Each week we try to figure out the Dallas Cowboys keys to victory, so let’s take a poll to get everyone’s opinion on the subject. This week we will be looking at changes coming on offense, defense, and special teams, and decide which will have the biggest impact on the Cowboys chances of winning on Monday night against the Cardinals.
Let’s kick this off with the offense.
Offensive focal point shifting back to Zeke with Andy Dalton starting
After the devastating injury to quarterback Dak Prescott, many would assume that the focus of the offense would now turn to his back up Andy Dalton. But the easiest way to get Dalton going would be to get the running game going with Ezekiel Elliott instead. Dalton will have to throw the ball some, but if they want to continue having success like they did with Prescott, they will need to make sure that defenses have to worry about Elliott beating them up on the ground.
Elliott stepped his game up last week when Prescott went down and he will have to continue doing so to help take the pressure off of Dalton. If offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can figure out a way to keep the pressure off Dalton and figure out which running plays are actually working for this team, they could very well continue putting up big numbers this season.
On to the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys starting middle linebacker Leighton Vander Esch returns to the starting lineup
The play of the Cowboys linebackers this season has been spotty to say the least after the loss of Vander Esch in the first quarter of week one. The main culprit is linebacker Jaylon Smith who’s play this season hasn’t lived up to the six-year, $68 million contract he signed this offseason. Thankfully, the Cowboys starting middle linebacker Vander Esch could help boost the play of this defense especially in the running game. For this exercise, we are assuming he’s on track to come back this week.
The potential return of Vander Esch would push Smith back to his more natural position where he can be used to rush the passer while Vander Esch mans the middle of the field. It’s also better for the Cowboys in general to get both of their top linebackers on the field at the same time as they both feed off each other’s energy and elevate each other’s play on the field.
Lastly let’s take a look at the special teams unit.
The addition of Greg Zuerlein has already paid off for the Cowboys, just remember who the Cowboys had as their kicker majority of last season (Brett Maher). But the special teams have had other problems. One issue on this special teams unit is their kick returner Tony Pollard. So far this season he has fumbled the ball, returned kicks that he had no reason returning, and misjudged where the ball would be landing on kickoffs.
The Cowboys have had other problems on special teams. On Sunday versus the Giants they failed to get the correct number of players on the field multiple times. Coach Mike McCarthy has said they will be making changes in how the special teams are un on game day. He hinted that the communication aspects will be changed. This could lead to better play, and there is the possibility of some changes in personnel. One possibility is using Cedrick Wilson more on kick returns.
The Cowboys special teams haven’t been as good under John Fassel as many thought they would be. But just as the team made changes last week with Mike Nolan for the defense, this week McCarthy is going to make changes for the special teams to get them up to standards.
Which change would have the biggest impact on the Cowboys game?
This poll is closed
Take pressure off Dalton by running Zeke
The return of Leighton Vander Esch
Changes on special teams
Other (If other please explain)