When the Dallas Cowboys gain just 225 total yards in a game they knew their offense must control, it warrants a level of concern about this team staying alive through Ezekiel Elliott's suspension.
First there was Chaz Green's nightmare in Atlanta, now followed by Dak Prescott's worst performance of his career. Falling 37-9 to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys watched as their once-dynamic offense became the reason the Eagles all but clinched the NFC East at AT&T Stadium.
Staff Writer Jess Haynie wrote already this week on the unthreatening nature of the Cowboys' passing offense thanks to poor receiver play, and I decided to follow this up by specifically studying Dez Bryant's week eleven performance. While Bryant did catch a season high eight passes, he failed to find the end zone or make the impact he's capable of making – quarterback struggles or not.
There were plays where Dez Bryant very clearly could have helped his young quarterback out more, this above one being the best example. I wrote in my Monday morning Sean's Scout that I thought Scott Linehan did some good things routing Bryant over the middle and out of the slot in this game, but Dez's crispness in his cuts and separating moves was poor.
This is what causes a high, tight-window throw that you see here, but the ball hits Bryant in the hands and needs to be caught.
A controversial play in this game was this back shoulder fade to Bryant that was thrown for the back pylon – which Dez could not get to as he battled the defensive back with no interference call. What concerns me more about Bryant on this play than the lack of a flag is the way he runs his route, doing so away from contact instead of embracing pushing his man out of position and winning in the air.
I believe Dez Bryant would have had a hard time getting to the catch point if this throw played out as intended.
More times than not, running Bryant on quick inside throws leads to a positive play for the Dallas offense. These last two receptions we'll look at are both slant patterns out of different formations to Bryant. On this one, the Cowboys leave a running back in to help on the side of LT Byron Bell and allow Bryant to work against single man coverage.
Dez starts his route to the outside before using his length and size to snap inside violently for the catch.
This next play was also schemed well to get Dez Bryant the ball, as the Cowboys go empty in the backfield but place tight ends James Hanna and Jason Witten in the slots. The slant against a single high coverage is a win every time for an offense, as Witten draws the attention of the lone A-Gap player while Hanna clears out a defender in the throwing window for Prescott.
From a clean pocket, Prescott rips a throw that – when taken out of the context of this entire game – would seemingly give both him and Dez Bryant confidence that the Cowboys' offense could match the energy their defense came out early with against the Eagles.
What resulted was another disappointing performance for Bryant, Prescott, and the rest of Scott Linehan's offense.
Playing today on a short week, Dallas has not had a ton of time to find themselves offensively – needing only to better execute the basics as is. Having Dez Bryant live up to expectations while the offensive line welcomes back Tyron Smith would go a very long way in the Cowboys proving they have something left to fight for this season.
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To everybody in Cowboys Nation, I would like to personally wish you a happy Thanksgiving. There are not many holidays better than this, as we spend our time with family and friends watching Dallas Cowboys football over great food.
The staff here at Inside The Star along with all of you terrific fans have felt like a family to me here, as I hope everybody enjoys the day!
I will be back with a new Sean's Scout tomorrow morning with my breakdown on the Dallas Cowboys' performance against the Los Angeles Chargers.