We’ve seen Ezekiel Elliott eat a lot as the running back for the Dallas Cowboys, and on Sunday we saw the whole team cook us up something delicious, a 40-burger.
Yes, the Dallas Cowboys thoroughly thrashed the San Francisco 49ers on a day where the California-based franchise celebrated “The Catch.” Are victories against 0-6 teams impressive, though? The answer is yes.
A lot of people will likely have a lot to say about what Dallas did, or maybe about what they didn’t do. Whatever the case, whatever they say can be pretty predictable at times. Let’s have some fun with 10 predictable headlines.
“Ezekiel Elliott is all the way back”
26 carries, 147 yards, one catch, 72 receiving yards, two rushing touchdowns, and a receiving touchdown is quite the plate for Zeke to eat up.
Many had questioned the NFL’s reigning rushing champion after what felt like a sub part first five games of the season. In a “get right” game if ever there was one, Ezekiel Elliott returned to full force against the 49ers.
“Jason Witten has found the fountain of youth... again”
Death, taxes, and the idea that Jason Witten is going to play forever.
Not only is Jason Witten going to play tight end forever, he’s going to play tight end at an elite level forever. Against the 49ers Gold Jacket Witt hauled in one of the finer touchdown receptions of his career.
You can either believe it or be wrong, Jason Witten is and will always be a beast.
“The Cowboys have found their backup quarterback”
In a move that made many a Cowboy fan happy, Dallas chose to activate rookie quarterback Cooper Rush in preference to Kellen Moore on Sunday.
What was all the more interesting, Rush actually got in the game. Now he only threw two passes, he did pick up 13 yards on the ground, but there’s an assumption now that Rush is the entrenched backup to Dak Prescott.
What if he’s not, though? What if the Cowboys were anticipating blowing out San Francisco and wanted reps for Rush? That’d be somewhat diabolical, kind of awesome, and somewhat brilliant.
Cooper Rush warming up next to Dak. It’s really happening. Cowboys probably figure this will be such a blowout Rush can play in second half— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 22, 2017
What will be interesting to see this week is if Kellen Moore is released (which would answer the question outright) or if he is active on Sunday in Washington. Should Moore be active next week it would lend to the idea that Dallas really did anticipate beating San Francisco handily.
“Rod Smith needs to get more touches”
When it was Rush time, it was Rod time. The Cowboys got most of their backups an opportunity to touch the ball on Sunday, and that included Jaylon Smith’s brother Rod Smith.
Rod ultimately carried the ball eight times for 61 yards. That’s insane. Rod Smith has looked electrifying when he’s touched the ball, whether in the preseason or against the 49ers. It’s understandable to want to see more.
“Jaylon Smith is progressing”
On the subject of Smith & Smith, Jaylon had a bit of a better game than usual in San Francisco. Jaylon even picked up his first career sack and forced a fumble!
The reality is that Jaylon Smith isn’t the player we saw at Notre Dame, which doesn’t mean he can’t someday get there. Unfortunately for him, Jaylon was thrust into a significant role early, but we got to see how the Cowboys wanted to use him this season during this game in San Francisco.
Cowboys wanted to start season with Anthony Hitchens starting at MLB & Sean Lee at weak-side w/ Jaylon Smith off the bench. Finally got there Sunday. Hitchens led team with 8 tackles (3 for loss), Lee had 5 tackles (2 for loss) and Smith had his first sack and forced the fumble.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) October 23, 2017
The truth is that Jaylon isn’t ready for a full standard middle linebacker workload, however, when the Cowboys are able to give him the portion that they want, there’s certainly something special lurking.
“The Dallas Cowboys might have a legitimate defensive line”
In a weird twist of irony, it’s a legitimate argument that the most dominant defensive unit of the Dallas Cowboys is their pass rush these days.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been tanking (in a good way). David Irving is a man on a mission. Taco Charlton even got a little bit of pressure on Sunday. The Cowboys... kind of... have something?!
That 90/96/95/98 group is doing a heck of a job rushing the passer.— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) October 23, 2017
For year it’s seemingly been “if ____ and _____ could play together it’d be special” as far as the Cowboys pass rush. Those dudes are Lawrence and Irving, and it is indeed special.
“The Cowboys need to run the read option MORE”
Sunday saw the Dallas Cowboys actually incorporate the read option into their run game. There was some success to it. Wow, what a revolutionary idea.
Dak Prescott is a quarterback who has the ability to run, and that’s a threat that needs to be used. I’m not saying run, run, run with Dak, but dust the ‘ol read option portion of the playbook off more often. It’s legit.
“Dan Bailey’s importance cannot be quantified”
Dan Bailey was ruled out of the game early in San Francisco due to injury, and while we had a lot of fun with Jeff Heath as the kicker, it was worrisome.
There have been points, actual stretches of time, where Dan Bailey has literally been the most potent offensive weapon on the Cowboys. It is indisputable that of all 53 players and the entire coaching staff, he is the most consistent at the highest level.
Bailey has now suffered injuries during the last two Dallas trips to San Francisco. Let’s never go there again please, and let’s do whatever necessary to get Dan feeling back to Dan status.
“The Dallas offensive line is back to normal”
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t allow a single sack against Dak Prescott in San Francisco. That’s right. Not a single one.
Troy Aikman noted on the FOX call during this game that so much of what makes offensive lines great is continuity. It’s well-documented how the Cowboys lost Ron Leary to Denver and Doug Free to retirement this past offseason, perhaps that took longer than realized to fully recover from.
Jonathan Cooper is unquestionably this team’s best left guard. Time and time and time, and yes time, together as one cohesive unit is critical here. We’re starting to see that pay dividends and show signs of a positive trajectory moving forward.
“The Cowboys have more than a shot in the wide open NFC”
Sunday was good for the Cowboys. New York (Giants), Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta all lost. They are all, save for the Giants really, legitimate contenders for a wildcard spot in the NFC.
There is still a lot of time left in the regular season, but any time teams in your division and/or conference lose, it’s a good thing.
What’s more is, the Washington Redskins (3-2) visit the Philadelphia Eagles (5-1) tonight on Monday Night Football. A Washington win would really creak open the doors of possibility early in the season.