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3 Dallas Cowboys in Need of a Bounce Back Game

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: How Much Will The Cowboys Miss LB Sean Lee?

After a disappointing week one, the Dallas Cowboys now set their sights on the New York Giants who come to town looking to rebound themselves from a loss in week one to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though both teams are coming into this game 0-1, the New York Giants have a lot more to feel good about heading into the week two matchup than the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys' offense in particular really struggled against a strong Carolina Panthers pass rush that kept them out of sync all afternoon.

For the Dallas Cowboys to come away victors they're going to need several guys rebound in week two. Here are three that need bounce back games for the Dallas Cowboys to be able to thrive Sunday night against their division rivals.

1. Dak Prescott, Quarterback

I don't even really need to throw a lot of stats at you to convince you that Dak Prescott was average to below average last Sunday. However, if you aren't sure he wasn't good, here are a few stats for you.

  • While Dak Prescott completed 65% of his passes on Sunday, his yards per attempt was 5.9. That ranks 24th in the NFL after one week of football.
  • Pro Football Focus, who charts every game in the NFL and attributes pressures and sacks to the responsible player, put two sacks and five of the teams 14 pressures on Dak Prescott. He was also responsible for two penalties as well.
  • Dak Prescott held the ball an average of 3.1 seconds per pass attempt. That was the fourth worst time to attempt in the NFL, according to NFL.com's Next Gen Stats.
  • Again, per Next Gen Stats, Prescott on average through the ball 2.4 yards short of the first down marker. Only 11 quarterbacks in the NFL had a worse average.

Dak Prescott needs to make quicker decisions and get the ball out of his hands. He needs to get a bit more aggressive to force teams to back off. Teams are expecting him to throw short and hope for yards after the catch. If the Dallas Cowboys want to run the football, then Prescott is going to need to prove that he can throw further than ten yards down field on a regular basis.

You can find more numbers from Dak Prescott's week one in this week's Inside The Numbers.

2. La'el Collins, Right Tackle

The offense as a whole struggled on Sunday, the offensive line included. La'el Collins  was credited with four pressures, three hurries, a sack, and two penalties to the right tackle. That's not good at all.

While Collins may have struggled in pass protection, he had a really good game run blocking.

Again, according to PFF, Ezekiel Elliott averaged 5.85 yards per carry -- seven carries for 41 yards --when running behind the right tackle or to the right edge. Any other direction, Elliott only averaged 4.75 yards per carry.

Elliott's only carry for greater than 10 yards came behind Collins as well as his touchdown. The only time the team was able to rush for a first down was when they went to the right.

I only point that out to say that it wasn't all bad from Collins, but he needs to be better in pass protection. Dak Prescott didn't seem comfortable in the pocket on Sunday and to beat a New York Giants team that is down Olivier Vernon, Prescott is going to need to be kept clean.

Inside The Star Staff Writer Kevin Brady took a look at the six sacks from Sunday in a film review that you'll want to catch up on.

3. Sean Lee, Linebacker

It feels really odd putting Sean Lee's name on a "need for a bounce back game" list, but that's where we stand after week one.

Sean Lee did not have a good game on Sunday. Pro Football Focus credited Lee with four missed tackles while only having a solo tackle and two assisted tackles.

That's not going to cut it.

For many years Sean Lee has been the leader and best player on the defense. He's been an All-Pro player when he's been on the field, but in week one in Carolina, Lee was not very good. Hopefully it's a symptom of practicing very little in training camp and playing very little in the preseason and not an age-related decline in play.

The Dallas Cowboys need Sean Lee to play well and lead this team. His ability to go sideline-to-sideline and create negative plays in the run game gives a huge boost to the defense. Lee needs to rebound this week and reassert himself as one of the better linebackers in the NFL. With Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram coming to town, he'll have his work cut out for him.

Rust or Age? See what Inside The Star Staff Writer Brian Martin had to say about Lee's performance.

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Which players do you think need a bounce back game for the Dallas Cowboys to come out victorious against the New York Giants?



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Game Notes

LB Leighton Vander Esch Rare Bright Spot In Cowboys’ Disappointing Loss

Kevin Brady

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LB Leighton Vander Esch Rare Bright Spot In Cowboys Disappointing Loss

Sunday in Seattle didn't go nearly as well as anticipated for the Cowboys, as they fell to the Seahawks in embarrassing fashion, 24-13. While the final score looked close, the fact of the matter is that Dallas was dominated for much of the game.

Offensively they looked lost, unable to create any downfield passing threat or sustain scoring drives. Defensively they played okay, but not up to the standard they had established the first two games of the season. With the offense being as pedestrian as it has been, though, there is a ton of extra pressure placed upon the young defense's shoulders.

One of the youngest members of that young unit shouldered the pressure just fine on Sunday, however. Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch had himself a heck of a day, leading the team in tackles with 11 including 9 solo ones and a tackle for loss. He flashed his speed, pursuit, tackling ability, and overall athleticism as he worked laterally to make plays and contain the Seahawks running game on the edge.

Wish List for Dallas Cowboys 1st Preseason Game

Dallas Cowboys LBs Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee

His performance built upon an impressive first two games, including a solid home opener against the New York Giants where he tallied 7 tackles in just 28 defensive snaps. Vander Esch hadn't seen the snaps that Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee saw prior to Sunday, but when Lee was forced to miss chunks of the game with injuries, Vander Esch shined.

A key knock placed on Vander Esch's game during the draft process was that he wasn't physical enough as a player. He tended to struggle when taking on blocks and wasn't as sure a tackler when things got muddied up as you'd like to see from a first round pick.

While these were legitimate concerns from his college tape, Leighton Vander Esch looked as comfortable and refined as you can expect from a rookie against the Seahawks. He was a top 3 player on the Cowboys' defense on Sunday, and the Cowboys should be ecstatic about his progress moving forward.

On Monday it was announced the the veteran Sean Lee is expected to miss a few weeks with yet another injury, allowing for Vander Esch to likely be the starter. Lee has been unreliable when it comes to his injury history, and you have to wonder if Vander Esch could supplant him as the full time starter earlier than anyone expected due to those injuries.

I, like many, questioned the Cowboys' selection of Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of last year's draft. The lack of comparative position value combined with the questions about Vander Esch's game made me value a pass rusher like Harold Landry much higher than Vander Esch at 19.

So far, though, Leighton Vander Esch is proving the Cowboys right in their selection, and looks to be the starting WILL and three-down backer of the future in Dallas. With Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch playing how they have with limited experience, that future looks very bright defensively.



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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Seahawks

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Seahawks

Like the majority of you, I was expecting the Dallas Cowboys to build off of their win over the New York Giants and put together a much better performance than they did against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, I should've remembered that the Cowboys don't have the best track record when playing in Seattle.

If I would've been paying attention to the Cowboys history when playing in Seattle, I would have been much more prepared for the manhandling that took place a few days ago. Dallas just seems cursed when they play Seattle at home. It doesn't matter if it's a regular-season game or preseason.

I hate to say it, but maybe we should start calling it the Tony Romo curse. Maybe this all started with his botched snap that ended the Cowboys playoff run in 2007. Let's not forget Seattle is also where Romo's career probably ended when he hurt his back in a meaningless preseason game in 2016. As you can see, history doesn't lie.

If I would've remembered this, I probably still wouldn't be feeling a little sick to my stomach. Unfortunately it is what it is and all we can do is move on. But, that's not going to keep me from sharing with all of you what I believed to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Cowboys against the Seattle Seahawks in the Week 3 of the 2018 season.

The Good

Leighton Vander Esch

Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

After pretty much getting completely manhandled by the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon, I had a pretty difficult time to find some good to put in this section about the way the Dallas Cowboys played. I really had to take a deep breath and put my emotions to the side for a little while, but I did discover a few individuals that deserved recognition.

The first person I want to identify is Cornerback Byron Jones. He continues to play at a really high level and is finally playing up to that first-round pedigree. It was also really good to see Running Back Ezekiel Elliott finally find some running room and look like his old self, although he probably could've done without the fumble. Lastly, how good is rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch playing? He finished with 11 total tackles against the Seahawks.

I know it doesn't provide much comfort in the way these individuals performed since the Cowboys couldn't come away with the victory, but at least it wasn't all bad. All we can do is hope they can clean things up and take this as a learning experience.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

There was no shortage of bad for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Seahawks, but for me it had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys passing game. The struggles in the passing game is completely hamstringing the offensive productivity and unfortunately I have a hard time seeing them improving much right now.

Prescott is only averaging about 160 passing yards a game and that's just not going to cut it if this team is planning on winning many games this season. He has thrown just as many touchdowns (2) as he has interceptions (2) this year. To make matters worse, it looks as if there's a void of playmaking ability from his pass catchers.

Honestly, I don't really know where the blame should fall right now. Is it Prescott's fault or does it fall at the feet of his receivers? Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter because nothings working for either of them right now anyway.

The Ugly

Chidobe Awuzie, Kavon Frazier

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

I was going to go with the stupid "mental" penalties the Dallas Cowboys had against the Seahawks yesterday for the ugly, but instead decided to go with the blown coverages in the secondary.

The Cowboys secondary has been playing really well so far this season, but unfortunately they blew a few assignments yesterday against the Seahawks which resulted  in touchdowns. I really thought they would be better prepared considering Kris Richard has spent nearly his entire coaching career in Seattle before joining the Cowboys, but maybe I was expecting too much.

I really thought the Cowboys secondary would shut down the Seahawks passing game, especially after what they were able to do in Week 2 against the New York Giants. The Giants have much better weapons in the passing game, but somebody forgot to tell Seattle's receivers. I still have high hopes that this was just a fluke, but I think I may temper my expectations a little moving forward.

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



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Takes Accountability for Week 3 Loss

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2
James D Smith via AP

Despite breaking 100 rushing yards for the first time this season, Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott took the blame for Dallas' loss in Seattle yesterday.

A 31-yard touchdown reception was called back in the second quarter because Elliott stepped out-of-bounds prior to making the catch. Dallas would go on to kick a field goal, making the score 7-3, but Zeke's error cost the team four points on the drive.

Early in the fourth quarter, with Dallas trailing 24-6 but starting to find offensive rhythm, Elliott ripped off a 26-yard run. But the play ended with Zeke getting caught from behind and the ball knocked out of his hands, and the Seahawks recovering.

While many might argue the the Cowboys' inept passing game was the real reason for the loss, Elliott took full responsibility when talking to the media afterwards.

"I had a poor performance today," Elliott said. "Did well in the run game, but overall, I dropped the ball. That loss is on me."

"You can say whatever, but at the end of the day, when you've got the ball in your hands, that's the team in your hands," Elliott said. "Me being a leader on the team, me being a better player on this team, I got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. That cost us the game."

While Zeke may not have loved his leadership yesterday, these comments show that the 23-year-old is developing into one.

Last year, Elliott had little to say to the media. That was likely for the best, though, while he was embroiled in all of the controversy surrounding his suspension and appeals.

But now, a year removed from that issue and in his third year with the Cowboys, Zeke appears to have found his voice again. He is still the catalyst for the Dallas offense, and the highest-drafted player on the entire roster.

For a player whose maturity has been called into question during the first two years of his NFL career, Ezekiel Elliott showed a lot of it yesterday. Hopefully, it helps his team to regroup and get back to winning as the seasoning continues.



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