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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys surprisingly pulled off the 27-20 upset over the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night and in turn somehow keep their playoff hopes alive. They are now two games behind the Washington Redskins, but the NFC East title is still very much within reach if they can continue to play like they did against the Eagles.

The Cowboys looked like the team we've expected them to be from the start of the 2018 season. Yes there were still mistakes, but they were able to overcome those mishaps when they needed it the most. That's not something they've been able to very much of this season.

Today, I want to share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly aspects from the Dallas Cowboys game against the Philadelphia Eagles. As always, please feel free to use the comment section located at the end of the article to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

The Good

Leighton Vander Esch

Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

There were so many different directions I could've gone here for the Dallas Cowboys against the Philadelphia Eagles, but I ultimately decided that the good for me was Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch's play. He is absolutely dominating and making everyone forget about the often injured Sean Lee.

Against the Eagles Sunday night, Vander Esch was all over the field and made his presence felt in a big way. He not only accumulated 13 total tackles, but also recorded his first career interception in the NFL. His play is one of the reasons the Cowboys defense continues to play like one of the better units in the league, even without Sean Lee in the lineup.

No one's doubting No. 55 as the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick any longer. He is a stud and the scary thing is he will only continue to get better.

The Bad

Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett

I hate to admit it, but I was secretly hoping the Philadelphia Eagles would blowout the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night so that hopefully it would convince Jerry Jones to end the Jason Garrett head-coaching era. So, the bad for me is that the Cowboys win likely means Garrett sticks around as the HC after this season.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea about me wanting the Cowboys to get blown out, I just didn't think they had much of a chance of beating the Eagles on the road with them coming off their bye week. I'm happy they won in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, but also disappointed Garrett may be sticking around.

I know many of you will agree with me, but I think it's time to find Jason Garrett's replacement. Unfortunately, this victory over the Eagles may delay Dallas' head coach search a little longer now.

The Ugly

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, I think the way the Dallas Cowboys offensive line and Running Back Ezekiel Elliott dominated the Philadelphia Eagles defensive front was absolutely ugly. The Eagles defensive line was supposed to be the strength of their team, but that certainly wasn't the case against the Cowboys.

Zeke accounted for two touchdowns (one on the ground and one through the air) Sunday night against the Eagles. He also rushed for 151 yards on just 19 carries and averaged an impressive 7.9 yards per carry. That's pretty impressive considering the Eagles were ranked second against the run in the league. But what's more impressive was the blocking No. 21 received from his offensive line.

The Cowboys deployed a beat up OL against the Eagles, but you wouldn't know that by the way they played. They were down one starter the entire game (Connor Williams) and played with two replacements for a while when Zack Martin was injured. They didn't make any excuses though and took it to the Eagles DL.

What was your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Eagles?



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.

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4 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    Man you pulled an rpo type of misdirect on the “ugly” when you shout out the running game when you meant it was nasty. maybe Philthy??? What was ugly to me is Dak still throwing off his back leg, all the little stutter steps, his major inaccuracy throwing deep, his feeling phantom pressure and really regressing a year before the Boys have to make a $120 million contract extension decision on him. He is an average NFL QB at best being put in the wrong offensive scheme. He is a great guy an apparently amazing young leader and not the long term QB this VERY young team needs to plan its future around.

  • Travis Diggs

    A major good point in this we’re forgetting is how great Xavier Su’a-Filo played in place for Connor Williams. It’s know it’s only one game but theirs no doubt in my mind that Fletcher Cox and them guys would of dominated Williams. While we’re making shake ups to the whole team, they need to look at keeping Su’a-Filo in the starting lineup over Williams

  • Hector Espindola

    The good: Xavier Su’a-Filo at left guard and Connor Williams to the bench (still needs to develop more).

  • Harold Ellerbee

    I think Dak will be fine as this continues to get healthy Dak will inprove…remember 2016…I didn’t hear many complaints then…he is still the same guy,so leave him alone…I think yes leaveXavier in place cause he is going to get better as time go’s by…just develope the other guy in the back ground…if the boys can get these hurt players back in the line up I think they might have a real shot at winning the east…who kmows they may even beat Atlanta and N.O.S.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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Game Notes

Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

Sean Martin

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Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line depth will be tested as they play for a chance to clinch the NFC East on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Suffering a knee injury last week against the Eagles, Right Guard Zack Martin will not be able to play. In missing his first career start, rookie Connor Williams rightfully returns to the starting lineup as Martin's replacement.

The 50th overall pick from this year's AT&T Stadium hosted Draft has started eight games this season at left guard. Williams' last start happens to be in the last game Dallas lost, a week nine defeat to the Tennessee Titans. This opened the door for Xavier Su'a-Filo to become something of a sensation for Cowboys Nation as the starting left guard throughout the team's current five game win streak.

David Moore on Twitter

Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin has been ruled out of Sunday's game with a sprained knee. Rookie Connor Williams will start in his place.

Zack Martin being unavailable is hardly how Marc Colombo wants to prepare for the Cowboys first road game since week 11. Having both Su'a-Filo and Williams in the lineup will be valuable for the Cowboys moving forward though, as Williams could earn his job at left guard back from the right side.

While he won't nearly be expected to play at the level of Martin, Williams looked poised coming off the bench against the Eagles and helping the Cowboys offense score their final three touchdowns. Williams was on the field for all three of Amari Cooper's scores, as Dallas rushed for 34 yards on 11 carries with him in the game.

Williams flashed some of the traits that made him a top left tackle prospect out of college, flowing to the second level with ease and creating movement with quick feet at the point of attack. The Cowboys have forced him to remain game ready despite losing his starting position by finding a few emergency snaps for him in recent weeks, as well as special teams looks. The team has every reason to believe Williams is an ascending young player still.

The same cannot be said of Su'a-Filo, who simply has to focus on continuing to hold up at left guard again this week. With each passing win, Su'a-Filo's LG spot has become more of a liability in a Cowboys offense in need of a jump-start late in this 2018 season.

Consistent offensive line play is one of the few things that's clearly hurting the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC behind a stellar defense and game breaking wide receiver.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength against the eighth best rushing defense and 15th ranked passing defense in yards per game. With three separate chances to clinch the NFC East starting at the Colts and extending until the end of the regular season, the Cowboys stand to learn all they need to know about the offensive line that will start in the playoffs.

Martin, who's elevated his game to a new level this season despite this lingering knee injury, should be on track to return when the Cowboys come home to play the Buccaneers in week 16.

Tell us what you think about "Zack Martin Out, Connor Williams In at Right Guard for Cowboys at Colts" 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

#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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