If you were Team Tank for the Dallas Cowboys, it looks like this team is playing their best football of the season and you might change your position from Team Tank to Team Division Title. The Cowboys stunning win over the the NFL’s next big thing in Jalen Hurts showed that the Cowboys really believe they can win the division and make possibly make some noise in the playoffs if they get there. But for them to get there they need two things to happen, the Washington Football Team to lose on Sunday night and to beat the New York Giants.
Before we talk about that, let’s take a look back at the Cowboys win and grade how they did.
In the first quarter, the Cowboys took the Eagles best shot and were able to weather the storm and grab the lead before halftime. That’s when it looked like the Cowboys coaches made the appropriate adjustments and it worked to turn things around in the second half. The players also seemed to settle down as the game slowed down for them, and then the offense started clicking on all cylinders in the second quarter, while the defense, once again, was able to create multiple turnovers which made a difference in the game.
This grade would have been higher if the Cowboys were able to actually put more than three points on the board when they were in the red zone. It also took a hit because the defense, even though they held up, still gave up over 477 total yards in the game. If the Cowboys are able to make it to the playoffs, they won’t be able to give up that many yards against teams with more weapons than the Eagles had. Mike Nolan, who may be coaching for his job with the team, must figure out how to get his players going earlier so they don’t fall behind early again.
This week Andy Dalton was efficient and hit both short and deep routes, and it was a sight to see. It also didn’t hurt that Eagles star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left the game early with an injury making it easier for Dalton to stand in the pocket and complete passes. He did take two sacks and had one interception, but overall it was a great performance from Dalton.
Running Backs: A
Looks like Ezekiel Elliott heard all the talk about fellow running back Tony Pollard possibly being a better running back and getting more snaps. Elliott looked like his old self running though tackles and keeping the chains moving, especially when the Cowboys needed him to help close out the game. He wasn’t able to get into the endzone, but he didn’t need to because looking like the old Zeke forced the Eagles to focus on him, allowing Dalton and the Cowboys receivers to beat them down the field.
Wide Receivers: A
The Cowboys receivers had their way with the Eagles secondary in this game. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both eclipsed the 100 yard mark with rookie CeeDee Lamb adding 65 yards of his own. Gallup and Lamb were also able to get in the endzone for the Cowboys only touchdowns of the game. It was another solid performance from this group.
Tight Ends: B
Tight ends Dalton Schultz and Blake Bell were once again safety outlets for quarterback Andy Dalton. Schultz reeled in his usual three catches and Bell added one of his own to help the move the ball for the Cowboys. Another good showing from the tight ends.
Offensive Line: A
This group has been catching all of the heat for the Cowboys misfortunes this season and rightfully so, earlier in the season. Now they deserve to be applauded for the effort and turnaround they’ve had over the last few weeks. Offensive line coach Joe Philbin seems to have found his group to roll with the rest of the season, unless Zack Marin makes a miraculous recovery this week.
Defensive Line: B
Randy Gregory has turned into a one-man wrecking crew over the past two weeks for the Cowboys. This week he added another sack, forced three fumbles but the Cowboys were only able to recover one of them. He was in the back field terrorizing Jalen Hurts all game. The rest of the line played well too, but they still need to figure out how to stop the run.
Jaylon Smith once again led the Cowboys linebackers in tackles. They didn’t play as well against the run this week as the Eagles were able to rush for a total of 151 yards on the day. Sean Lee did his best but the Cowboys really missed Leighton Vander Esch in this game.
Another game, another set of interceptions for the Cowboys secondary. Cornerbacks Anthony Brown and Trevon Diggs were able to pick off quarterback Jalen Hurts. This secondary continues to gain more confidence and got their rookie cornerback back in the lineup full time. The future of this group is getting a bit brighter.
Back-to-back-to-back wins for the Cowboys for the first time this season. They are now on the verge of doing with many thought was impossible, make the playoffs.