Keys for the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Jets: Get Zeke involved, stop the run - Clarence Hill, Star-Telegram
How do the Cowboys defeat the Jets on Sunday? Here’s a few different ideas.
WILL TACKLES TYRON SMITH AND LA’EL COLLINS PLAY?
The Cowboys may be without left tackle Tyron Smith and right tackle La’el Collins on Sunday.
Smith missed last week’s game with a high ankle sprain. Collins missed practice much the week before the Green Bay game with a tight back but played, only to suffer a sprained knee.
Neither practiced this week leading up to the Jets game, though they have improved healthwise. The Cowboys listed them as questionable on the injury report.
It will likely be a game-time decision. But owner Jerry Jones thinks at least one will play.
“It’s down to today, and it even could be as late as tomorrow before we will know,” Jones said on Friday. “I think it’s safe to say we’ll get half of them one way or another.”
It will also be a game-time decision on receiver Randall Cobb, who injured his back Thursday in practice. He didn’t practice Friday. He said he feels better but wouldn’t know his status until Saturday or Sunday.
The Cowboys are currently pretty banged up, but need to overcome those injuries against the Jets.
If I were Kris Richard I would be worried about Sam Darnold wearing him out with Jamison Crowder out of the slot. That assignment should fall to Anthony Brown, but if I were Richard I would also have a backup plan just in case Brown struggles. Where Crowder causes issues is with his start-stop quickness. Crowder can make a defender freeze, and once that happens he’s off again. Brown has the quickness to match Crowder, but he tends to fall in the trap of drawing holding calls. The last thing Richard’s defense needs is to make a stop to get off the field but draw an untimely holding call. This is going to be a key matchup for the Cowboys. They can’t allow Crowder to make a ton of receptions and move the sticks like he did against Buffalo the last time Darnold was in the lineup.
Why the Cowboys’ front seven have not performed well against the run thus far this season - Kristi Scales, The Dallas Morning News
With Le’Veon Bell on the docket, the Cowboys run defense must improve in order to contain the Jets offense.
Q: If the Cowboys front 7 is as good as we thought it was, why has it struggled to stop the run?
Scales: The front seven has not performed as well as Cowboys Nation hoped entering the season, but to be fair, the unit has not had a single game together.
Robert Quinn has been terrific as a pass rusher since making his Dallas debut and he leads the team with 3 sacks, but he missed the first two games due to suspension.
Tyrone Crawford missed games 3 and 4 due to his lingering hip injury; and even when he returned for Game 5 he still doesn’t look himself. His versatility is key to this unit.
Starting nose tackle Antwaun Woods has missed the past three games with a knee injury, so Christian Covington -- who was supposed to add veteran depth -- has been pressed into starting duties.
DeMarcus Lawrence, the highest paid player on the team, has toughed-it-out every game, but you can see that he’s not at full health, playing with a sore shoulder, ankle.
Injuries are not excuses. Every team experiences them at every position.
The bigger issue with the run defense when it comes to the front 7, and that includes the linebackers, is problems with gap control, not to mention some bad angles and missed tackles, particularly in the loss to the Packers.
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are not playing as well as they did last season, at least not consistently.
As for the line, I’m anxious to see them at closer to full strength. Not sure if Woods will be back in time for the Jets, but that will help.
Three things the Cowboys need to improve on the most.
2. Rectify Slow Starts
Even with huge numbers on the offensive side of the football, the Dallas Cowboys have struggled in the first quarter of games. Through five games in 2019, the Dallas Cowboys are averaging four points per game in the first quarter. In the second quarter they’re averaging just 5.6 points per game. So in the first half of games, they’re averaging just 9.6 points per game.
The third quarter is by far their best quarter of the game where they’re averaging 10.4 points per game and 6.2 points per game in the fourth quarter for a combined 16.6 points per game in the second half.
From the second quarter on, the Cowboys are averaging 22.2 points per game.
On the Cowboys opening drive Sunday, it appeared like they were going to overcome their first quarter slow starts, but hurt themselves on several drives with turnovers, penalties, and a sack that took them out of field goal range.
The Cowboys have a lot to clean up on, but a lot of their issues have to do with the “little things”.
So in these last nine losses, only once have the Cowboys held the opponent to less than 100 yards rushing, that being the Texans. Still, in those last nine losses those teams have totaled 1,291 rushing yards, or an average of 143.4 a game. That’s significant when considering six of the losses were no more than by nine points.
“The cool part about our guys is we have men of great character,” says pass-game coordinator Kris Richard, who calls the defensive plays. “When we have an issue, we come in, we address it, and everybody has an understanding of what we need to do.
“The issues have been addressed, we know it, we see it and now we have to do everything in our power to make sure that they don’t arise again.”
OK, so should help one-technique defensive tackle Antwaun Woods is projected to go in this game. Need that wide body in the middle. But still, might be difficult since the Jets hand the ball to one Le’Veon Bell and also throw the ball in the flats to him, leading the Jets in receptions with 27 catches for 166 yards.
As you can see, this wouldn’t be as troubling if the Packers game is a one-off. But it isn’t. There has been a trend in these losses.
Jerry Jones will be celebrating his birthday on Sunday. Can you think of a better present than a Cowboys win?
16. No Cowboys kicker has missed on Jerry’s birthday.
17. Two opposing kickers have missed on Jerry’s birthday. Carolina’s Shayne Graham missed a 44-yarder in 2002 and Washington’s Kai Forbath missed a 49-yarder in 2013.
18. Chris Boniol, Richie Cunningham, and Dan Bailey share the lead for most field goals booted on Jerry’s birthday with one apiece.
19. Quincy Carter is the only Cowboys quarterback to complete a fourth quarter comeback on Jerry’s birthday.
20. Emmitt Smith has played in the most games on Jerry’s birthday with four.
21. Jason Garrett will tie Barry Switzer as having coached the most games on Jerry’s birthday with two apiece. Switzer owned a 1-1 record.
22. Former Cowboys OT Ralph Neely (1965-77) and Quincy Carter (2001-03) are the only Cowboys players to have shared a birthday with the current owner and played a game on those dates (Neely, 1976; Carter, 2002).
23. Sunday will mark the second time in Jerry’s ownership the team will wear their navy jerseys on his birthday. The last time was in Washington in 1997.