“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive” is a saying befitting the Dallas Cowboys the past several years. Each season they are projected as a contender early on, only to end up becoming a pretender. Hopefully their deceiving days are over and they flip the script in 2021 to be true contenders.
For that to happen, though, the Cowboys need to take care of business from the get-go. That needs to start in Week 1 in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hitting the road to face the defending Super Bowl champions isn’t the ideal way to start the season, but it is the first test they must face on their journey to the promised land.
On paper, the Cowboys and Buccaneers look to be pretty evenly matched across the board, although the Bucs would get the nod. Games aren’t played on paper, though. This Week 1 matchup will be decided on the gridiron and to the victor go the spoils. If Dallas wants to start their 2021 season with a “W”, they need to figure out the keys to success.
Determining the keys to success each game will vary from week-to-week depending on the opponent. It’s all about playing to your strengths and exploiting the weaknesses of the opposition. That’s what they need to do this week against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers. With that in mind, here are the Cowboys keys to success this week.
#1 - Make Tom Brady uncomfortable
The best way to make TB12 uncomfortable Thursday night is to keep him watching the game from the sideline. That means the Dallas Cowboys need to put together several long, time-consuming drives resulting in touchdowns. While that’s the ideal way to limit Brady’s impact on the game, the other is not allowing him to get comfortable in the pocket. If the Cowboys defense can somehow put pressure on him with their pass rush or keep him from getting rid of the ball quickly with good coverage in the passing game, the chances of them coming away with the victory increases significantly.
#2 - Protect Dak Prescott
Protecting Dak Prescott may seem like a no-brainer key to success for the Dallas Cowboys, but with Zack Martin expected to miss the season opener due to a positive COVID test, it’s now much more difficult. With No. 70 out of the lineup the Bucs will likely test how well Connor McGovern handles himself in the middle of the Cowboys offensive line. McGovern, as well as Tyler Biadasz, are little green as far as NFL starts are concerned, but will now shoulder the responsibility of keeping the pocket clean in front of Prescott Thursday night. How well they handle themselves could be the difference between a win or loss.
#3 - Win the turnover battle
The Dallas Cowboys, particularly Dan Quinn and his defense, have been stressing the importance of creating more turnovers all offseason. They’ve had a little bit of success in this area in the preseason and hopefully that will carry over into the Week 1 matchup with the Buccaneers. The main objective of the Cowboys defense is to get the ball back in the hands of the offense as quickly as possible. Three and outs are good, however, turnovers are better. Whether it’s via fumble or interception the field position would be much better then it would be causing a three and out and forcing a punt.