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Cowboys News: Has the Dallas offense become too pass-happy?

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Do Cowboys need to get back to Zeke and edgy ground game? - Clarence Hill Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Dallas offense has looked much different this season compared to years past. Is it possible that in getting away from their identity they have become too pass-happy?

After falling behind 31-3 against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Cowboys abandoned the run. As a result, Elliott had 62 yards on 12 carries. Elliott said it’s not as simple as saying the offense needs to just start feeding him again.

“I don’t know if I can say that,” Elliott said. “I think you’ve got to look at the situation. Two weeks ago we had trouble getting the run going. Last week we got behind. So you’re not going to be able to run the ball when you’re down 21. I think it was just like situational. If we can just come out and play our football, if we come out and start fast, we’ll be able to establish the run game. And we won’t have to play catch up.” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett agreed.

“We want to give him consistency good opportunities throughout the game,” Garrett said. “And in regards to the game the other day, we had a lot of production on offense but we were behind in the game and a lot of that production was through the air. And Zeke was a big part of that at different times and he certainly someone who is very impactful for us when we hand it to him and throw it to him. When we play our best offensive football he’s a big part of it.”

Elliott said there is no panic in the Cowboys. Their focus is on cleaning up the self-inflicted wounds that have contributed to the losses, including three interceptions, two fumbles and a host of drive-killing penalties.

Elliott Focused On Offense’s ‘Edge,’ Not Carries - Rob Phillips,

Ezekiel Elliott is not worried about his carries, he is focused on the Dallas’ offense getting their edge back.

It’s not something Elliott is focused on this week as the team begins preparations for the New York Jets. “I think it’s just kind of how the season has unfolded,” he said Wednesday. “We’re still the same offense. At the start of the season they were kind of easing me in and then we got ahead in a couple games and we didn’t play that much.

“I’m not really concerned about the touches. I’m just concerned about us figuring out how to get things right on offense.” The Cowboys kept Elliott on something of a pitch count (37 snaps, 13 carries) in Week 1 against the Giants after the Pro Bowl rusher missed the entire preseason over a contract holdout. (He signed a six-year, $90 million extension days before the season opener.) The Cowboys also held big second-half leads in each of their first three wins, giving them a chance to spell Elliott with rookie Tony Pollard. The team would like to keep Elliott fresher over the course of a long season where possible.

And in last Sunday’s 34-24 loss to the Packers, the Cowboys fell behind 17-0 after Elliott and Pollard ran 11 times for a combined 63 yards. The score prevented the offense from achieving its preferred balance.

Film room: What’s wrong with the Cowboys’ run defense? The issues span multiple levels - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

An in depth breakdown of what is wrong with the Dallas’ run defense early in the season.

The No. 1 issue plaguing the Cowboys’ run defense is poor gap discipline. The Cowboys employ a one-gap, penetrating defense, where each defender is responsible for a particular gap. If every defender maintains his gap integrity and plays with the proper leverage, it creates a chain aimed at eliminating the ball carrier’s paths downfield. However, if even one defender loses gap integrity, whether it be because of a block, mental mistake, etc. -- it creates a weak link that can be taken advantage of by the opposing team.

Let’s go back to Week 1 and take a look at Saquon Barkley’s 59-yard run in the first quarter as an example:

On this play, Tyrone Crawford deserves the most blame for Barkley’s big run. The Giants are running a duo concept toward the strong side. Crawford, who’s aligned with an outside shade over the left tackle, is responsible for the C-gap between the left tackle and tight end. Once the ball is snapped, Crawford correctly attacks the outside edge of the left tackle so that he can keep his outside arm free and clog the C-gap. However, the tight end’s double team bounced Crawford inside, walling him off from the C-gap while creating congestion for Leighton Vander Esch, who is correctly filling the B-gap.

It certainly didn’t help that Xavier Woods got turned by the wide receiver’s block, but all it did was exacerbate the hole that Crawford already created by getting displaced out of his gap.

How Can The Cowboys Improve Their Run Defense? - David Helman,

Now that you saw what is wrong with the Dallas run defense, check out how they can improve it.

You can always count on DeMarcus Lawrence for a blunt assessment. On Wednesday, he obliged once again when asked what’s wrong with the Cowboys’ defense. “I would say team tackling – getting to the ball, wrapping up the ball carrier and bringing him down,” he said. “That’s what’s been missing. Basic fundamentals.”

It’s not rocket science, as Lawrence himself told reporters inside the Cowboys’ locker room. Against Green Bay last weekend, the Cowboys got hit for 4.1 yards per carry and four rushing touchdowns, due in large part to their inability to bring down Aaron Jones.

For all the focus on the “Hot Boyz” and the Cowboys’ need for sacks, Lawrence said they can’t make that happen until they improve at forcing the opposition to throw the ball.

What's the latest on Cowboys Week 6 injury report? 'Nobody cares!' says DeMarcus Lawrence - Mike Fisher, SI Cowboy Maven

DeMarcus Lawrence, for one, does not care about injuries.

DeMarcus Lawrence is playing with an assortment of injuries right now, and football being football, an NFL injury report in advance of his Dallas Cowboys' visit to the New York Jets on Sunday is due. "But,' argues Tank, "Who cares? You care? Be honest. Do you really care? Nobody cares.''

The Cowboys' vocal defensive leader is frustrated by the two straight losses to contenders that has dipped Dallas' record down to 3-2. And yes, he's probably a bit frustrated by the fact that he is being nagged by a shoulder issue, a heel issue and a knee injury. Nevertheless ...

"Who cares?'' he responded to reporters asking about his physical condition. "You care? Be honest. Do you really care? Nobody cares.''Nobody cares about your feelings. Nobody cares if you're hurt. Nobody cares if you're broke, rich. Nobody cares. Who cares? Be you. Go to work. Peace."

What happened to the Cowboys' defense against the Packers? - Allan Uy, Cover 1

A great breakdown of went wrong for the Dallas’ defense on Sunday in Green Bay.

After a promising yet ultimately stalled Cowboys drive, the Packers took possession of the ball on their own 11-yard line. With Dallas in a form of Cover 3 on 1st-and-10, Aaron Rodgers initially found none of his receivers open. He then decided to escape the pocket and hit Jimmy Graham for 23 yards on an improvised pitch-and-catch, a Rodgers specialty throughout his career.

The Cowboys had a chance to force an incompletion or possibly sack the All-Pro quarterback near his own end zone. Instead, their front seven defenders were once again not on the same page in a situation they’d likely practiced numerous times throughout the offseason and in the week leading up to the game.

Once again, two defensive linemen end up attacking the same gap. This time, it’s Collins and Christian Covington. And although Collins is able to gain penetration, Hyder loses outside containment, whether out of a lack of discipline or because he sees the vacated gap left by Collins. Whatever the reason, Rodgers breaks free from the pocket causing confusion at the second level between Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Smith momentarily thinks Vander Esch will pick up Graham and stops his pursuit. This hesitation is all Rodgers and Graham need.

Dak Prescott has Been Brought Back Down to Earth After Fast Start, Still no Need to Panic - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

After three great games and two bad ones, there is no reason to panic about Dak Prescott’s regression the past two weeks.

After three games Prescott had accumulated 920 passing yards and 9 touchdowns while completing 74.5% of his throws, and firmly placed himself in the early MVP discussion. Next, the Cowboys would travel to New Orleans to face the Saints in what was viewed by most as the Cowboy's first real test of the season. Unfortunately for Prescott, the Cowboys offensive line was dominated from start to finish as they held Elliott to only 35 yards on 18 carries. This would force the Cowboys offense to be behind the chains on second and third down throughout the entire ball game.

He did, however, have a perfect drive to start the second half going 6 of 6 as a Elliott touchdown run gave the Cowboys a 10-9 lead with just eight minutes to go in the third, but unfortunately, it would be the last points they put on the board. The Saints would add a field goal and pull out a close 12-10 victory.

He finished 22 of 33 for 223 yards but didn't produce any points through the air. That can be attributed to the fact that the Cowboys couldn't get the run game going which made their offense one dimensional, and in the NFL, that will get you beat in most games.

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