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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.

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.

Know the Enemy: New York Giants, Week 1

Can you feel it? The regular season is just around the corner. The Dallas Cowboys will kick off Sunday Night Football against their NFC East Rivals, the New York Giants. By the time the ball is launched off the tee, it will have been 294 days since these two teams last met.

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Quick Thoughts: Preseason Week 4

The streak has been snapped! The Cowboys won their final preseason game 21-14 over the Houston Texans. It still doesn’t mean a whole lot but it was nice to see the team pick up a victory as they head into the regular season.

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2015 Roster Projections

When the Dallas Cowboys begin their season, they’ll immediately be missing three starters. CB Orlando Scandrick was lost to an ACL/MCL injury last week, while DE Greg Hardy and LB Rolando McClain will each have to serve a four game suspension.

That being said, you will see 55 men on the roster below. The two extra men account for the roster spots that will be used while Hardy and McClain are away for four games.

ASHLEYJORDAN
QBQB
RomoRomo
WeedenWeeden
RBRB
RandleRandle
McFaddenMcFadden
DunbarDunbar
CluttsClutts
WRWR
BryantBryant
WilliamsWilliams
BeasleyBeasley
StreetStreet
WhiteheadJenkins
TETE
WittenWitten
EscobarEscobar
HannaHanna
SwaimSwaim
OLOL
SmithSmith
LearyLeary
FrederickFrederick
MartinMartin
FreeFree
CollinsCollins
BernadeauBernadeau
WeemsWeems
GibsonWetzel
DTDT
T. CrawfordT. Crawford
HaydenHayden
J. CrawfordJ. Crawford
ColemanColeman
McClainBishop
Bishop
DEDE
HardyHardy
MinceyMincey
LawrenceLawrence
GregoryGregory
RussellRussell
GardenerGardener
Edwards
LBLB
LeeLee
McClainMcClain
HitchensHitchens
GachkarGachkar
BrinkleyBrinkley
WilberWilber
WilsonWilson
Smith
CBCB
CarrCarr
ClaiborneClaiborne
WhiteWhite
PatmonPatmon
JonesJones
SS
ChurchChurch
WilcoxWilcox
HeathHeath
McCray
STsSTs
BaileyBailey
JonesJones
LadouceurLadouceur

 

ASHLEY

It’s easy to see that the backup play behind Romo has been subpar. I don’t think that anyone has made their case to the Cowboys to encourage them to add another roster spot there. I believe they’ll roll with 2 QBs, because once we get to Romo’s backup, we’re in trouble anyway.

I think we’ll see the Cowboys go deep at DL, especially given the way Marinelli likes to rotate through players. McCray was tough to project, but given the loss of Spillman, the Cowboys may keep him around strictly for what he offers on STs, though he may not be the McCray of old.

If it were up to me, I’d be more inclined to keep Keith Smith at LB than Jasper Brinkley based on their preseason performances, but Brinkley’s contract tells me to follow the money. I’d love to see the Cowboys be bold here, and make that move… so long as they’re comfortable. We may not see that until after McClain comes back from his suspension, if at all.

The fifth WR spot is hard to predict as well, and the 5th guy may not even be on this team. But so far, Lucky has caught 4-of-6 passes thrown his way. His running with the #1s against Minnesota can only be seen as a good thing, catching a TD pass from Romo. Lucky is not to be overlooked in the run game, either, as he’s made nice blocks there for a rookie WR. I would’ve liked to see AJ Jenkins take this spot, but he’s 2-of-5 on catches thrown his way, and doesn’t play special teams. That could hurt him.

I could easily see the Cowboys cutting Gibson and Bishop once Hardy and McClain are through with their suspensions. All in all, the Cowboys don’t have very many roster spots to fill from last season, and will cut some decent talent along the way. That’s a good problem to have. I could also potentially see Hanna being used as trade bait a la Dante Rosario.

 

JORDAN

Dustin Vaughan hasn’t shown me anything to make me hesitate cutting him and going long at a position like the defensive line. Probably the biggest surprise in my projection is AJ Jenkins over Lucky Whitehead. I think Lucky lost his spot on the team when Cole Beasley proved to be an effective punt returner. He isn’t the sexy threat that you would prefer but he’s steady. That being said, I don’t think Jenkins spot is safe. While he has come on in recent weeks and he does have great draft pedigree I believe his spot is available should a WR/KR shake loose that the front office likes.

Once Week 4 rolls around Hardy and McClain will return from their suspensions prompting a pair of cuts. I’ve gone long at both linebacker and defensive line to accommodate this. I’ve liked what I have seen from the younger players so far this offseason so to make room for McClain I would cut Brinkley and keep Smith. Cutting a defensive lineman to make room for Hardy will be a tough decision.

It will likely come down to either Bishop or Edwards. However, in a perfect world the young guys will continue to push the pocket from the 1-tech position causing Hayden to become expendable. John Wetzel is an extra offensive lineman that could be replaced when Chaz Green is healthy.

 

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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4 Things We Should Look For vs Minnesota

Today, the Dallas Cowboys face the Minnesota Vikings in their 3rd preseason game. This team entered Training Camp with a lot of questions and some of them still remain unanswered. The 3rd preseason game is the best depiction of what your team will look like come regular season. There are a few player that we should be looking at during the game.

Tony Romo and Dez Bryant:
The 3rd preseason game is the dress rehearsal for the Cowboys. Tony Romo should be in for at least one whole quarter, so I expect him to feed his monster at Wide Receiver. We all know that Tony to Dez is a connection that is unmatched in the NFL, but I added them to my list for one specific reason. The NFL pushed back the extra point yardage, but still allows you to go for a 2 point conversion from the 2 yard line. I want to see if the Cowboys go for the 2 point conversion with weapons like WR Dez Bryant and TE Gavin “Pablo” Escobar. I say that because we have 2 big outdoor games in Green Bay and Buffalo in December, so it could be windy. It’ll be good to see Dez, Romo and the entire Offensive Line all together again.

Sean Lee
Sean Lee hasn’t played in an NFL game since December 9th, 2013. Lee suffered a neck injury against the Chicago Bears on December 9th and then on May 27th, 2014, Lee tore his ACL on the first day of OTA’s. Marinelli moved Lee over to Weakside Linebacker to help Lee avoid injuries. Guys like Derrick Brooks and Lance Briggs have played that spot in the Marinelli defense and have had success. Lee hopes that he can be the next guy on that list. Sean has to get out there to play this new position and I think this game will be when it happens. Expect to see 50 around the ball anytime there’s a run or a pass over the middle.


Tyler Patmon in the Slot:

This one is huge because Patmon is the starting slot corner because Orlando Scandrick tore his ACL. Scandrick was the Cowboys best cornerback and maybe the best slot corner in the NFL. It’ll be a challenge to fill Scandrick’s shoes, but Patmon will definitely try. Patmon does bring fire and passion to the defense, much like Scandrick. If he can have Scandrick’s skill level, then we’ll be in good hands. Today, we’ll see if Tyler Patmon is the real deal and if he’s a feasible replacement for Orlando Scandrick or a fluke.

Darren McFadden vs Joseph Randle
This game against the Minnesota Vikings will be the day we determine the starting running back. Somebody will flourish behind this offensive line and I think it’ll be Joseph Randle. There is no concrete option at running back right now, but a big game from Randle or McFadden could land them the starting job. They’ve both been banged up and have played very sporadically in the preseason, but today, there should be no excuses. Jason Garrett and running backs coach Gary Brown should come out of this game feeling confident and 100% sure they have their running back.

 

Those are just 4 things that we all should be looking for during the dress rehearsal vs the Vikings. We all hope for a Cowboys win, but remember guys, the score and final decision do not mean anything either way. Just enjoy some football and watch our Boys’ continue to get better each day.

 

  • Random Quote

    When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn.

    — Tom Landry