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Quick Thoughts: Week 2, Philadelphia Eagles

If we though last weeks game was the definition of ugly the Dallas Cowboys one upped themselves in their Week 2 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Penalties kept the Cowboys from pulling away with the offensive line being the biggest culprit. To make matters worse Tony Romo suffered a fracture to his left clavicle. But, at the end of the day a win is a win. The Cowboys simply need to find a way to weather the storm until their stars return to action.

Turning Point

While the Cowboys limited the Eagles to negative 3 rushing yards and under 7 minutes time of possession in the first half it was only 6-0 as the teams headed to the locker rooms. Coming out for the second half the Cowboys defense held strong once again forcing a quick punt from the Eagles. Eagles punter Donnie Jones had his attempt blocked and Kyle Wilber returned the loose ball 26 yards for the touchdown and a 13-0 lead.

Three Stars

Third Star: Tyler Patmon – The young cornerback assuming Orlando Scandrick’s role as the primary slot corner has not looked out of place. Patmon played well in coverage and could have had a pair of interceptions. I’m sure the team will have him working on the jugs machine this week.

Second Star: Jason Witten – Old reliable was up to his old tricks once again. It wasn’t the two touchdown performance from Week 1 but Witten came up with catches when the Cowboys needed them. Witten finished the game with 7 receptions for 56 yards.

First Star: Sean Lee – Throughout the game Lee was simply flying around making plays. He frustrated DeMarco Murray on a number of occasions and came up with a clutch redzone interception as the Eagles began to get their offense rolling after Romo left. Lee finished with 9 solo tackles, 5 tackle assists and 1 interception.

Other Thoughts

  • The biggest storyline going into this game was the return of DeMarco Murray. After a subpar Week 1 performance Murray actually played worse in Week 2. The Cowboys stymied their former running back all game. Murray finished the afternoon with 13 carries for 2 yards. This brings his season rushing stats to 21 carries for 11 yards.
  • For the second straight week the Cowboys held their opponent to under 300 yards of total offense. The Eagles final drive, with the game essentially decided, accounted for 80 of their 226 yards. This defense is for real.
  • There’e been a lot of reports online about how long Romo will be out. These are all guesses and assumptions. At this point we do not know the severity of the fracture. I once fractured my clavicle but since it was a hairline fracture I was only in a sling for two weeks. Let’s hold off on the season is over talk until we know the exact nature of Romo’s injury.
  • While he wasn’t asked to do much, Brandon Weeden came in and played well. Weeded completed all seven of his pass attempts for 73 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully when he gets a full game he plays better than he did against Arizona.
  • The injuries the Cowboys have suffered early this season are certainly disheartening. That being said the Cowboys are 2-0 to start the season. Even more important is the fact that both games were division wins. But the best part is that both the Eagles and Giants find themselves at 0-2 to start the season.

Next up for the Cowboys is a home game against the Atlanta Falcons. While it will be a battle of two 2-0 teams both sides have their issues. The Cowboys obviously have injury concerns and have won a pair of ugly games. But the Falcons haven’t looked that impressive either, save for Julio Jones. The Falcons barely got past the same teams the Cowboys barely got past. It should be a good game and if the Cowboys can find a way once again they could start building a cushion until the playmakers return.

Know the Enemy: Philadelphia Eagles, Week 2

DALLAS COWBOYS (1-0) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (0-1)

Sunday, September 20, 2015 – 4:25pm ET
Lincoln Financial Field
TV: FOX
Announcers: Joe Buck / Troy Aikman / Erin Andrews

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4 Things: Giants vs Cowboys

  1. The Committee Might Actually WorkDunbar, Randle and McFadden combined for 34 touches and 212 yards against the Giants. Randle and McFadden both received the bulk of the carries, but Dunbar was the X-Factor for us down the stretch. Romo hit Dunbar on a 24 yard pass followed by a 16 yard pass. Dunbar covered 40 yards in less than 45 seconds. Those three guys contributed a lot and it looks like this committee is working.
  2. The Offensive Line is Still The Best in The NFL
    I don’t know if you noticed, but Tony Romo was not sacked last night. Romo dropped back to pass the ball 45 times and he was not sacked. Tyron Smith handled Robert Ayers with ease, while Zack Martin and Travis Frederick stood up their rushers. Bill Callahan is in Washington now, but it seems like Frank Pollock and Marc Colombo have these guys ready. LG Ronald Leary injured his groin, but Mackenzy Bernadeau filled in for him and did a good job. The Offensive Line is the best in the NFL and it will be the best for the next decade.
  1. This team can win these few games without Dez Bryant
    Dallas Cowboys
    fans have been calling Dez Bryant “replaceable” since he got his foot taped up. Dez Bryant may have had an off night statistically, but what he did for us in this game is not “replaceable.” I think people fail to realize that Dez was doubled any time he was on the field. Dez being doubled means Witten, Escobar, Williams and Beasley are all in single coverage. That’s what Dez brings to this team when he isn’t catching passes. Dez will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in foot, but I’m not paranoid one bit. The offense will flow through Romo and Witten. We understand the chemistry between Romo and Witten, so we know Tony will have a reliable target to throw to. The WRs didn’t look great last night, but the running backs and TEs did, so I definitely can see them getting the bulk of touches until Dez is back.
  1. The Defense Shut The Giants Offense Down
    Rod Marinelli and all the defensive coaches showed up and had their guys ready to play. Sean Lee made his return and so did the pass rush. I really want to highlight secondary coach, Jerome Henderson. Last season the Cowboys secondary was embarrassed by the Giants WR’s, specifically Odell Beckham Jr. JJ Wilcox, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr were all over Wilcox last night. Beckham caught a pass over the middle and Wilcox came flying like a bullet and hit Beckham Jr. Wilcox actually broke his nose on that play too. Morris Claiborne was covering Beckham Jr. for the majority of the game and he looked like the guy we drafted with the 6th pick in 2012. You didn’t really hear Claiborne’s name during the game because Eli Manning wouldn’t target him. Cowboys held Beckham to just 5 catches for 44 yards.  The Cowboys defense gave up 289 total yards, but didn’t give up a touchdown rushing or passing. There’s always some bad when there’s a lot of good and Cowboys had a somewhat major injury on defense last night. Rookie Defensive End, Randy Gregory suffered a high ankle sprain last night. Gregory was rushing with his speed and power, but he got tangled up and sprained his ankle. Thankfully it isn’t a fracture, but he’ll miss time. Potentially, the Cowboys could get Dez Bryant, Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory back at the same time.

Quick Thoughts: Week 1, New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys kicked off their 2015 campaign with a tumultuous victory over the divisional rival New York Giants. Tony Romo orchestrated a masterful touchdown drive in the final minute and a half capped by an 11 yard strike to Jason Witten giving the Cowboys an unlikely 27-26 win. It was a game that will go down as evidence in favor of Romo’s place amongst the top QBs in the game.

That being said, while the final drive was masterful the rest of the game wasn’t pretty. In fact there were moments that were downright ugly. Wide receivers were dropping passes. Balls were deflecting off of hands directly for to the Giants for momentum swinging interceptions. Until the final drive it was a case of whatever can go wrong will go wrong for the Cowboys.

Play of the Game

With the Cowboys leading 6-3 and dominating the game, both in terms of yardage and time of possession, Romo was once again leading the Cowboys down the field with eyes on padding the lead before the half. Instead Cole Beasley fumbled at the end of a 14 yard catch and run and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the loose ball 57 yards for a touchdown that changed the complexion of the game. The fumble return touchdown gave the Giants their first lead of the game and they never trailed until Witten scored in the dying seconds.

Three Stars

Third Star: Jason Witten – Romo looked Witten’s direction when it counted most. Witten caught a pair of fourth quarter TDs to bring the Cowboys back from the jaws of defeat. Witten finished the game with 8 receptions for 60 yards and two scores.

Second Star: Cowboys Secondary – Typically I will just give these awards out to individual players but I find it very tough to pick just one guy out of this group. JJ Wilcox rocked Odell Beckham Jr. in the first quarter and set the tone for the evening. From their Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne both handled Beckham with great success. Overall Beckham finished with just 5 catches for 44 yards. A far cry from what he did to the Cowboys a year ago.

First Star: Tony Romo – As mentioned above Romo marched the Cowboys down the field with little time remaining to win the game. Throughout the evening Romo looked crisp finishing with 356 yards on 36/45 passing, three touchdowns and a 103.3 QB rating. If not for the dropped passes Romo could have reached 400 yards. He did throw a pair of interceptions but neither can be placed squarely on his shoulders. The first Romo and Witten should probably share the blame. The pass from Romo was behind Witten but at the same time it’s a catch we have seen Witten make many times and he should have been able to come up with it. The second was entirely on Devin Street. Romo hit Street square in the numbers and the second year wideout simply failed to hold onto the ball.

Final Thoughts

  • After the game the Cowboys received some bad news. Dez Bryant was diagnosed with a broken bone in his foot. He will have surgery to have a screw inserted and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Randy Gregory was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and is also expected to be out 4-6 weeks. These timelines suggest that the pair could return after the Cowboys Week 6 bye. While it hurts to lose both players initial reaction to the injures had Cowboys fans fearing the worst.
  • We have all wondered at some point, “why don’t the Cowboys utilize Lance Dunbar more?” Well they finally got the shift running back involved and he made the case to be a mainstay in the offense. Dunbar never took a handoff but did catch eight passes for 70 yards.
  • Sean Lee returned to being the leader of this defense. Lee finished with a team high seven solo tackles and two assists. Hitchens and Wilber also played well but this defense will get to another level with the return of Rolando McClain. Having Lee and McClain on the field together should allow the Cowboys to boast one of the top linebacker units in the league.

The Cowboys got away with one in their season opener. Next up is a road trip to Philadelphia. Without the likes of Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain, Dez Bryant and Randy Gregory the Cowboys will have an uphill battle. If the Cowboys play like this against the Eagles they likely won’t be as lucky. A lot of work will be done this week on the practice field to ensure a performance like this does not happen two weeks in a row.

Comeback season

Sean Lee

December 9th, 2013 was the last time we saw Sean Lee take the field for the Dallas Cowboys. Lee took the field last night for the first time since against the Vikings, playing at the Weak Line backer spot.

He record 2 solo tackles in the first quarter. He helped out keeping the Vikings out of the end zone.

When asked about his return Lee answered  “At times a little bit rusty. I think as I got in the flow of the game I felt better and better. But I only played 15 to 20 plays. It’s about playing 60 to 70 plays and being able to do that effectively and I still have a lot of work to do.”

With spending almost a full year in the weight room, it has looked like Lee has put on more muscle. Its looks like hes back in fresh shape, and ready for the season opener against the Giants.

One thing that has never left my mind was, when the team traveled to London last season to face the Jaguars, Sean Lee was asked why wasn’t he planning on traveling with the team. He responded “it would’ve turned into nothing but a vacation for me, and I don’t need a vacation,” Lee says. “I need to stay in the weight room. I need to be here working.”

“I still have a lot of work to do, still have room to improve, still have to get better conditioning wise, but I think I’m on track to be ready.”

There’s no question about his leadership and his hunger for this team. 2 weeks from now, during the season opener, Lee plans on starting on the weak line backer spot and continuing were he left off.

 

Morris Claiborne

Coming off his torn patellar tendon last season, Morris Claiborne made his debut against the Vikings.

Where Claiborne stood out the most for me was the fact that his side wasn’t targeted as much. One play where Claiborne got targeted on a deep pass towards the end zone, he was able to make a play on the ball.

Besides being flagged with a pass interference, Claiborne showed us flashes and the ability to have a tight coverage on his receivers.

With the season opener closing in, can Claiborne stay healthy? And if so, can he manage to compete for the starting job?

“I’m just playing,” Claiborne said. “I keep saying: I put in a lot of work, and God has truly blessed me to be where I’m at right now. I’m going to take full advantage of it.”

Checking in on Collins, Gregory and Jones

The Dallas Cowboys received quite the buzz earlier in the year when they landed three first round talents from the rookie draft class. Will they be worthy of such buzz once the season begins?

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Another Preseason Injury

The Dallas Cowboys are once again hit by a big injury prior to the opening of a new season. Last season, the Cowboys lost their leader, Sean Lee, before they even reached Oxnard. This time around, it is another one of their leaders who could be lost for the season.

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  • Random Quote

    Be known for how you play, not what you say.

    — Jason Garrett