The Dallas Cowboys were nearly able to do just enough to come away with a victory against the New York Giants to kick off the 2016 season, but ultimately failed in the last few seconds of the game.
If you are anything like me, you are left with more questions than answers after the completion of the game against the Giants. There are a lot of things that worked well, but in the end it wasn’t enough.
The Dallas Cowboys were able to win the time of possession battle, they created more turnovers than the Giants, had more total yards, and more quarterback sacks, yet still managed to lose in the end. Usually, when a team wins in those areas of the game it usually results in a W in the win column.
That simply wasn’t the case Sunday afternoon against the Giants and I honestly think it has a lot to do with the playcalling of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan.
Below are just a few examples of why I question Linehan’s playcalling against the Giants.
Failure to adjust in the running game
We all knew coming into this game that the New York Giants were going to try to stack the box and shut down the Cowboys running game.
What we didn’t know was that Scott Linehan would continue to call running plays that were designed to attack the strength of the Giants defense.
Ezekiel Elliott and even Alfred Morris are at their best when they are running outside zone, where they can attack the outside edge of opposing defenses and then find the cutback lane if there is one.
For some reason, Linehan kept calling inside zone plays which was running right into the “meat” of the Giants defense. Jonathan Hankins (320) and Damon Harrison (350) shut down the inside runs and clogged up the middle of the field with their size alone.
Elliott’s best run of the night was a quick pitch where he was able to use his speed to get to the outside and run away from the middle of the Giants defense.
You would’ve thought that Linehan would continue to attack the edge of the Giants defense with more outside zone plays or swing passes to get the running backs out in space, but for some reason or another he failed to make the adjustment.
Dez Bryant’s lack of involvement
The failure to make adjustments in the running game might’ve been the most questionable in regards to Scott Linehan’s playcalling, but the failure to get Dez Bryant involved in the game is a close second.
Bryant was only targeted a handful of times and ended the night with only one catch for 8 yards. That is simply unacceptable for a number one wide receiver in the NFL, let alone for someone with Bryant’s talents.
Scratching your head yet?
Bryant is at his best when he can get a few catches early. The fact that most of his targets were deep passes where he was asked to win in jump ball situations is questionable to say the least.
He needed to be targeted much more often with short to intermediate passes to get him going. He is dangerous all over the field when he has the ball in his hands.
Red zone woes continue
The Dallas Cowboys have struggled in the red zone since Scott Linehan has taken over as the offensive coordinator, so I guess it really shouldn’t come too much of a surprise that they continue to find ways to disappoint in this area.
It really astounds me that this is still an area of concern with all of the offensive weapons Linehan has at his disposal. Other teams around the NFL are able to be successful in the red zone with a lot less to work with.
Yes, he was working with a rookie quarterback, but Dak Prescott not only looked like a veteran QB Sunday afternoon but can be a threat in that it area as well.
Prescott has the unique ability to make plays with both his arm and his legs. I would’ve liked to have seen him get a chance to show this skill set in not only the red zone, but in different areas of the field as well.
This is definitely an area the Cowboys need to work on in practice. Hopefully things improve as the season progresses.
What do you think of Scott Linehan’s playcalling against the Giants?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic. I look forward to opening up the discussion and hearing all of your responses.