Predictable. The most commonly used word regarding the Dallas Cowboys offense the past few years under former Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan. It had gotten to the point that fans worldwide on all social media platforms would display their displeasure with the offensive scheme weekly, rather if the team won or lost. Instead of looking outside of the organization, the Cowboys instead looked within and promoted Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator.
His communication skills are a big reason why he's in the position to take the Cowboys offense to the next level. "At the end of the day, work together with everyone. I think that includes the coaching staff, obviously coach Garrett and the rest of the staff. I think you also got to get some input from the players. It doesn't mean you have to go down those roads all the time, but I think it's important that when a player believes in something and they're pretty convinced on it, usually they find a way to make it work," Moore said.
A very wise approach from the first year captain of the offensive ship. The more involved your players are in the preparation aspect of the game the more confident they'll come to be on Sunday's. Let's face it, everyone likes to feel they're a part of something right?
Let's start with the most important position on the field, quarterback. Dak Prescott set an NFL record for the highest completion percentage for a quarterback in his first three seasons at 66.1, so the accuracy is there. He's not just a threat with his arm, but also his legs. Too many times under Scott Linehan this offense could have used Prescott's running ability in short yardage, but instead opted to run the same old tired formations and plays. Look for Moore to utilize this aspect of Prescott's game more. Also, he's a winner. His 32 victories since 2016 are tops in the NFL for any quarterback not named Tom Brady.
Prescott praised the innovation of his new play caller and how he can bring new life to the offense.
"Moore can be crazy creative. From the time he was a player to his time now, he sits over there, we’re watching plays and he’ll draw a play up and say, ‘Hey, this is a compliment of that.’ I mean that was the main reason I pushed for him to be the quarterback coach in the first place because I knew the intelligence he has in the game, how smart he is, how creative he can be. He’s a phenom when it comes to the game,” Prescott told the Dallas Morning News.
Ezekiel Elliott is your All-Pro at the running back position. With two rushing titles in his first three years and a league-high 98.3 yards per game average in the one year he didn't, he sets the tone for the entire unit. With almost 5 yards per rush on first down for his career, this gives Kellen Moore plenty of options when it comes to keeping the chains moving. Play action, roll outs, screens, slants, and misdirection run plays can all be used with a short down and distance to go. Also, in 2018 he showed off yet another facet of his game, pass catching. He caught 77 passes which is an extremely high number for a running back. Now, not only can he beat up defenses with his running ability, he can keep them honest with his threat in the passing game. Nothing like an all-purpose ball carrier.
There's an added wrinkle at the running back position, and that's rookie Tony Pollard. The former Memphis Tiger is a dynamic playmaker with the ability to put six points on the board at any given time. He averaged a touchdown every thirteen touches in college, an insanely high percentage. He lined up not only at running back but receiver as well, catching 104 passes. Not to mention, he tied an NCAA record with seven kick return touchdowns. With his speed and ability to produce at multiple positions, you can bet Kellen Moore is excited about his new offensive toy.
Amari Cooper leads the attack at the wide receiver position. After being acquired midseason in 2018, he would change life dramatically for Dak Prescott and the offense, as they won seven of their final eight games. He can carve up defenses in multiple ways. His speed allows him to blow the top off the defense down the field. Also, because of his exceptional route running, you can line him up in the slot and eat up the middle of the field. He provides so many options with his skill set.
Michael Gallup has the size, speed, and athleticism you want at receiver. As a rookie, he finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. Considering it was clear that his chemistry with Dak Prescott was hit or miss at times these numbers are pretty encouraging. You're talking about a guy that could be an 800 plus yard second option once said chemistry is reached. Plus, with the addition of Randall Cobb in free agency, this gives the offense an added threat in the slot, creating plenty of one-on-one opportunities for Gallup.
Randall Cobb was signed in March to sure up the slot receiver spot. Unlike Cole Beasley, he isn't limited to just being on the inside, he can play either outside position as well. This allows Kellen Moore to move around each of his three main receivers and take advantage of their unique skill sets. The more ways you can get your weapons the ball the more effective your offense will be.
Tight End Jason Witten came of retirement for his sixteenth season. Looking slimmer and faster according to people in the building, the future Hall of Famer will provide a safety net for Dak Prescott on third downs, and added blocking for Ezekiel Elliott.
Blake Jarwin finished the 2018 season strong against the New York Giants. Catching 7 passes for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, with Witten back as the starter, it'll be interesting to see how he's implemented under Kellen Moore's creative style of offense.
The Cowboys have a plethora of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. After years of predictability under Scott Linehan, Kellen Moore is looking to open up the offense with his creativity and more input from his players. He has a quarterback who is a winner, the best running back in the league, a top 10 receiver, a solid number two receiver, a former pro bowler in the slot and a tight end on his way to Canton. The ingredients are there, but there's also uncertainty going forward. This is his first crack at being the puppet master of the offense, so they'll be a learning curve to start. But make no mistake about it, you can expect a much more exciting and explosive offense from the Cowboys in 2019.
REPORT: Cowboys WR Michael Gallup Out 2-4 Weeks After Knee Surgery
Two games into a seeming breakout season, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Michael Gallup will now be out for the next 2-4 weeks after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He suffered the injury late into the Cowboys' victory over the Washington Redskins yesterday.
An MRI revealed the extent of the injury today. There were hopes that Gallup had only suffered a contusion, but unfortunately he will be out at least a couple of games after requiring this minor knee procedure.
Gallup is the team leader in catches (13) and receiving yards (226) after the first two weeks of the 2019 season.
Sources: #Cowboys promising WR Michael Gallup is having arthroscopic surgery to trim his meniscus, knocking him out 2-4 weeks. No structural damage besides the meniscus tear, so the return should be quick.
The Cowboys still have Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb as a strong starting duo. They also hope to get Tavon Austin back this week after he was inactive in Washington with concussion issues.
Gallup's absence could be big for Devin Smith, who had a 51-yard touchdown catch against the Redskins and should see more work in the coming weeks. It also may prompt Dallas to keep prospect Cedrick Wilson, just called up from the practice squad a week ago, on the 53-man roster a while longer.
Despite this depth, Michael Gallup will still be missed for however long he's out. Hopefully he can return on the quick side of the projection and keep his 2019 momentum going.
Robert Quinn Returns; How Will Cowboys Make Room on Roster?
Defensive End Robert Quinn, who the Cowboys traded for during the offseason, will make his Dallas debut this week after serving a two-game suspension to start 2019. To add Quinn to the 53 for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, the Cowboys will need to make some kind of move to create a roster spot.
The question now is how Dallas makes that room. Who winds up leaving the team this week to create that spot for Quinn?
Ideally, the Cowboys will be able to find a trade partner for the disgruntled Taco Charlton. The former 1st-Round pick has been targeted for a while now, and trade rumors have intensified after Taco's been inactive for the first two games of the regular season.
Unfortunately, the goal of moving Charlton before Quinn comes back is something the rest of the NFL is also aware of. If a team does have interest, why trade for Taco now when you can potentially just claim him off waivers in a few more days? The Cowboys are the ones with the deadline.
Trading Taco, or releasing him if a trade doesn't materialize in the next few days, is the most logical solution here. It not only get Charlton out of Dallas and fresh start somewhere else, but it all takes place within the defensive end position. One DE out to make room for another; makes sense, right?
But let's say that the Cowboys aren't ready to just lose Charlton for nothing, or aren't satisfied with the trade offers they get. Could they elect to hang on to Taco and create that roster spot some other way?
If that's the case then the move will likely come at another position on the roster. Dallas isn't going to part with any other young prospects at DE like Dorance Armstrong or Joe Jackson. They also may have just lost DT Antwaun Woods for a while with a knee sprain coming out of the Redskins game, so the Cowboys won't like losing any additional defensive line depth right now.
The easiest move would be cutting Cedrick Wilson, who was just added last week off the practice squad. Dallas called Wilson up for punt return duties while Tavon Austin recovers from a concussion.
Assuming Austin is able to come back this week, Wilson's release is the simplest way to create a roster spot. It buys Dallas time and leverage in handling the Taco Charlton situation and doesn't force their hand.
One x-factor here is how Michael Gallup's knee is doing after yesterday's game. If there's any thought that Gallup might need a week off, especially with the hapless Miami Dolphins on the schedule, perhaps Dallas wants to keep Wilson for one more week for WR depth.
I think the Cowboys would be fine going with just four receivers in Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, and Devin Smith if they have to. But if there is a reason that they want to hang on to Cedrick for this week, that would mean looking elsewhere for a roster spot.
Another option could be on the offensive line, where Dallas is currently heavy with ten total linemen and two guys who've been inactive in both regular season games. Backups Adam Redmond and Brandon Knight haven't suited up against New York or Washington, so there is a certain level of expendability there.
Dallas went long on OL depth this year due to concerns about Zack Martin's back and the 2020 free agency of Joe Looney and Xaver Su'a-Filo. They didn't want to risk losing either Redmond or Knight from the practice squad.
But with the season now well underway, the Cowboys may feel more confident in being able to move one of those prospects and slip under most teams' radars.
A final area to consider for a roster move is safety. With Darian Thompson and Donovan Wilson both returning from preseason ankle injuries, Dallas now has five total safeties in addition to five cornerbacks.
The Cowboys have have always intended to keep this many total defensive backs, but it's more than they usually have in previous seasons. The general feeling at final cuts was that Kavon Frazier kept his job due to the injuries to Thompson and Wilson, and his time on the roster might be short-lived after they got healthy.
Frazier is a strong special teams player but hasn't ever broken through on defense, and his rookie deal expires at the end of this season. Assuming that Donovan Wilson is able to fill the void on kickoff and punt coverage, Kavon becomes another expendable player this week.
Again, the ideal move will be to find a new home for Taco Charlton and make the easy swap within the defensive end position. Robert Quinn comes in, boosts the first-team talent, and increases the depth via ripple effect.
But as we just illustrated, the Cowboys have other options beyond dumping their former 1st-Round pick. They could find a roster spot at receiver, safety, or on the offensive line and then keep looking for Taco trade partners for the next several weeks.
Time will tell, and ultimately the player lost is probably someone who wouldn't have been active this week or most weeks to come. Just don't assume it's going to be Taco Charlton; there are still plenty of ways this could go.
However it shakes out, we're just glad to finally see Robert Quinn out there and hopefully improving the Cowboys' pass rush.
The Brady Report: Cowboys Offense Dominant Despite Slow Start
The Dallas Cowboys followed up their dominant performance last week with yet another blowout divisional win on Sunday, defeating the Washington Redskins 31-21.
While the Cowboys controlled the game for much of the last three quarters, they actually got off to a slow start in Washington. Once again they fell behind to a lesser team 7-0 early, before scoring on nearly every possession to finish off the game.
Let's get into my game notes from the Cowboys' week two win.
- We have to start these game notes by talking about Dak Prescott. The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible for the second straight week to open this season. Despite the early interception, Prescott continued to look poised and calm in the pocket, allowing him to deliver a dime to Devin Smith for the team's first touchdown. Prescott was picking apart the Redskins secondary during the final three quarters to the tune of 269 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he was very effective as a runner, including his dynamic 42 yard run on third down and one with the game still tied. If Dak is going to play like this, the Cowboys can beat anyone.
- Ezekiel Elliott looked a lot more comfortable Sunday than he did against the Giants. Not only were his raw numbers better, rushing for 111 yards and a touchdown, he was back to his ways of falling forward and avoiding the first tackler. He still didn't really explode the way we all know he can, which means opposing defenses should be scared when considering what the Cowboys offense's full potential could be.
- Which receiver didn't ball out Sunday? Michael Gallup seems to be developing an awesome rapport with Prescott, Amari Cooper continues to prove he's a legit WR1, Randall Cobb was once again effective on swing passes and in the slot, and even Devin Smith had himself a monster game. If Devin Smith is going to be the speed deep threat he was against Washington, look out.
- Ok, now that I've congratulated the majority of the offense, let's talk about the one guy who I'm sure would've liked to have a better day. Left guard Connor Williams. The second year guard was solid overall Sunday, but was abused by Daron Payne from time to time. Most notably, Payne went right through Williams both to force Prescott's interception and on the only sack of the game. Williams has to be better going forward, because he is the clear weak link across this dynamic offensive line right now. Luckily, as a whole, this line has been very good through two games.
- Defensively, things could've gone better for the Cowboys. While a lot of the production through the air came through garbage time, Terry McLaurin was still too effective down the field. Chris Thompson was also getting too much YAC against these defenders. Anthony Brown had a rough day in the slot, missing multiple tackles and not being too great in coverage either. Jourdan Lewis, however, did have himself a good game in limited snaps. Both he and Byron Jones made impressive open field tackles on third downs.
- The Cowboys run defense stepped up from a week ago. The tackling of their front seven overall improved as the game went on, and they held Adrian Peterson to just 25 yards on the ground. Part of this was because of how quickly the Cowboys got to their 21-7 lead in the third quarter, but they were solid nonetheless.
- Dallas' pass rush will benefit greatly from Robert Quinn's return next week against Miami. DeMarcus Lawrence created a couple big pressures on Sunday, but Quinn's presence should help free him up a bit to create more of a consistent pass rush.
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