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Tale of the tape: Cowboys dominate in all three phases in 37-10 win over Eagles

What did the All-22 have to say about the Cowboys 37-10 win to take sole possession of the NFC East?

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

What’s that in the distance? Do you see that? That’s what we call a “W”, and it’s been far too long since we’ve witnessed the so called “W” in Cowboys Nation. But we’re back baby, and it came in the biggest game of the year for the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys.

We often hear head coach Jason Garrett reference phases of the game when talking to the media, and this week he’s going to have a field day bragging about his “all three phases of the game”, because they all showed up to play on Sunday night. In a 37-10 win, there should be plenty to like when sitting down and turning on the All-22, so let’s take a deeper dive into the coaches tape, and see just how well the Dallas Cowboys played in week seven.

No one’s really talking about it, but Tavon Austin has had himself a nice season with the Cowboys when on the field. Austin is coming off a great performance against the Jets, and started the game out hot against the Eagles taking the triple-option pitch to the house for a 20-yard touchdown. The play-call and personnel on the field for this play is what really makes it work. Giving the Eagles three different options to key in on here makes defending the speed of Austin extremely hard for the Philly defense.

As you’ll notice, every box defender for the Eagles bites hard to stop the read-option with Tony Pollard looking to take the handoff, and Dak Prescott looking to pull the football and get around the edge for a nice gain. Only one problem, Tavon Austin didn’t carry through with the jet-motion, and is now an option-flip away from a house call, and that’s exactly what happens. Great play-call, design, and execution from the Cowboys offense to get on the board early.

It was a pleasure watching DeMarcus Lawrence wreak havoc on the Eagles offensive line all game long. Lawrence had some strong words for Eagles HC Doug Pederson before the game, and he certainly backed up what he had to say earlier in the week.

Lawrence finished the game with a sack, forced fumble, tackle for loss, and was in on four tackles for the Cowboys on Sunday night. Lawrence was disruptive throughout the entirety of the game and helped other plays create pressure on Carson Wentz by eating up double teams, forcing Carson Wentz to move in the pocket, and blowing up the Eagles offensive line on stunts. DeMarcus Lawrence is still really good folks, and shows it here with a perfectly executed Euro-Cross Chop on Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson. Lawrence does an excellent job of selling the inside move off the snap, before minimizing his inside hand and shoulder to gain advantage out on the edge. Once Johnson shifts his weight anticipating the inside rush, Lawrence has him beat, and just has to execute his cross-chop and keep his balance. When Lawrence is healthy and using his full arsenal of moves, he’s one of the more fun pass rushers to watch in the NFL.

A lot of fans were hoping to see more from Ezekiel Elliott this season, and he gave the fans just that on Sunday night. Elliott had his best performance of the season, rushing for 111 yards on 22 carries, and a touchdown. Elliott also caught six passes for 36 yards, and had a masterful performance as a pass protector.

Elliott’s best play of the night came on this play where he uses his great vision to find a crease in the zone, breaks through an arm tackle at the line of scrimmage, then absolutely destroys Malcom Jenkins once getting into the second-level. Elliott looked more explosive, a step quicker, and more powerful throughout the entirety of the game against the Eagles. Minus one drop in the passing game, Elliott looked like his old self on Sunday night.

This was one of the more underrated plays in the football game for the Cowboys offense. This series eventually ended in a punt for the Cowboys offense, but it moved the chains, allowed for another six plays, and gave the Cowboys the chance to pin the Eagles deep in their own side of the field. The Eagles would run just three plays, before punting the football back to the Cowboys, who would go down in score another touchdown to put the game at 21-7.

This is a throw I’m not sure we see from Dak Prescott in his first three years in the NFL. His pocket movement, decisiveness, and velocity on this play is tremendous to fit this football in to Randall Cobb, who’s covered tightly by the Eagles safety on the play. If this play isn’t made, the Cowboys are punting the football to the Eagles, giving them pretty good field position, with the ability to tie the football game early in the first half.

The stats won’t show it, but this was easily one of Dak Prescott’s best football games in terms of accuracy, ball placement, and aggressiveness down the field. Prescott was locked in from the opening kickoff, and his lone mistake came on his second half interception in what he classified as a “heat check”. Outside of the interception, Prescott had just two other passes in this game that I graded as an inaccurate pass and that wasn’t a throwaway.

Prescott threw well in and out of the pocket, and put the football right on the money on a high percentage of throws against the Eagles.

This game quickly gave the Cowboys the ability to change their game plan if they wanted to after getting up big in the first two quarters. There were still a bunch of first down runs, but they did run the ball rather efficiently, so it’s hard to be too upset with the play-calling. What was good to see from Kellen Moore was his ability to call the right plays in situations the Cowboys needed him to think outside of the box.

A few plays stand out in particular, and we’ll start with this one. The Cowboys come out in 13-personnel and want to give the Eagles the impression that they’re going to run this football to try and pick up the 4th and 1. Moore uses this team’s tendencies to trick the Eagles, and pick up an easy first down, by calling the quick play-action pass to Ezekiel Elliott for a nice gain. These are things that Kellen Moore brings to the table that we didn’t see enough of from the Scott Linehan - Jason Garrett pairing in previous years.

This defense had themselves a heck of a ball game against Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles offense. Forcing three fumbles, an interception, and multiple sacks, the defense brought their A-game to table for prime time football. One of the best plays from the defense was this third down sack from Jourdan Lewis, but they way they got to the sack is what’s the most impressive.

The Cowboys give Wentz a A/B gap blitz look pre-snap with Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee, before dropping out of the blitz and into coverage to clog the passing lane for Carson Wentz. Wentz thinks he’ll have space to got to Jefferey lined up on the boundary, or Zach Ertz coming across the middle, but the linebackers dropping into coverage and out of the blitz look they showed pre-snap leaves Carson Wentz standing in the pocket, holding the football, and taking a sack. This was all due to the design, but also the Eagles forcing their tight end to chip DeMarcus Lawrence off the snap, instead of going straight to his route, or to possibly stay in and pickup Lewis coming free on the nickel blitz.

The presence of Robert Quinn on this defensive line has done wonders for the Cowboys pass rush so far this season. Quinn shows on back-to-back plays his pass rush ability, and the variety of ways he can win with speed, power, and technique. Quinn, similar to Lawrence, was disruptive all night before leaving the game due to a rib injury. When healthy, the Cowboys have one of the better pass rushing duo’s in the NFL. They just need the interior of their defensive line to step it up as the season progresses.

It’s hard to even put into words just how good Amari Cooper has been for the Cowboys since being acquired at the bye-week in 2018. Even though he’s battled some drops so far this season, Cooper’s production, presence, and route-running abilities makes up for any and all drops that Cooper may deal with throughout the year.

Cooper runs a “sluggo” route here (slant-and-go). This is a double-move route that is pretty much undefeated when Amari Cooper has one-on-one man coverage, and the offensive line holds up. Cooper sells the inside-slant with his eyes, feet, and chest, before sticking his foot in the ground, flipping his hips, and getting vertical in his route. Prescott puts this football right on the money for a big gain to set the Cowboys up in prime field position.

Question for the panel. What is more impressive? The throw or the catch?

That’s a tough question to answer, but why answer when you can credit both. This is one of the best throws of Dak Prescott’s career, but it gets completed due to Cooper’s ball-tracking abilities, strong hands, and body control along the sideline. It’s important to point out here, Amari Cooper isn’t open. Like at all. But Prescott puts this ball into a window that doesn’t even really exist. With as good as the throw was, Cooper hauling this in is just as good. It’s also nice to see Tony Pollard step up and take on the blitzing defender to give Prescott time to get this football out.

Last but not least, it was great to finally see Xavier Woods make a big-time play after many crowned him the budding star in training camp. Woods does an excellent job of reading Carson Wentz eyes, timing his break on the ball perfectly, and most importantly finishing the play with the interception. Woods has the potential to be special as the Cowboys free safety, he just needs to be a tick quicker, and trust his instincts just a little bit more when jumping routes.

It was hard to pull much negative from this football game. If there was one thing that needs to improve, it would be cutting down the first down runs, and continue to improve stopping the run on defense. Thankfully, the way this game played out made both of those issues non-factors. The Cowboys have a bye week this week, as they’ll look to get healthy and prepare for the New York Giants in week nine. The tough stretch of this season is on the horizon, and the Cowboys are going to need to play up to this level for the remainder of the season if they want to be taken seriously. This was a big step in the right direction.

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