Heading into the Dallas Cowboys’ massive week four match-up with the 2-1 New Orleans Saints, just about everyone seems to be previewing how the Cowboys defense can slow down the Saints offense.
Of course, this seems like the key to a 4-0 Dallas start.
New Orleans features two of the brightest offensive stars in all of football: Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. Even with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees missing on Sunday night, both Thomas and Kamara are expected to put up big numbers on primetime. Last week, when the Saints defeated the formerly 2-0 Seattle Seahawks on the road, Teddy Bridgewater leaned on both these playmakers heavily, asking them to make plays after the catch rather than pushing the ball down the field.
Slowing these two down will be a tough task, and an important one if the Cowboys want to achieve victory. But the most important thing the Cowboys can do Sunday, is to keep their aggressiveness on offense on 10.
There hasn’t been a better quarterback in the NFC than Dak Prescott this season. The fourth year starter leads the entire NFL in EPA, completion percentage over expected, and QBR through three weeks, even ranking better than Patrick Mahomes on these key stats. Prescott has been magnificent through three weeks, and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore certainly deserves a lot of credit for the team’s passing success as well.
Dallas has made sure to keep defenses guessing with their personnel groups, formations, pre-snap motions and shifts. They’ve also been one of the most aggressive teams in the league, ranking third in terms of second and long passing rates this season.
This is a massive change from the stale, run heavy offense we saw the Cowboys deploy in 2018. And, as you would’ve expected, with increased deception and higher pass rates, the Cowboys offense has exploded.
No matter how the Cowboys defense does against Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara on Sunday, this team will be fine as long as Dak Prescott continues to play as he has since the Amari Cooper trade. They will be fine as long as Kellen Moore doesn’t shrink up and fail to be aggressive on early downs when the lights are brightest and the games are finally close.
Some are calling this week the first real test for Kellen Moore and company, but Dallas has the talent to run the Saints defense out of the stadium if all goes according to plan.
What wins football games in 2019 is passing efficiency and creating pass rush/turnovers. The Cowboys can control how the first of those two goes each Sunday with their game plan and quarterback.