Just three weeks ago the Dallas Cowboys were setting pretty at 3-0 coming off back to back impressive performances by the offensive line. In Week 2 they gave Quarterback Dak Prescott so much time in the pocket that he would complete 18 consecutive passes (14 of 14 in the second half) and toss 3 touchdowns. Also, All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott ran for 111 yards on 23 carries as the Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 31-21. The following week they completely dominated the Miami Dolphins defensive front as both Elliott and rookie Tony Pollard rushed for over 100 yards in a 31-6 victory. The previous two weeks, however, have been a struggle as the unit has faced stiffer competition.
Rolling into New Orleans to face the Saints you had to think the gameplan would be to establish the run and play ball control with such a high-powered offense on the other sideline. However, the Cowboys offensive line was bullied all night long as Elliott was consistently stopped for minimal yardage. He would finish with only 35 yards on 18 carries. As a result of this, the Cowboys became one dimensional at times and could never get any rhythm going offensively. The Cowboys lost 12-10, spoiling a great performance by the defense.
Last Sunday the Green Bay Packers came to Arlington for a showdown of NFC powerhouses. Although the Elliott ran for 60 yards on 10 carries in the first half, turnovers put the Cowboys behind several scores early. This forced Prescott to throw for the majority of the game and the Packers pass rush took full advantage. Prescott was under pressure regularly and the Packers racked up eight quarterback hits and 3 sacks. Granted the Cowboys were definitely not at full strength with All-Pro Left Tackle Tyron Smith out due to a high ankle sprain. Also, starting Right Tackle La’el Collins suffered an MCL sprain and exited the game early.
Smith is expected to return this Sunday and there’s optimism Collins will be on the field as well. Head Coach Jason Garrett elaborated on the status of Collins against the New York Jets earlier this week:
“We’ll see. We’ll take him day by day, ” Garrett said Monday. “He hurt his knee in the game and was not able to finish, obviously. He’s a tough guy, so we’ll give him every chance as we go, and the MRI was fine today. But again, we’ll just see how he does day by day this week.”
If the Cowboys can get both of their starting tackles back it will make going up against a tough Jets defensive front a lot easier. The offensive line hasn’t played it’s best in the last few weeks so it will be important to establish some dominance, particularly in the running game to set the tone on the road. This will go along way in the Cowboys ending a two-game losing streak and keeping pace for control of the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles, who come to AT&T Stadium next Sunday for a first-place battle. When you win in the trenches you win ball games, that should be the focus for the Cowboys offensive line this week as they look to get some confidence back.