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Cowboys News: John Fassel explains controversial punt rush call vs. Chargers

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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

John Fassel Explains Punt Rush Call vs. Chargers - Rob Phillips, Dallascowboys.com

Thankfully for the Cowboys, the big penalty call didn’t come back to bite them.

Special teams coordinator John Fassel is known for aggressive in-game decisions, and Sunday’s game against the Chargers was no different. Monday, Fassel explained his decision to try a punt block attempt at the two-minute warning before halftime, which resulted in a roughing the kicker penalty and an automatic first down for the Chargers at the Dallas 39-yard line.

“The thought process was, I think Cowboys fans aren’t the play-it-safe type. So I was going to give them what they wanted: come after their ass on the punt rush. So I hope they’re happy with it,” Fassel said. “We came after him. It was kind of the mindset going into the game that we’re going to come after this football. And you can sure debate everything. But I’m still not so sure that we actually roughed him.”

What Might Micah Parsons’ Role Look Like Next? - David Helman, Dallascowboys.com

After an impressive showing at defensive end, take a look at what could be in store next for the talented rookie.

So impressive was Parsons' performance that it's already prompting the question of whether it should be a long-term switch. Randy Gregory is expected back from the COVID-19 list this week, but DeMarcus Lawrence is still expected to miss roughly two months of playing time with a broken foot. Is it possible that the rookie was good enough to see the lion's share of his snaps come on the edge?

"I thought he did a good job and it will continue to be a part of what he does, but there's also some good linebacker things that he does," Quinn said. "We're going to make sure we don't overload him but give him the right amount that he needs."

That should be an encouraging quote to read, given what we've seen from Parsons through two weeks. While his Week 1 outing against Tampa Bay might not have been as memorable, his five tackles and three pressures showed a glimpse of that versatility. To expand it so much in Week 2 – and on just a few days' notice – hammered the point home even more that Parsons is clearly capable of wearing several hats in Quinn's defense.

"He creates targeting challenges for the offense," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. "We'll maximize that opportunity the best we can. I think we all recognize the week that we went through last week, we had some changes midweek and that all factors that into it, too."

Biggest takeaways from Cowboys’ win include play-calling creativity - Cameron Burnett, Cowboys Wire

Even in a victory, there were still some things that need to be cleaned up.

Kellen Moore can’t get cute with play-calling. Last week, the focus was on offensive coordinator Moore’s outstanding and unorthodox playcalling that put Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers on the ropes from the very start. Prescott threw the ball 58 times that night, then had just 27 pass attempts in Los Angeles.

Moore’s game plan is simple. Find the holes, attack the holes, repeat. After barely running the football in Week 1, the Cowboys ran the football more than 50% of the time, almost eclipsing the 200-yard mark on the ground. While calling another solid game, there were a couple of interesting decisions. Moore called a formation where there were only three offensive linemen in front of Prescott, setting up a screen to Pollard.

This play was successful, but they went back to the formation two plays later and it cost them five yards. There’s zero doubt about Moore’s genius and creativity as a play-caller, but he doesn’t have to overthink to beat even the best defenses in the NFL.

Against the Chargers, the Dallas Cowboys brought thunder and lightning - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys

The duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard is true thunder and lightning.

A lot of people out there are looking at those numbers and saying that Pollard is obviously the better back now and should be getting more opportunities than Elliott. His 8.4 yards per carry is almost twice Elliott’s 4.4. The latter did have the edge in receiving with 13 yards per catch versus 10.3, but of course they are running backs, so that is just not considered. There are still Zeke loyalists who point to the importance of his superb pass blocking to keep Dak Prescott upright as one reason to not be so eager to switch the two in the depth charts. It certainly can be a reason Elliott was on the field for more than twice as many offensive plays, 44 to 21.

It all leaves me like the little girl in the commercial asking “Why not have both?”

In the passing game, we are almost always aware of the aggregate of all receptions, since that is a major stat for the quarterback. But we don’t tend to think of the running game in its entirety as much. If you look at this as two players combining for 180 yards on the ground, or 237 yards total from scrimmage, more than half of the total for Dallas, that seems to be something you should be loathe to move away from.

Still, the argument goes, Pollard should clearly be getting more touches since he is more productive out of the backfield. There are a couple of counters to that. First, Elliott is a bigger, stronger back, weighing almost 20 pounds more than Pollard even after losing several pounds during the offseason. That makes him more suited to pounding against the defense. Then, when Pollard comes in as the change of pace back he was always meant to be, the defense has to adjust for a quicker, more elusive runner. Just a split second’s misjudgment can be the difference in a short gain or a long one.

Most Glaring Draft Needs After Week 2 of the NFL Season - Alex Kay, BleacherReport.com

A way to early look ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft.

Dallas Cowboys: Cornerback. The Cowboys brass knew their defense was a problem during the most recent draft, utilizing each of their first six selections on prospects to help on that side of the ball. Just two weeks into the new season, it's apparent that those picks weren't enough. Dallas still has some glaring holes to address, most notably in the secondary and on the edge. The team has given up 346 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, with only the Ravens allowing more this year. They've also allowed nearly 70 percent of passes to be completed and conceded five touchdowns through the air in two games.

While Dallas has struggled with pressure and only recorded two sacks, it's hard to fault the pass-rushers for that entirely. They haven't been able to get to the quarterback reliably with opposing receivers freeing themselves quickly and getting open before the pocket has a chance to collapse.

Drafting a top-tier cornerback would do wonders for this secondary. Trevon Diggs, a second-rounder last year, has been inconsistent to start his career. On Sunday, hecame up with a huge pick but also allowed three of his other four targets to be caught for 65 yards. The Pick: CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Dallas Cowboys: Despite thrilling Week 2 win, there is an area of concern - Luis Tirado Jr., FanSided's The Landry Hat

Penalties have been a big cause for concern through the first two weeks of the season.

The Dallas Cowboys need to tighten up on reckless penalties. At this point in time, the Cowboys look like they can definitely be a playoff contender and who knows, could very well run away with the NFC East if everything falls into place. They aren’t perfect but one glaring area of concern that has reared its ugly head this early in the season is the reckless penalties committed by the team.

In the grand scheme of things, they need to tighten up when it comes to giving away yards by committing penalties. To be fair, the Cowboys won 20-17 over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2 but it really could have gone either way. It came down to that last-second field goal to secure victory but had they lost that game, one can easily see the unnecessary penalties would be a big reason why.

This all comes down to coaching and getting all their players to buckle down and play smart, disciplined, situational football. As a team, the Cowboys committed 8 penalties for 76 yards in Week and that can’t happen anymore if they are indeed to push the envelope this season to a playoff berth.

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