With five wins through nine games, the Dallas Cowboys looked good in the first half of the season. The offense has been rolling well through the air and on the ground, while the defense has proven to be a staunch unit, allowing the second-fewest points against in the conference.
As far as schedule strength goes, the Cowboys have enjoyed a relatively weak opening slate, with the exceptions of the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. While they were expected to come out on top against the New York Jets, the Cowboys have done enough to sit atop the NFC East at the halfway mark.
However, for the all-important second half of the season, Dallas must contend with the likes of the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, and the Philadelphia Eagles once again. Their only rivals for the divisional crown, Philly, have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league, so the Cowboys will need to be on form across this grueling slate of match-ups.
As explained by Bleacher Report, the combined record of those who Dallas has faced thus far combines for a mere 24-36, but their upcoming foes combine for a 23-10-1 record. While the Cowboys boast star power on both sides of the ball, there is one glaring weakness in their game which needs improving: their starts.
Dallas’ Starts Need to Heat Up
The Dallas Cowboys are a very talented team. On offense, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and now Michael Gallup combine to create a strong unit that forces opposing defenses to keep honest. On defense, the likes of Jaylon Smith, Xavier Woods, Demarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, have been keeping opponents in check all season – unless one Aaron Jones is in town. The sheer amount of talent on the team has them regularly among the picks at sites such as Betzcenter to win each week.
One of Dallas’ many strengths this season has been their ability to deal with adversity and come back to claim a win. Tight End Jason Witten has praised the team for this trait, but also noted that the team doesn’t have to continue to endure slow starts to games. This comes after the Cowboys have faced a deficit in five of their eight games at some point during the second quarter.
Despite the team’s evident strength, they’ve also only had the lead in three games coming out of the first frame. These came against the Dolphins to the tune of 10-3, the Saints – which was turned into a 9-3 deficit by the half – and the Eagles by 14-7. It’s a clear-cut flaw in the Dallas game, but fixing the issue may not be so easy. Coming out of the bye week, the Cowboys could only muster a meek 3-3 start against the Giants, only just edging ahead by the half to 13-12.
It seems a peculiar issue given the ability on offense, especially as Dak Prescott is performing to near-MVP levels. According to Cowboys Wire, the fourth-year QB’s passes are, at an above-average rate, putting the team in a better position to score. After eight games, the Cowboys held a 60.71 red zone touchdown scoring percentage – placing 14th in the league in that regard – with that percentage being sunk significantly over their sixth, seventh, and eighth game to a flat 50 percent and 21st over that span.
While not all points are scored in the red zone, such a talented offensive group being supported by an almighty offensive line will want to improve their play in this crucial area of the field and do so early on in their next games.