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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Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

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