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Snap Counts For The Cowboys’ Offense: Jason Witten Carries The Day

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Who played, and who produced, for the Dallas Cowboys offense? In our weekly look at the snap counts, we’ll evaluate whether Dallas is using it’s players well, and how well each of them is producing.

Dallas Cowboys v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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 on the road against the Browns? It was a very efficient win, with the Cowboys scoring touchdowns on five of nine drives, and dominating time of possession 39:39 to 20:21. Cowboys won 35-10.

Overall, Dallas racked up 423 yards on offense, for the sixth game in a row over 400 yards, a franchise record. They lead the league with 165.3 yards rushing per game, rank fourth in points per game at 27.9, and fourth in passer rating, third in adjusted yards per attempt, and are second in points per drive at 2.63.

The Every-Down Players

There were 73 snaps on offense this week (versus 78 against Philadelphia (overtime), 65 against Green Bay, 57 against Cincinnati, 76 against the Niners, 65 against the Bears, and and 68 against Washington).

  • The offensive line of Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free played every down again, but Tyron Smith missed three snaps late in the game, and Ron Leary missed 13 snaps going under the concussion protocol. Joe Looney took those snaps, and a few more, ending with 22 overall. They were very solid again, keeping Dak Prescott clean in the pocket, and helping Zeke and Alfred Morris rush for 148 combined yards.
  • Dak Prescott gave way to Mark Sanchez for five plays in mop-up duty, and Jason Witten missed three plays.

Dak Prescott had his most efficient game (immediately following his least efficient one), that has been reported on elsewhere. He set new personal highs in passer rating (141.8), ANY/A (11.3), and completion percentage (77.77%). He also ran for 20 yards, didn’t turn the ball over, and wasn’t sacked. He led five touchdown drives of at least seven plays and 64 yards.

His favorite target was Jason Witten, who set a new record for the Cowboys, passing Lee Roy Jordan for most consecutive starts in Cowboys’ history. Jason was targeted ten times and caught eight, for 134 yards, including Dallas’s opening touchdown. He had the three longest plays of the game for Dallas, of 37, 27, and 26 yards. With Cleveland focusing their attention on Dez Bryant, Jason just got open and made them pay.

The Second Tier

This week, this group includes:

  • Dez Bryant, 51 snaps. One catch, four targets, 19 yards.
  • Ezekiel Elliott, 44 snaps. 18 rushes, 92 yards, 5.1 ypc, one catch, one target, five yards, two TDs.
  • Terrance Williams, 44 snaps. Two catches, three targets, 19 yards.
  • Geoff Swaim, 38 snaps. Two catches, two targets, 11 yards.
  • Cole Beasley, 29 snaps. Six catches, six targets, 56 yards, one TD.
  • Alfred Morris, 24 snaps. 17 rushes, 56 yards, 3.3 ypc.
  • Brice Butler, 18 snaps. One catch, one target, nine yards.

Unlike last game, when Dez was a big part of the offense, yesterday Cleveland seemed to focus their game plan on taking him out. All four of his targets were contested, and Dez only came down with one. This made it super easy for players like Cole Beasley to connect, as he did on this wide-open touchdown.

Jason Witten was also untouched on his 26-yard touchdown, and Witten served as the decoy on Gavin Escobar’s two-yard touchdown.

Cole Beasley was back to his super-efficient self with six catches on six targets, for 56 yards and a touchdown. Terrence Williams, Geoff Swaim, and Brice Butler all caught balls as well.

The running game racked up 168 yards, and leads the NFL. Zeke had his normal 92 yards on 18 carries, and two touchdowns. The difference in this game was that Alfred Morris was given 17 carries in clean-up duties, including a stretch of nine runs in 10 plays on the final game-ending 7:48 minute drive. Dallas went for it twice on fourth down just to end the game and keep it’s defense off the field, including having Mark Sanchez throw to Geoff Swaim on a roll-out.

Everyone else

The other players receiving offensive snaps were:

  • Lucky Whitehead, 12 snaps. No catches or carries.
  • Lance Dunbar, 6 snaps. No catches or carries.
  • Mark Sanchez, 5 snaps. One for one for eight yards.
  • Emmett Cleary, 5 snaps. Must have taken the three snaps Tyron Smith missed, and two others. Dallas used some heavy line sets on occasion.
  • Gavin Escobar, 2 snaps. One catch on one target, for a wide-open touchdown.
  • JJ Wilcox, 2 snaps. Victory formation plays.

The biggest contribution out of this group was Escobar’s touchdown, on his first target and reception on the season.

Overall

The Dallas offense executed an efficient drubbing of Cleveland. After the defense gave up an opening drive field goal, Dallas went touchdown, punt, touchdown, touchdown, end of half, touchdown, touchdown, punt (15-yard penalty took them out of field goal range), end of game 7:48 drive. Cleveland had no answer.

Offensive and special teams snap counts Game 2 - Washington

Offensive snap counts Game 3 - Chicago

Offensive snap counts Game 4 - San Francisco

Offensive snap counts Game 5 - Cincinnati

Offensive snap counts Game 6 - Green Bay

Snap counts at the bye

Offensive snap counts Game 7 - Philadelphia