It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Dallas Cowboys offense from here on out. With injuries to their quarterback and an offensive line that’s been decimated as well, offensive production is going to be a struggle over the final 10 games.
In particular, on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line is in for a fight against the vaunted Washington Football Team defensive line. It’s a mismatch of epic proportions. It’s Team USA vs the Soviet Union in Ice Hockey. It’s Buster Douglas vs Mike Tyson. It’s the Dallas Mavericks vs the Big 3 and the Miami Heat.
See what I did there?
Because the Dallas Cowboys will be rolling out an offensive line that features just one of their projected starters from the preseason, it’s not looking good for the running game to find any kind of rhythm. As good as Ezekiel Elliott is, he’s not going to have much running room today against the Football Team. Running him into the Football Team’s stacked defensive line is almost literally akin to running it into a brick wall.
Andy Dalton won’t get much time to make anything happen in the passing game or have the time to allow plays to develop downfield.
So, the Cowboys’ passing game is going to have to make things happen on short, quick passes. If they hope to have much success on offense against the Football Team, the Cowboys need to adopt more West Coast Offense philosophies, which relies on quick passes and yards after the catch. And that’s where the Cowboys wide receiver group comes in.
Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb have had productive starts to the 2020 season and have lived up to the billing as one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL. Throw in Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown and their five-deep depth chart could rival just about any team’s across the league.
For the Dallas Cowboys to have any shot, they need their wide receiver group to take over the game. Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb need to be on point, catching everything that’s thrown their way and make things happen after the catch.
CeeDee Lamb currently ranks 10th in the NFL in yards after the catch. Among players with at least 13 targets on the season, Cedrick Wilson is sixth in the NFL in yards after the catch per reception. Among wide receivers with at least 32 targets in 2020, Lamb is 14th in the NFL and Amari Cooper is 16th in the league.
Each of their top three wide receivers is in the top 25 in the NFL in receiving yardage and Cooper and Lamb are in the top seven. Cooper is second in the NFL in receptions and Lamb is not far behind at ninth. They’ve been fantastic through the first six games of the season, but they have to be better moving forward.
The Dallas Cowboys need their wide receiver group, which is one of the best in the NFL, to play like it. They can’t afford this group to make mistakes or have drops in critical situations. Like last week at the end of the first half with the Cowboys on the doorstep, Andy Dalton finds Michael Gallup at the goal line for what looks like will be a touchdown. The ball is on target but goes through Gallup’s hands and the Cowboys then have to settle for the field goal.
If Gallup catches that ball, presumably he scores, and the score going into half is 21-10 and the Cowboys get the ball first to start the second half. Obviously, that drop wasn’t the only reason they lost, but it certainly was a big moment in the game that the Cowboys couldn’t afford.
Because the Cowboys will likely have to throw a lot of slants, flats, short come back routes, and crossing routes, the wide receiver group has to find a way to make things happen after the catch. As a unit, they also have to do a better job setting up the wide receiver and bubble screen when it’s called. They did not do a good job at that in Monday night’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
In order to mitigate the pass rush of the Washington Football Team and give Andy Dalton a chance to have any semblance of success in the passing game, the wide receiver group has to lead this offense. Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and the offensive line are going to have tough sledding against a Washington front that features Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Da’Ron Payne, and Jonathan Allen. So, Cooper, Gallup, Lamb, Wilson, and Brown will be key to coming away with a victory in today’s matchup.