Not much has gone well for the Dallas Cowboys during the 2020 season. If they were to make a year in review film to cover this season, it would be titled “Injuries and Inconsistencies.” That has plagued the team throughout this season. Any hope that the Cowboys could flip the script on what has been the theme for this debacle is unlikely to come on tonight against the Baltimore Ravens.
This week is a perfect confluence of circumstances for the Baltimore Ravens, who have lost four of their last five after starting the season 5-1. They get to face a reeling Dallas Cowboys team that is now two games back in the win column of the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team. Though they’re theoretically still in it, they really aren’t in it.
With Zack Martin heading to IR on Monday, this offensive line is set for more upheaval as the season goes along. And the Baltimore Ravens are licking their chops.
The Baltimore Ravens come into this contest as the most blitz-happy team in the NFL. They send an extra rusher on 46% of their defensive snaps per Dallas Cowboys Public Relations. Pro Football Reference has the Ravens blitzing on 43.7% of their dropbacks, still good for the lead league. While they’re the most aggressive team in the NFL, they don’t always convert them to sacks as they’ve brought down the quarterback 27 times, good for 17th in the league. At the same time, they will put a hit on the quarterback, with 87 quarterback hits per Pro Football Reference, which is fourth in the NFL.
And that’s the unenviable task that Andy Dalton and the Dallas Cowboys offensive line has in front of them tonight on Tuesday Night Football. They have to figure out a way to keep Andy Dalton upright long enough to get the ball to the wide receivers on the outside.
Utilizing the running game and play-action could help take the pressure off of Dalton, but the Cowboys will likely have to play from behind in this game. And that doesn’t bode well for the offense.
With Zack Martin out and an offensive line with Brandon Knight, Connor Williams, Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, and Terence Steele, Andy Dalton isn’t going to have a lot of time to sit back in the pocket to look down the field. Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore will need to get the ball out of Dalton’s hands quickly to give the offense a chance to make a play and keep Dalton from getting blasted every other play.
Though the running game hasn’t been very effective this year, the Cowboys could use some draws, counters, and screens to take advantage of the Ravens’ aggressiveness. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and the rest of the pass catchers on offense will have to figure out how to make something happen after the catch. If they aren’t able to take short passes and turn them into long gains, it will be a struggle for the Cowboys offense to produce.
This game is a complete mismatch between the Cowboys’ offense and the Ravens’ defense. The offensive line won’t hold up for four quarters against Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, and Matthew Judon. The tone will be set early, and if the Cowboys can pick up the blitz with some regularity early in the game, they might have a shot to pick up the victory.