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Rams second-half adjustments included not blitzing Cowboys QB Dak Prescott as much

They still got pressure, but the Rams decided it was better to contain Dak in the pocket.

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Los Angeles Rams v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys offense was a well-oiled machine in the first half of their game against the Los Angeles Rams. In the second half, it was a totally different story. As has been noted many times, the game was a tale of two halves. Dak Prescott’s stats are demonstrative of the dichotomy. In the first half, Prescott was 11 of 15 for 155 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half, he was 9 for 21 for 97 yards and one touchdown.

What changed? The Rams blitzed less in the second half and that was very effective. According to PFF:

Dak Prescott excelled when blitzed, completing 10 of 14 passes for 118 yards, 2 TDs and a 136.3 passer rating. However, when not blitzed, he only completed 10 of 22 passes for 134 yards, a TD, an INT, and a 61.6 passer rating.

ESPN has similar stats:

In the first half, Prescott beat the Rams blitz for 115 yards and a score on 8-of-9 passing, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the second half, the Rams did not blitz as much, which kept Prescott in the pocket.

Prescott believes part of the problem was his footwork.

“It’s just knowing where I’m going with the ball, having a good idea where I’m going with the ball so that my feet can be in tune with my mind,” Prescott said. “And just being balanced and making those throws.”

Much has been made of Dak’s problems connecting with Dez Bryant. The stats show that Dez wasn’t really the problem.

Dez Bryant was targeted 13 times, catching 6 of the 7 catchable passes for 98 yards. The passer rating when targeting Bryant was only a 72.0.

Dez had one high-profile “drop”, but if Prescott hadn’t made him drop to his knees to try and catch the pass, it likely would have been a perfect seven for seven for Dez on catchable passes. That means Dak threw six uncatchable passes to Dez, that’s just way too many.

In Dak’s defense, his offensive line is failing him.

Even though they did not allow a sack the offensive line did a poor job pass blocking against the Rams, by allowing 4 hits and 13 hurries for a NFL week high of 17 total pressures allowed. Their 68.1 Pass Blocking Efficiency rating is the 2nd worst this week in the NFL.

The Cowboys offensive line is another piece of the puzzle in the Cowboys uneven first quarter of the season. They need to be better, but Dak knows he has to be better, too.

On Sunday when everybody thought [Dak] would put it all together [on the final drive], he completed 2-of-8 passes for 18 yards, including one drop and one spike.

“I just have to be better,” Prescott said. “No reason. No excuse.”

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