The Dallas Cowboys had one of the best season openers in years. A sleeper genius move was the management of personnel reps. All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence, Pro-Bowler Byron Jones, All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott, All-Pro Zack Martin, and Pro-Bowler Dak Prescott all had limited snaps in the 35-17 blowout win over the New York Giants. Players with contract concerns or previous injuries were protected, which is excellent management of team assets.
Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore‘s offense gets an A+ grade in his coaching debut. The offense through Moore finally caught up to the rest of the league.
Why were the Dallas weapons so open? Because of playcalling and play-action from Moore. If Moore continues what he displayed from Week 1, the Cowboys will be contenders for a Super Bowl.
In the contemporary passing league, Prescott showed that he belongs. Under former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, Prescott’s yardage would likely only get to 4,000 yards for the year. Linehan ran his offense through Elliott. Moore seems to want to stay current to NFL patterns and run his offense through Prescott. If Moore continues what he displayed versus the Giants, Prescott will easily surpass 4,500-plus yards in a season.
In one game, Prescott covered all the prominent offseason critiques of his game. On throws over 20 yards, Dak was five-for-six with three touchdowns on six deep ball attempts. The concern about the Prescott deep ball should be approaching a thing of the past.
Elliott only had 53 rushing yards in the win, which killed the other false myth on Dak. The offense was led by Prescott’s arm and not Elliot’s runs.
Prescott completed 78.1 percent of passes for four passing touchdowns and 405 yards, a perfect passing rating of 158.3, and broke another franchise record for season opener passing yards. What else does Prescott need to do to silence the ridiculous doubt in his ability?
The offensive line of Dallas had a great day in pass protection. Prescott could have taken a nap behind the wall of protection. The addition of center Travis Frederick and his ability to read fronts made an exponential difference. The gaping holes were not there for either Elliott nor rookie running back Tony Pollard. The push off the ball on running plays will be something to keep an eye on.
Wide receiver Randall Cobb was a delightful surprise. He displayed passion, strength, aggression, and versatility that was just not available with Cole Beasley.
Wide receiver Michael Gallup benefited the most from wide receiver Amari Cooper missing most of the training camp. Prescott had a very natural connection with Gallup that stems from offseason time. Cooper never needed a lot of time with Prescott to be immediately impactful. The growth in Gallup and Prescott should give back apparent dividends.
Sad to say but in the spirit of honesty, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense was underwhelming based on their potential. The pass rush for America’s Team didn’t display its typical dominance.
A couple of changes lead to the Dallas Cowboys’ boring performance on defense. First, the style of the Dallas Cowboy offense was not the usual long drives that observers are accustomed to seeing. Switching to a pass-happy style offense was putting the Cowboy defense on the field faster than usual. If Moore continues to have a quick-strike attack, the opposing offense will have quicker opportunities at the Dallas Cowboy defense.
Second, the Cowboys limited the reps of some of their best players on defense. Jones and Lawrence did not get their usual defensive snaps. Whenever your best cover corner and best pass rusher is not on the field, the whole defense will suffer. Reps will ramp up for defensive players like Jones and Lawrence, so it is no time to panic.
Once again cornerback Anthony Brown rolls out as the starter over cornerback Jourdan Lewis. What in the world is going on for the competition between the corners to never end? Once again it was clear who was better out the two cornerbacks, but Lewis is still in a fight to become a starter on the Dallas Cowboy defense.
While Lewis was making excellent tackles in the open field and a pass breakup in the endzone, Brown was missing tackles and causing first downs. The nine lives on Brown is cute while competing against no-name New York Giant receivers. The Cowboys will face much better receiving units and will wish that they didn’t continue the Brown/Lewis competition circus. When will film trump favorite with those two?
Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie had an excellent game on defense and showed real flash. Running back Saquon Barkley in a full stride is not anything to overlook.
Brett Maher hit 100 percent of his extra-point kicks. It is always good to see Maher building confidence in low-pressure games. He will surely be needed as competition increases for America’s team.
The Cowboys had an excellent game plan and likely reserved a lot for tougher games to come. The best news for Cowboy fans is there is a whole next level gear on the team.
Zeke won’t likely get into a real rhythm until Week 4 through 6 if historical patterns hold. Defensive ends Quinn, Lawrence, and Jones will all have a greater impact as their reps increase.