2018 at 4:18 pm

      7.- Dak needs a new QB coach, he is just regressing game after game…

      • Russ_Te

        September 11, 2018 at 4:47 pm

        That is an interesting view. We know Moore is a rookie at it. And of course Garrett and Linehan factor in. This is a crossroads time for Dak as an NFL QB. I have confidence in his mental and physical abilities, yet many promising QB’s have gone off the rails. They have to coach him well as this team finds it’s offensive gears this year. Fortunately a rising defense could buy them the time needed by keeping the Cowboys in games.

        • Hector Espindola

          September 13, 2018 at 11:32 am

          The inexperienced Moore can´t give Dak any advice on game time, so or QB is going nowhere and even his mechanics are regressing. Add to that the OL problems, the time needed to find his wingman at the WRs corps and a playbook that does not ease his work (with a “loaded box” as an example) and then you have the first man down, who happens to be your most important player at offense. Right now Dak is afraid to throw deep balls or in traffic.

  2. Russ_Te

    September 11, 2018 at 8:54 am

    While everyone except Beasley was bad on offense, let’s zero in on this WR unit for a minute. What seemed to emerge after all the off season moves is a glaring lack of speed and firepower. That looks right now like it’s going to be a liability all year.

    I give Gallup a grace period of course, but feel like defenses are going to choke up coverages, and then either nobody can get behind that or Linehan won’t test it.

    Brice Butler is on his couch right now. 15 catches that averaged 21 yards per, with 3 TD’s last year. Go get him.

    Likewise, I’m not leaving Gathers inactive when I need a mismatch in the patterns this badly. Yes he’s still learning block assignments, but isn’t worse than the product we got Sunday. Tired of inertia and business as usual from this staff.

    • oneputter

      September 11, 2018 at 9:17 am

      i just don’t put much blame into the wr unit for sunday, the QB needs to get the ball out and give the guys a chance, we didn’t see that with him….. holding onto the ball way too long. swaim was open, gallup was open, thompson was open, go watch again. do we need someone to stretch the field, yes maybe. i like what carrington was doing in preseason, how about KD Cannon, he’s a speed guy, can we not coach him up? the guy was amazing in college.

      ditto on gathers, he needs to be used like the raiders use cook. if he can’t block then get him out in the slot on a mismatch.

      • Brian Martin

        Brian Martin

        September 11, 2018 at 10:07 am

        I think the Cowboys have the pieces in the passing game, the playcalling just needs to improve by a wide stretch. They have speed guys to stretch the field, we know Prescott rarely takes the shots.

        • oneputter

          September 11, 2018 at 10:38 am


      • Russ_Te

        September 11, 2018 at 4:38 pm

        What I put on Dak Sunday is missed throws and being indecisive about when to tuck under. Holding the ball = WR’s not open.

        As I said the unit feels weak and defensible. Hope to be wrong on that. And if they know C and LG are iffy, then they know Elliott will not dominate as before on the ground. So you can’t take him out on long downs. If it’s 15 runs then it should be 10-12 targets and about 8 catches. He is their best player of any WR or RB or TE.

        • oneputter

          September 12, 2018 at 8:59 am

          he did hold on to the ball way too long but i feel and from what i could see it had to do with indecisiveness, as stated i saw wr’s open. there are tons of vids out there now that show wr’s running wide open, he just missed them.

          many times instead of stepping up in the pocket he flushed out and threw bad passes.

          i hope it gets better, i don’t want to go through a whole season seeing this mess.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 11, 2018 at 10:05 am

      I’m actually giving the WRs a pass. The playcalling was extremely questionable last week. Way too many 2 TE sets to start the game. The offense finally started to move the ball when they spread things out. That’s what they need to continue to do IMO.

      • oneputter

        September 11, 2018 at 10:45 am

        12 personnel was out there way too much, i’d like to see more 3 x 1, 2 x 2 with one of the 3 / 2 being Rico or swaim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Game Notes

Jason Garrett’s Decision Making Stands Out in Playoff Loss

John Williams



Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett? 2

The 2018 NFL season has come to an end for the Dallas Cowboys. The Los Angeles Rams were simply the better team on Saturday night in the Coliseum and it showed in the 30-22 loss. While it was a disappointing performance, there were several things to take away from the game to give us reason for optimism moving forward. Connor Williams played well against Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh on the interior, Dak Prescott kept the team in the game despite little help from the running game, and Head Coach Jason Garrett perhaps coached his best game from a management point of view.

After the first drive, this game had one of those, if the Dallas Cowboys have to punt, it's likely going to be a loss feels. The defense's inability to force more than one punt or create a turnover was going to make it really difficult for the offense to keep up, and yet at the end of the game, the Cowboys were within a score and had a shot to win. Dak Prescott deserves a lot of credit for that, but so does Jason Garrett.

Here's why.

4th and 1's

Jason Garrett has long been viewed as a conservative coach in the NFL, and this season he didn't do much to help his reputation, but that game on Saturday should change some of that perception. On a night where it looked like his defense didn't have it, he called the game he needed to maximize his team's possessions.

On the opening drive of the game for the offense, the Cowboys got to the Rams 49 yard line, but faced a 4th and 1. Garrett didn't waste any time going for it and the Cowboys were able to convert on Ezekiel Elliott's five yard run. A Marcus Peters' unneccessary roughness penalty gave the Cowboys an extra 15 yards and the Cowboys scored on the next play on Amari Cooper's 29 yard catch and run to give the Dallas Cowboys the lead.

It would be their only lead of the night.

Again, in the second half, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1, this time it was at the Rams 41 yard line and this time, the Cowboys were down 23-7. This was not nearly as difficult a decision as the Cowboys were in catch up mode and needed to get a score to bring the game within striking distance, and they did just that. Again, Elliott picked up five yards when the Cowboys needed one and Elliott capped off th drive with a one yard touchdown run after Michael Gallup's long reception on a broken play.

At the Rams 35 yard line and the game within reach, the Cowboys went for it again on fourth down, but this time were stopped short of the first down marker when Ndamukong Suh made an excellent play to prevent Elliott from picking up the yard. On the play, you can see Suh start to Joe Looney's left, which forced Elliott to go to Looney's right and Suh followed Elliott into the hole. There was much Looney could do as Suh had the necessary leverage to make the play. It was absolutely the right call to go for it in that situation, but the Cowboys went to the jumbo formation-Elliott inside run one too many times. It was clear where the ball was going to go in that situation, and they were stuffed.

On what turned out to be the final drive of the season for the Dallas Cowboys, they needed to score and score rather quickly to have a chance to get the ball back one more time. The offense scored, but took a little too much time doing so as the drive took just over five minutes off the game clock. Again, on the drive, they were faced with a fourth and 1, but this time they used Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on a speed option to the right and they were able to convert and eventually get the touchdown.

For the game, the Dallas Cowboys went three for four on fourth down attempts.

Point After Decisions

In the middle of the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys scored to make it 23-13. Generally in the NFL, teams don't go for two until they have to go. Knowing that possessions were going to be few and far between the Cowboys were likely going to have to score on every possession the rest of the game, Garrett went for two and the Cowboys converted to make it an eight point game.

Then after the Dallas Cowboys scored to make the game 30-21, there was much discussion on social media on whether the Cowboys should have gone for two there or just kicked the extra point, which was a bit surprising.

To me, it was simple. Kick the extra point to make it 30-22 and hope your defense gets you the ball back and you can score again. If you go for two in that situation and don't make it, the game is essentially over with just over two minutes remaining. Taking the extra point kept you in the game, even if it was still only a slight chance to pull out a win.

Declining Penalties

With about 3:20 to go in the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys defense faced a third and two situation around midfield against the Rams. They were able to force Rams Quarterback Jared Goff into a hurried throw and he overthrew Josh Reynolds in the flat for what would have been a first down.

On the play there were two penalties, offensive holding and offensive pass interference and Jason Garrett declined the penalties.

To me it was one of the boldest coaching decisions has made in his career on something that seemed very innocuous.

Sean McVay and the Rams were having their way with the Dallas Cowboys defense as Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson gashed their way to over 100 yards rushing each. With the Rams facing a fourth and two on the Dallas Cowboys side of the 50 yard line, most people thought the Rams would go for it there and completely steal the soul of the Dallas Cowboys.

Johnny Hekker did his best to get the Dallas Cowboys to think he was going to run a fake, but the Cowboys never panicked and stayed onside as the punter attempted to game them.

It was a huge call in that situation. If Garrett accepts the penalties, the Rams would have faced a third and 12 at their own 43 yard line, but would have had another opportunity to convert the first down and extend the drive.

I really liked the call, because it put McVay in a difficult position himself. If the were to go for it and fail to convert on fourth down, the Cowboys would have gotten the ball at about midfield with a chance to tie the game.

Kicking Deep vs Onside Kick

With the new rules governing kickoffs, mainly that teams have to keep a amount of players on each side of the kicker, onside kicks have become less and less successful in today's NFL. Even before the rule changes, recovering an onside kick was less than a 50/50 proposition.

Kicking deep was really the only decision to make. The hope is that your defense is able to get a stop and the Cowboys would get the ball back with decent field position.

And it nearly worked.

The Dallas Cowboys run defense came up big on first and second down, holding the Rams running game to three yards setting up a third and seven. Just as everyone was expecting the Rams to throw it, they ran a play action with a naked bootleg that left Jared Goff all alone on the outside with a ton of room to run, and zero Cowboys in position to prevent him from picking up the first down.

Ball game.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

On Saturday, Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, reported the Cowboys were looking to extend for Jason Garrett this offseason. It should come as no surprise as he helped orchestrate an impressive turnaround from 3-5 to 10-6 and NFC East champions all while fielding one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Jason Garrett has grown a lot as an NFL head coach and in the playoff loss, made excellent decisions to keep the Cowboys in the game. He's going to be around here for a long time and there should be a lot of optimism heading into 2019 that the Cowboys can make some strides.

Continue Reading

Game Notes

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Brian Martin



The Good, Bad, and Ugly From Cowboys Divisional Round Loss

Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season had to come to an end at some point. Not many of us would have predicted earlier in the season that it would've come at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round, but that's what happened and it's kind of bittersweet.

I don't know how you feel today, but I don't find myself all that upset the Dallas Cowboys season is officially over. Yes, I would've loved to see them completely dominate the LA Rams and advance in the playoffs, but I'm surprisingly really pleased with the way this team played this season. We have to remember that this is a young team and this is hopefully just the beginning of something great.

Today, I want to share with you some of the positives and negatives from the Cowboys game against the Rams Saturday night. This of course will be the last edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys 2018-2019 season.

The Good

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

Finding the positive after a loss isn't always the easiest thing to accomplish. The Dallas Cowboys didn't particularly play their best football Saturday against the Rams, which makes it even more difficult. But for me, the good has to be the resiliency and grittiness the Cowboys played with in LA.

I don't think anyone would argue that the LA Rams pretty much dominated the entire game Saturday. They put the Cowboys on their heels pretty much from the get-go, which took them out of their game. Dallas was never really able to establish their running game and couldn't get the Rams offense off the field. They've been able to pretty much do that against all their opponents this season, but just fell flat at the wrong time.

Despite getting manhandled, the Dallas Cowboys continued to fight back and never quit. They could've easily rolled over and given up, but they didn't. I think that really speaks volumes to the kind of players Dallas has on the roster. This is a really talented young team with a bright future ahead of themselves.

The Bad

C. J. Anderson

Los Angeles Rams RB C. J. Anderson (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Anyone who watched the game Saturday night pretty much knows what goes in this category. The bad for me and probably everybody else is how the Dallas Cowboys defense was gashed by the Los Angeles Rams rushing attack. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley absolutely dominated on the ground, leading their team to victory.

I knew the Rams rushing attack would give the Cowboys defense problems, but I never imagined they would rush for nearly 300 yards and multiple touchdowns. C. J. Anderson and Todd Gurley may be the ones earning all the praise with their performances, but they definitely wouldn't have found as much success as they did if not for their offensive line.

Dallas' front seven has been really good against the run all season. They only allowed a couple of 100 yard rushers this season (Chris Carson, Marlon Mack) until Anderson and Gurley both rushed for over 100 Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Cowboys DL just got overpowered by the Rams OL and it definitely impacted the outcome of the game.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

What was pegged to be a matchup between two of the best running backs in the NFL, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott, ended up being pretty much a one-man show. That is why the ugly Saturday night for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion was their rushing attack.

We all know the Cowboys offensive blueprint is to establish the running game to help control the clock and game speed. That unfortunately never materialized Saturday night against the Rams, a team by the way that was giving up 5.1 yards rushing to opposing running backs. It was supposed to be a matchup that favored Zeke and Dallas' ground game.

I'll give credit where credit is due though. The Rams defensive line stepped up their game and didn't allow Zeke to get any kind of momentum going in the running game. They gave the Cowboys OL all they could handle and pretty much made their offensive attack one-dimensional. They wanted to put the game in Dak Prescott's hands and for the most part accomplished what they set out to do.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the LA Rams?

Continue Reading

Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles

The last round of the Dallas Cowboys fight in 2018 came at the hands of a hungry Los Angeles Rams team, ending their season in the Divisional Round behind 273 rushing yards. Effectively, the third seed in the NFC beat the Cowboys at their own game with the bye week to prepare. The fallout from this loss won't be fully realized until the sting is gone, but sweeping changes aren't expected in Dallas after a resurrection from 3-5 saw the Cowboys within a few plays of the NFC Championship Game.

How those plays were made and what the Rams did to execute a near flawless game plan is the subject of this final Sean's Scout of the season.

  • The Rams' success on the ground against Richard's defense was stunning for a lot of reasons, none more so than the way Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith struggled to react and fight off blocks.

The Cowboys issues at linebacker were a result of their front four getting blown off the ball all game by LA's offensive line. I wrote in my final game preview piece about how the Cowboys needed to win the line of scrimmage on both sides, losing with their own offense when the game was in the balance and never putting up a fight on the defensive line.

To the Rams' credit, even the simple things Sean McVay's team executes are done with an attention to detail that makes them very difficult to contain. The Rams did a great job scheming blockers to the second level, where Smith and Vander Esch were handled to the point of playing tentatively and taking poor angles.

In what could be his final game with the Cowboys or the end of his career, Sean Lee played 21 snaps, one shy of his week 17 total when the Cowboys played the Giants with the division already wrapped up. Getting caught in a game they couldn't possibly win against the better team at home, the Cowboys defense had no answers for Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson.

  • Dak Prescott's "in the grasp" call when he scrambled into La'el Collins' arms on third down was a bad look for the officials, but also an injured Cole Beasley, who was late working his route back to Prescott and into his line of vision. 

If Beasley was at full strength, he's likely able to stop his vertical route sooner and give Prescott an easy throw underneath as he rolled to the right. Left with nowhere to go, Dak had the play blown dead after Right Tackle La'el Collins wrapped his arms around Prescott while scrambling.

With the way the Rams came out on offense, it became clear that every Cowboys possession would be of dire importance. Losing one on a strange call like this was a blow Dallas never had a chance to recover from.

  • Lost in the Cowboys turnover on downs in the fourth quarter, the final time they touched the ball within a score, is the incredible third down throw Prescott made on the run to Noah Brown. 

To give his offense a chance on fourth and short, Prescott delivered a strike to Brown on the sideline for 13 yards. Without being able to set his feet, Prescott felt the pressure well and put the ball where only Brown could secure it falling out of bounds.

It's unfortunate the next play became the defining moment of the season for Dallas. Deciding to attack the strength of the Rams' defense, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers were ready for an Elliott rushing attempt right up the middle out of 12 personnel.

Not only was Center Joe Looney beat on the play, but Collins lost leverage and was beat across the face to further clutter the middle of the field for Elliott to be stopped short. Making matters even worse, the Rams came out and attacked the Cowboys defense by flashing the misdirection plays that worked all night.

In just 12 plays, Anderson scored his second touchdown to all but put the game away for LA. The Cowboys would use Prescott's legs much too late on the ensuing drive, getting into the end zone but failing to get the ball back.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As mentioned, this won't be an offseason of drastic change for the Cowboys. Bowing out in the divisional round for the second time in three seasons, adjustments to both the coaching staff and roster are needed for this team to take the next step.

For a team that looked nothing like a postseason contender for much of the regular season, the Cowboys improbable run of close wins came to an end against the Rams - determined to not lose their first playoff game in consecutive seasons.

They won't be happy with the result, but the Cowboys should be proud of their final outcome on this year.

As always, I'd like to thank Cowboys Nation for reading another season of Sean's Scout. Win or lose you make this job fun.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Run Defense, 4th Down Decision End Season in Los Angeles" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Continue Reading

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here