The Dallas Cowboys are coming off an impressive 35 to 17 week one win against the New York Giants. Now, they turn their attention to another division rival the Washington Redskins in what should be a tough early-season road game. The Cowboys have had a lot of success playing the Redskins during the Dak-Zeke era going 5-1 against them since 2016. However, they are always a difficult opponent for Dallas no matter what their record is, especially at home. Here are 3 keys that I think can lead them to their second division win in this young season.
1. Establish Ezekiel Elliott early
As we all know, the Cowboys are built to run the football with their powerful offensive line and All-Pro running back. Elliott's first game was rather pedestrian with 53 yards on 13 carries but it was expected considering he traditionally starts slow and the fact that he only had a few practices before the season because of his holdout. It's all about getting him into football shape and the only way to do that is to feed him the ball. Two things travel in football, your defense, and your running game. The Cowboys should come out pounding the rock and establish their advantage upfront.
The more you move the chains the less the crowd will be involved and the longer it will take the opposing team's offense to get a rhythm due to not being on the field. Control the clock, wear down the defense and keep your defense fresh at all times. Feed Zeke, early and often.
2. Keep riding the Dak wave
Dak Prescott couldn't have dreamed of a better start than the one he had in the season opener. He set an opening game franchise record for passing yards with 405, breaking Hall of Famer Troy Aikman's previous record of 362 in 1999. He had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and tossed four touchdowns, good enough to win NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Now, he's facing a defense that isn't very good and in particular, a secondary that should have problems covering Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Randall Cobb, who all had big games last week.
Kellen Moore should continue to let Dak attack the middle of the field, the sidelines and downfield just like week one. Throw the ball on first down some to keep the defense off-balance. Use Elliott and Tony Pollard out of the backfield as well. You want to keep this momentum and confidence going for Dak.
3. Defense needs to reassert their dominance
One of the not so bright spots in last Sunday's win against the Giants was the defense. They were on the field for almost 28 minutes, gave up 25 first downs and 470 total yards (151 yards on the ground). The Cowboys were seventh in fewest yards allowed and fifth against the run in 2018 so the week one performance wasn't ideal by any means. However, they were still very good in a few areas. The Giants were only 2 of 11 on third downs and scored a lackluster 17 points. When you can get off the field on third down and keep points at a premium you are setting your defense up for success.
Also, the Cowboys forced two turnovers against the Giants. This has been a big issue in recent years for the defensive unit despite having really good teams overall. As we know, you force turnovers your chances of winning increase immensely.
Road games are tricky, especially early in the season against a division rival. On paper, the Cowboys are the superior team but games aren't played on stat sheets. There has to be a focus to come in and handle business and get division win number two in as many weeks. If they establish Elliott, keep riding Dak's momentum and play sound defense I see them going to 2-0 this Sunday.
Report: Cowboys G Connor Williams to Undergo Arthroscopic Knee Surgery, Expected to Miss a Few Weeks
The Dallas Cowboys received a bit of bad news today. According to ESPN's Todd Archer, Guard Connor Williams will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday.
Connor Williams will have surgery on his knee Tuesday but the hope is he will be able to return after a few weeks. Xavier Su'a-Filo will likely move into the left guard role, which is how the Cowboys handled Williams' absence last year because of a knee... https://t.co/M55eVtYCIJ
Williams suffered the injury in Sunday's 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. This is a minor procedure but will keep Williams sidelined for a few weeks. Backup Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is expected to fill in during his absence, just like he did in 2018 when Williams missed time with a knee issue. More to come.
Jason Garrett Reminds Everyone That Kellen Moore Calls the Plays
There's a lot of blame game being played around the Dallas Cowboys right now after a demoralizing home loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Even the head coach seems to be getting in on the act as Jason Garrett went out of character and got unusually specific in explaining Kellen Moore's responsibility for play-calling.
Garrett is not known for calling people out. In fact, many fans have criticized him for not being more critical of his players. He tends to speak in vague, nebulous terms when it comes to discussing the Cowboys' weaknesses or failings after a loss.
But in a radio appearance this morning, Garrett didn't mince words on who was deciding the plays during the Cowboys' final drive.
Jason Garrett on @1053thefan on the two run plays late: "Kellen's calling the game. In that situation it's 2nd and 2. He felt like he had a good opportunity against a favorable box to run the ball in those situations. On each of those plays we had options beyond just the run.
Jason did try to excuse his offensive coordinator's decisions with some context, but he also made sure to clarify who was responsible for those calls. It was not very Garrett-like, and it may speak to his own growing frustration and concern over his future.
Garrett is on the final year of his contract and the Cowboys' front office has made it clear that any extension depends on the results of the 2019 season. With Dallas now dropping to 5-4 and only leading the division by a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, the future is increasingly unclear.
Jason Garrett famously uses "we" and "us" terms when talking about the negatives, not wanting to assign blame to any particular player or person when things aren't going well. That he strayed from this well-established behavior today may be an anomaly, but it shouldn't be ignored.
With a tough second-half stretch coming in this 2019 schedule, Garrett may be starting to feel like a dead man walking. We'll see in the coming weeks if this leads to anymore shifts in his usual demeanor with the media.
Dallas Cowboys Good, Bad, and Ugly from Week 10 Against Vikings
Well Cowboys Nation, the Dallas Cowboys let yet another winnable game slip to their grasp Sunday night after the devastating 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. By my count, that's three out of four games the Cowboys probably should have won this season. But, probably… maybe… and should have don't mean diddly squat in the NFL.
I'm not going to beat around the bush today because I would likely end up going into a long winded rant about what took place last night. So, let's go ahead and jump right into this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. As always, please feel free to use the comment section to voice your opinions and thoughts on the subject.
Unlike in weeks past, I had absolutely no problem deciding what to go with this week for this category from the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. I don't think anyone would argue that the good had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott's play and the Cowboys overall passing game. This unit was the sole reason they had a chance to win at the end.
Prescott was simply phenomenal Sunday night. He threw for 397 yards, three touchdowns, and only one interception. He was on point last night and was dropping dimes all over the place. It's one of the reasons why both Amari Cooper (147 yards, 1 TD) and Randall Cobb (106, 1 TD) both went over the 100 yard mark in receiving, and Michael Gallup wasn't too far behind (76 yards, 1 TD). All in all it's an MVP caliber performance from No. 4, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to seal the victory.
I thought and thought about what I wanted to go with in this category and I'll have to admit, I had a hard time deciding. There were individual players who deserved a nomination here, but in the end I think the bad for the Dallas Cowboys was them getting off to yet another slow start against the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, it's been a trend for them this season.
It all started when Jason Garrett decided to send out Kicker Brett Maher to attempt an ill-advised 57 yard field goal. Maher is capable of making such kicks, but there's a time and place to use that kind of weapon. Last night on the opening drive of the game was not one of those times. After the missed FG, the Vikings had excellent field position and scored a quick TD. Not long after they scored another TD to go up 14-0 after another stalled drive by the Cowboys offense. It's a hole they were never quite able to dig themselves out of.
Deciding what to go with here in this category was pretty easy after narrowing down what I wanted to put in the bad category. I think the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings was their defensive play. In all honesty, it was absolutely sickening to watch the Vikings have their way with the Cowboys defense. Dallas has far too much talent on that side of the ball to be manhandled like they were.
The tackling was atrocious and so was the execution. I'm pretty sure the game plan was to neutralize Dalvin Cook the way they did Saquon Barkley in Week 9, but the league's leading rusher (Cook) would have none of that. He pretty much did what he wanted. He ran through arm tackles and had room to run, whether it was as a rusher or receiver. It looked a lot like what Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones did to the Cowboys in Week 5. It was completely inexcusable and unacceptable!
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