Film room: Why Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb has been even better than expected as a rookie - John Owning. Dallas Morning News
The Cowboys rookie wideout has looked like an absolute star through five games.
Lamb does an excellent job of finding the empty spaces between zones, but his overall route-running ability is what truly makes him dangerous. Rookie receivers typically have to be schemed open using rub routes, play-action and misdirection to be effective against man coverage, but Lamb is not your typical rookie — he’s proven capable of getting open against tight coverage in the NFL.
While Lamb likely hasn’t been given many opportunities to beat man coverage outside, he’s shown the ability to create separation against press-man coverage in the slot with effective releases and efficiency in and out of his breaks. Lamb’s efficiency with his breaks was expected given his overall athleticism and tape at Oklahoma. It’s his ability to consistently beat press coverage that’s been most impressive considering he rarely faced it in college (65 times in 2019, according to PFF).
Lamb’s two fourth-quarter catches against the Falcons’ man coverage are excellent examples. Let’s start with the first:
Cowboys DC Mike Nolan’s changes vs. Giants extended beyond moving from the booth to the sideline - Kristi Scales, Dallas Morning News
The defense made some much needed changes last week against New York.
During Monday’s video conference with Cowboys coordinators, Nolan explained that Bernard is more of a strong side linebacker, whereas Thomas' strengths are on the weak side, making him better in coverage. Also, said Nolan, the use of Bernard gives Thomas a deserved break. Since Leighton Vander Esch’s injury in the first quarter of the season opener, Thomas had taken 100% of defensive snaps in Weeks 2, 3 and 4.
Vander Esch (broken collarbone) could return as early as next week, which could mean Bernard goes back to contributing mainly through special teams.
Another young Cowboys defender who received more playing time Sunday is defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, the third round pick from OU, who was inactive the previous two games. The rookie had played only 20 defensive snaps entering Week 5, but when starting defensive tackle Hill suffered torn knee ligaments in the third quarter, Gallimore was pressed into duty. With Hill’s season now over due to injury, Gallimore will have the opportunity to expand his playing time exponentially.
Michael Gallup is special.
The elite one in Michael Gallup.....He’s electric. There’s just something about this Michael Gallup guy. He has this “it” factor about him, this playmaker essence.
The Dallas Cowboys stole his rights in the 2018 NFL Draft, selecting him in the third round, 81st overall. The 24-year-old may get lost in the shuffle between wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper, but it’s apparent when the Cowboys need a big play, the vote goes to Michael Gallup.
Back before this season began, I noted how important it was to take some mental photos of the 2020 roster. I believed it then, and I believe it even more now that the Dallas Cowboys won’t be able to keep this core intact.
Despite Reassurances, Dak Prescott's Future With Cowboys is Still Murky - Brian Martin, Inside The Star
Is there real doubt about Dak Prescott’s future in Dallas?
If the Dallas Cowboys wouldn’t have won last week against the New York Giants and moved into first place in the NFC East division they would have a Top 10 draft pick and quite possibly a Top 5 pick to draft a QB. That’s well im range to come away with a new starting QB and at a fraction of the cost it would take to retain Dak Prescott.
That’s not the way things played out though. Sitting atop the NFC East division means they would be a playoff team if the season ended today, meaning they would be picking in the mid to lower 20s instead of the Top 10. I could be wrong, but making or not making the playoffs could play a huge role in whether or not Dak is back next season.
I think this is a situation worth monitoring moving forward. There’s still a lot of football to play, but there’s no reason to believe the Cowboys will be any better as the season progresses. They could still end up with a Top 10 draft pick and be in play for one of the top QBs coming out this year (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance). Any one of the three could be an adequate replacement.
Despite the change at signal-caller, expect a similar game plan from the Dallas offense.
The Cowboys do not have to go into a shell in the passing game, but Prescott was at the top of his game. He was averaging 8.4 yards per attempt, which is the best of his career. The Cowboys had 26 pass plays of at least 20 yards in five games with Prescott. Wide receivers Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb have proved difficult for defenses to slow down.
Cooper is averaging a career-low 10.9 yards per catch, but he has two 100-yard games. Lamb has two 100-yard games. Gallup is averaging 20.5 yards per catch and has one 100-yard game. The Cowboys' fourth receiver, Cedrick Wilson, also has a 100-yard game.
Dalton has averaged 7.1 yards per attempt in his career. He reached 8.4 yards just once in his time with the Cincinnati Bengals, but he found Gallup for 19 and 38 yards on the decisive drive of the Giants game. "We still need to play the same way," Moore said. "We still need to attack people, be aggressive. If people give us opportunities downfield, we're going for it. ... You can't settle on one particular avenue. We've got to be able to attack people in different ways."
We’ve seen the Cowboys struggle against mobile quarterbacks in the past.
Against a Dallas defense that has struggled against the run this year, it stands to reason that Murray's athleticism may come into play on Monday night. "This game it's going to be crucial," Crawford said. "We know where he's a weapon and we've got to try to control that. Without giving away too much, we're going to rush together and keep it up."
For all their other problems, the Cowboys haven't struggled much with quarterback runs to this point. Through five games, they've only allowed 52 rushing yards from the position. Even mobile quarterbacks haven't hurt them too much. Russell Wilson rushed six times for just 22 yards in Week 3, and last weekend Daniel Jones actually lost yardage on his two rush attempts.
It might be wise to recall recent history, though. Mobile quarterbacks killed the Cowboys in the second half of last season. Josh Allen and Mitchell Trubisky combined for 103 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries in the back-to-back losses to Buffalo and Chicago, while backup quarterback Jeff Driskel ran for 51 yards and a touchdown in the Week 11 win against Detroit.
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