Coach McCarthy is not giving an early indication of Tyron Smith’s status early this week like last week.
“I don’t know. It’s too early. We’ll see what he does in the Wednesday work,” McCarthy said Monday afternoon at The Star, playfully chatting with the reporters. “I don’t know that I have a declaration for you. I know you were excited about getting it early last week. I can’t give it to you this week.”
Smith has been dealing with ankle injuries for half the season. He missed three games (Denver, Atlanta, Kansas City) in November, only to return for the next three. But against Washington, he got rolled up on again, forcing him out of that game and he then missed Sunday’s start against the Giants.
But if Smith doesn’t play, it sounds like McCarthy is fine using two players in his spot.
Last Sunday, the Cowboys started Terence Steele at left tackle but also used a rotation with veteran Ty Nsekhe.
“I liked it. It was something we talked about during the course of the week and I think it’s something that was beneficial for both guys,” McCarthy said. “I think Terence was 40-plus reps and I think Ty came in at about 28. I liked the way it worked out and I thought it was a good changeup for the other side to deal with. I think it was good to play both of those guys.”
The seedings in the playoffs are some tricky math, but the Cowboys are in good position.
Arizona and Tampa are both 6-4 against the NFC, making this a tiebreaker that Dallas should hold the rest of the season. However, things get tricky if the Cardinals’ current losing streak continues.
While the Buccaneers beat the Cowboys in Week 1, Tampa’s head-to-head tiebreaker is currently nullified by the three-way tie between them and Arizona. In this situation, conference record takes precedent over any head-to-head victories.
Of course, this could still change over the final three weeks of the regular season. Not only could overall and conference records change, but the Week 17 matchup between Dallas and Arizona could dramatically alter tiebreaking scenarios.
Though all of this is currently tentative, it’s still nice to see the Cowboys move up the potential playoff bracket and out of that dreaded #4 spot. With the 5th seed likely being either Arizona or the Los Angeles Rams, moving up and drawing a lesser wild card team is arguably Dallas’ top goal for the rest of the regular season.
So no, nothing was clinched or written in stone yesterday. But at the very least, the Cowboys are in a better potential position now than they were 24 hours ago.
Why home field advantage in the playoffs could be so important to the Cowboys in the 2021 season - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
It’s always better to have the opposing team come to you in the playoffs.
At home, Dallas has scored a touchdown on 78.3% (18 of 23) of red zone appearances, the second-best mark in the league. On the road, it has scored touchdowns on 33.3% (8 of 24) of trips, tied for second-worst. The club looks to straighten the strange split in Sunday’s road game against the New York Giants.
The Cowboys actually improved on that 33% stat of scoring touchdowns in the red zone on the road on Sunday, but not by much. Dallas was two of five for touchdowns in the red zone. They scored on an Ezekiel Elliot run after the Dallas defense set them up at the 13-yard line after an interception. They also scored on a short pass to Dalton Schultz. Three other times they settled for field goals, although one was when the time ran out of the first half.
The Cowboys offense has struggled recently, and this is certainly part of the problem. The Cowboys don’t want to go into the playoffs with that kind of issue in the red zone on the road, playing strong teams that can take advantage. Overall the Cowboys score touchdowns in the red zone at roughly 54%.
Cowboys are taking further steps to remain healthy the rest of the season.
Head coach Mike McCarthy said the team plans to move to virtual meetings Wednesday through Friday this week heading into Sunday’s home game against Washington.
“We’re just trying to do everything we possibly can to lower the risk and keep our guys safe,” McCarthy said.
Assistant special teams coordinator Matt Daniels tested positive for COVID on Monday, McCarthy said, and defensive tackles Osa Odighizuwa and Trysten Hill did not play against the Giants because of COVID protocols.
No other players went on the Reserve/COVID list Monday, McCarthy said.
COVID cases are on the rise across the NFL, with three Week 15 games (Washington-Eagles, Raiders-Browns and Rams-Seahawks) rescheduled for Monday and Tuesday. The league and the NFLPA also announced new protocols that include a more targeted testing plan for players and staff.
The Cowboys offense is still the subject of intense investigation.
The Dallas defense led the way again in a 21-6 victory at the New York Giants, with the Cowboys becoming the first team since Detroit in 2007 to force at least four turnovers in three consecutive games in the same season.
Now Dak Prescott and the offense go through yet another week of trying to figure out what hasn’t been right since he injured a calf in an overtime victory at New England in Week 6.
“I think it’s OK we continue to play complementary football,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Trust me, we know who’s being productive and the things that we need to do a little better. I say it every week, they’re very accountable.”
Dallas scored on five possessions against the Giants. The three drives that ended in field goals (68, 58 and 37 yards) were longer than the two that ended in touchdowns (13 and 29).
In the first seven games, the Cowboys never had fewer than 380 yards on offense. In the past seven, they’ve fallen short of that five times.
Put another way, if Dallas is to get past the divisional round for the first time since the last of the franchise’s five Super Bowl titles to finish the 1995 season, the offense will have to find its early-season form.
How the Dak and DeMarcus bet could fuel a Dallas Cowboys’ Super Bowl run - Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Putting money on the table can be a great motivator.
The offense, once the focal point of the team’s success, has a bet going on with the defense that has fueled the team’s three-game winning streak with four turnovers in each game. Meanwhile, the offense of the 10-4 Cowboys has scored four touchdowns in the last three games combined, including just two against the lowly 4-10 Giants.
A bounty of cash is now on the line each week based on touchdowns and turnovers.
“Defense is kicking our [rear] but it’s turnovers vs. touchdowns that we’ve created this week,” Prescott said. “They obviously won this one, but we’ll make sure it carries over. We’ll keep rolling it over so we’ll figure it out at the end of the year. Great celebration hopefully.”
The celebration would truly be great if the end of the season came at Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles, ending a 21-year drought for the Cowboys who have not played in the final game since the 1995 season, the last of their three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.
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