Last year was a weird season as we saw the roles reverse for Cowboys offense and defense. Oddly, it was the defense that carried the offense throughout most of the season as they finished sixth in the league in points allowed versus the offense which finished 22nd in the league in points scored.
Entering this new season, we all were clinging to the hope that the offense would get better. Kellen Moore was supposedly this new “genius” offensive coordinator. Jon Kitna was brought in to help Dak Prescott improve his footwork and “let it fly.” And the offense was stacked with an assortment of weapons that included Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Blake Jarwin, as well as the return of Jason Witten.
On paper, things looked great. But paper is just paper, and all eyes were on the Cowboys Sunday to see if any of these promising changes they were throwing at us would come to fruition. Guess what - they did. All of them.
The Cowboys offense was sensational against the Giants. They did almost everything right. They converted 60% of their third downs. They converted 100% of their red zone opportunities. And when they got behind the chains by committing penalties - they threw themselves out of trouble. It was quite pleasant to watch. To get a sense of just how remarkable the Cowboys offense was on Sunday, keep this in mind - the Giants scored the first and last touchdowns of the game, but in the two and half quarters between them, the Cowboys outscored them 35-3 by putting together five-straight 75+ touchdown drives. That’s pretty remarkable.
But how did they do it? Was the secret in the dirt - did they just physically out fight them? Or did “boy genius coordinator” pull off some Jedi mind trick over the defenders where they were off looking for the wrong droids while receivers were wandering freely in the secondary? Reviewing the tape painted a nice picture of how it all went down and here is what we came up with...
Dak Prescott was breathtaking
Nobody has to sell anyone on the idea that Prescott was pretty good on Sunday. After all, he had a perfect passer rating and threw for over 400 yards. But what’s even more impressive is that Prescott did this in just three quarters. With the game in hand, the Cowboys took their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter as the team started feeding Tony Pollard. The Cowboys offense ran a total of 11 plays in the fourth quarter and nine of them were runs by Pollard. Had the Cowboys found themselves in a more competitive game, it’s very likely Prescott would’ve continued to thrash the Giants defense.
While Prescott reeled off an accurate stat line of 25 of 32 for a 78% completion percentage, he was actually even more accurate than that. Amari Cooper had a couple drops that led to eventual punts, and Zeke dropped a short pass over the middle. In actuality, there were very few poorly thrown passes on Sunday by Prescott. Not only did he not throw a pick, but he never even came close. Dak’s usually good for one errant pass that goes right through the arms of an unsuspecting defender, but not on this day.
And what’s even more astonishing about Prescott’s accurate day is that he did it while airing it out. He had a career high 12.7 yards per attempt, with seven passes of 20 yards or more. The explosive plays were on display as the team finally took the training wheels off of Prescott as the Cowboys quarterback was letting it fly.
How to go from your own 20 to your opponents 20 in two plays, starring Michael Gallup. pic.twitter.com/xWGzHki8fc— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 9, 2019
And how to do it in just one play... pic.twitter.com/2HlBnrj0ZM— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 9, 2019
Dak was very decisive with his throws. He didn’t lollygag in the pocket. After being sacked 56 times last year (second-most in the league), Prescott wasn’t even pestered on Sunday. The only time the Giants defender tackled him was off of designed runs that resulted in a first down for the Cowboys. Credit the offensive line for doing an outstanding job up front, but if the quarterback is getting rid of the ball this quickly, he can help his own cause.
There is a sense of great comfort to see the Prescott perform this well. After all, he is the chosen one. The team has expressed again and again that they believe in their young quarterback, and we all got a nice dose of what that can look like when he’s playing up to his potential. Regardless of whether people think it’s a good idea or not, Prescott is going to get a lot of money to be this team’s franchise quarterback. And based on what we saw against the Giants, it’s going to be a wise investment.
Kellen me softly with his song
You have to love how Kellen Moore attacked the defense. The tempo was fantastic. The pre-snap motion had the Giants defense all out of sorts, and the play-action was alive and well for the Cowboys offense.
Look at all this pre-snap movement. Watch the Giants defenders shuffle around and how they're all moving to the left as the Cowboys run a screen to the right. pic.twitter.com/uRgNSPelq6— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 9, 2019
Moore attacked the defense in different ways, and the Cowboys were scoring early and often. It’s quite the contrast compared to last season.
Last year, Dallas was one of the worst scoring teams through the first three quarters, yet one of the best scoring teams in the fourth quarter. Part of the reason for that is that they cut Dak loose in the fourth, allowing him to get into a rhythm. The offense did well in those instances.
Back in June, we wrote a letter to Kellen Moore pleading for him to bring out the fourth-quarter Dak Prescott in the other quarters. On Sunday, that letter was answered because that’s exactly what happened. The Cowboys offense was aggressive. In fact, Moore completely flipped the script because on Sunday, the offense put up 35 points through the first three quarters, and nothing in the fourth.
The Cowboys have put 30+ points on teams before, albeit not that often last year. And it doesn’t go by the wayside that the Giants just aren’t good at football right now. But despite all that, the Cowboys won a football game by doing something they don’t normally do; they lit a team up through the air. In an era where teams with strong passing offenses hold up Lombardi trophies, it’s refreshing to see the Cowboys decide to show up to the party. And we all have Kellen Moore to thank for that.