Daily Archives: September 18th, 2013

2013 GAMEDAY PRIMER: Dallas Cowboys vs. Saint Louis Rams

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The Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams show similarities after the first 2 weeks

Cowboys

With the first loss of the season out of the way, the Cowboys can now go about assessing how they respond to it. During the past two 8-8 seasons, the team has never lost more than two games in a row, but they have lost two in a row on six different occasions.

The Cowboys’ ability to run the ball – or lack thereof – is going to dominate the discussion all week after the loss to the Chiefs. Regardless of anything else, 37 rushing yards probably won’t beat many NFL teams.

Coach Jason Garrett stressed early in the week that the running game has to improve, and perhaps a large role from Brian Waters could help that. Perhaps the Cowboys can rediscover some of the 2011 magic that helped then-rookie running back DeMarco Murray set the franchise rushing record of 253 yards against the Rams three seasons ago.

The Rams haven’t been quite as careful with the ball as the mistake-free Chiefs. St. Louis has given the ball away three times in two games – the same as Dallas. The Cowboys’ defense is going to have to find a way to take a ball or two away, as everyone saw last week how tough it is to win with a negative turnover margin.

Defensive end Anthony Spencer received a good amount of playing time against Kansas City, and he was moderately effective. It looks likely that the 2012 Pro Bowler will follow the same routine from last week and look to suit up again Sunday.

Rams

The Dallas Cowboys might be hoping they run the ball like they did against the 2011 Rams, but these are not the 2011 Rams.

For starters, they can stop the run, as they held Atlanta to 36 yards on 16 carries in a close loss Sunday. The Rams have only allowed 122 rushing yards on 42 attempts through two games, which is sixth-best in the NFL and a far cry from the average of 152 yard per game they allowed in 2011. 

These Rams also have Sam Bradford, who missed six games, including the Cowboys game, in 2011. Bradford is off to a hot start and with the help of free agency acquisition Jared Cook and rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin, he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 651 yards and five touchdowns.

Bradford’s 352 yards against the Falcons helped St. Louis rally from a 24-3 halftime deficit, though it wasn’t enough. His efforts were much more effective in Week 1, when he led the Rams 50 yards in the final two minutes to down Arizona with a 48-yard field goal.

Just like the Cowboys, though the Rams’ passing attack couples with a lackluster ground game. Leading rusher Daryl Richardson has just 98 yards on 30 carries – sound somewhat familiar?

Also like the Cowboys, St. Louis looks relatively strong against the run, but the secondary looks vulnerable. The Rams are allowing 330 yards per game through the air, which could open the playbook up for Tony Romo and Co.

WILD BILL CALLAHANDOFF: Dallas OC not thrilled with his last play call

Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan wasn’t thrilled with his last play call Sunday. He called for a screen to running back DeMarco Murray with 16 seconds remaining with the Cowboys at their own 4. Murray gained 10 yards and time expired before they got off another play.

“Yeah, I’ve got to do better with that,” Callahan agreed Sunday. “I’ve got to do a better job of making a better call in that situation. Yeah.”

The chances were slim the Cowboys were going to get in field-goal range anyway, needing 50-plus yards and without a timeout. But quarterback Tony Romo said the Cowboys were trying to get in position for a jump ball for the final play.

“Ninety-five percent of the teams are going to be really soft in that situation,” Romo said. “You think you can get a good 30 to 40 yards to throw a jump ball. With that much time, you can get out of bounds to the 40, to the 50 and have a chance at it, so I thought that was a good call, and it gives you a chance, an opportunity to do that. They played a little bit of an aggressive defense, two-man, at that point, which you don’t normally see.”

HORSES SADDLED: Improvement expected in the Dallas Cowboys running game

IRVING, Texas – Through two games of the season, the lack of a consistent running game is once again a hot topic for the Dallas Cowboys.

But team owner/general manager Jerry Jones is optimistic things can turn around.

“I see improvement in the future in our running game,” Jones told 105.3 FM “The Fan” on his regular radio show. “I look at how much we’re improved in our offensive line. (Brian) Waters played good for the number of snaps he played. So Waters will be in there. That’ll improve us. I think we have flexibility with our tight ends. We’ve got some answers there … we’ll get it worked out.”

When asked about running back DeMarco Murray, who had just 25 yards rushing on only 12 attempts Sunday, Jones said he graded out well from the coaches film after the Chiefs game. He praises his professional approach and his physical size as a runner, and then added, “I’d like to see him have more opportunities.”

The Cowboys’ average starting position on Sunday was their own 21-yard line and had four possessions starting at the 10 or closer to the goal line.

“You’re going to be more conservative when you’re backed up like we were,” Jones said. “I want to credit (Kansas City’s) defense. They have a good front. (Dontari) Poe was the talk of the combine. There was a question about his motor but there’s not a question anymore. He did give us fits. Hopefully, there won’t be any more Poes.”

When asked about the differences between a Bill Callahan-called game and what the Cowboys had the last few years with Garrett, Jones joked it would take “five hours” to get into full detail of all the changes. But he did give some hints of what he expects to see more of in the future.

“I think we’ll see more play-action, more zone blocking,” Jones said. “You’ll see us emphasize the tight ends more. I think this Terrance Williams is really improving practice by practice. I think he can put some pressure on those (defensive) backs.”

COWBOYS ROSTER UPDATE: Dallas signs DL and WR; Cohen & Coale released

IRVING, Texas –  The Dallas Cowboys have signed defensive tackle David Carter to the 53-man roster, replacing the spot of Landon Cohen, who was waived Tuesday. Cohen was active for both games this year, registering one tackle.

Carter (6-5, 300) has played in 32 games for the Cardinals, all 16 in each of his two seasons after being a sixth-round pick in 2012 out of UCLA.

Carter is expected to play both end and tackle in the 4-3 scheme. He’s played in hybrid defenses in the past. 

In his career, he has four starts, 18 tackles and one sack, with two pressures and a forced fumble.

The Cowboys also signed wide receiver Jamar Newsome to the practice squad. He replaces Danny Coale, who was waived. Coale, a fifth-round pick in 2012, never played in a regular-season game.

Newsome, a standout at Central Florida, was on the Chiefs’ practice squad in 2012 for most of the year, but did play in eight games with two starts in 2011 with Jacksonville. He has five career catches for 73 yards.

Newsome and Carter were two of six players the Cowboys worked out on Tuesday. The team also looked at cornerbacks Ryan Steed, Junior Mertile and Peyton Thompson, along with wide receiver Dwight Jones.

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