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Cowboys News: Why Antwaun Woods is the key to continued success for the Dallas defense

Today's news about America’s Team.

NFL: Preseason-Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Film room: Why DT Antwaun Woods is key to taking the Cowboys’ defense to the next level -John Owning, Dallas Morning News

The defensive tackle can be the key to the Dallas defense preforming up to their ability.

Because of how Dallas rotates its defensive line, Woods was on the field for six of Los Angeles’ 14 runs. He may have had just six snaps against the run, but he was utterly dominant and nearly unblockable, securing four stops, three of which were at or behind the line of scrimmage.

It was obvious Los Angeles was specifically looking to attack Woods on zone runs because he has had a tough time maintaining his gap against the horizontal stretch created by those runs. However, his active/powerful hands and ability to recognize blocks continually put him in position to stymie the Rams.

Remember that clip from earlier that showed Woods getting bounced by a double-team before he was driven into the turf? Compare that with how he handles the initial double-team in this example:

Jerry Jones defends Dallas Cowboys’ coach Jason Garrett’s style - Stefan Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Cowboys owner continues to stray away from criticizing Jason Garrett.

“Jason’s outstanding quality is his ability to communicate,” Jones said on his radio show on KRLD/105.3 “The Fan.” “It is actually surprising to me that he has critics that basically have issue with his seemingly scripted messages. But he also believes in repetition as most coaches do. And he wants to make those points first and foremost, and those are the points that it takes to affect the winning of a football game.”

Jones said that’s why we hear Garrett say the same things over and over. “But make mistake about it: Jason spoke to our owners this past spring and you could have heard a pin drop. It was eloquent. These weren’t prepared notes,” Jones said. “He has very, very good communication skills and really when he’s up there close you’ll find him to be very genuine in how he approaches things, very thoughtful.”

That’s true. Garrett is much more candid — much more human-like — when he’s talking to reporters off-camera. He’s always friendly, never ruffled and seldom takes issue with a question. And if he does, he always treats reporters professionally.

The NFC East is on the line, but Cowboys-Eagles isn’t a showdown. It’s a shrug off. - David Moore, Dallas Morning News

The Week 16 matchup between the Cowboys and Eagles does not carry much flash.

Against this backdrop it seems ridiculous to insert a discussion about the Cowboys dominance. But here it goes. Jason Garrett is 7-2 against the Eagles in Philadelphia since taking over as the Dallas head coach midway through the 2010 season. The Cowboys average margin of victory in those seven games is 9.1 points.

Garrett was uncharacteristically insightful on this topic earlier in the week, opening up about the reasons for the team’s success in this hostile environment.

Kidding. “It really doesn’t matter,’’ Garrett said of the 7-2 record he carries into this weekend’s game. “What matters is what we do this week. What matters is our preparation today. “We're excited for the challenge.’’

Confidence can be drawn from more than Garrett’s presence. The Cowboys have won four consecutive games against the Eagles, regardless of where the game takes place. Dallas is 5-2 against Philadelphia since Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott burst onto the scene as rookies. This is part of a larger trend. The Cowboys are 17-5 in the division since Prescott and Elliott arrived to transform the trajectory of this franchise. Dallas has won 14 of its last 16 games against NFC East opponents.

Cowboys, Sean Lee react to career day in blowout win over Rams: 'I needed to step up' - Patrik Walker, CBSSports.com

How can the Dallas linebacker build of his career day on Sunday?

"I came back because I love this organization" Lee said. "I love my teammates. Both stuck with me through a lot of tough times, through a lot of injuries and through a lot of missed games. Coming back, my goal was to just help in any way I can. Whatever that was positionally, however many snaps that was, I just want to help us win. So having this win is big, but I want to continue to help us get to that ultimate goal."

Eternally the consummate professional and teammate, tight end Jason Witten -- who had quite a day himself thanks to an eye-opening one-handed touchdown grab to help the Cowboys blast off early -- was flat out beaming when asked about Lee's career afternoon.

"Today was his day," Witten said. "The guy's done so much. To battle through injuries and have the opportunity to come in and have that type of game -- I'm just happy for him. I've played 10 years with the guy.

"To pour himself out there like he has and like we've done together, you're just pulling for him. ...It's special. It's good to see him playing like that. ...Games like this is why you do all that work -- to have just a few moments when you can turn back that clock. I'm happy as hell for Sean Lee.

Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Eagles -Nick Eatman and David Helman, dallascowboys.com

The five weekly storylines, this week for Cowboys @ Eagles.

The Eagles have found a spark from rookie running back Miles Sanders, who now leads the team in rushing with 687 yards. He also has 433 receiving yards, making him the only player on the team with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. Last week, Sanders made a clutch touchdown catch in the end zone against the Redskins, showing his versatility as a runner and receiver.

It’s been a miserable three weeks for the Eagles secondary. To be fair, the team is 2-1 in that stretch, but they’re allowing an average of 276 passing yards per game and have given up seven touchdown passes with just one interception. The low point came in their game against Washington and Dwayne Haskins. The rookie, who has struggled at times this season, bombed away for 261 yards and two touchdowns while completing 68 percent of his passes. That’s not a great trend, especially considering Dak Prescott enters this matchup with the second-most passing yardage in the league.

3 & Out: No Better Time For Complementary Ball - Staff, dallascowboys.com

For the first time in over a month, the Cowboys defense and offense played complementary ball on Sunday.

Lee has always had the respect of his teammates. His preparation and competitive streak have always been virtually unmatched. As Render told me in a 2016 interview, “That’s just the way he is. If somebody says, ‘Hey we’re going to compete,’ (his reaction is) ‘OK, if we’re going to compete, let’s win.’”

This year, Lee’s 10th with the organization, provides another layer. It’s hard to think of another Cowboys player with as much tenure and as much productivity as Lee (a long-time captain with All-Pro credentials) who accepted such a drastically different role this far into his career. Consider this: In 2017, before the Cowboys drafted Leighton Vander Esch and before Jaylon Smith had completely regained his pre-injury form, Lee took 93 percent of the defensive snaps in the 10 games he started and finished.

This year: In the eight games that Vander Esch has started and finished, Lee played only 39 percent of the defensive snaps in his move to strong-side linebacker. Obviously that number has risen significantly the last month with Vander Esch currently sidelined by a neck injury. But after a highly frustrating 2018 season riddled with injuries, Lee contemplated his football future and decided he wanted to keep playing for this type of moment – Sunday at Philly, an NFC East title at stake – regardless of whether he played 60 snaps a game anymore.

BTB Podcast

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky got on a lot of Cowboys fans’ radars with his comments about Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz about two months ago. He stopped by The Ocho to discuss them in further detail.

Make sure that you never miss an episode from Blogging The Boys by subscribing to the Blogging The Boys podcast feed!

Here’s how Dallas Cowboys fans are feeling at Week 16.

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