Welcome to primetime. Tonight, the Philadelphia Eagles will play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium for an exciting NFC East matchup. The Cowboys are slightly favored for this one, but it will not be an easy game. Both teams sit at 3-3 and will fight for the division lead. It’ll be an exciting night for Cowboys Nation.
Without further ado, let’s get to this week’s Cowboys Wishlist!
Wish #1: Everyone Plays
After a week of uncertainty regarding the health of several key players, the Cowboys are expected to play with both their staring offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, WR Amari Cooper and CB Byron Jones. That’s certainly surprising, but it’s great news to hear ahead of such an important game for the Cowboys.
On the other hand, the Philadelphia Eagles will miss plenty of starters including OT Jason Peters. Of course, nothing will be official for Dallas until the inactives are announced. I wish the inactives list matches early reports of these key players being expected to play.
Wish #2: Return to Exploiting Play-Action
There’s no way around it. The Cowboys were being very successful using play-action during the first three weeks of the season, being among the NFL teams to use it the most. For some reason, though, they seem to have walked away from it. Somehow, they figured out what was working and stopped doing it. Many have argued about how play-action works and whether or not the run must be established for it to work. Analytics suggest it doesn’t work that way.
Anyway, the trend is pretty clear. Throughout the first three weeks, the Cowboys averaged play-action plays on 39.56% of their drop-backs. The last three weeks that average has been 17.3%.
It’s hard to find an answer as to why this has happened to Kellen Moore’s offense, but I wish they go back to what was working so effectively at the beginning of the season.
Wish #3: Let Dak Prescott Win The Game
Speaking of play-action, I truly believe Dak Prescott is the least of the Cowboys’ problems right now. He’s played pretty well and has shown how much of a warrior he is, specially last week when he took a beating from the New York Jets’ defensive front.
I love what RB Ezekiel Elliott brings to the table, but the offense should rely on the passing game. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are a very solid duo of wide receivers and Dak Prescott has proven he can handle the job. I’d like to see the Cowboys putting the offense on Dak’s back.
The Eagles secondary has been far from decent this season, with plenty of teams airing out against them. The key to this game is the passing game.
Wish #4: First Cowboys Drive Ends in TD
The Cowboys’ slow starts have really been one of the biggest issues for this football team this season. Even when they were on a win streak and faced weak opponents, Jason Garrett’s team started slow on both offense and defense. That could be the difference in such an important game for the Cowboys. It’s time for them to start fast, and score fast.
The Cowboys’ offense has been pretty good. In fact, they rank second in offensive DVOA on Football Outsiders. If they figure out how to score early – when game scripts matter the most – this unit could be special.
Wish #5: Let Tony Pollard and Blake Jarwin Play
The Cowboys have chosen to give Jason Witten the vast majority of the offensive snaps at TE this season. As a consequence, Blake Jarwin has seen the field less than he should. Through six weeks, he’s only played in 38.1% of the offensive snaps. Jarwin is young and talented and has been good when given the chance. I hope his snap count increases today.
Similarly, I wish the Cowboys’ give Tony Pollard a more important role. Instead of using him as much as they did in the first three weeks, his snap count percentage has dropped all the way down to 17.68%.