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Dak Prescott and Cowboys’ Offense Look Night and Day Different

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Still Plagued by Red Zone Struggles

Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Dallas Cowboys were an inconsistent bunch, finding very little answers offensively on the road and against good defenses. When the Cowboys went into their bye week in week eight, their was a lot of speculation of potential changes that could be made following their 20-17 loss to the then NFC East leading Washington Redskins.

The wide receiver, offensive line, and quarterback play were so inconsistent through the first seven games that the Cowboys front office felt the need to make some changes and make some changes, they did.

First, they went and acquired Wide Receiver Amari Cooper for a 2019 first round pick, which is looking to be a steal. Then they fired Offensive Line coach Paul Alexander and promoted his assistant Marc Colombo. It's safe to say that the Cowboys offense has looked much better over the last five weeks, though they've had some inconsistency in the red zone.

You don’t have to be an NFL analyst like Tony Romo to see the difference in the offense over the last five games of the season. They’re moving the ball with more consistency and have had more explosive plays in the passing game. You can see it in the confidence that Dak Prescott has been playing with. Though he hasn’t been perfect, he’s taking more shots down the field and has been more aggressive to the middle of the field. 

There's been a noticeable improvement in the offense since the Cowboys made the move for Cooper and promoted Colombo. They're playing more like the team that finished in the top five in the NFL in offense in 2016 and less like the team we saw at the end of the 2017 season and the beginning of this season.

Dak With and Without Cooper and Colombo

Here are Dak Prescott's splits before the Amari Cooper acquisition and the Marc Colombo promotion that occurred during the week eight bye and since the two moves were made. 

Dak Prescott and Cowboys Offense Looks Night and Day Different

A few observations:

  • Dak Prescott is getting rid of the ball much quicker over the last five games than he was in the first seven. A 0.26 second difference might not seem like a lot of time to us, but it’s a stark difference in the NFL. One area of complaint that we’ve had for Dak this season is that he’s been holding the ball for what seems like an eternity. Some of that is due to wide receivers not getting open and Dak’s unwillingness at times to pull the trigger. 
  • Though Prescott has been getting the ball out faster, he's still getting sacked at a league high rate. As you can see from the chart above, Dak's been sacked nearly as many times in the last five games as he was in the first seven.
  • His passing yards have gone up considerably on a per game basis. This is definitely an Amari effect. Amari Cooper has been worth his weight in gold since coming over from the Oakland Raiders and not only has he helped Dak Prescott, but he's helped everyone else as well.
  • We’ve seen that Dak has been more willing to attack defenses down the field. His yards per attempt has increased by more than a yard difference prior to the bye week moves. His passer rating is up nearly 20 points since the addition of Amari Cooper to the passing game and Prescott’s thrown nearly as many touchdowns in the last five games (6) as he did in the first seven games (8). His air yards per attempt has gone up more than a yard and a half since the trade. 
  • Not only has the team seen a bump in the passing game, the offense as a whole has seen their total yards per game go from 320 yards per game to 348.
  • Ezekiel Elliott's yard per carry number has gone up from 4.68 to 4.92 yards per carry since the trade as well.

Since coming over from the Oakland Raiders Amari Cooper is fourth in the NFL in receptions for first downs, seventh in receptions, eighth in receiving yards, and tied for first in the NFL with zero drops in that span.

Yes, you read that right, ZERO DROPS!!!

The offense is trending in the right direction as the Dallas Cowboys look to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. All that while missing Tyron Smith for the last two games, Connor Williams for several games and Travis Frederick for all season. Now it's being reported that Frederick will likely miss the rest of the season.

It's easy to see that Amari Cooper and Marc Colombo have had a huge impact on the Dallas Cowboys offense over the last five games and with the way the defense is playing is a team to be reckoned with down the stretch and in the 2018 postseason.



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.

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7 Comments
  • tony

    Against the saints the offense looked a lil bit different but still a lack of putting points on the board. He had one good deep pass the others were over thrown he still needs to learn to get rid of the ball or run instead of taking a sack. The offense goes as dak does. He needs alot of improvement and until that happens the offense will not put points on the board consistently.

    • Stuart Brereton

      Tony, the guy missed 4 passes out of 28, he’s not perfect, neither is any qb, Brees looked ordinary because of the constant pressure. At the end of the day the O line was less than stellar that day…
      Give Dak some credit when it’s due, you all seem to look for all his negatives, but none of his positives…how about the big runs for first downs?

      • tony

        Stuart I’m just starting the obvious. He leads the league in being sacked. No all are his fault but he has a problem of holding the ball to long. He when is last time he passed for over 300yds? The big runs I understand but he should of run in the other situations too to avoid those sacks. I hope he gets better really I do.

        • Stuart Brereton

          He leads the league in being sacked because of shoddy offensive line play, why didn’t he get sacked as much in 2016? I do not have to state the obvious. As far as passing for over 300 yds…where were the receivers? before we got Amari, they were a hapless bunch, with no real tight end to speak of, plus we are a run first offense. Passing yardage is over rated, it’s all about the context and circumstances in a game. Russell Wilson threw for 179 yds and 4 tds on Sunday, the SF qb threw for over 400 yds, who won that game…that’s just one example.
          As far as the sacks go, and about running to avoid them, tell that to all the other qbs who don’t have the time to escape sacks…
          The guy is two and a half yrs in the league, he’s still developing, and will get better with the right coaching, which he doesn’t have at present. Many of the best qbs carried a clipboard for 2-3 yrs before starting, not too many were very successful as first year starters and carried it thru their careers…I can think of a handful.

    • John Williams

      Dak definitely had his misses, but every quarterback does. Watch any game, even with Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. They all have throws that they’d like back.

      Dak’s not the best passer in the game, but he’s been good enough and he’s been better over the last five games.

  • Pdub44

    I still think a couple of more designed runs and moving the pocket per game for Dak will slow down ghe rush. Thing is he’s gotta hold on to the ball. I don’t think he fumbled like this in college.

  • J P

    It’s kind of weird to talk about how much better the Cowboys offense is performing when they just finished a game in which they were completely shut out in the second half.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed 3

The Dallas Cowboys didn't look like they did during their five game winning streak when they entered Lucas Oil Stadium to face a hot Indianapolis Colts team. In fact, they had one of their poorest showings of all season, failing to score a single point all game. Heading home after being shutout 23-0, there isn't much to be said about the Cowboys' performance.

Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday. This time, instead of talking about many takeaways, I needed to get one big takeaway off my chest. I hope you enjoy. Make sure to let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL.

Scott Linehan's Job Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Going into the Playoffs

As tough as it is to fire one of your three main coaches when your team is headed into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys should not rule out moving on from Scott Linehan. One win away from clinching the NFC East, it's not something you easily pull off but Linehan's play calling has been terrible all year long.

The truth is, despite Dak Prescott's struggles and a disastrous offensive line, the offense shouldn't be as inefficient as it is.

Watching a unit that counts with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott run a screen pass to Allen Hurns on fourth down and 14 was truly a microcosm of what this year has been for the offense.

Despite having a playoff berth practically clinched, the Cowboys should consider a change at offensive coordinator. Even if they don't fire Linehan, it's clear his play-calling is not good and could cost this team a real opportunity at a legit shot in the postseason. It would be an aggressive measure, without a doubt. The Minnesota Vikings did something similar by firing John DeFillippo a week ago. Based on their 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, being aggressive sometimes pays.

3 Quick Fixes to Jumpstart Cowboys Anemic Offense 3

The Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and yet they continue to misuse him. Whether it's turning their backs on their star tailback or over-using him, this offense has a hard time reaching balance. Dak Prescott's strengths could be exploited even more, but this OC refuses to do so.

As hard as it is to make a drastic change in coaching two weeks before the regular season ends, it truly could end up being a great move by the front office. Sure, Amari Cooper has had monster games since joining the Cowboys, but he could be even more dangerous under another coach.

Cowboys versus Colts was a coaching battle between Scott Linehan and former Dallas Cowboys LB coach, Matt Eberflus. It was the matchup of the week, and one we expected to be fun. Instead, we saw one side completely dominate the other. In the NFL, coaching matters. Probably even more than talent on a roster.

The biggest problem would be, who'd take over play-calling?

Since there isn't a promising candidate within the team, the team's only option would probably be letting HC Jason Garrett take over. It may not be ideal, but it could end up being an improvement over Linehan. Of course, it could also let the front office see what Garrett has to offer as a play caller and consider that when deciding how this coaching staff will look like in 2019.

It's unlikely that we see such a thing occur for the Cowboys, but if the offense has another letdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don't see how the front office doesn't at least consider this. They should.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts

John Williams

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3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks

It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.

What a waste! 

Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury. 

On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter. 

The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains. 

In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.

It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.

But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.

All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Can't Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.

Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.

The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.

Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.

  • The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season. 

The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.

Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.

  • Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game. 

This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.

A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.

  • The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard. 

The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.

The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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