THE COWBOYS REPORT

Did Dallas just save its season with win over Lions? Texans up next

Demarcus Lawrence could feast on the Texans weak offensive line. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Detroit Lions on Sunday afternoon by the score of 26-24 and with the win, might have just saved their 2018 season.   

The Cowboys were trailing by two with less than 1:20 left in the game when Quarterback Dak Prescott hit Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott (Zeke) for a 34-yard gain down the right sideline on a fly pattern.  The result put Dallas in prime position for a game winning field goal and rookie kicker Brett Maher nailed a 38-yard kick as time expired. The victory moved Dallas to a record of 2-2 and one game behind the first place Washington Redskins.  

Credit to the whole team, especially the coaching staff for the play calling. This was the best game they have played to date and hopefully they can keep the momentum going.  Midway through the first quarter the Cowboys ran a bootleg pass to Geoff Swaim who turned a short catch into a 31 yard gain and help set up a field goal.  They also closed the first half out with a perfect screen pass to Elliot for 38-yard touchdown and a 13-10 halftime lead.  The play calling was very creative and included lining Elliott up in the slot position.

Prescott was 17 of 27 for 255 yards, two touchdowns, and NO interceptions.  The offensive line only allowed him to be sacked three times as he threw for more than 200 yards for the first time since Dec. 24, 2017.  He showed his poise and confidence throughout the game, which included a 37-yard pass to rookie Michael Gallup in the first quarter and a short play action pass for a touchdown that he made with a rusher right in his face.  

Looks like Head Coach Jason Garrett has finally realized that they must lean on their superstar Elliott to carry them to victory.  He finished the game with 152 yards on 25 carries and caught 4 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. They found different way to get him the ball and always got it to him in key moments before the end of both halves.

3 Players to Watch

  1. Ezekiel Elliott (running back): The Cowboys win or lose depending on how their offensive star does.  Houston had a good rush defense and it will be up to the Dallas coaching staff to get Zeke in position to make plays.

  2. Michael Gallup (wide receiver): This rookie seems to be understanding the game and picking up the speed of the NFL.  Prescott connected with him twice last week, which included a deep ball for 37 yards. With a shaky Texans secondary, let’s see if they can make a few big plays down the field.

  3. DeMarcus Lawrence (defensive end): With the health of Sean Lee up in the air it is going to be up to him to help slow down Texans QB Deshaun Watson.  He had three sacks last week but will have his hand full this Sunday as Watson is very mobile and can elude pass rushers easily.

Coming Up (Week 5)

Sunday night the Cowboys will be on the road taking on the Houston Texans (1-3) at NRG Stadium.  Both teams are coming off a victory in which they both needed late scores to win.

The game should be very interesting seeing how both teams have just come off their best offensive performances of the year.  Much like the Cowboys, the Texans changed their play calling from what it was before and got the ball in their playmakers hands.  The Dallas O-Line should be able to protect Dak and allow for Zeke to pick up a lot of yards on the ground. Houston is the 27th ranked pass defense in the league and Dak will need to take advantage of that.  The problem is going to be on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboy defense is going to have to contain second year sensation QB Watson and his Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins.  Hopefully All Pro linebacker Lee will be able to play and help contain Watson from making any big plays.

If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:

Cowboys:  Ezekiel Elliott (RB)

Texans:  Deshaun Watson (QB), DeAndre Hopkins (WR), Will Fuller (WR)

For you gamblers out there, the current line is Houston -3.5 with an over/under of 45.5.  I have watched both of these teams play all season long and I don’t believe Houston is the better team.  Give me the Cowboys with the +3.5 all day long. Also, with both defenses not playing very well I would play the over as well especially if Sean Lee is out again.  Last week’s over worked out just fine.



 

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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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