For the fourth time in five games, the Cowboys defense played significantly fewer snaps than the offense. Here's an overview of the snap counts for offense and defense over the first five games of the season:
|Snap Count by Week|
But yesterday, the low defensive snap counts were not the result of long sustained drives by the offense, at least not directly. Out of the 12 Houston drives, the Cowboys defense forced four three-and-outs, and two more drives were stopped after just four plays.
As a result, the Cowboys allowed just 15 first downs. Going into the game, the Cowboys were ranked 11th with 19.5 first downs allowed per game, today they rank 5th with 18.6 first downs allowed per game.
That's a pretty efficient defense.
Which is why we'll start this week's snap count review with the defense.
|Cowboys' Defensive Snap counts vs Texans
|Defensive Tackles||Defensive Ends||Linebackers||Cornerbacks||Safeties|
|T. McClain||18||J. Crawford||21||Wilber||1|
Defenses don't get any simpler than this, at least with regard to the secondary's snap count. The four starters played all 59 snaps, Sterling Moore was brought in when the defense went into a nickel package on 37 snaps.
And if Rolando McClain hadn't re-aggravated his groin injury, we'd have probably seen the same thing at linebacker, where Justin Durant and McClain would likely have taken all 59 snaps, with Anthony Hitchens brought in for the base formation.
Odd man out here is Kyle Wilber, who hasn't seen much action outside of special teams lately, and seems to have lost the roster battle at the strongside spot to Anthony Hitchens, who himself plays behind Bruce Carter, once Carter comes back healthy.
At defensive tackle, Tyrone Crawford may have found his true calling as the 3-technique, where he is a constant source of disruption, and looks better than Henry Melton at this point.
On to the offense:
|Cowboys' Offensive Snap counts vs Texans
The distribution here is about as you'd expect, though the Cowboys didn't give a lot of snaps to the backups, despite the high snap totals of the starters. You've got to wonder about Escobar's low snap count, and you've got to wonder why the Cowboys aren't spelling Murray more. I cannot imagine how Murray's continued high snap totals can be conducive to his continued health.
Jermey Parnell was brought in on a handful of jumbo packages, including one in which Murray delivered a painful helmet-first hit into Parnell's hip/ribs as Murray was looking for a hole that wasn't there.
And finally, to round things off, special teams:
|Special Teams Aces|
This week's ironman is Jason Witten, who played 76 snaps on offense and added six snaps on special teams for 82 total snaps, the most of any Cowboys player on Sunday.