The Dallas Cowboys defense is starting to spoil us as they once again made plays on the football creating turnovers throughout the game against the New York Giants. Over the last three games, the Cowboys defense has created 12 turnovers, which shows that this team's strength has shifted from the offense earlier in the season to the defense now. For reasons that many still aren’t able to figure out for the Cowboys, is it a Dak Prescott slump or is the play-calling becoming predictable at times? Still, the Cowboys are in a great position after losses by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. They are now second in the conference and will hopefully be able to hold on to this lead.
But before we get into those weeds, let’s take a look back at the Cowboys win over the Giants and break down how they did this week.
The Cowboys offense still just seems off, and at some point, we really need to start worrying about their performance the past few weeks. They are fortunate to have a defense that is getting hot at the right time and giving the offense more chance to put points up on the board. This week the defense created four turnovers and held the Giants offense to 302 total yards on the day. Every level of the defense was on their game Sunday and let's hope they can keep this up on the stretch and give the offense time to correct course.
Dan Quinn has his defense hyped up and flying to the ball no matter where they are, and it’s a beautiful thing to see. That can’t be said for the offensive minds on the Cowboys sideline at the moment. Kellen Moore’s play-calling isn’t as creative as it was at the beginning of the season; what happened to the coach on the sideline jumping up and down celebrating with his players? Then you have head coach Mike McCarthy whose game time management issues reared their ugly head again, and his in-game aggressiveness isn’t the same recently.
Whatever is going on with Dak Prescott at this point looks to be more of a mental issue or mechanics, rather than a physical one. He is occasionally missing wide-open receivers or throwing so high he is forcing receivers to make incredible catches. As much as he doesn’t want to admit it right now, Prescott is in a slump and the only person that can get him out of it is himself. The good news is that he seemed to be better this week than he had in previous weeks. He was more decisive and had an okay stat line except for the points scored. He wasn’t able to hit any deep passes though, something that needs to start happening.
Running Backs: B
It’s amazing home much energy one running back can give to an offense that has been struggling the last few weeks. Tony Pollard, who was returning from a foot injury, burst on to the scene and made plays on the field for the Cowboys, bringing life back to their running game. Ezekiel Elliott, who’s also dealing with an injury, looked better as well and seems to be getting used to that knee brace. These two backs look to be finding their rhythm again and in the end it will help the struggling Dak Prescott as defenses will focus on stopping the Cowboys running game once again.
Wide Receiver: C
Never a good look for the Cowboys receivers when a tight end is leading the team in receiving yards in a game. You could chalk it up to the poor play from Prescott, but there were times in the game that his receivers dropped balls from him. This group also doesn’t seem to be getting the same amount of separation as they were earlier in the season, whether it’s due to play design or nagging injuries. Whatever it is, they need to make sure when the ball hits them in the hands, it stays there all the way to the ground.
Tight End: A
Dalton Schultz can not be contained by just one safety or cornerback and teams are going to need to start showing this man the respect he deserves. Maybe a little exaggeration, but Schultz was a weapon this week. He caught each of his eight targets to lead the Cowboys in receiving yards with 67 and one touchdown. The more Schultz can beat teams down the field and move the chains, the more one-on-one situations the Cowboys receivers will have on the outside.
Offensive Line: C
Overall it wasn’t the worst game from this Cowboys offensive line, but it wasn’t their best either. The absence of Tyron Smith loomed once again with the Giants defensive ends being able to put pressure on Prescott from his blind side. One good thing out of this game for this unit was the fact that they were able to open up bigger run lanes for the Cowboys running backs to exploit. The addition of Connor Williams back in the starting lineup brought that physicality back, now we just need to see if he can keep away from those penalties that got him benched in the first place.
Defensive Line: A
This unit was down two impactful defensive tackles and yet they were still able to control the line of scrimmage and harass the Giants quarterbacks all game long. Neville Gallimore’s presence in the middle of that line has only increased the pressure on opposing quarterbacks and forced them out of the pocket faster and within range of DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory who have been able to make plays on the football. The Cowboys have a solid rotation that can lead this team deep into the playoffs if they can continue playing like this.
Another game, another week we are talking about something freakish that Micah Parsons has done on the football field for the Cowboys. This week, it was diagnosing a designed pick play and being able to drop back and make a play on the football, saving the defense from giving up a touchdown. This grade would have been higher if not for the two busted plays that allowed DeVantae Booker to rip off two big runs in the game. If not for that this group would have received an “A” as well.
After a bit of a dry spell, Trevon Diggs has re-found his mojo and has become a football magnate once again, this week intercepting his 10th ball of the season to lead this NFL. It has also become contagious as Malik Hooker and Jourdan Lewis got in on the fun with interceptions of their own. You have to love how this secondary is having fun again and their confidence is through the roof right now. You also have to love the fact that they didn’t give up one touchdown.