On offense, we break down the team into three groups: the every-down players, the second-tier guys (who play from 40% to 75% of the snaps), and everyone else. Who did what this week against the Bengals, a game the Cowboys dominated 28-14?
The Every-Down Players
There were only 57 snaps on offense this week (versus 76 last week, 65 against the Niners, and and 68 against Washington). The big news?
- Tyron Smith was back. La’el Collins is now on IR, so Ronald Leary has settled in for the season. That means the big uglies up front are the same as they were for most of 2014, when Dallas’s dominant running game led the team to a 12-4 record.
- The other every-down players were the same: Dak Prescott, Jason Witten, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Doug Free missed four snaps to come in at 53 (with no corresponding snaps for another lineman, this could just be a glitch in the data).
Dak Prescott had another big game that has been reported on elsewhere, though he did get sacked and fumbled for the first turnover of his career. It had no affect on the outcome, but he’ll still beat himself up over it.
Jason Witten was targeted with five passes, catching three, including this one that went for a game-high 31 yards.
This might be one of my favorite Witten plays, after the helmetless catch and run against Philadelphia.
With Ezekiel Elliott gaining 134 yards on just 15 carries, and runs by Elliott and Morris of 60, 17, 17, 15, 13, 9, 9, 8, and 7 yards, the guys up front were doing their jobs.
The Second Tier
This week, this group includes:
- Brice Butler, 46 snaps
- Ezekiel Elliott, 45
- Terrance Williams, 41
- Cole Beasley, 29
- Geoff Swaim, 22
No Dez Bryant again, and no problem again. Terrance Williams led the receivers this week with five catches on five targets for 70 yards. Cole Beasley had far fewer snaps, but was very effective, with four catches on four targets for 53 yards and his first TD of the year. Brice Butler was targeted only three times, and had two catches for 20 yards. A potential TD catch was negated by a Jason Witten motion penalty. Dallas still scored. Rod Smith got a catch for four yards.
Elliott topped his last game, and has now improved every game out. 15 carries, 134 yards, 8.9 yards per carry, two TDs, and three catches for 37 yards. With Lance Dunbar out, Elliott was used a bit more on the swing outlet passes.
Geoff Swaim had no catches on one target, but had a great block on Zeke’s 60-yard TD scamper.
The other players receiving offensive snaps were:
- Lucky Whitehead, 17 snaps
- Alfred Morris, 10
- Keith Smith, 10
- Gavin Escobar, 7
- JJ Wilcox, 3 (Kneel-downs at the end)
- Rod Smith, 2
Lucky Whitehead was used on a jet sweep on the second play of the game, for nine yards and a first down. Lance Dunbar was out, nursing the knee that he injured last season. Morris rushed six times for 33 yards, almost the same as the week before. Most of those came on Dallas’s third TD drive of the first half. Rod Smith saw his first action on offense with a catch for four yards. The invisible man, Gavin Escobar, matched his season high with seven snaps, but still has not been targeted for a pass.
Despite losing the time of possession stat, the offense was dominant when it needed to be, racing out to a 21-0 lead at halftime, and 28-0 after three quarters. They earned an A+ rating from Bob Sturm.