11Cowboys’ fans, to a fault, are always very optimistic about their potential to succeed in any given season, but expectations for this season were running especially high due to the team’s success last year, as the Cowboys made it to the divisional round. However, on Sunday, September 9th, in the season opener against the Giants, the Cowboys met and exceeded any expectations in their 35-17 pounding against the Giants, as their offense looked innovative and greatly improved with the arrival of Kellen Moore, the new Offensive Coordinator.
Dak the Surgeon
There are a lot of very talented quarterbacks in the league, some of which are currently debated to be the GOATs of their position. Yet out of all the quarterbacks in the league, only a select few have ever had a perfect passer rating of 158.3, and as of Sunday Dak Prescott joined this elite list of 74 with a perfect rating of his own.
Prescott totaled 405 yards and 4 touchdowns in his elite performance, showing not only his improvement in throwing accuracy over the off-season, but also his rarely used ability, at least until this point, to absolutely take over a game through his passing. The reinvigorated offense under Kellen Moore featured plenty of passing plays, and deep plays at that, with receivers getting open on a variety of slant, post, and flag routes. While the receivers were often wide open for Dak during their touchdown receptions, Dak managed to hit all the receivers in stride with some beautiful passes that allowed them to have the success they did in the YAC game. In the past, Dak has had issues with hitting open receivers, as multiple missed touchdowns last year will attest, but as of this game Dak looked like a completely different quarterback.
The Cowboys’ defense was magnificent against the Giants, forcing two turnovers and limiting the Giants to 17 points, even with a garbage time touchdown thrown in there. They also managed to get a sack and two tackles for a loss. The Cowboys did give up an alarmingly high amount of yards to the Giants, but they made stops when they needed to and for the most part prevented big plays from occurring. A problem from last year, especially in the playoff loss to the Rams, was a lack of penetration from the defensive line that gave the opposing offense extra time for a play to develop. However, while only getting one sack, the D-Line managed to pressure Eli Manning on nearly every snap and really cause him to have to make a quicker decision.
The Flipped Script
As of the past 2-3 years, the Cowboys have always been a run-dominant team, which has been fairly successful for the organization. However, this Sunday the Cowboys only ran the ball 26 times (30 if you count Dak’s scrambles) while throwing 32 times, showing the new option that Kellen Moore’s play calling presents: a mixed ground and air attack. This will allow the Cowboys to stick to their traditional strategy of “ground and pound” with Zeke, while also being able to at any moment flip the script and start passing the ball more. This will allow both sides of the ball to flourish, if the performance on Sunday can be somewhat replicated, as the diversity of play calling will keep the defense on their toes.
The Cowboys have not always been gifted with the best of receivers. Sure, the likes of Michael Irvin, Drew Pearson, Terrell Owens, and recently Dez Bryant have all donned the silver and blue, but average to below-average receivers seem to have been more common than those elite names above. That, however, will seemingly change. With Amari Cooper, a bonafide stud, and Michael Gallup, a quickly developing young talent, the receiving corps is looking better than it has for a long time. And, in addition to those two, the likes of Randall Cobb, Blake Jarwin, and even Jason Witten, are all ready to get involved as the opposing defense is stretched thin trying to contain both Gallup and Cooper. Already in Week 1, the Cowboys beat a record from last year as not one, but two receivers already have 100-yard receiving games, which didn’t happen until Week 12 of last year.
While the Giants are obviously nothing more than a warm up for the stiff competition the Cowboys will face as the season progresses, it’s an uplifting sign that they were able to start the season off the way they did, and this season looms with potential. Stay tuned.
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