In the wake of Dak Prescott’s injury, an underlying storyline in Cowboys Nation is just how good Kellen Moore has been over the recent weeks as the offensive coordinator. After a slow start to the season, in which the Cowboys were running the ball a ton on early downs, limiting pre-snap motion, and route-creativity, the offense has improved greatly in every aspect of the game over the past few games of the season. Sunday’s victory over the division rival New York Giants was another great day for Kellen Moore and company.
In a game where the offense put up over 400 yards of total offense, the play-calling and efficiency is what stood out the most against a solid Giants defense. The first drive of the game was smooth and easy, but unfortunately the offense stalled in the redzone, and settled for a field goal, then the pick-six drive happened, and then a three-and-out punt, but after that the offense rolled until the disaster Prescott injury.
Throughout the game, the Cowboys offense averaged 6.4 yards per play on 33 pass attempts (including Cedrick Wilson’s pass attempt) and 29 rush attempts (including quarterback and wide receiver touches). Dallas had success both throwing the football and running the football on Sunday, which is positive going forward for Kellen Moore’s game-plan.
TRICK PLAY ALERT— Tom Downey (@WhatGoingDowney) October 11, 2020
Cedrick Wilson to Dak Prescott for the TD to take the lead! pic.twitter.com/mR5qQmJE1G
Moore’s creativity really stood out on Sunday against the Giants, as he went with heavy play-action early in the game, getting the tight ends and receivers involved early with quick, easy passes on bootlegs and waggles. Moore also mixed in his own version of the “Philly Special” in which Elliott took the handoff from Prescott, who then pitched the reverse to Cedrick Wilson, who then found Dak Prescott in the corner of the end zone for an easy six points. Moore also used jet-sweeps to attack the Giants defensive ends, and keep the football away from the Giants interior defensive lineman, which is the no-doubt strength of their team. When they saw the opportunity to run the football, they did that successfully as well, which is something the Cowboys have struggled with in the first four weeks of the season. Ezekiel Elliott averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and punched it in twice, and Tony Pollard carried it six times for 30 yards. While committing to the run with Andy Dalton now at quarterback is certainly the predicted answer, running the ball efficiently is actually the best answer, and that’s what the Cowboys did on Sunday.
With Prescott out for the remainder of the season, Kellen Moore will really have to earn his paycheck each week. Andy Dalton can be successful in this offense, but it will be up to Moore to put him in positions to succeed. Relying on Dalton to convert on third downs due to unsuccessful early down runs will do more damage than anything, as Dalton doesn’t have the ability to move, escape, or thrown under pressure like Prescott has in the last two seasons. For Dalton, he’ll still have three dominant receivers in CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup, a solid tight end in Dalton Schultz, and two strong running backs in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. With the offensive line still having a lot of issues, he’ll need to manage dealing with pressure better than he has throughout his career, because it will be there.
Dealing with a quarterback injury is never easy, and the offense definitely struggled for a bit once Andy Dalton took over at the helm, but when they needed to score points, Andy Dalton, Michael Gallup, and Kellen Moore came up big to win the game for the Cowboys.