After seven weeks of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys sit at a mark of 5-2. It was good to see Dak Prescott back under center for America’s Team. Although the final scoreboard suggests that the Cowboys had things under control vs the Detroit Lions, it really wasn’t until the second half where the better team decided to play like the better team that they are. Credit to former Cowboys tight end and current Lions head coach, Dan Campbell for having his team as ready to go as much as possible, given the lack of overall talent they possess compared to Dallas at this very moment.
The Lions actually went to the half up 6-3, but as half-time adjustments were made, and Prescott started to feel settled in, the game turned for Dallas. The Cowboys would score 21 unanswered points in the second half to make it look like it wasn’t as close as it in fact was for a little over half of the contest.
As always, and regardless of wins or losses, there will be both some positive and also some negative takeaways from the game. Let’s dive on in and break it down with this week’s stock up and stock down.
The defense continues to be the brightest spot on this team
Same old story as previous weeks, the defense once again stole the show and held the Lions to only six points on the afternoon. Lions quarterback Jared Goff completed over 80% of his passes. However, Goff was under plenty of duress all afternoon and was sacked five times. Two of those five sacks came from this year’s second-round pick, Sam Williams. Williams has been working hard at getting more playing time and working at his craft, and it showed as he had a breakout performance. One of his two sacks ended up being of the strip-sack variety which resulted in a big turnover.
Not to be left out of the festivities, Micah Parsons also had two sacks and a forced fumble as well. As the Lions quarterback continued to feel the heat coming from the Cowboys pass rushing unit, he ended up throwing two picks on the day. Trevon Diggs was on the recipient of one of those interceptions, and the other went to Jourdan Lewis. Unfortunately on that interception, Lewis got injured and will be out for the remainder of the season. With Lewis’ injury, it appears that fifth-round rookie DaRon Bland will be seeing some extended playing time going forward. Bland just recently filled in for an injured Lewis and had an interception, while also doing a solid job in relief. There will probably be some bumps in the road for Bland since he is a rookie, but he has the ability to do a solid job in Lewis’ absence.
To finish off on a lighter note, big props to Leighton Vander Esch in Week 7 as he led the team in tackles with 10. Vander Esch, who was initially not given his fifth-year extension, has played well on his new one-year contract and could still be in the long-term plans if he keeps playing quality football.
Dak might be back, but the running game hasn’t taken a back seat for the moment
Even with Dak Prescott back in the fold, the Cowboys did lean on the run at times and both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard did their job. Pollard led the way with 83 yards on 12 carries, and Elliott carried the ball 15 times for 57 yards with two touchdowns. This is the kind of running game that needs to continue. Zeke needs to continue to grind out those tough yards and Pollard needs to take advantage of Zeke softening things up and continue to hit big gainers. Unfortunately, and barring anything significant progress between now and game time, Elliott appears to be out in Week 8. Having him out for Week 8 and having the bye in Week 9 is probably a good thing to do to let him heal.
With Elliott looking to be a long shot to play, Tony Pollard is more than capable of handling the bulk of the duties in the ground game. Having two quality running backs on the roster is a good problem to have and as we saw in Week 7, the Lions had a tough time taming this dynamic duo. Regardless of who is in or out each week, it would be best for Dallas to lean on the ground game as Dak continues to get more comfortable, and also get further away from the most recent injury.
The offensive line needs some adjusting, and it needs to be done quick in order to give Dak Prescott the best chance at staying healthy
Having a franchise quarterback, and paying that quarterback as much as Prescott is being paid, it is very important to keep him on the field as much as possible. Left guard on the offensive line has been the weak point for multiple seasons. Tyler Smith was supposed to start there in 2022, but since Tyron Smith is injured once again, Tyler Smith slid over to left tackle and kept the void at left guard open. It’s one thing to let Connor Williams walk away in free agency after four seasons of lackluster football at the left guard position, it’s another thing when the void at that same position has not been filled.
Future Hall of Famer Jason Peters has slid inside to play left guard due to the play of Tyler Smith, and yet, he’s still not starting. Connor McGovern’s talent level is that of a backup who could play in a pinch if absolutely needed. He is not a starter at this stage in his career, especially considering who he is playing over at this very moment. Hopefully Jason Peters can start at left guard for the remainder of 2022, and then see what happens with the Smith’s after that to determine the next starter at left guard. One thing is for sure, McGovern is certainly not the answer, and it needs to be corrected as soon as possible or it could potentially be costly once again.