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Game Notes

Why the Cowboys will leave Seattle 4-2

Brian Leatherman



Cowboys Blog - Why the Cowboys will leave Seattle 4-2

If any of you reading this have read my work before, you would probably say I’m a homer. And that’s not too far from the truth, but... I’m not totally a homer. When I see something, I’ll give my opinion on the situation and why I feel that way.

Folks, this article is going to be no different, well maybe a little. Many fans have high hopes going into this game against the Seahawks. Many think we can beat them and show them the Cowboys are the new top dog. Folk’s, I’m not one of those people. I don’t think Dallas has a shot in hell at winning this game. It’s not often I say that about a Tony Romo led team. I’ve always felt that with Romo leading this team the Cowboys always had a shot.

This Cowboys team isn’t on the Seattle Seahawks level yet.

We desperately want them to be, as fans, but it’s just not our time yet. I remember back in 1991, we had just been handed our own asses by the Detroit Lions in the playoffs. I remember how young our team was and how awesome it was to have the Cowboys where they were but it wasn’t their time yet. I remember my dad (who didn’t keep up with football very much) telling me, “Those boys are a year away from making noise”.

My pop is a business man, so he knows a good thing when he sees it. He hadn’t kept up with Cowboys football very much but he could see how things had changed in the short time that it did.

This is how I see these Cowboys now, except for having an awesome VETERAN QB in Romo, you could say this team - offensively - looks a whole lot like that team back in 1991. But here is the big difference. The 2014 Cowboys defense is not on the same level as that 1991 team. Don’t get me wrong, the defense is way better than most expected. It’s not surprising to me because I’ve called it since I started writing here back in January of this year. But as of right now, this defense has some problems that will keep it from taking that next step this season.

One of those reasons on defense being that the Cowboys have trouble stopping the run.

Coming into this game against the Seahawks, the Cowboys rank 20th in stopping the run; the 'Boys defense allows a little over 120 rushing yards a game. Well guess where the Seahawks rank in rushing offense? That’s right, number one. The 'Hawks average almost 170 yards a game.

It will help having Rolando McClain back in the lineup, but it’s the boys in front of Ro that are the problem. Tyrone Crawford is playing well, but I feel he’s best suited for pass rushing. Terrell McClain isn’t playing up to par so far, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Davon Coleman or Ken Bishop take his place. But, with what they have now, these guys can’t stop the run.

Go back and look at every game the Cowboys have played. Each team was able to run over this defense. The Titans didn’t get over a hundred yards but they averaged close to 8 yards a carry. The Rams ran the ball the way they wanted, the Saints got over a hundred as well, and the Texans ran the ball down our throat. I was thrilled when I would see them drop into a shotgun formation with 5 wide.

The Seahawks rely heavily on their run game, which they should. They have “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch running behind one of the better offensive lines in the league. They have a QB in Russell Wilson who last week against Washington showed he can put up over a 100 yards rushing without a problem. And let’s not forget Percy Harvin running his reverse sweeps.

All those weapons on the Seahawks' offense are going to be too much for this defense to handle.

So some of you fans might be thinking our offense isn’t too shabby because our boys rush for over 160 yards a game. And you’re right, the Cowboys' o-line is one of the best in the business, but they go up against the best team in the league at stopping the run.

Those dogs in Seattle barely allow a little over 60 yards a game. And how has this Cowboys team has been winning? On the ground. And what do the 'Hawks do to help them win games? Stop the run.

This Cowboys team will not be able to run the ball in Seattle, which will lead to this team leaning on the pass entirely too much. And that’s exactly what this Seahawks team wants other teams to do. They want teams to pass against their nasty pass rush and their intimidating defensive backs.

Don’t get me wrong, I know we have weapons like Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and Dwayne Harris, but Seattle's defense has someone who can match up with those players and not blink an eye.

My final reason why the Seahawks will beat the Cowboys is playing in Seattle - 19-1 including playoffs since 2012 at home. There is no other place in the league like CenturyLink Field in that respect. When those fans get going, they can literally make it feel like there is an earthquake going on. Those fans play a big part in why those guys haven’t lost but once in the last 20 games played there.

I know anything can happen in sports. I’ve been around a long time and seen a lot of upsets and you wouldn't believe how much I want to be wrong about this.

But it’s just not going to happen. The Seahawks will win going away 38-10.

Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

  • aerdna smailliw

    Agree with most of this except the statement that the Cowboys will not be able to run on the Seattle defense. They will be able to run on that defense and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it quite well. Seattle is only giving up only 62 yards a game b/c their opponents have given up on the run not because they have stopped any of them. If Dallas can stay within 10 points throughout the game and keep Murray relevant the entire game they will be within striking distance of a win at the end.

  • bleatherman2011

    The defense will be the reason why we will not be able to stick to the run in this game. I hate saying it but it’s what I feel about this game. But hey, I was wrong about the Saints games as well

  • Raulz Nero

    On any given Sunday, anything can happen. The Cowboys have a better chance than previous meetings. Dallas has to play its best to beat the champs. Cowboys just need to keep doing what they are doing. Run that ball!!!. Go Cowboys!!!

  • Bryson Treece

    Say what you will about the Cowboys – use any stats you like – but ultimately it comes down to the Cowboys finding a way to win games. They’ve done it all year, save for San Fran which I believe is because Romo was still injured and unable to twist to throw. In my mind, a win today says these Cowboys are the real deal this year. A loss says what Brian mentioned – they’re a year away.

  • LurkingBrowny

    Where can I get one of these cushy jobs speculating? Seems easy enough.. You don’t have to be right, or even close to right. You don’t have to say anything popular. You don’t have to take any risks. You just watch ESPN all week then throw your hat into the speculation arena… Call me, I got this.

  • DC4ever

    When you deem opinion newsworthy you end up eating your words. Looks like you spent a lot of time on that story too, I couldn’t get past the 1st paragraph before I realized it wasn’t news. Enjoy chewing, maybe take a journalism class and quit putting your guesses in print.

    • Bryson Treece

      I’m amazed it took you so long to realize it wasn’t news. The entirely speculative title you clicked on to get here didn’t clue you in? Hmm… Can I interest you in this fine bottle of blinker fluid?

Game Notes

#DALvsCIN: Bengals DL Gives Cowboys OL Formidable Test

Kevin Brady



The Star News - Bengals At Cowboys: ITS Staff Picks And Notes
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

During their preseason opener, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line faced its first test of the season. The young, athletic, and downright talented defensive line of the 49ers gave the Cowboys starting five a chance to gauge their offseason progress thus far.

I'd say the starting group passed the test, while the backups and depth players looked a bit more shaky. The good thing about football, though, is that they get a shot to do it all again this Saturday.

This week's opponent, the Cincinatti Bengals, feature some serious talent upfront. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is one of the best interior defenders in all of football, terrorizing centers and guards since he entered the league.Carl Lawson, Auburn

On the edge is one of my 2017 draft favorites, Carl Lawson. Lawson was a draft target of mine for the Cowboys, but it appears the entire league missed on the stud edge rusher during that draft. During his rookie season a year ago, Lawson racked up 8.5 sacks and looked like the best rookie rusher in all of football. It's rare that a rookie defensive end tallies the sack total that Lawson did in 2017, but then again, Lawson is a rare type of player.

Opposite of Carl Lawson is veteran pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. Together, Atkins and Dunlap have been one of the more dangerous pass rush duos for quite some time, but the additions of Lawson and Jordan Willis make them an incredibly impressive group.

During the Bengals' preseason opener against the Chicago Bears, their defensive line looked to be in midseason form.

Though Geno Atkins had the team's only sack, the trio of Atkins, Lawson, and Dunlap looked as prolific as ever.

This deep and talented defensive line is a more-than worthy test for the Cowboys this Saturday. Rookie Connor Williams will likely have to block Geno Atkins at some point, and though he looked promising against the 49ers, this week presents a whole different challenge.

Many now expect veteran center Travis Frederick to miss Saturday's game as well, due to his shoulder troubles during training camp. If Frederick were to miss the start, Joe Looney would be thrown into the first against this first team defensive front of the Bengals.

A rookie at left guard and Looney at center might not be the best ingredients against Geno Atkins and company, but it'll be what they have to roll with.

Still, Saturday will give us another chance to see what the 2018 Dallas Cowboys offensive line is all about.

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Game Notes

Film Review: Connor Williams Overall Impressive In Preseason Debut

Kevin Brady



Film Review: Connor Williams Overall Impressive In Preseason Debut

The collapse of the 2017 Dallas Cowboys can be, in large part, attributed to the collapse of their offensive line. When left tackle Tyron Smith was forced to miss time with various injuries, neither Chaz Green nor Byron Bell could get the job done in his place. Not only were these two replacements unsatisfactory, however, they were disastrous.

From the beginning of the 2017 season the Cowboys had a problem at left guard as well. With Ronald Leary departing for Denver and La'el Collins replacing Doug Free at right tackle, the left guard spot was left to an open competition between Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green. Quite frankly, neither was impressive.

As a result Dak Prescott's sophomore season was nowhere near as fun or remarkable as his rookie season, and the Cowboys faltered down the stretch as a team. Trying to rectify these issues, Dallas drafted Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams in the second round of last year's draft.

Though it could be argued that, on paper, the Cowboys had more pressing needs than their All-Pro filled offensive line, adding a player like Connor Williams was exactly what this team needed to do if it wanted to emulate its 2016 success.

So, through one preseason game, how does the rookie look? Let's take to the film to decide just how good (or bad) Connor Williams was in his debut.

dalvssf2018 connor williams

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Let's begin with the bad. Really the only completely poor rep of the night for Connor Williams came on the first drive of the game. Williams is working against former first round pick DeForest Buckner here. Buckner, lined up as the 3 technique over Williams' outside shoulder, knows he is in a one-on-one situation with the rookie.

Buckner immediately swipes Williams' hands down, quickly flipping his hips and getting upfield. Besides not getting a strong enough punch, Williams' biggest mistake is that he stops his feet on contact. This allows Buckner to get him off balance, forcing Williams to bend at the waist and look lost.

Buckner then blows by him for the easy quarterback hit.

dalvssf2018 connor williams 2

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Later on the same drive we see Williams struggle to execute a reach block. Once again Williams is faced with a 3-technique, this time defensive tackle Sheldon Day. Day gets a great get-off, beating Williams initially with his first step. Day then does a great job of stoning Williams' playside shoulder and redirecting the running back.

This is another example of Connor Williams needing to increase his play strength and speed a bit. Multiple Cowboys reporters at training camp have mentioned these issues with Williams' game, and they flashed on tape during this rep.

Thankfully for both Connor Williams and the Cowboys, things only went uphill from here.

dalvssf2018 connor williams 3

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On Dak Prescott's touchdown pass to Michael Gallup we see Connor Williams correct everything he had wrong earlier.

Williams comes out of his stance square, delivers a solid punch, and stones the defensive lineman at the line of scrimmage. Williams stays strong with his hands even as the defender attempts to swipe them down as Buckner successfully did earlier.

He allows for no interior pass rush and keeps Prescott's vision clear down the field.

dalvssf2018 connor williams 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Earlier on the same drive we see Connor Williams work well off a double team and on to the second level. Williams delivers a solid punch to the 1-technique on the inside of him, allowing Travis Frederick plenty of time to overtake the man and drive him back.

What's most impressive, though, is how Williams keeps his shoulders square and his eyes on the second level the entire time. He never buries his head or over-commits to the down lineman, allowing himself to be an athlete and help spring Rod Smith for a nice gain.

Despite some legit reasons for concern about Williams' game, I do believe he will be fine moving forward. Connor Williams is an excellent plug and play left guard who provides some tackle depth as well, and is a vital addition to the Cowboys 2018 offense. His debut performance gives all of us even more reasons to be excited about this offensive line.

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Game Notes

What We May Have Learned From the Cowboys Week 1 Preseason Loss

Brian Martin



5 Things We Might Have Learned From Cowboys Preseason Week 1

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately came out on the losing end of the battle in their first preseason contest against the San Francisco 49ers, despite pretty much dominating the majority of the game. The good news is it was just an exhibition game and means relatively nothing in regards to the upcoming 2018 season.

Last week was the first chance for a lot of us to see what this years Dallas Cowboys team could possibly look like. There was a lot of roster turnover this offseason, which means there were quite a few new faces on the field for the Cowboys Thursday night. But, I can't say that I was disappointed in what I saw, at least so far.

Now that I've had time to study and evaluate the Dallas Cowboys game against the 49ers, I wanted to share with all of you some of the things we may have learned. Up until this point we were left speculating about certain things, but I think the picture is much clearer now.

To keep myself from going overboard here, I decided to narrow it down to just five things I think we may have learned about the 2018 Dallas Cowboys last Thursday night. Continue to read below to see what they are.

✭ Rookie WR Michael Gallup the Real Deal✭

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

With so much unknown surrounding the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver position, it was really good to see rookie WR Michael Gallup play well against the San Francisco 49ers Thursday night. Despite being a rookie, Gallup looked like the best WR on the field for either team. I don't believe I'm exaggerating the slightest either.

The highlight of the game might have been when he and Quarterback Dak Prescott were able to hook up on a 30 yard touchdown pass to close out the Cowboys first offensive series. Gallup might have scored a second TD later in the game if QB Cooper Rush's pass wouldn't have been under thrown. But, that's neither here nor there now. If Gallup continues to play like he did Thursday night, he could easily be the Cowboys top WR in 2018.

✭ Blake Jarwin Favorite to Replace Jason Witten✭

Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TEs Blake Jarwin and Geoff Swaim

Geoff Swaim may have gotten the start and provided some good blocking Thursday night against the 49ers, but it was Blake Jarwin who may have ended up becoming the favorite to replace Jason Witten this season. Out of all of the options in the receiving game for the Dallas Cowboys, it was Jarwin who was on the receiving end of Dak Prescott's first pass of the game. And, if he hadn't had stepped out of bounds later in the game he would've found himself in the end zone.

Now, it's a little early in the process to claim Jarwin as the victor in the Cowboys TE competition, but he was able to carry over what he's been doing in practice into the game. That's no small feat to accomplish. I'm sure we'll see some of the other TEs on the roster receive opportunities to prove themselves, but for now, it's looking as if it could be Blake Jarwin's job to lose.

✭ Tavon Austin More Than a "Gadget" Player✭

Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon

Dallas Cowboys RBs Ezekiel Elliott and Tavon Austin

When the Dallas Cowboys traded for Tavon Austin earlier in the offseason no one really knew exactly what kind of offensive role they had in mind for him. Since arriving in Dallas, Austin has been described as a "web-back", but that made things even more confusing because it sounded like a made up position. The only thing anybody really knew is that Austin has been mostly a "gadget" player since entering the NFL.

I know it was just Week 1 of the preseason, but if Thursday night was any indication of how the Cowboys plan to use Austin, then he will be more than a "gadget" player this season. Austin didn't line up in the backfield or receive any handoffs. He didn't even return any punts or kickoffs against the 49ers. The only thing he did do was lineup at WR and run routes. His role could change and expand later, but it looks as if he will be more involved offensively than we had originally thought.

✭ DE Taco Charlton Looks Much Improved in Year 2✭

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

The Dallas Cowboys defense may not have recorded a single quarterback sack Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers, but they did put consistent pressure on the opposing QBs. One of those pass rushers to consistently pressure the QB was the Cowboys second-year Defensive End Taco Charlton, who looks like an entirely different player this year. He was getting after the QB, making tackles, and deflecting passes.

Charlton is starting to look more and more like the first-round draft pick the Cowboys were hoping he would be last year. He looks bigger, stronger, faster, and more technique sound than he did a season ago, which should be good news for the pass rush this season. He also showed that his knowledge of the game has improved. Last season he would've been fooled by some of those bootlegs, but it doesn't look to be the case now.

✭LB Depth No Longer a Concern✭

Joe Thomas

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas

The Dallas Cowboys played the entire game against the 49ers Thursday night without Sean Lee, their best defensive player. Unfortunately, it may have provided a glimpse of what we could see at some point during the 2018 season since #50 has a problem of remaining healthy. The good news is, it looks like the Cowboys have covered themselves for such scenario.

Yes, all eyes were on Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch against the 49ers Thursday night, and rightfully so. Both players didn't do anything to disappoint, but it was the Cowboys free agent addition, Joe Thomas, who stole the show. Thomas was filling in for Sean Lee and did an outstanding job doing so. He was all over the field and even ended up getting an interception off a Kavon Frazier deflection. The way all the Cowboys LBs played should ease any concerns with the depth of the position heading into the 2018 season.

What stood out for you in the Dallas Cowboys game against the 49ers?

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