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To Help the Defense, Cowboys Offense Must Protect the Football

The Dallas Cowboys offense has been scoring at an incredible rate to start the 2020 season. They’re third in the NFL in points per game at 31.5. Though much of their 1-3 record can be attributed to a defense that allows a league-high 36.5 points per game, the offense’s inability to hold onto the football has exacerbated the problems we’re seeing on defense early in the season.

The Cowboys offense is tied for first in the NFL in turnovers with the Philadelphia Eagles with 9. If you look at the rest of the NFC East, both Washington and the New York Giants are in the top five as well. It’s clear to see that turning the football over leads to losses. As good as the Cowboys have been offensively, that’s an area they have to get better in.

After a clean opening week protecting the football against the Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys have given the ball away three times in each of the last three games. If you consider failed fourth downs and failed fake punts, the number of turnovers has been staggering for the Cowboys. With as bad as the defense has been, the Cowboys offense can’t give their opponents short fields to work with.

Cowboys’ opponents have started with the second-best average field position in the NFL through the first four with an average starting field position of the opponents 33-yard line. It’s been that bad because each of the Dallas Cowboys turnovers has occurred on their side of the 50-yard line.

Whether it’s fair or not, the Cowboys have to play perfectly on the offensive side of the football. That doesn’t mean they have to score every drive, though that certainly would help, but they can’t give it away three times on their half of the field and expect a defense that is struggling to stop the run and the pass to bail them out. They aren’t good enough for that.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, the offensive line, and the rest of the offense have to be better at preventing turnovers and giving the ball up. Ezekiel Elliott has already tied or surpassed his total for two of his previous four seasons. Dak Prescott’s six turnovers in the last three games have led to points for the opposing team.

As great as they’ve been throwing themselves back into the game, you can’t help but think how different things would be if they didn’t turn the ball over so frequently, leading to points and double-digit deficits. While it’s been an uphill battle during the second half of these football games, the offense has played their part in making the climb so steep.

Starting with the New York Giants on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys have to take care of the football to give their defense a chance. Punting the ball is far better than turning it over on your half of the 50-yard line, obviously. However, if the Cowboys defense isn’t forced to defend a short field, it allows for more opportunities for the opposing offense to make mistakes, and then the defense can hopefully get the ball back for the offense.

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John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. Turnovers are partly due to the OL poor play. But Zeke and Dak for sure need to minimize the their turnovers. That and the inability of our D to generate any on their own is a problem. No short fields for us. But that defense omg

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