THE COWBOYS REPORT

Are the Dallas Cowboys in trouble after 1-2 start?

Jason Garrett and the Cowboys are looking to bounce back. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Sunday afternoon, the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Seattle Seahawks by the score of 24-13 and in reality it should have been a much closer game.  The main factor in this matchup was turnovers and Seattle created them all.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was 19 of 34 for 168 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.  Once again, the offensive line played well below average when pass blocking and allowed the Seahawk defense to sack him five times for a loss of 31 yards total.  He never had any time to set his feet and SHOCKINGLY, anytime he was able to set up there was nobody open downfield. At least this week, there was a tight end sighting.  Geoff Swaim (TE) led the team with five catches for 47 yards. No other receiver had more than three, and yes that includes $12 million dollar man Allen Hurns, who had two for 22 yards.

One bright spot for Dallas was the O-line was able to open up holes for Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had 16 carries for 127 yards and a 7.9 yard per carry average.  Most notably, however, early in the fourth quarter with the score 24-6, Elliott broke through for a 26 yard run deep into Seattle territory but fumbled the ball and Seattle took over at their own 13 yard line.  The Dallas coaching staff needs to take a step back to figure what they need to do to get the offense on track. They tried to get speedster Tavon Austin the ball but essentially ran three bubble screens to him which resulted in three catches for 2 yards.  Jason Garrett and staff need to get a bit more creative.

When it was all over, Dallas had given the ball away three times and weren’t able to force any takeaways themselves.  Turnovers are key in this league and whoever wins that battle usually wins the game. Seattle was the hungrier team on Sunday as they went in at 0-2 and when you combine that with a clutch performance from Russell Wilson, they were due for a much-needed win.  If you read last week’s article hopefully you took Seattle (-1) and cashed in, I know I did!

3 Players to Watch

  1. Ezekiel Elliott (running back): The Cowboys only offensive star is going to have to put last week’s game behind him and help push his team to another victory and right now he is the only playmaker on offense.  Also, Detroit is the worst defense in the league against the run.

  2. Jaylon Smith (linebacker): This 6’2, second-year player out of Norte Dame is going to be a key part of the Dallas defense with the health of Sean Lee in question.  He is second on the team in sacks with two and has 22 total tackles so far.  He is going to have his work cut out for him going against Detroit’s good pass catching running backs.

  3. Jason Garrett (head coach): The coaching staff needs to be smarter.  They need to call more appropriate plays for the type of team they have.  With the O-line not being able to block very well some regular screen passes and roll out plays togGet Prescott some easy completions would help create positive yards.

Coming Up

Sunday afternoon the Cowboys (1-2) will be hosting the Detroit Lions (1-2) at AT & T Stadium (AKA: Jerry’s World) at noon.  It will be their second home game of the season and they are looking for any advantage they can get.

Once again, the Cowboys are going to need their offensive line to play well in order for them to be victorious.  The Dallas coaching staff needs to be able to make in-game adjustments to keep the offense moving, especially making good play calls on third downs.  The Cowboys are 8 of 34 on third down conversions for the season. They are only ahead of the winless Arizona Cardinals. Luckily, the Lions are coming off a big win over the New England Patriots and could be primed for a letdown this week.  Hopefully, Elliot can make amends for last week’s fumble and help carry the team to another win.

If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are Elliott, Lions QB Matthew Stafford and his trio of wide receivers Marvin Jones Jr., Golden Tate, and Kenny Golladay.

For you gamblers out there, the current line is Dallas -3.  The only play here would be if you can get the Cowboys at less than 3, if not I would stay away from it.  The over under is 43.5, and the over could be interesting if starting middle linebacker Sean Lee is out for Dallas.  He left last week’s game with a hamstring injury. I can see both teams scoring over 20 points if Lee does not play along with Detroit’s possible letdown.



 

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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