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Cowboys news: Dak Prescott has people talking after a brilliant first game

And lots of love for Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

On Cusp of Antonio Brown Addition, Patriots Roll Steelers and Tom Brady Says: ‘Let’s Go Do It’ – Peter King, ProFootballTalk
Count Peter King among those who were impressed by Dak Prescott’s play yesterday.

Offensive Players of the Week

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore. Disclaimer: The Ravens’ 59-10 win at Miami came, well, over Miami. But the Ravens spent the offseason working on Jackson the passer (he threw 170 passes last year) taking over for Jackson the runner (147 rushes last year). After one week, it seems that offensive coordinator Greg Roman and quarterbacks coach James Urban were on-target with their work with Jackson. Using the sprinter’s speed of rookie Hollywood Brown for 47-yard and 83-yard TD passes, Jackson finished 17 of 20 for 324 yards, five touchdowns and no picks … for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. He rushed three times for six yards. Consider the transformation of Lamar Jackson off to a flying start.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas. With owner Jerry Jones describing a new contract for Prescott, a fourth-round pick in 2016, as “imminent,” Prescott had one of the best games of his young career: 25 of 32 for 405 yards (his second 400-yard passing game in 52 career games), with four touchdowns and no interceptions … also for a perfect 158.3 passer rating. “It felt like a well-oiled machine,” Prescott said. The quarterback’s a pretty important piece.

Lamar Jackson, Sammy Watkins, Dak and the Pats Light Up Week 1 - Albert Breer,
Even well-known Cowboys curmudgeon Albert Breer had to give Dak and Kellen Moore some props.

Dak Prescott’s probably getting his new contract soon—Dallas owner Jerry Jones said as much postgame—and if it happens this week, he’ll have arrived at that milepost on a good note. Kellen Moore, the new OC, wanted to get Prescott playing off play-action more, since it was what he did so well at Mississippi State, and Prescott was nails when Moore gave him those opportunities against the Giants on Sunday. Three of his four touchdown passes came on play-action on first or second down. And beyond just how it happened, Prescott spread the ball around and led the offense like he needed to, getting five different players three or more catches on the afternoon. “He just had a great command of everything,” one staffer said. If this is who Prescott’s going to be in 2019, the Cowboys really are in business.

Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott Quieted Their Doubters in Week 1 - Robert Mays, The Ringer
The lovefest continues over at The Ringer, where Robert Mays thinks Sunday’s performance bodes well for the Cowboys’ future.

Heavier play-action usage meshes well with the other tenets of the Cowboys scheme, but Prescott also did plenty of damage on tight-window, straight dropback throws on Sunday. One of the QB’s strengths is his placement on deep passes outside the numbers, as Cowboys quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna detailed this offseason. Prescott took advantage of single-high safety looks by hitting a pair of those on Sunday—one to wide receiver Michael Gallup for a 36-yard gain early in the second quarter, and another for a 21-yard touchdown to Amari Cooper with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Last season, Prescott had the fourth-highest passer rating in the NFL on passes of 20-plus yards, according to Pro Football Focus, but he threw deep just 10.8 percent of the time, which ranked 24th of 35 qualified quarterbacks. Expect that to change this season.

That increased emphasis on deep throws felt like a purposeful overcorrection from last season, and the Cowboys could also make better use of Prescott’s rushing ability—especially in the red zone. Dallas finished a dismal 28th in points per red zone trip last season, which just shouldn’t happen with a player like Prescott under center. A rushing QB can flip the math in an offense’s favor as the field compresses near the goal line, and Moore used the threat of Prescott as a runner to occupy an extra defender and help finish off the Cowboys’ final touchdown drive. On a second-and-5 from the 10-yard line late in the third quarter, Dallas lined up in the shotgun and sent wide receiver Tavon Austin tearing across the formation in jet motion, ran Witten the opposite way as a blocker, and finally executed a read-option with Prescott and Elliott that allowed the running back to escape through a massive hole on the left side before fighting his way into the end zone.

3 things we learned about the Kellen Moore-led Cowboys offense against the Giants - John Owning,
John Owning (among many) is one of those who’s been pounding the table for... well, exactly what we saw yesterday in terms of scheme and pre-snap motion. As usual, he breaks it down with lots of gifs.

There were myriad examples of the new wrinkles Moore has added or emphasized for the offense, so we are going to make it easy and break down each of Prescott's four touchdown passes to illustrate the first-year coordinator's effect on the Cowboys, starting with the throw to Blake Jarwin in the first quarter:

The Cowboys were in a shotgun formation on this play, using 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end) with three weapons to the right of the formation (Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb and Jarwin).

Once the ball is snapped, Prescott executes a great play-action fake -- which, combined with Connor Williams (No. 52) pulling to the right side of the formation, causes the second level of the Giants' defense and the near-side safety to bite on the run action.

With the linebackers and near-side safety sucked up to the line of scrimmage, Jarwin is left wide open down the middle of the field for the easy pitch-and-catch touchdown.

Another great aspect to the play design was Cobb's vertical route from the slot, as it kept the far-side safety from picking up Jarwin, who was attacking the middle of the field. If Jarwin was the only vertical threat, that safety likely would have been in position to potentially prevent the touchdown or completion as a whole.

The play design and play action was so good that it didn't matter if Prescott's throw was behind Jarwin, as there wasn't a Giants defender within 5 yards of the tight end.

How Kellen Moore set a high bar for the Cowboys' offense in his first game as offensive coordinator - David Moore,
Moore notes that Jerry Jones finally pronouncing Kellen Moore’s name properly is perhaps the best, most sincere compliment Moore received following his first game as offensive coordinator.

So many good things were being said about Kellen Moore, the bar was set so high in his first game as offensive coordinator, it was difficult to sift through the accolades to find the most flattering.

Here's a candidate. Owner Jerry Jones began his address to reporters by stating how impressed he was with Moore's offense.

What's so inspiring about that comment?

"Well, he got my name right,'' Moore said, chuckling. "He used to call me Kee-lan.

"It must mean I'm doing something right.''

A lot went right in the Cowboys' 35-17 victory over the New York Giants. An offense that scored more than 30 points in only three games last season exploded by scoring touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in this one.

Scout’s Notebook: Winning With Play Action - Bryan Broaddus,
The scout took a look at the film and gives us his thoughts.

I loved the way Dak Prescott was able to affect the Giants defense with his play action fakes. There were several snaps where there was full flow from the offensive line and backs that opened up things on the backside for Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin to take advantage of. Prescott was putting the ball right on the money in front of their safeties before they even had a chance to react.

We’ve been talking about the possibility of this Cowboys defense creating more turnovers and they almost had one on the Giants’ opening play. Xavier Woods put his head in the perfect spot on the ball to knock it out of Saquon Barkley’s hands. Woods went low on the tackle as Barkley tried to go lower, but the ball came loose. Jaylon Smith was hustling over to help on the play but he overran it. Smith noticed the ball on the ground, but he just couldn’t scramble back in position to make the recovery.

Cowboys’ Wide Open Offense Dominates Giants - Kurt Daniels,
More post-game thoughts from the Mothership.

The beneficiary of all this wide-open action, of course, was Dak Prescott. The quarterback set a team record for most passing yards in a season opener, his 405 yards the second-highest total of his career. He also tied his personal-best with four touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over once, finishing with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

In doing so, Prescott was masterful at spreading the ball around, connecting with seven different receivers. Michael Gallup got his second year off to a hot start as he corralled seven catches for a career-high 158 receiving yards with Amari Cooper joining him in the century club with 106 yards off of six catches. In all, five players had at least three grabs.

With that kind of firepower, the Cowboys finished with 494 yards of total offense and converted 60 percent of their third-down opportunities. Conversely, the Giants converted on 18 percent of their third-down tries, although they did total 470 yards of total offense.

Dak Prescott is finally in a modern offense - Stephen Ruiz
Stephen Ruiz of ForTheWin points out the obvious, noting the Cowboys looked like an actual 2019 NFL offense, as opposed to what we’ve been watching the last few years.

If you watched Dallas’ 35-17 demolition of the Giants’ overmatched defense, you saw Sean McVay’s jet sweep- and orbit motion-infused run plays. You saw the Patriots’ meticulously choreographed play-action passing game. You saw the run-pass options that have been put to good use by Andy Reid’s coaching tree. There was even some Lincoln Riley thrown in there for good measure.

For fans of entertaining football, it was a welcome sight. This Cowboys offense is loaded with talent and should be putting up points every week. Its potential had been wasted by former play-caller Sean Linehan, whose proclivity for bulky formations and a commitment to “establishing the run” put a self-imposed handicap on the Dallas offense and its young quarterback. It was difficult to watch.

NFL Week 1 overreactions: The NFC will go through Dallas Cowboys - Andy Nesbitt,
Are the Cowboys now a legitimate threat to reach the Super Bowl or is that a week one overreaction?

There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s dive into some overreactions that might not be that crazy after Sunday’s games.

1. The Dallas Cowboys look Super Bowl ready

Dak Prescott should be getting a big new paycheck any day now, which he deserves, especially after Sunday’s dominant performance agains the New York Giants. Prescott threw for 405, 4 TDs and zero interceptions as the Cowboys rolled to a 35-17 win at home. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 51 yards and a touchdown in his first game back since spending the preseason in Cabo. The defense looked solid, even if the Giants don’t have the best offense in the world. The NFC could very well go through Dallas this year.

Fanpost Focus

The 5th Quarter: Early Game Takeaways - neithan2000, Blogging The Boys
neithan2000 has five thoughts on the Cowboys’ week one victory.

A huge complaint from the Linehan ears was the belief that Linehan did not gameplan to attack our opponents weakness. Today we got to see an example of an offensive coordinator both game-planning for an opponents weakness, and for the inevitable counter.

It was pretty obvious after our first drive that the New York Giants wanted to protect their young corners, so we saw a lot of Cover 2 early on. And to ensure that the safeties were focusing on helping the corners, the Giants played a lot of Tampa 2, where the MIKE, (Alex Ogletree fro the Giants), drops into the deep middle, effectively making Cover 3 coverage.

Unfortunately, at this point in his career, Alex Ogltree is a huge liability in coverage. And that was exploited brilliantly by Kellen Moore on the 2nd drive.

With the Giants showing this Cover 3 look, Kelllen Moore began attacking the short middle of the field. Of the 11 plays run on this scoring drive, 3 out of the 8 passing plays were targeted to the TE or slot receiver in the short middle of the field. This included a pass to Blake Jarwin on the 10th play of the drive.

Then on the 11th play of the drive, Dallas ran Blake Jarwin up the seam, for a 28 yard touchdown. To ensure that the middle would be clear, Dallas ran play-action, drawing Alex Ogletree towards the line of scrimmage. With the safeties both cheating towards the sidelines in Cover 2, this was an easy pitch and catch for the TD.

Kellen Moore used the exact same scheme to again beat Alex Ogletree in the deep middle of the field later in the game. This time Randle Cobb ran a post from the slot. The Giants were again in Tampa 2, and Dallas again ran play action to draw in Alex Ogletree.

Then the counter came. The Giants began abandoning the Cover 2, going towards a single high look. When that happened Moore would run a trips or bunch formation, giving a WR single coverage on one side. If the defense played man, Dak would nearly automatically go deep to the single side.

This type of gameplan won't work every week. But this week Kellen Moore saw a weakness, and devised an attack and counter attack against it.

BTB Podcast

Check out the latest episode of BTB’s Talkin’ The Star as Connor Livesay, Cole Patterson, and Dalton Miller all break down everything we saw in Week 1 after a second viewing.

Be sure to get all the good stuff all the time from BTB by subscribing to the Blogging The Boys podcast feed!

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