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Snap Counts For The Cowboys’ Offense: Ezekiel Elliott & Terrance Williams Were The Only Bright Spots

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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 its players well, and how well each of them is producing.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Overview

First, here’s a quick overview of the offensive game as a whole. The Cowboys’ eleven-game winning streak was snapped against the Giants in a 10-7 loss in New Jersey, in their worst offensive performance of the year.

The Cowboys gained just as many yards as New York - 260 - almost evenly split the time of possession, 29:08 to 30:52, ran one less play (66 to 67), and made one more first down. Both teams turned the ball over three times. The difference in some respects was a 55-yard Dan Bailey field goal attempt right before halftime that bounced off the middle of the uprights and fell back. One more yard and it would have been good.

Unlike last week, when Dallas took advantage of a Vikings turnover to score a second touchdown, this week Dallas went nowhere off three turnovers. They might have had four or five had Barry Church been able to hang on to an interception thrown right to him by Eli Manning (he was wearing a cast hampering his ability to catch). Last week Dallas was one for nine on third down. This week, it was one for 15. That didn’t get it done.

Dak Prescott had by far his worst game of the year. His second worst game was also against the Giants. It’s something Dak and the coaches are going to have to figure out.

Offensive Line

There were 66 snaps on offense this week.

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Total Season Percent
Travis Frederick C 13 627 71 56 52 66 872 872 100%
Zack Martin G 13 627 71 56 52 66 872 872 100%
Doug Free T 13 623 71 56 52 66 868 872 100%
Tyron Smith T 11 475 71 56 52 66 720 872 83%
Ronald Leary G 11 428 71 56 52 66 673 872 77%
La'el Collins G 3 186 0 0 0 0 186 872 21%
Chaz Green T 4 151 0 0 0 0 151 872 17%
Joe Looney C 13 43 12 6 5 11 77 872 9%
Emmett Cleary T 6 5 0 0 0 0 5 872 1%

The Cowboys five linemen played all the snaps again this week. Joe Looney was also in for a season high 11 plays, likely taking some blocking assignments from Gavin Escobar. The line did a much better job than the season opener creating holes for Zeke, who rushed for 107 yards. Dak was sacked three times for a loss of 13 yards. That’s the second game in a row with three sacks. Dak “rushed” for only one yard.

Quarterback

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Total Season Percent
Dak Prescott QB 13 622 71 56 52 66 867 872 99%
Mark Sanchez QB 1 5 0 0 0 0 5 872 1%

Dak had by far his worst game on the season, even worse than the opening day loss against the Giants. Overall, Dak was 17 of 37 for 165 yards, one touchdown pass, and one yard rushing on one read-option play. See the Dak and Zeke report for more details.

Running Backs

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Total Season Percent
Ezekiel Elliott RB 13 443 50 46 43 44 626 872 72%
Alfred Morris RB 13 99 5 5 1 2 112 872 13%
Lance Dunbar RB 10 63 15 5 5 19 107 872 12%
Keith Smith RB 13 69 9 8 10 4 100 872 11%

Zeke had 107 yards rushing on 24 carries for a 4.5 yard average. But this was a tale of two halves. In the first half, he rushed 15 times for 86 yards, for a 5.7 yard average. Zeke alone gained nearly half of the Cowboys’ yards (174) at halftime. In the second half, nine carries yielded 21 yards, for a 2.3 yard per carry average, even less than Zeke had against the Giants in the first game. This is a very troubling development going forward. For Dallas to gain the first seed and win in the playoffs, their running game needs to be dominant throughout games, and get stronger as the game goes on. It’s all about being physical, according to Zeke. Zeke caught no passes on two targets, and didn’t score a touchdown. Details in the Dak and Zeke report.

Alfred Morris had only two plays and no carries. Lucky Whitehead did not dress because of a violation of team rules. Lance Dunbar had 19 plays, but was ineffective, with three catches on five targets for 12 yards. Dak Prescott ran once for one yard. New York seemed to have a very well-designed rush that kept Dak bottled up in the pocket. Darren McFadden is due to be activated this week. Who will be cut to make room?

Wide Receivers

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Total Season Percent
Terrance Williams WR 13 441 43 36 38 52 610 872 70%
Dez Bryant WR 10 362 62 43 37 61 565 872 65%
Cole Beasley WR 13 346 44 35 25 42 492 872 56%
Brice Butler WR 13 291 18 12 14 16 351 872 40%
Lucky Whitehead WR 12 106 6 6 5 0 123 872 14%
Vince Mayle WR 3 0 0 10 7 4 21 872 2%

Dez Bryant had a truly awful game, with one catch on nine targets for 10 yards, that he proceeded to fumble after making a first down. It was at the end of the game and blunted any hope of a Cowboys’ rally. After heating up for several weeks, the Dak to Dez connection was shut down by a blitzing Giants rush and tight man-to-man coverage.

Terrance Williams was the star receiver, with five catches on six targets, for 76 yards and a 31-yard touchdown for the Cowboys’ only points. Cole Beasley was next in yardage with four catches on seven targets for 41 yards. Brice Butler was targeted once, but could not hold on to a potential touchdown pass. Lucky Whitehead was disciplined and did not make the trip, and Vince Mayle was not targeted.

Tight Ends

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Total Season Percent
Jason Witten TE 13 624 67 56 52 66 865 872 99%
Geoff Swaim TE 9 203 0 0 0 0 203 872 23%
Gavin Escobar TE 13 46 17 12 18 9 102 872 12%

Jason Witten took every snap this week. He caught four passes on seven targets, for 26 yards, but was tackled short of first-down yardage on all but one play. Gavin Escobar played nine snaps, half the number of the previous week, and wasn’t targeted. He was likely replaced by Joe Looney in some two tight end running sets.

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

Offensive snap counts Game 8 - Cleveland

Offensive snap counts Game 9 - Pittsburgh

Offensive snap counts Game 10 - Baltimore

Offensive snap counts Game 11 - Washington

Offensive snap counts Game 12 - Minnesota