We offered some thoughts on the big win for the Cowboys in the latest episode of The 75O on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of our episodes. Apple devices can subscribe right here and Spotify users can subscribe right here.
The Cowboys are the best team in the NFC East
That was a full on butt-kicking, and it would have been much more dominant if not for a true garbage time touchdown late by the losers. The Cowboys went in with a badly depleted defense and a couple of starters on offense out, and still took early control of the game and never relinquished it. The clearly were the better team on the field, and both the New York Giants and Washington Football Team look incapable of challenging them. Those two only have one win between them - the fighting Team’s win over the Giants. Plus, Dak Prescott is the best quarterback in the division by a wide margin.
It is indeed early. It is also hard to argue with the conclusion.
Trevon Diggs is the real star on defense
This is not a knock at all on Micah Parsons, who had a half sack and a tipped pass. But Diggs is tied for the league lead in interceptions, with one in each of the first three games. He had the pick six that really killed any chance of the Eagles rallying. He broke up two other passes. He did get beaten a time or two, but he looks to be the best cornerback this team has had in a long time.
Learn to pronounce it, so you can say his name
The Cowboys hit a home run not once in the draft, but twice. Parsons has been getting a lot of glory for how he is playing as a rookie, but Osa Odighizuwa is turning out to be one hit over the fences as well. Dallas has long lacked any real push from the middle of the defensive line, but Odighizuwa was Jalen Hurts’ biggest nightmare in this game. He notched 1.5 sacks, two QB hits, and was breathing down Hurts’ neck on several other occasions. He is certainly the best DT the team has right now. He might also be the best defensive lineman they currently have on the field, period. Not too bad for a third-round pick.
Ezekiel Elliott is still the man
Do you think the starting running back for the Cowboys heard the calls for Tony Pollard to take more of his snaps? Well, that is immaterial, because he is a true team first player who wants to do whatever it takes to win. He certainly did so by being the lead back in this game, going for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, plus 21 more on three catches. He was the leader in yards from scrimmage for the team. He also had a slightly higher yards per carry than Pollard, 5.6 to 5.5. Pollard got 11 carries in this game. That seems like a very good ratio.
In Kellen Moore we continue to believe
This was a bit of a coaching clinic by the offensive coordinator, as the Cowboys scored three touchdowns in the first half, and might well have been robbed by the referees on the scrum on fourth and one when it certainly looked that Prescott got the ball across the goal line from the overhead view. They had one terrible play when Moore went with an empty backfield and Prescott surrendered a fumble touchdown. But other than that, he used tempo, the strong running game, and things like putting Connor McGovern in at fullback to rack up five scores, never having to settle for a field goal.
That offensive line, though
Tyler Biadasz had a bad night, getting pushed back repeatedly into his quarterback. Connor Williams struggled as well, getting flagged repeatedly for holding. They did face some good pass rushing defensive linemen, but this was their worst performance of the year. Time for Joe Philbin to get some work done.
Dalton Schultz is TE1
Blake Jarwin is getting the Wally Pipp treatment. Schultz has staked his claim on the top tight end spot on the depth chart. He was the leading receiver for Dallas with six catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns, including one where he made a cutback that left about five defenders stumbling to the ground. As has been mentioned by others, he is becoming what we all thought Jarwin was going to be.
Numbers can be deceiving
There is no doubt that Prescott clearly outplayed Hurts. Yet the stat line reads 303 yards passing for the losing quarterback versus only 228 for the victor. Most of Hurts’ yardage came on either long passes in his own end of the field on drives that would be snuffed out, plus the late touchdown to cut the lead to “only” 20 points in what we like to call garbage time.
What those stats do show accurately is that Dallas had a much more effective running game, totaling 160 yards to 64. It’s yet another example of a team racking up lots of passing yards because they are behind and trying to catch up. And it shows how a strong running game is still very useful in the NFL, as Moore was mixing runs and passes to great effect all game long.
Dan Quinn has changed this defense for the better
They ball hawk. They put pressure on the QB. They fly around the field and wreak havoc. Anthony Brown even got his own interception.
The talent level seems much better this year, but the attitude is just as important. They are not playing afraid no matter who they are trying to stop. They still are not perfect, but they are a lot better than we have been used to for a long time.
Quinn was a great hire.
Still a lot to work on
The offensive line has already been mentioned. The defense gave up too many 20 yard plus plays (six). Greg Zuerlein, the hero from the previous game, missed an extra point. There were some times when the offense was obviously confused.
This is not a perfect team. No team is, but the Cowboys need to clean up a lot of things if they want to aspire to more than winning the NFC East. The good news is that the only team they face with a winning record in the near future are the Carolina Panthers, who seem beatable despite the 3-0 record. If they can stack up the wins before things get harder, they can also work on fixing the flaws. And those missing starters are all going to be back before long.
The season is off to a good start. Now to keep winning and make it a great year.