In the past three games, the Cowboys have shown promise, with the defense and offense both showing up ready to play. Along with that, they’ve fixed some issues in play calling and execution, leading to more scoring opportunities. However, with that in mind, there are always some things that could be a little better.
Feed the Man
In the last 3 games, Zeke has gotten at least 20 rushing attempts per game. In 2 of those games (Lions and Jaguars), he rushed for over 100 yards. Coincidentally, the Cowboys ended up winning both of those games. Since Zeke is without a doubt the best player on that offense, you’ve got to get the ball in his hands. If the offense can dominate in the running game, it opens up the passing game, as shown in the Jaguars game. With Zeke and Dak both running the ball, the Jaguars had to have more men on the line of scrimmage and weren’t able to double cover the receivers.
In order for the Cowboys to succeed, Zeke needs to be getting over 20 touches every game, as well as getting involved in the passing game where he can cause just as much damage in the short and medium passing game. Zeke is the star of the offense, and with that, the Cowboys need to recognize that often times the path to victory is through him being given the opportunity to dominate the game with dozens of touches.
The Benefits of a Committee of Receivers
While the Cowboys lack of a star receiver is generally a disadvantage, it also has its benefits as well, however small those benefits may be. Ideally, with this system, one game a different receiver would put up slightly above average numbers, allowing the Cowboys to just find the man with the best match up and get him open. This was shown against the Jaguars, where Cole Beasley was able to put up over 100 yards as well as scoring 2 TDs.
However, this strategy hasn’t been working every week, as demonstrated against the Texans, where the Cowboy’s offense was pretty much held in check the whole game. If all the receivers are getting shut down, then this can be a pretty difficult situation to deal with, as no one really has the skill to consistently outmaneuver even the most average of defensive backs, other than maybe Beasley. This reflects back to leaning on the run game to hopefully open up the passing game, and prevent a total shutdown of their passing game.
The Dominant Dallas Defense
As of the past few games, the Cowboys defense has been playing on a completely new level by multiple players consistently demonstrating game changing abilities every game.
Jaylon Smith has shown flashes of greatness, especially in the game against the Texans where he dominated the second level. In addition to a developing LB corp with rookie Leighton Vander Esch, the D-Line is only set to improve from here with David Irving being re-integrated into the system. The secondary isn’t stellar, but generally they aren’t a liability, which is really all they need to be.
On top of all this, if the defense can continue this level of play, it will take a significant level of pressure off of the offense. In the game against the Texans, the offense didn’t play well, but the defense kept them in them in a position where they could win the game through numerous goal-line stands. The defense, while perhaps underrated, has the potential to keep the Cowboys in games this year, and keep playoff talks realistic.
Luckily for the Cowboys, right now their division isn’t playing very well. Currently, they’re in the 2nd spot behind the Redskins. They also happen to play the Redskins this weekend, so a win would then move them up in the ranks. The Giants haven’t been playing very well, and the Eagles still haven’t found their groove since the return of Wentz. This creates a division completely up for grabs, with the Cowboys right in the thick of the competition. With this in mind, even if the Cowboys can’t repeat their 13-3 season from a couple of years ago, they could still sneak into the playoffs due to their fairly even competition in their division.
And, with the Cowboys defeating arguably the best defense of the league (and putting up 40), they have proved that they can hang with the best of teams if their offense is clicking, like it did on Sunday.
However, can that performance be repeated? We’ll have to wait and see, so make sure to check back with the Roundup for more Cowboys and other sports news.