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Three takeaways from the Cowboys snap counts against the Chargers

Diving into the Cowboys snap counts from the Chargers game.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was one of the best wins by the Cowboys in quite some time. Dallas got a much-needed victory on the road against a good football team that hopefully can be the start of a long winning streak.

Today, we take a look at three takeaways from the snap counts in Week 2 against Los Angeles. We’ll list the defensive snap counts below since they tend to change more week-to-week. But we will also look at one offensive snap count change that was very beneficial.

Defensive Snaps (71 Defensive Snaps Total, Via Pro Football Focus)

Trevon Diggs - 71
Anthony Brown - 71
Jayron Kearse - 69
Damontae Kazee - 67
Jaylon Smith - 54
Jourdan Lewis - 51
Keanu Neal - 51
Tarell Basham - 45
Osa Odighizuwa - 43
Dorance Armstrong - 40
Carlos Watkins - 40
Micah Parsons - 39
Leighton Vander Esch - 37
Brent Urban - 31
Malik Hooker - 25
Bradlee Anae - 23
Quinton Bohanna - 20
Azur Kamara - 4

Three Takeaways

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

1) More Pollard Touches = More Offensive Production

After getting just seven touches in the season opener against Tampa Bay, the Cowboys knew they needed to get Tony Pollard more involved. On Sunday, they did just that. For just the third time in his career, Pollard eclipsed the 100 yard mark on the ground. The third-year running back did this on just 13 rushes, pushing his season Y/A up to an impressive 7.7

It’s been pretty evident throughout his career when Pollard touches the ball double-digit times, he produces. In an article published this week, The Dallas Morning News brought out some stats to back up that claim.

Pollard got all of 13 carries and turned it into 109 yards, his second-biggest rushing day as a pro. This should have surprised no one. Take away his first game as a rookie against the Giants when he had 24 yards on 13 carries (weirdly, Zeke wasn’t good in his debut against the Giants, either, in a season where he averaged more than 100 yards per game), and here are Pollard’s totals when he gets at least 12 carries:

▪️ 13 for 103 vs. Miami

▪️ 12 for 131 vs. LA Rams

▪️ 14 for 60 vs. Washington

▪️ 12 for 69 vs. San Francisco

▪️ 13 for 109 vs. LA Chargers

They also pointed out another interesting stat comparing Elliott and Pollard’s explosive runs.

Since Pollard got here in 2019, he has 10 runs of 20 yards or more in 203 carries — about one every 20 rushing attempts. In that same time frame, Zeke has nine in 572 carries — about one every 63 rushing attempts.

It’s pretty evident that if the Cowboys want their offense to be at his best, they need Pollard to be involved as much as possible.

You can never have too many of a good thing, and it certainly seems like the Cowboys have one of the best duos in the NFL at the running back spot.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

2) Jaylon Smith Takes Advantage Of Increased Snap Count

If he’s going to be criticized when he struggles, it’s only fair to give him some praise when he plays well. Jaylon Smith had one of his best games in a while last Sunday. Smith’s defensive snaps increased from just 16 in Week 1 to a whopping 54 in Week 2. With Micah Parsons playing defensive end, Smith was forced to play a much bigger role at the linebacker spot. Thankfully for the Cowboys, he did a pretty good job.

Smith finished the game with nine total tackles and three defensive stops, via Pro Football Focus. He did still struggle some in coverage but posted an 80+ PFF tackling grade without missing a single tackle.

It’s not time to start calling him an All-Pro, but you gotta give credit where it’s due. It was a nice Sunday for Smith, and that’s not something we’ve been able to say in a long time.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3) Jayron Kearse Is A Gamechanger

If you were naming an X-Factor in Sunday’s game, Jayron Kearse would be near the top of the list. After not getting tons of playing time in Week 1, the 27-year-old safety had one of the best games of his career. Kearse’s snap count went up from 40 defensive snaps to 69, and the safety recorded six tackles, one TFL, one QB hit, and one PD. Kearse was the Cowboys’ fourth-highest rated defender on Sunday that played 35 or more snaps, via PFF.

While the stats alone may not look overly impressive, Kearse was all over the field. He did a great job in coverage, allowing just two catches for a total of eight yards, and snagged an interception that was called back after a poor call of defensive pass interference.

Time and time again Kearse found himself near the football making plays to get the Chargers off the field. His outstanding afternoon led to him receiving the game ball for the defense, and likely figures to have earned him another high snap count game next week against Philadelphia.

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