Cowboys Need to be Better vs Leonard Williams This Time Around

There was a lot that went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys in their week six trip to New York to face the Jets. In that 24-22 loss, a lot of players can shoulder the blame for how the game turned out. The Cowboys were slow to show up as the Jets got out to a 21-6 lead at the half. Though the Cowboys were able to make a game out of it in the second half, much the damage was already done and they couldn’t complete the comeback.

In the first half of that loss, the offense struggled to find any consistency in their execution. Some of it was mistakes by generally reliable players and some of it was related to playing to backup tackles in Cameron Fleming and Brandon Knight. The offensive line as a whole seemed to struggle on the left side, particularly with 3-4 Defensive End Leonard Williams, now with the New York Giants after a trade deadline trade.

In that game, Williams would finish second on the team in total pressures with two quarterback hits and two hurries, per Pro Football Focus. He was disruptive in the middle of the field. In the first half when the Dallas Cowboys were able to find success, it was generally when Williams was off the field.

Here’s one of those QB hits.

Cowboys OL Needs to be Better vs Leonard Williams This Time

At the snap, Williams immediately rushes the “A” gap between Travis Frederick and Connor Williams. Williams has to bail on the double team to pick up the linebacker blitzing into the “B” gap and Williams was too much for Travis Frederick to handle on this snap. He uses his length to bull rush Frederick before disengaging with a swim move to meet two more Jets just as Dak Prescott is getting rid of the football.

In the run game, the Cowboys had a hard time getting anywhere when running up the middle and over the left guard. Williams had two stops in the run game that kept Elliott from getting enough yardage for the play to be deemed successful. Per Pro Football Focus, when the Cowboys ran to the left of Travis Frederick and toward the guard, the “A” and “B” gaps, they averaged just 1.75 yards per carry.

Cowboys OL Needs to be Better vs Leonard Williams This Time 1

On this snap, Williams is lined up as the 3-technique, looking to penetrate the gap between the guard and the center. Connor Williams and Cam Fleming are forced to double team him there and Williams doesn’t get enough of him to prevent him from slipping past Fleming and making the play to bring down Ezekiel Elliott for just a two-yard gain.

It was a rough game for the Cowboys offensive line against the New York Jets who were sending pressure a lot of the afternoon. With the Dallas Cowboys traveling back to New Jersey to face the New York Giants on Monday Night Football, the offensive line will get an opportunity to redeem themselves against Leonard Williams.

They’ll be in much better health this week with Tyron Smith and La’el Collins returning in the Cowboys week seven win over the Philadelphia Eagles. With the bye week, the Cowboys offensive line should be as healthy as they’ve been all season.

For the Cowboys to extend their win streak over the New York Giants to six games and maintain their lead in the NFC East, the offensive line will need to play as well as they did against the Philadelphia Eagles front seven. The interior offensive line will be tested by Williams and 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins, but there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to. Having all five starters out there for this divisional matchup is huge for this week and will help determine how the rest of the 2019 season will go.

If the Cowboys have playoff aspirations, the offensive line needs to take care of business this week, redeeming themselves from their previous visit to MetLife Stadium.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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