THE COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys offense fails to show up in opener; Giants up next

The Cowboys need to get Ezekiel Elliot going. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys went winless in the Preseason (0-4) and have started the regular season winless as well (0-1).  They lost Sunday afternoon by the score of 16-8 to the Carolina Panthers and even though it was only a one score deficit, the game wasn’t that close.  

The main issue with the team was poor offensive line play.  The O-line gave up six sacks and couldn’t open running lanes for Pro Bowl Running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas offense didn’t cross midfield until the third quarter and were held to 232 yards.  Quarterback Dak Prescott never had any time to get the ball to his pass catchers.  Prescott went 19 of 29 for 170 yards, no touchdowns, and a 2 point conversion. He was sacked on the Cowboys 15 yard line with about 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and was stripped of the ball which Carolina recovered and sealed the game.  Elliott was held to 86 total yards (69 rushing) but did get into the end zone for the Cowboys lone touchdown.

Another glaring concern was the lack of playmakers.  With the defense locked in on Elliott, none of the pass catchers stepped up.  Slot receiver Cole Beasley led the team with 7 catches for 73 yards, while $12 million dollar man Allen Hurns was basically a no show and  ended with only one catch for 20 yards.  A big portion of this problem is there doesn’t seem to be any production that will come from the Tight End position with departure of Cowboy great Jason Witten. Starting Tight End Geoff Swaim had three catches for 18 yards on mostly a short throws.  

The lone bright spot for the Cowboys is their defense was solid.  They sacked former NFL MVP Cam Newton three times and limited him to 161 yards passing.  In total, the defense held the Panthers to 293 yards and they went 4 of 12 on third down conversions.  The one glitch was they had a hard time containing Newton when he would scramble. He was the Panthers leading rusher with 58 yards which included a 4-yard touchdown.  

As terrible as the offense was, the defense kept the Cowboys in the game and if new kicker Brett Maher would not have missed his lone field goal attempt (47 yards) they might have been able to squeak out a win in a game they had no business winning.  Maybe Head Coach Jason Garrett is starting to rethink the decision to cut the NFL’s second most accurate kicker, Dan Bailey.

3 Players to Watch

  1. The entire secondary (safetys/cornerbacks). Playing against one of the best receivers in the league this upcoming Sunday (Odell Beckham Jr.) the entire defensive backfield will be interesting to see how they cover him.  Jeff Heath, Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown are going to have to bring their best games to the field.

  2. Cole Beasley (Wide Receiver). In the absence of former Cowboy great Dez Bryant, Beasley seems to be the only receiver willing to pick up the slack.  The 5’ 8 slot man looks like he is the only pass catcher on the same page as Dak and is always right where he needs to be.

  3. Brett Maher (rookie kicker). Has started the season 0 for 1 on field goal attempts and has some big shoes to fill.  It is curious to see how he deals with the pressure of kicking in the NFL.

Coming up

Sunday Night the Cowboys will play their home opener versus the New York “Football” Giants.  Kickoff is set for 7:20 pm central time at AT & T Stadium (AKA: Jerry’s World). They will be going up against two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning, his All Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and rookie running back sensation Saquon Barkley.

The Cowboys are going to need improved offensive line play to make things happen for Prescott and Elliott.  If they can open up some holes for Elliott to run through the defense will have to back off a bit and Prescott will have some time to find some receivers down field.  The Giants gave up 137 yards on the ground last week. Hopefully the Cowboys can exploit that.

For you gamblers out there, the current line is Dallas -3.  If you are going to bet on the Cowboys, bet them late this week because the line will probably go below 3.  




 

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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