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Cowboys’ offensive snap counts: Dominant first half seals win over Giants

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.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

We are picking up our snap counts series where we left off last season. Here are the regular season totals for 2016. You can read here how the Cowboys reshaped their roster since then.

In this home game over the Giants, the Cowboys won 19-3.

Offensive Overview

The Cowboys racked up 392 yards in their opener, which ranks them third in the NFL going into the two Monday night games. That’s impressive against the team that held the Cowboys to 328 yards in the opener last year, and 260 yards in the rematch in New York. The Cowboys matched their 2016 season opening points against the Giants with 19, so the Cowboys defense was the difference, holding New York to a measly field goal.

The offense got 74 plays - 47 in the first half - because the defense kept forcing the Giants into three-and-outs.

But the offense also consistently moved the ball, gaining at least 30 yards in each of the Cowboys’ nine drives, and every time moving into Giants territory. Five of those nine drives ended with scores, and on the ones that didn’t, Chris Jones punted the Giants into horrible field position - to their own 6, 9, 10, and 10 yard lines.

Offensive Line

Welcome to the new Dallas Cowboys offensive line! La’el Collins took over the right tackle position for the retiring Doug Free, while Chaz Green, after a long battle, beat out Jonathan Cooper for the left guard spot vacated by free agent Ron Leary. All five linemen played every offensive snap.

Player Pos Games Gm1 Total Season Percent
Travis Frederick C 1 74 74 74 100%
Zack Martin G 1 74 74 74 100%
La'el Collins T 1 74 74 74 100%
Tyron Smith T 1 74 74 74 100%
Chaz Green G 1 74 74 74 100%
Byron Bell G 1 0 0 74 0%
Joe Looney C 1 0 0 74 0%

Byron Bell and Joe Looney were the active backups, and each blocked on special teams, but not on offense.

Pro Football Focus is always a bit of a mystery in how it grades players. This week, they loved Zack Martin, giving him an overall 85.8 grade as the highest graded guard in the NFL (through Sunday’s games). Chaz Green ranked 28th among guards at 66.4, mostly because his run blocking was only 37.6. At tackle, Tyron Smith graded out at 77.1 (19th), brought down by a very low run blocking grade, while La’el Collins was given a 68.1 (30th). He also graded lower at run blocking. Travis Frederick ranked 16th, with a 54 grade, which was also brought down by a poor run blocking number.

The fascinating thing about these run blocking grades is that Ezekiel Elliott still got his 104 yards rushing on 24 carries, which puts him third in the NFL through Sunday’s games. So maybe people should give more credit to Zeke and realize it’s not all the Cowboys offensive line? Alfred Morris only gained one yard on four carries.


Dak played every snap. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Player Pos Games Gm1 Total Season Percent
Dak Prescott QB 1 74 74 74 100%

Here’s his stat line.

1 NYG W19-3 24 39 61.54% 268 7.08 1 0 90.55 3 24 0 1 5

He had a much better game than either of last year’s contests against New York, though it was below his 2016 year-end averages. He sailed some throws, but did enough to move the chains on every one of the Cowboys’ nine drives.

For a full rundown on Dak’s game, see this week’s Dak and Zeke report.

Running Backs

As usual, Zeke was the workhorse this week, with 24 carries for 104 yards, and five receptions for 36 more. Alfred Morris got four carries, but gained only one yard. Dak was the second leading rusher - as he may be many weeks - with three carries for 24 yards. His 17 yard scamper up the middle at the end of the first half helped set up the field goal that sent Dallas into the locker room up 16-0.

Player Pos Games Gm1 Total Season Percent
Ezekiel Elliott RB 1 60 60 74 81%
Alfred Morris RB 1 8 8 74 11%
Keith Smith FB 1 2 2 74 3%
Rod Smith RB 1 2 2 74 3%

Wide Receivers

Dez was largely held in check by Janoris Jenkins again, but did happen to match his season total of two catches against New York last year, for 43 yards. The rest of the receivers were much more efficient.

Player Pos Games Gm1 Total Season Percent
Dez Bryant WR 1 67 67 74 91%
Cole Beasley WR 1 52 52 74 70%
Terrance Williams WR 1 38 38 74 51%
Brice Butler WR 1 35 35 74 47%
Ryan Switzer WR 1 2 2 74 3%

Here are the receiving numbers:

  • Dez Bryant, 2 catches, 9 targets, 43 yards, no TDs
  • Terrance Williams, 6 catches, 7 targets, 68 yards, no TDs
  • Cole Beasley, 3 catches, 5 targets, 32 yards, no TDs
  • Brice Butler, 1 catch, three targets, 30 yards, no TDs
  • Ryan Switzer, no catches or targets.

And here, because you can’t see this enough.

Tight Ends

Jason Witten once again played every down. He also set the all-time Cowboys record for receiving yards, passing Michael Irvin.

He also scored the only touchdown on the night. Here are the snap totals.

Player Pos Games Gm1 Total Season Percent
Jason Witten TE 1 74 74 74 100%
James Hanna TE 1 21 21 74 28%
Geoff Swaim TE 1 9 9 74 12%

Witten was the only tight end targeted. He received a team-leading nine targets, and caught a team-leading seven catches, for 59 yards, and the touchdown.

Offensive snap counts 2016

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