Mike McCarthy has made offense fun and sexy — but Jason Garrett laid the groundwork for Cowboys - David Moore, DMN
Kellen Moore vs. Jason Garrett.
No coordinator is a hotter commodity four weeks deep into the season than Kellen Moore.
The Cowboys average 420.8 yards to rank third in the NFL. Their average of 31.5 points ranks fourth.
Every offensive game plan has been on target and executed with clinical precision. Elliott talks about how the players have complete confidence in whatever plan Moore devises for a particular game. Prescott likes to say the coordinator is on fire and in his bag.
“We’re not just going to play smash-mouth every play and run play action,’’ Moore said. “We’re going to be willing to open it up and go for it and have some fun.’’
Moore deserves all the bouquets thrown in his direction. But who shapes the offensive approach with him week in and week out? Who’s given the young coordinator more creative license? Who encourages Moore to push the envelope and given him more latitude?
Impose your will. That was Garrett’s approach to offense. It was about overpowering the opponent and wearing them down over the course of the game with physicality and execution. Hammer the defense on the ground with Elliott, have Prescott take a few, selective shots down the field and control the clock.
Garrett placed such value in the work that he was often slow to adapt within the game if presented with a defensive wrinkle. He trusted the preparation and was inclined to try and plow through for as long as possible. He was more stubborn than responsive.
Who ya got in Giants @ Cowboys?
Rob Phillips: Not that the Cowboys need any additional motivation for Sunday besides pushing their win streak to four, but here are three obvious messages: it’s a division game, and who knows what can happen in those; the Giants (1-3) found some momentum with an overtime win over the Saints; and they sent the Cowboys home in last year’s season finale. Saquon Barkley is back for New York, and Daniel Jones looks more comfortable in the pocket (he’s turned it over just twice in four games). The biggest key for the Giants will be pressure on Dak Prescott. They didn’t have a quarterback hit or sack in the Saints game. Overall, though, the Cowboys are clicking in too many areas. I think they’ll win again, something like 31-20.
David Helman: I’m not here to overthink. The Cowboys have every conceivable advantage in this matchup, and I trust their head coach and quarterback to keep them focused on the importance of a division matchup. Since getting swept by them as a rookie, Dak Prescott absolutely owns the New York Giants. In seven wins since 2016, he’s averaging 282 passing yards per game, completing 66% of his passes with 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions. On top of that, you can bet he wants to make a statement on the one-year anniversary of his season-ending injury against this team in 2020. This is the third-most efficient offense in the NFL, according to FootballOutsiders, and I just can’t imagine the Giants can hold them below 27 or so points. I know Daniel Jones blew up last week, but I trust the full body of work that suggests the Giants are a sluggish offense more than I trust one fourth quarter comeback. There will be some drama, because it is a division game at the end of the day. But I trust the Cowboys to separate eventually and improve to 4-1 with a 34-17 win.
The keys to victory when the Cowboys meet the Giants.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys can keep the momentum rolling by playing a clean game of complementary football. The team must focus on winning the critical battles that routinely decide the outcome of games. From winning the turnover battle to minimizing their turnovers, penalties, and big plays allowed, the Cowboys must excel in the “DBO” (Don’t Beat Ourselves) categories to add a mark in the win column.
The offense, in particular, must adhere to an efficient game plan that enables them to rely on their stars to make enough plays to win. Starting the Dak Prescott and the perimeter playmakers, the Cowboys must take what the defense allows without losing their patience or discipline hunting for big plays. No.4 simply needs to get the ball to the open receiver and force the defense to defend every blade of grass/turf on the field. While most of the ball will go to Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, the emergence of Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin as reliable chain movers could change the equation for the Giants. The tight end duo has been effective between the numbers and their athleticism could create some mismatches over the middle.
Dalton Schulz has been really good for the Cowboys over his last season and half.
In just four games, Schultz has collected 20 receptions on 23 targets for 201 yards . He’s done so on a fairly loaded Dallas roster, sharing time with another explosive tight end, Blake Jarwin. What he’s achieving is downright spectacular when you really think about it.
Being a contract year for Schultz, it couldn’t be happening at a better time. Last season was his coming out party and this season he’s about to blow 2020 out of the water. I don’t have to tell you, stacking career year on top of career year is a great way to cash-in in free agency.
In true, “this is why we can’t have nice things” fashion, Dalton may be playing too well. If things continue on their pace, Schultz is going to be in high demand this offseason. Last offseason Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry pulled in contracts worth $50 million and $37.5 million, respectively ($12.5M AAV). And that happened in a COVID-induced economic downturn. Imagine what a top TE like Schultz will demand in 2022 when more of the TV money hits and teams will have their full stadium revenue back on the books.
Currently rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 TE in the league, Schultz is winning in multiple ways. He’s a strong blocker and savvy route runner. He’s not explosive after the catch but he ain’t Jason Witten-slow either. Schultz has enough shimmy and shake to his game he can collect some extra yards in the open field. You may be surprised to know, of his 201 total receiving yards, 127 of it is YAC (yards after the catch).
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