Monday night was one of the Cowboys’ best wins in quite some time. Dallas dominated the game on both sides of the ball and blew out their division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Today, we take a look at three takeaways from the snap counts from Monday night’s game against Philadelphia. We’ll list the defensive snap counts below since they tend to change more week-to-week, but we will also look at two offensive snap count changes that were very beneficial.
Defensive Snaps (58 Defensive Snaps Total, Via Pro Football Focus)
Trevon Diggs - 54
Jayron Kearse - 54
Anthony Brown - 54
Damontae Kazee - 52
Jaylon Smith - 50
Jourdan Lewis - 46
Leighton Vander Esch - 44
Randy Gregory - 38
Micah Parsons - 37
Osa Odighizuwa - 33
Chauncey Golston - 30
Justin Hamilton - 25
Brent Urban - 23
Tarell Basham - 22
Quinton Bohanna - 21
Malik Hooker - 19
Maurice Canady - 13
Azur Kamara - 7
Nahshon Wright - 4
Israel Mukuamu - 4
Luke Gifford - 4
Jabril Cox - 4
1) Cowboys Roll With Zeke
Monday night was the first time this season we got to see Ezekiel Elliott at his best. The often-criticized running back was at the center of the Cowboys’ offensive gameplan and recorded his most offensive touches of the season.
Elliott touched the ball 20 times, including 17 rushes for 95 yards, an average of 5.6 yards per carry, two rushing touchdowns, and three receptions for 21 yards.
Ezekiel Elliott's second touchdown run of the night, and it's only the first half. pic.twitter.com/SFv3K00EpA— Eleven Warriors (@11W) September 28, 2021
Elliott wore down the Philadelphia defense with his physicality in the run game and looked as good as we’ve seen him in quite some time. The former first-round pick recorded his highest Pro Football Focus rush grade (80.3) since Week 15 of 2019 against the Rams.
The Cowboys truly do have a two-headed monster at the running back spot. Last week we saw Tony Pollard change the game, this week it was Elliott’s turn. Dallas has one of the best combos of running backs in football, and vintage Zeke was on full display Monday night.
2) Dallas Has Found Their TE1
Coming into the season there was no clear answer on who would be the Cowboys’ number one option at tight end. Three games in it seem pretty clear the answer is Dalton Schultz. The former fourth-round pick had one of the best games of his career on Monday, catching six passes for 80 yards and finding the end zone twice.
Dak Prescott to Dalton Schultz for 19-yard TD. Cowboys take 14-7 lead.— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) September 28, 2021
"He is playing with such aggressiveness with his technique," Mike McCarthy said of Dalton. "Dalton approaches the game like a quarterback."
( : @nfl)pic.twitter.com/Yebze8J2Mb
Dalton Schultz with his second TD of the game!— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 28, 2021
: #PHIvsDAL on ESPNpic.twitter.com/UB6e76YjJi
Schultz played so well that he was the fourth-highest rated player in football in Week 3, via PFF. (Min 25 snaps played)
Week 3 @PFF grades are in. pic.twitter.com/Kdpgve4AEM— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 28, 2021
Blake Jawin has also had some decent production this season, eight catches for 71 yards, but it’s clear Schultz is Kellen Moore’s number-one option at tight end. More importantly, he’s the favorite option of his quarterback Dak Prescott. The two have formed a great connection and it’s showing on the field. Prescott is five-for-five and a touchdown when targeting Schultz on third down this season, via PFF.
Make that five for five. And a touchdown. Dak-to-Schultz has a 100% conversion rate on third down this season.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) September 28, 2021
So far this season Schultz has played 154 offensive snaps and been targeted 15 times while Jarwin has played 120 snaps and been targeted nine times.
Just like at the running back spot, it’s never a bad thing to have too much of a good thing. The Cowboys have two talented tight ends, but it’s pretty clear Dalton Schultz has taken over as TE1.
3) Rookie Pass-Rushers Taking Advantage Of Increased Snaps
What more can you say about Micah Parsons. Playing in just his second game at defensive end in his career, the rookie defender once again had a dominant performance.
In his third career NFL game, Micah Parsons led the Cowboys in QB pressures (5), pass rush get-off (0.87 seconds) and hustle stops (3).— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 28, 2021
Only two defenders have finished with more hustle stops in a game this season (Budda Baker & Jessie Bates, 4).#DALvsPHI | #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/x6R1cxwME5
Micah Parsons eating Jalen Hurts. pic.twitter.com/IglzMekM8H— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) September 28, 2021
Parsons wasn’t the only rookie who showed out on Monday night. Rookie defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa had his coming-out party, getting in on the first two sacks of his NFL career.
Osa Odighizuwa (@Osagoeshard) plays run first, then rushes the passer. He snakes his outside hand through & works a chop/rip for the sack. Disciplined, technical & dangerous! #passrush #cowboys @BloggingTheBoys pic.twitter.com/WnSLRxO4p9— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) September 28, 2021
With all the injuries on the Cowboys’ defensive line, Parsons and Odighizuwa continue to get plenty of chances to rush the passer. The duo played 37 and 33 defensive snaps respectively on Monday, and both were true game-changers. Expect to see more of the same against Carolina next week.