Category Archives: Anthony Hitchens Jersey

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With Sean Lee likely to miss at least the next two games if not three because of a hamstring strain, Anthony Hitchens is ready to do an impersonation of the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive leader.

Hitchens will move from middle linebacker to the weak side, as he did when Lee missed two games earlier in the season.

The Cowboys have been a different defense without Lee. They gave up 35 points in losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers without him in October. They gave up all 27 points without him last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

“Communication is huge, getting the guys lined up, and I’m going to be the guy making the calls if he’s out,” Hitchens said. “I’ll just try my best to imitate him and get everyone lined up. He’s going to help me throughout the week. At the end of the day, if he’s out, I’ve got to step up and play the Sean Lee role.”

There might be one exception.

“I try to shy away from the bad words,” Hitchens said. “But sometimes it comes out, you know? But then I have someone to blame for that.”

Hitchens has been credited by the coaches with 36 tackles and five tackles for loss. Against the Falcons, he had a season-high 10 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss and was among the few defensive bright spots in the loss.

With Hitchens moving to weakside linebacker, the Cowboys will go with Justin Durant and Jaylon Smith at middle linebacker. Lee might not be on the field Sunday and moving forward, but Hitchens will use him as a resource.

There is a big difference from the weakside and middle linebacker spots even if they are separated by a yard or two on the field.

“Every play you’re keying a guy, you’re keying a tight end, keying a running back,” Hitchens said. “It’s just different plays and different positions where your eyes are. Throughout the week, I’ve just got to work with Sean if he’s not playing and ask him, ‘What does he see on this play or this formation?’”

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or the first time since Week 3 of the 2015 season, the Dallas Cowboys will see referee Pete Morelli when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs at AT&T Stadium next Sunday.

The Cowboys lost that day to the Atlanta Falcons and were penalized five times for 31 yards. That was the beginning of a seven-game losing streak without Tony Romo, who was out with a broken collarbone, after a 2-0 start to the season.

Morelli has worked five Cowboys games since 2010. The Cowboys are 4-1 in those games, including their wild-card win against the Detroit Lions in which Morelli’s crew did not call a pass interference penalty on Anthony Hitchens on a key play late in the game.

In the five games, the Cowboys have been penalized 34 times for 237 yards, while their opponents have been flagged 28 times for 232 yards.

Morelli worked the New England Patriots’ win against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 8, calling 19 penalties with 16 accepted. The visiting Chargers had 10 penalties for 77 yards, and the Patriots had six for 80 yards.

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For the last time this calendar year, the Cowboys don’t have a regular-season game this week.

They head into the bye week 2-3, coming off two straight home losses by a combined 9 points. That’s the thin line between victory and defeat in a parity-driven NFL.

Where can the Cowboys improve most when they return to the field Oct. 22 at San Francisco? The staff debates:

 I voted run defense in a similar poll on Talkin’ Cowboys this week, and I shared this stat in my Tuesday column: The Cowboys are 1-7 when allowing at least 160 rushing yards in a game since Rod Marinelli became defensive coordinator in 2014. They’re 0-3 in those games this year. Marinelli’s defenses pride themselves on stopping the run, first and foremost. Linebacker injuries have hurt them; they’ve been without Anthony Hitchens and/or Sean Lee in all five games. But this is a defense that didn’t allow a single 100-yard rusher last year. Sure, there have been personnel changes this year, but opponents’ rushing success is just out of character for Marinelli’s group. If they can get back to limiting yards there, they’ll get off the field more – and that means more chances for the offense to find and maintain a rhythm.

 Opponents are having alarming success running the ball. It hasn’t mattered which down it has been – the inability for the defense to control that area has been a direct correlation in their losses. As a unit they’re not getting off blocks, and the overall tackling has been lacking any real consistency. As this point of the season, they’ve allowed 18 runs of 10 or more yards, which is five more than the league average. If they improve the run defense they play to their strength, which has been rushing the passer. If that doesn’t happen, there are going to be more of those types of games that we’ve seen against the Rams and Packers.

I know the Dallas defense has been playing poorly, and I know they have a lot to work on. Believe me when I say I’m not trying to make excuses for them. But as far as I’m concerned, this team is only going to go as far as its offense can carry it. With that in mind, the Cowboys’ rushing attack just hasn’t been up to snuff compared to the dominant effort we saw last year. The Cowboys are just 10th in the league in rushing offense, averaging 124 yards per game — almost 30 yards fewer on average than last year. More troubling than that is that Ezekiel Elliott is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, compared to his fantastic 5.1 from last season. The Cowboys haven’t been bad, by any stretch of the imagination, but they haven’t controlled the line of scrimmage the way we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Regardless of who’s playing, I don’t think this Dallas defense is good enough to keep the Cowboys in games if the offense isn’t consistently sustaining long drives and scoring points. Elliott and the offensive line are going to have to raise their game and find more yards on the ground if the Cowboys are going to get back to that.

While my first thought was to mention something about the offensive line or the lack of playmakers on offense, this team is scoring nearly 30 points per game in the last three weeks. That should be enough to be better than 1-2. So it has to be something defensively and to me, it’s the lack of turnovers. They just don’t get the football out and it’s a problem. And sometimes, when the ball is on the ground, like it was against the Rams early in the third quarter, the defense has to be ready to pounce. Through five games, this defense has forced only four turnovers in five games. Only five teams in the league have forced fewer turnovers, two of which have been on a bye week. This offense is still pretty good, but they could use a short field every now and then for some easy points. Nothing has been easy for this team this year, which is represented by its record. But the safeties need to make better plays on the ball and get some picks. The pass rush needs to be even more consistent to either force errant throws or knock the ball loose on sacks and tackles for loss. And the linebackers have to see the ball better and react quicker, which can also lead to picks and fumbles. It’s not happening right now and if the Cowboys are going to turn this around, the defense needs to be a little more offensive when the ball is up for grabs.