Fresh off their third straight win in Week 4, the Dallas Cowboys face one of their toughest tests of the season this Sunday as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the defending-champion Rams.
While things went well enough for the Cowboys to win on Sunday against the Commanders, some things will need to change if they want to carry that success into this week against a much more talented opponent. If Dallas wants to win their fourth straight game and improve to 4-1 on the year, here are three players they need to use more this week.
RB Tony Pollard
It didn’t matter who was carrying the rock for the Cowboys on Sunday, they simply could not run the football. Dallas ran the ball 29 times for a highly unimpressive 62 yards (2.1 Y/A). The Cowboys also had seven run plays that went for a loss, further showing their lack of ability to get anything going on the ground.
Tony Pollard had one of the least productive games of his career, running the ball eight times for six yards and catching one pass for just two yards.
While Pollard’s performance on Sunday may not inspire faith in him getting the ball more, there wasn’t much he could have done differently. Time and time against Washington’s defensive line was in the Dallas offensive backfield, and both Cowboys’ running backs really had no shot.
Overall Pollard has had a nice start to the season but still has not gotten the football nearly enough. It’s not a surprise that when the Cowboy have used Pollard the most this year, he’s been at his best. In Week 3 against the Giants, Pollard ran the ball 13 times for 105 yards, averaging 8.0 Y/A.
With the burst and production Pollard has shown when he gets the ball, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be getting 10-15 touches a game.
The Cowboys will need to be able to run the football if they want to beat the defending champion Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Dating back to 2020, in 11 of Los Angeles’s last 14 losses the opposition has run for over 95 yards as a team.
Against a talented and quick Rams defensive line, the Cowboys need to give Tony Pollard more touches and try to use his speed and ability to break runs on the outside to their advantage.
CB DaRon Bland
Up until a few minutes before kickoff, not even DaRon Bland himself knew that he would be the team’s starting nickel corner against Washington. Bland was thrust into action when Jourdan Lewis suffered a groin injury during pregame warmups, and the rookie fifth-round pick played very well.
Bland ended up playing 80% (59 snaps) of Dallas’ defense snaps and finished the day with three tackles and a game-sealing interception coming with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Rookie 5th round pick Daron Bland, in for the injured Jourdan Lewis gets his first career interception pic.twitter.com/1NhSvcyPBs— Dc_Faithful (@Dc_Faithful1) October 2, 2022
Cowboys rookie CB DaRon Bland went from no defensive snaps in first three games to 59 in Sunday’s win. Team learned shortly before kickoff that CB Jourdan Lewis (groin) was out. Bland had INT. “I think you’re just seeing what we see every day from DaRon.” https://t.co/xgkkvWexpb pic.twitter.com/XFzFUjccmV— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 3, 2022
With Lewis still working his way through the groin injury, the Cowboys should err on the side of caution and give Bland another shot at being the starter in nickel this week.
WR Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup had a nice return-to-action performance on Sunday against the Commanders. In Gallup’s first game since last January, the former third-round pick found the end zone.
WELCOME BACK MICHAEL GALLUP pic.twitter.com/eYYOAuqJi1— ✭Cowboys News✭ (@DemBoyz_News) October 2, 2022
The Cowboys were clearly being cautious with Gallup in his return, as the wideout was on the field for 39 snaps, or 64% of Dallas’ offensive plays. Gallup also was targeted just three times, making it clear the Cowboys weren’t ready to fully unleash him just yet.
That strategy worked against Washington, but it likely will need to change this weekend against the Rams. CeeDee Lamb, after breakout performances in the past two weeks, is likely to be followed by All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey all game, making it even more crucial that Gallup is able to get heavily involved in the offense.