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Cowboys news: Can the Cowboys slow down Alvin Kamara on SNF?

The Cowboys defense will face a huge test with Alvin Kamara on the horizon.

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Scout’s Eye: The Best Way To Slow Down Alvin Kamara? - Bryan Broaddus-
What is the best way for the Cowboys to deal with Alvin Kamara?

Weapon: RB Alvin Kamara

This Cowboys defense understands what lies ahead when dealing with Alvin Kamara. He was held in check last season with an outstanding game plan and tremendous effort from everyone involved.

With Drew Brees not in the lineup, Sean Payton is leaning on him even more than before to carry the load. I believe there is nothing he can’t do on the football field. He makes life difficult -- not only for the defensive coordinator, due to all the positions he lines up at, but for the defenders themselves having to bring him down once the ball gets in his hands. He is a dangerous player in every sense of the word. He has a rare combination of speed and power. Defenders just bounce off him as he’s running through the line. He makes it hard to get a clean shot on him.

Last year, the Cowboys had success rallying bodies to the ball and slowing him down before he had a chance to get going. When Kamara gets the ball in his hands, he’s looking for that gap or crease to hit. When he sees it, he’s gone.

To defend him well, the front is going to need to stay square along the line of scrimmage, then the linebackers have to step up and fill. This is where the Seahawks had trouble in their matchup when their linemen got turned and their linebackers over ran the play. This created those gaps, which he took advantage of and was difficult to stop.

Cowboys @ Saints: A First Legitimate Test For Two NFC Contenders -David Howman- Blogging The Boys
In a rematch of last year’s signature win, things are different for both teams.

It’s not much of a surprise, then, that Dallas currently sits as a 2.5 point favorite over the Saints despite the homefield advantage. But that doesn’t erase the fact that, much like last year’s contest between these two, it’ll be the first legitimate test of this Cowboys team. While many were quick to declare the sky was falling when Brees went down, Bridgewater’s skill cannot be overlooked. He may not be as good as Brees, but very few quarterbacks are. In the very small sample size we’ve seen from Bridgewater this year, he looks like a lot like Dak did last year: safe, efficient, and athletic enough to exploit defenses but not a guy that will single-handedly win you a game.

And just like with Dak, Bridgewater doesn’t need to single-handedly win any games. The Saints have the third best offensive line right now, according to Pro Football Focus, and two All Pro’s in Kamara and Michael Thomas, as well as Murray, Ted Ginn, and Jared Cook. Bridgewater has plenty of weapons to work with, so he can’t be counted out against a defense that ranks 15th in total yards allowed through three games against bad offenses.

The other end of the matchup is where things tip significantly in Dallas’ favor. The Saints are giving up a lot of yards and points to opposing offenses, none of which have been anywhere near as efficient as the Cowboys have been. In fact, the Cowboys lead the league in offensive DVOA at +54.1%. Mahomes and the Chiefs are in second at +46.1%, for comparative purposes. Unless the defense can really get things going suddenly, it should be another big day for Kellen Moore and the gang.

Can Saints, Cowboys win before big paydays force roster cuts? - Todd Archer & Mike Triplett- ESPN
Is Dak Prescott’s price going up each week? How about Alvin Kamara for the Saints?

Dak Prescott

Does his price go up each week? Would it have gone down if Prescott did not get off to this fast start (70-of-94, 920 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs)? The Cowboys made an offer in the summer that would have put Prescott among the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, and Prescott has so far been able to hold off on agreeing to a deal that would likely guarantee him $100 million or more. Prescott has seen other 2016 draft class quarterbacks -- Jared Goff and Carson Wentz -- sign extensions this summer worth $33.5 million and $32 million, respectively, but could be seeking more, especially since he’s off to such a hot start. The Cowboys would like to get an extension done sooner rather than later if for no other reason than to avoid the possibility of having to use the franchise tag next offseason, but Prescott appears willing to take this gamble. So far it’s a gamble that looks like it will pay off.

Alvin Kamara

Kamara will be eligible for a contract extension next offseason. And considering he’s on pace for his third straight season with 1,500-plus yards from scrimmage and 13-plus touchdowns, it’s a pretty safe bet he’ll hold out like Thomas did this past summer. Kamara is extremely important to the Saints (he was their go-to guy with more than half of the offensive touches in their first game without Brees). But this will be a fascinating test case, since New Orleans has more than $27 million in dead money counting against the salary cap next year and can’t afford to pay everybody. The running back position is the most polarizing financial decision in the NFL, and Kamara’s next deal will have to be in the neighborhood of Elliott’s $15 million per year, if not more.

Matchups: Another Physical WR Michael Thomas Up Next For Chidobe Awuzie - Bryan Broaddus-
It’s going to be another tough draw for the Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie as Michael Thomas is a load.

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie vs. New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas is one of the best receivers in the NFL. His route execution and finish make him tough to defend. Sean Payton will line him up all over the formation in order to create matchup problems. I’ve put him with Chidobe Awuzie for this breakdown, but Byron Jones and Anthony Brown will also get a shot, as well.

Where Thomas is especially dangerous is working the middle of the field. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him run that “arrow” route from the slot where he angles inside and just sits to wait on the ball. He’s also a nightmare to deal with when he catches it on the move. He can be a nasty runner and finisher. Defenders have to get to him quickly and bring him to the ground before he has a chance to get going. Awuzie can’t expect him to miss many chances for receptions, even on those contested balls.

Cowboys-Saints will be Dak Prescott’s first game back in home state in five years- Joey Hayden- Sportsday DFW
The last time Dak Prescott played a football game in the state of Louisiana was Sept. 20, 2014. That night, an undefeated Mississippi State team defeated LSU 34-29.

A coach familiar with the Cowboys organization agreed.

”Like any quarterback, you just see a little bit more growth,” said Saints head coach Sean Payton of Prescott’s start to the season.

”Decision making. He’s beating teams in the pocket and obviously he can escape. I think he’s very effective when he’s outside the pocket on the move. He’s run for touchdowns. You also see a calmness and a really good leader.”

On the field, Prescott has excelled under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Prescott has thrown for 920 yards and nine touchdowns (plus another touchdown on the ground), and currently leads the NFL in completion percentage (74.5%) and Total QBR (94.0) after the season’s first three weeks.

Why Cowboys RB Tony Pollard could be called an Alvin Kamara starter kit- Calvin Watkins-Sportsday DFW
Can the Cowboys find a way to use Tony Pollard like the New Orleans Saints use Alvin Kamara?

“I think you can say that,” Elliott said when asked if Pollard and Kamara are similar players. “They are both special players in space and they both run the ball inside the tackle and outside the tackle.”

Pollard enjoys the comparisons to a player he’s only seen on television and welcomes the challenge of making a statement Sunday night. Yes, Elliott is the key to the Cowboys rushing attack, but please don’t forget what Pollard can do or if his own impact can be similar to Kamara’s.

”I feel like our game is pretty similar,” Pollard said. “It’s pretty similar to how I play. They do a good job of using him all around the field.”

3 New Orleans Saints Players the Dallas Cowboys Must Neutralize -Brian Martin- Inside The Star
If the Cowboys cannot get a handle on these Saints players, it's going to be a long day for the visitors.

Running Back Alvin Kamara is arguably the most versatile and dangerous playmakers in the entire league. Now that Mark Ingram has moved on to the Baltimore Ravens, Kamara becomes the lead dog in the Saints backfield and absolutely must be accounted for on any given play as both a runner and receiver. This might be the player the Dallas Cowboys defense must neutralize above anyone else.

Fortunately, the Cowboys put together a game plan in 2018 that helped contain Alvin Kamara. The task fell on CB Jourdan Lewis to “spy” on Kamara and he ended up doing an excellent job of neutralizing New Orleans biggest offensive threat. Lewis and the rest of the Cowboys defense was able to hold him to just 36 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards on the day and will need to do the same Sunday night if they want any chance of walking away with the victory.

Play-calling flexibility on first downs keeps Cowboys foes off balance- C. Joseph Wright- CowboysWire
Kellen Moore's play-calling on first downs is impressively down the middle while the game is in balance.

In total, the Cowboys ran the ball 20 times on first down, attempted a pass five times, and tried a play-action pass five times. Dallas ran the ball on 66.6% of their first-down plays. Moore’s willingness to pass on first down is one of several ways he is markedly different than Linehan.

The difference between Moore and Linehan is even more stark than the statistics above suggest. If we recollect that the Cowboys went in to the fourth quarter leading 24-3, and presume that the lead caused Moore to be more conservative on first down than usual, the proclivity for running on first down dissipates. All eight first-down plays in the fourth quarter were runs.

Five thoughts about the Dallas Cowboys, post Dolphins edition -Tom Ryle- Blogging The Boys
Taking stock of where the Cowboys are after Week 3.

This looks and feels entirely different. We may still see them run headlong into some disappointment as the schedule gets tougher from here on, but I don’t think so. And I am hardly alone.

Back even before I began my extremely enjoyable time writing here at BTB, I began curating a group of people to pay attention to when they began talking about the X and O aspects of the game. This now includes Bob Sturm, Bryan Broaddus, John Owning, K.D Drummond, Patrik “No C” Walker, Joey Ickes, and our own DannyPhantom, just to name some. All keep coming to the same conclusion. This is not just an illusion. This is real, and sustainable. Some of those have been predicting that we would see exactly what transpired in the first three games almost from the day Moore was promoted. Others wanted to see some Moore evidence, but by now, we are all coming around.

The selection of Moore to take the offensive coordinator reins and fix the issues of the offense was the single most important development for the Cowboys this year. So far it is an absolute jackpot. We have seen a lot already, but with the level of the opposition thus far and the early stage we are in, you can be sure that Moore has a lot more in his bag of tricks. It is hugely exciting to contemplate.

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