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Cowboys news: More raves for the Kellen Moore new-look Dallas offense

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Also, Gallup out 2-4 weeks.

NFL: SEP 15 Cowboys at Redskins Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brees, Roethlisberger Concerns Highlight Week 2 in the NFL - Albert Breer, SI.com
The accolades continue to pour in for the Cowboys’ new look offense.

You can see that plainly in Prescott’s stats. Four of his seven touchdown passes sos far have come off of play-action on first or second down.

“At the end of the day, we want to run the football,” Moore said. “So we got those guys to do it. And at the same time, we’re not going to be stubborn about it and just pound it all day. Hopefully the play-action can complement that and create a kind of dual-threat, and we can continue to mix that up and create things that look the same, and have multiple ways to attack them off of that.”

But maybe Prescott’s most impressive throw of the day was of a different genre. With 13 seconds left in the first half and the game tied, the Cowboys lined up spread out, with two tight ends detached from the formation to Dak’s right. He calmly took the snap, read the coverage on that side, with Blake Jarwin running to the back pylon and Jason Witten running to the front pylon, and put it just to Witten’s outside, where only he could grab it.

“Really good throw, really good route,” Moore said. “Basically, Witten was on the front pylon, Blake was going to be on the back pylon and you know you had a little advantage, slight, he was ahead of the ’backer by a step. Dak threw a really good ball and Witten made a really good catch.”

Dak vs. Romo, how the Saints can win without Drew Brees and Morten Andersen on Adam Vinatieri – Mike Sando, The Athletic
Apparently, an anonymous “evaluator” out there predicted Dak - and the Cowboys - would be a dynamic, top-tier offense with a full season of Amari Cooper.

The coaches and executives polled for my annual Quarterback Tiers survey placed Romo in the second tier over his final three seasons with the Cowboys. They ranked Romo between eighth and 11th among starting quarterbacks over those seasons. The less-established Prescott has ranked between 14th and 17th over his three seasons, solidly in the third tier. One evaluator quoted in the 2019 survey predicted Prescott would have the kind of season he’s enjoying so far: seven touchdowns, one interception and an unsustainable 10.9-yard average per pass attempt.

“When they got Amari Cooper, he really ascended,” this evaluator said before the season. “Throw in the O-line, the running back, they add (Randall) Cobb in the slot, and I think (Tier) 2 could be the low number. I could see them winning 12 or 13 games and having people come back next year saying, ‘Oh, maybe he is closer to a 1.'”

Facing the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 should help. The schedule gets tougher from there. Prescott surely will be tested more than he was against the New York Giants and Washington.

“Dallas is a complete team, but the Giants are just terrible on defense and I have never seen so many guys running clean in a game with not even anyone to throw it over,” a veteran coach said about the Cowboys’Week 1 win. “It looked like a walk-through. That said, Dak hit the throws. He threw a fade against press-man that was perfect — really impressive. And he is getting it out quick. If he plays like that and the protect him, they will win a lot of games.”

Cowboys’ new-look offensive machine faces minimal resistance in Washington – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
The Sturminator breaks down Sunday’s double-digit win against a division rival on the road.

While we are on the topic, this does seem like a proper time to discuss the Cowboys’ quarterback, who continues to demonstrate his quality to those who always need to see more. Prescott made his 50th career regular-season start yesterday as the talks about his record-breaking contract continue to occur. Long ago, the Cowboys pledged that he was their next franchise QB, and they would pay him as such when the details could be worked out, but the public has surely been far more skeptical about his credentials and worthiness. Basically, can this team function with him as their highest-compensated piece in a league where QB seems to mean everything?

His 34-16 record during that span registers at a ridiculous 68% win percentage and is among the best of all-time (currently seventh), but we know this is a team-dependent statistic. Here is an individual mark: He registers second all-time on the list of quarterbacks after 50 starts for completion percentage (66.8%), behind just Kurt Warner of the “Greatest Show on Turf.” That is the entire list of QBs in front of him, and his numbers continue to soar.

Prescott’s numbers are not some two-week aberration, either. His career numbers stand up quite well, and it seems like the further we get, criticisms become more anecdotal than substantive with actual statistical confirmation. In fact, in 11 games since the Amari Cooper trade — notating the moment in time the Cowboys finally replaced what they lost in Dez Bryant — Prescott ranks fourth in passer rating, fourth in yards per game, first in completion percentage and third in yards per attempt in all of the NFL. In other words, the last 20 percent of his career has seen yet another massive step forward, and he continues to clean up his loose ends. There is simply no longer any basis to suggest he is a bottom-half of the league QB, and it seems like most are coming to realize that. He used to be league average. What we are seeing now is well above that mark. Kellen Moore deserves credit, but this “new Dak” has been rolling pretty well since the midway point of last year. What is here in 2019 is just another step up again.

3 things we learned from Cowboys-Redskins, including what Kellen Moore is taking advantage of - John Owning, DallasNews.com
Video breakdown guru John Owning shows how the Cowboys were successful - again - moving the ball.

On this play, the Cowboys are in a 3x1 single-back set (Blake Jarwin, Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb to the strong side of the formation with Smith isolated on the backside), using 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three receivers) against Washington's nickel defense (four defensive linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs).

Before the ball is snapped, Cooper's short motion from out wide in toward the formation helps identify that Washington is in zone coverage, which is exactly what Dallas wanted.

The genius of this play design is that it put the deep middle safety in a conflict between two routes. With the Cowboys running a high-low concept with Cobb and Cooper's deep over routes, the strong safety (Landon Collins, No. 20) is forced to carry Cooper in coverage, leaving Cobb running open deep downfield.

Given that Washington is running a Cover 3 concept -- meaning the outside cornerbacks are playing press-bail technique, where they are in a press alignment with outside leverage before bailing to a deep-third zone -- the outside corners are taught to funnel vertical routes toward their help, the deep safety. So, Smith is able to easily gain inside leverage with the release and stem of his deep post route. This puts the free safety (Montae Nicholson, No. 35) in quite the pickle.

If Nicholson stays in the deep middle to give Josh Norman the helps he's expecting, Cobb would have been wide open outside the numbers for what would have likely been a touchdown. If he eschews his deep middle responsibility to pick Cobb up on the deep crosser -- which is exactly what happened -- he puts Norman in horrible position to cover the deep post.

With Norman playing outside leverage, his only shot to defend this pass is to outrun Smith to the spot of the throw -- given their 40 times (Norman, 4.66; Smith, 4.42), this is a huge mismatch in favor of the Cowboys' offense.

Taco Charlton still wants out of Dallas, tweets 'free me' - Kevin Patra, NFL.com
Despite not getting on the field yet in 2019 Taco Charlton manages to make headlines.

Charlton has been a major disappointment since the Cowboys used the No. 28 overall pick on him in 2017. He compiled 19 tackles and three sacks in his rookie season in 16 appearances with no starts. Last year, with Dallas expecting a leap in Year 2, the 24-year-old compiled 27 tackles and just one sack in 11 games, including seven starts. He's been inactive the first two weeks of the 2019 season.

It's clear from his plea to leave Dallas that the first-rounder believes he could thrive elsewhere. Given the production, and the Cowboys' lack of usage this season, it's doubtful they'd get much value back in return on a trade.

Who Steps Up While Gallup Is Sidelined? - Staff, DallasCowboys.com
With Michael Gallup missing two to four weeks with a knee injury, who has an opportunity to join the fun on the Cowboys’ offense?

Devin Smith, signed to a futures contract in January after recovering from two major knee injuries, caught a 51-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter of Sunday’s 31-21 road win over the Washington Redskins.

The former second-round draft pick of the Jets narrowly won a training camp competition against Cedrick Wilson, whom the Cowboys signed from the practice squad last Saturday. Wilson, last year’s sixth-round pick, played six offensive snaps and fielded one punt in his NFL debut, having sat out his rookie season due to shoulder surgery.

“They got a chance to go in there and play and they stepped up,” Garrett said. “You just have to keep kind of giving them shots and hopefully they’re confidence will build as they go.”

The Most Convincing (and Surprising) NFC Performances - Robert Mays, The Ringer
Consider The Ringer’s Robert Mays impressed.

With their second blowout win in as many weeks, the Cowboys look like a potential juggernaut. Dallas had the benefit of playing the Giants and Redskins to open the season, but the way that Dak Prescott and Co. have played during their 2-0 start has been staggering no matter the competition. Prescott completed 26 of his 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 31-21 win over Washington on Sunday, and for the second straight week, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was able to tap into a version of this offense that’s been absent for the past two seasons. Dallas continues to mix play-action throws—like the 51-yard touchdown to Devin Smith in the second quarter—with a solid running game and smartly timed rushes from Prescott in short-yardage and red zone situations.

The Cowboys will be without wide receiver Michael Gallup for two to four weeks as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery, but if Smith can provide Prescott with a field-stretching presence, this offense should continue to roll in Gallup’s absence. The quality of their opponents has definitely been lacking compared to a team like the Rams, but so far the Cowboys have been one of the most impressive teams in the conference.

We don't know how good these Cowboys really are, but that isn't stopping their Super Bowl odds from increasing - Kevin Sherrington, DallasNews.com
The Cowboys Super Bowl odds keep improving and Kevin Sherrington asks why not?

Bottom line: Learning how good these Cowboys really are may take longer than anticipated, but, for what it's worth, DraftKings Sportsbook currently rates the Cowboys at 13-to-1 to win the Super Bowl, behind only the Patriots, Chiefs, Rams and Saints.

And why not? The Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East with a perfect record; only San Francisco has scored more points or has a bigger plus rating in the conference; the Eagles are 1-1 with key players dropping on both sides of the ball; and the Saints' Hall of Fame quarterback won't be available when the Cowboys visit New Orleans in a couple of weeks.

Teddy Bridgewater, the NFL's most expensive backup quarterback, will need to ramp up his game pretty soon. The Saints failed to score a touchdown Sunday in a 27-9 loss to the Rams, only the fourth time in Sean Payton's tenure that they've failed to score an offensive touchdown.

New Orleans wasn't the only NFC contender to lose a game as well as players Sunday. Tim Jernigan broke his foot, costing the Eagles another defensive tackle for at least a month. Malik Jackson was already on injured reserve.

A Cowboys win is always more enjoyable with Cameron Magruder.

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