Things didn’t go the way the Dallas Cowboys wanted in their first game of the season against the Los Angeles Rams. But, you can’t dwell on the past in this league, you have to continue to look ahead to the next team you are facing. That team is the Atlanta Falcons who bring their high-powered offense to AT&T Stadium this week. So let’s take a look at the Cowboys week two opponent.
2019 Record: 7-9
Last Meeting: 11/18/18 Cowboys 22 - Falcons 19
Head Coach: Dan Quinn
Key Additions: RB Todd Gurley, DE Dante Fowler Jr., TE Hayden Hurst
Key Losses: TE Austin Hooper, OG Wes Schweitzer, DE Vic Beasley, CB Desmond Trufant, LB De’Vondre Campbell, DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Jack Crawford
Biggest offensive strength and weakness
It’s pretty easy to figure out what the Falcons biggest offensive strength is when their quarterback Matt Ryan goes 37/54 for 450 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Of those 450 yards, Julio Jones had 157 yards on nine catches, Calvin Ridley had 130 on nine catches and had both of Ryan’s touchdowns, and Russell Gage had 114 yards on nine catches. Clearly the Falcons love to throw the ball and get a lot of different players involved in the passing game. The Cowboys got a small taste of that against the Rams, and they weren’t that good at stopping them so they will need to get better quickly if they want to stop this Falcons passing game. One difference is the Falcons like to go downfield where the Rams were more content with the underneath stuff.
Now if we were looking for a weakness on this offense it would have to be there running game. Even with the addition of Todd Gurley, the Falcons haven’t been a very good running team for some time now. Last week they were only able to gain a total of 72 yards on 21 carries with Gurley getting 14 out of the 21 carries in the game. The Cowboys are going to need to do a better job in the running game and make the Falcons more one-dimensional so their pass rush can attack Ryan and this offensive line.
Biggest defensive strength and weakness
The best thing you can say about this defense is that they have a lot of speed on the front seven. They lost Vic Beasley in the offseason but added Dante Fowler Jr. to help rush the passer. They also have speedy linebackers in Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun that are able to stop the run, cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game and rush the passer as well. That speed on defense is what helps keep them in games most of the time.
The Cowboys best bet is to attack the biggest weakness on this team and that is their secondary. They lost their best cornerback in Desmond Trufant and it showed last week against the Seattle Seahawks when Russell Wilson went 31/35 for 322 yards and four touchdowns. The Cowboys have the personnel to take the same approach and light up this secondary and keep the Falcons high-powered offense off the field.
On offense, the biggest x-factor that will determine the Falcons’ success will be their offensive line being able to keep Ryan upright so they can use their passing game to open up their inept running game.
On defense, it will be Dante Fowler, Jr. and Takkarist McKinley getting in the back field to stop the Cowboys passing game and protect their weakened secondary.