The Dallas Cowboys opened their 2019 campaign in an impressive fashion — thanks in large part to the franchise quarterback and offensive coordinator.
After much speculation over the offseason about what kind of offense Kellen Moore would bring to the Cowboys, the first-year coordinator showed more schemes, more movement and generally more innovation. The result was an impressive 35-17 season-opening victory over the rival New York Giants.
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.
5 thoughts from Cowboys-Giants: It’s just one game, but Kellen Moore’s play-calling was solid - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay
From Kellen Moore to the defense, five thoughts on Sunday’s game.
Kellen Moore’s offense is...: So how do you like Kellen Moore? It’s only one game, just one game, but Sunday afternoon, the new offensive coordinator called a solid game where the Cowboys used three- and four-receiver sets, deep passes to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, motion with two or three receivers and setting things up with the play action. Yes, all the things fans wanted to see with Scott Linehan last year, but didn’t for whatever reason, are happening now. It was just for one game, but it was good to see Dak Prescott find open receivers, including Randall Cobb, Blake Jarwin and Jason Witten, for scores. Prescott used his legs in the run-pass option game, including getting a first down while running behind fullback Jamize Olawale. Prescott finished 25 for 32 for 405 yards with four touchdowns. It was that kind of day for Prescott. He connected with seven different receivers and even threw a fade to Olawale that went incomplete. He made it look easy. Or, was it Moore who made it look easy? The Cowboys had two receivers (Gallup and Cooper) with over 100 yards receiving, a run game that moved well and pass protection that was strong. Dallas gained 496 yards of total offense with a 8.3 average.
The offense is getting a lot of (well-deserved) attention, but let’s not forget about the defense’s performance.
The defense makes some plays: With the offense being so explosive, you kind of forget about the defense. On Sunday DeMarcus Lawrence and Leighton Vander Esch had half-a-sack each, there were four quarterback hits and five pass breakups. There was even a strip sack on a fourth down by Lawrence on Eli Manning and Vander Esch forced a fumble on Giants backup quarterback Daniel Jones. Most of the afternoon, the Cowboys defense stayed in a zone, especially on third and long to keep the Giants in front of them and in man coverage did a nice job of staying close when it was necessary.
QB Dak Prescott, OC Kellen Moore make it look easy in opening blowout win vs. Giants - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram
Dak and Moore made things look easy versus the Giants.
1. OC Kellen Moore wows in first look
Prescott will get all headlines for what was the best performance of his career, but Moore was nothing less than sensational in his first game calling plays. Prescott completed passes to seven different receivers. Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb both had over 100 yards. Cobb made his presence felt in the slot with blank catches and a touchdown. Tight ends Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin both caught touchdowns. Prescott converted two third downs with runs from the zone read. There were bunch sets, pre-snap motion and even a deep pass to fullback Jamize Olawale. Moore called a deep shot to Cooper to open the second half on a play action.
Again, Moore showed it all and the offense executed effortlessly.
Dak is betting on himself — and for good reason.
2. QB Dak Prescott showing why he is betting on himself
Prescott has yet to sign a long-term contract extension because he is betting on himself that he can get more than the Cowboys are offering. Prescott is not pressed. He believes in himself. He said the light clicked on for him last year and he is more comfortable and confident than ever. It showed against the Giants and Prescott played the game like he was playing pitch and catch in the backyard in what was easily the finest performance of his career.
Prescott, who had 455 yards passing in an overtime win against the Eagles last season, spread the ball around, showed pin-point accuracy on the deep ball, as well as crossing patterns and slants over the middle. He also had two carries for 14 yards on designed runs. He did not scramble one time.
10 months after calling for franchise overhaul, Troy Aikman extols new-look Cowboys, especially Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore - Brad Townsend, SportsDay
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman couldn’t help but be impressed by the offense’s performance.
“I think this season those expectations are justified,” Aikman said. “You look at this roster, it’s loaded. And I think it’s as talented a group as some of the teams that I was part of the last time they won a title here in Dallas.”
As Sunday’s game unfolded, Aikman and broadcast partner Joe Buck repeatedly lauded the Cowboys, particularly the play of quarterback Dak Prescott and the diversity and explosiveness of Dallas’ offense under first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
”This Dallas Cowboys offense has a different look at feel to it,” Buck said midway through the third quarter, after Prescott completed his fourth touchdown pass to a fourth different receiver, Randall Cobb.
”What a debut for Kellen Moore,” Buck added, after the Cowboys increased their lead to 35-10 later in the period.
Of Prescott, Aikman said, “There was talk that they might have been able to get him signed (to a contract extension) before this game kicked off. For Dak Prescott and Jerry Jones, the price might have just gone up, the way he has thrown the football.”
Archer writes on Dak’s stellar performance and what it means as far as his contract goes.
Prescott completed 25 of 32 passes for 405 yards, with four touchdown passes and no interceptions for his second consecutive game against the Cowboys’ NFC East rival. He had four touchdown and 387 yards in the 2018 season finale at MetLife Stadium last December.
After the game, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he would characterize an extension with Prescott as being “imminent,” which he then defined as expecting it could reasonably be completed in the next few days.
But he also said he believes progress has been made toward a deal.
”We have urgency, but it takes two,” Stephen Jones said. “We’re making some progress. I think we’ll just see. ... We’re just going to keep grinding and he’s selfless. He’s not worried about himself and of course it showed today. We’re just going to continue to work toward getting this done.”
Prescott, who is making a $2.02 million base salary on the final year of his rookie deal, said his mind is on next week’s opponent, the Washington Redskins, and not on signing what should be the richest deal in team history.
Kellen Moore was a legend at Boise State, and the state of Idaho took notice of his brilliance this weekend.
“What a debut for Kellen Moore, first-year offensive coordinator,” FOX announcer Joe Buck said.
“He’s got a lot of pieces to work with,” FOX analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman added. “And, I mean, he’s really utilized them all. He’s given them all an opportunity.”
Prescott was 25-for-32 for 405 yards and four touchdowns in the game. His rating was 158.3 — the highest possible in the NFL system.
The Cowboys generated 494 yards of offense at 8 yards per play.
Moore was Boise State’s starting quarterback from 2008 to 2011, posting a 50-3 record. His win total is a college football record, and he was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2010.
Eatman writes on Dak’s “perfect” game.
So when’s the press conference?
It’s got to be this week, right? Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question any more than you guys, but my gut just tells me it will certainly be sooner rather than later to get Dak Prescott a new contract.
Because if the Cowboys wait any more, and Dak goes out to Washington and puts up a performance like that again, he might actually get that $40 million a season that his group reportedly had asked for last month.
What’s funny is that all offseason I kept hearing how Dak needed to make sure and sign a new deal before he played a game. The risk of injury is always out there and with that much money sitting on the table, it just made too much sense to get a deal done before he played again. That’s at least what Ezekiel Elliott seemed to think.
But maybe the pressure should be on the Cowboys to get it done. Forget Dak getting hurt as the risk. Perhaps the biggest risk now is Dak driving the price tag up even more.’
Summing up Dak’s performance nicely.
Since 2016 the Cowboys have had the best record in the NFC at 33-16, but throughout, there’s been constant debate over whether Prescott was the reason for that success, the player keeping the team from being better, or just a guy along for the ride. Not anymore. Prescott has gone from the passenger in this offense to the driver.
Prescott has long been one of the most underpaid players in football, if not all of sports. In the last three years—the same stretch in which the Cowboys have led the NFC in wins—the team has paid Prescott $2.7 million while paying the rest of the team a combined $485 million. Quarterback is the most important position in the most profitable sports league in the world, and Prescott plays it for the Cowboys, the world’s most valuable sports franchise (valued at $5 billion), yet he has taken up 0.6 percent of their salary cap. It is time for a raise. Jerry Jones has said that the team will sign Prescott to a contract extension.
But the real money will flow for Dak, assuming he and the Cowboys keep playing like this. Yes, the Giants are bad, but great teams dominate bad ones. The Cowboys have surprising skill depth behind Cooper and Elliott with Gallup and Cobb; an excellent offensive line with left tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zack Martin, center Travis Frederick; and a defense littered with blue-chip players like linebackers Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Lawrence, and cornerback Byron Jones. This is a Super Bowl contender, and that’s good news for Jerry Jones, who has said he’d rather have another Super Bowl than another $1 billion. But it might be even better news for Prescott, who can command far more than he could have just 24 hours ago. We haven’t been talking about Dak Prescott when we talk about the Dallas Cowboys, but that’s about to change.
Our “sounds from the locker room” series has returned with football season. Check out the latest episode of BTB’s The Ocho with our own RJ Ochoa and hear what various members of the Cowboys had to say in the postgame locker room.
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