Where do the Dallas Cowboys need to improve the most coming out of the bye week?
Get better against the run
The game against New England was the first time this season the Dallas defense surrendered 100 yards to a running back. Leading up to Week 6, the Cowboys had the second-fewest rushing attempts against them. Dallas was finally challenged in the running game, and they weren’t up to the task.
The numbers will say the Cowboys are still a top-five rushing defense, but they are giving 4.3 yards a carry, which is in the bottom half of the league, and have allowed all five of their rushing scores in the last three games. After the bye, the Cowboys will have eight games against top-20 teams in rush attempts.
If teams are looking for a blueprint to beat the Cowboys, this will keep Dak Prescott and the offense off the field. The Cowboys do get some defensive line help back after their bye and one of the keys to staying among one of the best teams in the league will be their ability to stop the run.
Safety Jayron Kearse has made a huge contribution this season.
Starting off with Jayron Kearse. Who knew? When the Cowboys signed the free agent safety to a mere one-year deal in the offseason, had looked up his stats, finding he was more of a special teams player than anything else. He had only five starts in 62 career games over his first four seasons in Minnesota, though did start seven of the 11 games in 2020 with Detroit. Probably should not have overlooked the 56 tackles he had that year.
Still, Kearse had only one career interception, one fumble recovery, a half-sack, four QB pressures and two tackles for losses. But … he had 42 special teams tackles in five seasons.
Well, shame on me. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has carved out a role for the 6-4, 220-pound safety who has started five of six games, has played 352 defensive snaps (91.2 percent) – second on defense to only cornerback Anthony Brown – and those snaps include every defensive snap in the past two games. Kearse is a vital part of the Cowboys Big Nickel formation, utilizing him as part safety/part linebacker.
And Kearse is second on the team with 30 tackles, one behind Brown, with three tackles for loss and five QB pressures.
“We use him in a way very few players are used,” secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. says. “He goes in there as a linebacker. He erases tight ends, plays in the middle of the field, he blitzes and (the offense) turns the attention to him and not to the linebackers.
“So, he gives us such versatility. His play in the first six games has been really, really good.”
Will the Dallas Cowboys be buyers or sellers before the 2021 NFL trade deadline?
Typically when Dallas nears the trade deadline — this season on Nov. 2 — the Cowboys are a player away. In 2018, the Cowboys flipped the switch and sent a 2019 first-rounder to the Oakland Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper. In 2019, Dallas acquired defensive lineman Michael Bennett from the New England Patriots to bolster their defensive line, but, conversely, they also got timorous and didn’t make a play for New York Jets safety Jamal Adams.
At 5-1, the Cowboys appear competitive enough to challenge for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. There isn’t so much one particular rumored available player that can help the Cowboys play better, but the front office will definitely monitor the market.
“You just never know,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones told “GBag Nation” on 105.3 “The Fan” [KRLD-FM] Friday. “Obviously we feel good about our team. We’re always looking to get better if the right situation is out there. We’ll just see how we go down the homestretch and see if there’s anything that makes any sense that would make us better. The last thing we would do at this point with this team that we have is anything that would hurt it for the long haul.”
Sorry Dallas Cowboys, undefeated Arizona Cardinals are the NFL’s new ‘America’s Team’ - Jeremy Cluff, Arizona Republic
Week 17 will determine who’s better, the Dallas Cowboys or Arizona Cardinals?
The Arizona Cardinals are the best team in the NFL, according to several NFL writers.
But one writer is going even further in his analysis of the Cardinals and their perfect 6-0 start to the 2021 NFL season.
He’s calling them ”America’s Team.”
Sorry, Dallas Cowboys.
USA TODAY Sports’ Andy Nesbitt made the proclamation on a USA TODAY Sports video Thursday, raving about the job Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals have done through six weeks of the season.
”I think they are the best team in football,” Nesbitt said in the video. “I saw Michael Irvin on ESPN this week telling Cowboys fans to get their Super Bowl tickets because they beat a two and four team with a rookie quarterback and they needed overtime to do that and suddenly the Cowboys are the best team in football? I mean, come on. I know America likes big shiny things and the Cowboys are always going to be that little big shiny coin on the other seat, but the Cardinals are clearly the No. 1 team in football and for anyone to think that the Cowboys are even close to that, ooh, no thank you.”
TE Dalton Schultz isn’t flashy, but still key factor in Cowboys’ success - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star
In a contract year, Dalton Schultz is on pace to have his best season yet in the NFL.
Last year, Dalton Schultz had to be the Cowboys’ top tight end because of an injury to Blake Jarwin in Week One. But he’d held that spot in 2021 despite Jarwin’s return, and Schultz’s numbers have him among the league’s best tight ends so far this season.
The competition, if there ever was one, seems to be over between Jarwin and Schultz. Over Dallas’ six games this year Dalton’s played on 74% of the offensive snaps to just 51% for Blake. Schultz has been targeted 37 times as a receiver while Jarwin has had just 14 passes thrown his way.
But while the gap between the two tight ends is wide, Schultz isn’t far behind CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper in terms of the passing game. He’s been Dak Prescott’s third-favorite target, trailing the star receivers by just six attempts.
Give Dalton’s big role in the Cowboys’ top-ranked offense, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s also been one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL so far this year.
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