The Dallas Cowboys have gotten off to a rocky start to the 2020 NFL season. They currently stand at 1-2, but could easily be 0-3 if not for a miracle onside kick recovery that led to a one-point win vs the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2.
This week they host the 2-1 Cleveland Browns who are coming off back to back victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Football Team. As they look to keep pace atop the NFC East, here are three key players to watch as the Cowboys look to improve to 2-0 at home.
The Cowboys top pass rusher has been under scrutiny since last season, despite still being very good. According to Pro Football Focus, his 9.8% run stop percentage (tackles that constitute a loss) was tied for eighth in the NFL (third amongst edge rushers who played 50% of team's snaps). Also per PFF, Lawrence's 83.3 run defense grade was tied for sixth for all edge rushers in 2019.
However, when your price tag is $21 million per season, the expectation is to get to the quarterback, which Lawrence hasn't done consistently for a while. His last full sack came in Week 9 of last season and he's only recorded a half-sack since, which occurred four weeks later.
He's due for a big performance, and with the Cowboys looking at a 1-3 start with a loss on Sunday, now is as good of a time as ever to do so.
Diggs has already shown flashes of why the Cowboys drafted him 51st overall in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He hasn't recorded an interception yet but he competes relentlessly play in and play out as was evident by the play he made on D.K. Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks last week to prevent a touchdown.
However, he was beaten badly on several plays, which you expect from a rookie cornerback that's adjusting to the NFL. He'll have to have a short memory, though, as this week he faces the dynamic receiving duo of Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry.
It'll be interesting to see how much he's learned as he faces this difficult assignment on Sunday.
The two-time rushing champion got off to a pretty good start to the 2020 season. He averaged 92.5 yards rushing and had over 120 all-purpose yards in each of the first two games. Last week against the Seattle Seahawks was a different story. Elliott had the third-worst rushing performance of his career with just 34 yards, bringing his average per game down to 73 yards for the season.
This Sunday, he'll be facing a defense that is ninth in yards allowed and fifth against the run so the task will be a tough one. Head Coach Mike McCarthy has said he wants the Cowboys to keep a fast tempo on offense, but with a historically bad defense that's currently giving up over 32 points per game, controlling the clock with Elliott to limit their time on the field might be the better route to take.
Will these three players have big games vs the Browns? Only time will tell.