Since the return of Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys have become a potent offense, scoring 33.8 points per game, the most of any team in that span. The defense is only allowing 17.0 points this season (tops in the league entering the weekend). If you do the math, that means the new Dak offense is averaging almost twice as many points as the defense has averaged all year. That kind of difference will win you a lot of games.
Against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving, the offense started off slow missing out on opportunities to get points when they crossed into Giants' territory. However, it was only a matter of time before the Dak’n was released and soon thereafter destruction ensued.
We can point to the three first-half turnovers (two interceptions and one turnover on downs) and a three-and-out to explain why the Cowboys only had seven points at intermission, but why were they so dominant in the second half? Let’s see if we can get any answers and determine what we can learn after further review.
Dak is in a zone
It’s reaching a point where we’re experiencing that little tingly feeling you get when you are witnessing something special. Yesterday, we wrote about how the Cowboys are one of the league's best teams right now because they have one of the league's best quarterbacks. Right now, Dak Prescott is feeling it.
On Thursday, he threw the ball with so much confidence. Prescott was again very decisive with his throws, oftentimes going with his first read. He wasn’t waiting for greater separation but instead knew where his receivers were going to be out of their routes. His footwork was excellent and he was putting the ball in great spots. There were so many plays where his receivers were pretty well covered, but Prescott placed the ball where his receivers, and only his receivers, could come down with the catch. And more times than not, they did.
I love everything about Dak Prescott on these plays. Watch his footwork, watch his poise, and look at the ball placement. We are seeing a very confident quarterback right now and that could mean bad news for opposing defenses. pic.twitter.com/bSxKRlLnlm— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 26, 2022
The undaunted Dak
Against the Vikings, Dak had all day in the pocket to carve up the defense, but that was not the case against the Giants. Not surprisingly, defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was blitz-happy against Prescott hoping he could make him a little skittish. But what happened was a little unexpected.
For starters, Dak was brilliant pre-snap as he did a great job setting up protection. The extra tight end usage in this game came in handy as he utilized their blocking when needed. And we have to also mention the fantastic job Tony Pollard did in pass protection. On the surface, it looked like the Giants' front was having its way against the Cowboys' offensive line, but credit Dallas for fighting. It was a struggle at times and New York generated a lot of pressure, but the protection was good enough to buy their quarterback enough time to operate.
But that’s only part of the story. Prescott was also phenomenal post-snap as he had the mental fortitude to hang in the pocket and make throws. And again, having the trust in his receivers to be where they were supposed to be was huge. There were so many plays that relied on so many players doing their job and those guys did just that. To sit in the pocket, knowing he’s going to get clobbered, and yet deliver strikes to his receivers was very satisfying.
The Giants' defense brought the house, but the Cowboys did a great job picking up the blitz. Most impressive, was how Dak Prescott didn't panic, hung in the pocket, and delivered strikes. This is elite-level QB'ing right here. pic.twitter.com/RgG4ATeZbe— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 26, 2022
Prescott hasn’t been sacked in either of the last two games, which is a first for him during his seven-year career. They’ve almost had him a couple of times, but he channeled his Tony Romo Houdini-like moves to escape from trouble.
Dak Prescott hasn't been sacked in two-straight games for the first time in his career. He's had a couple of close calls, but Romo-spun his way out of each of them. pic.twitter.com/jHqjyPyQUa— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 27, 2022
If you block it, he will run
Ezekiel Elliott had his best game of the season with 16 carries for 92 yards, including a touchdown run. He nearly doubled the efficiency of his running mate Tony Pollard who actually had more carries, but 32 yards less. Zeke was hitting the holes hard, scraping off of tackles and springing loose for nice gains.
With 169 yards on the ground, two of the Cowboys' three best rushing performances of the season have come against the Giants. The run blocking was sharp in this one as the offensive line was getting into the second level, the tight ends were creating all kinds of obstructions, and it was an all-around group effort by the Cowboys' offense. And for anyone who doesn’t think Dalton Schultz is a good blocker, watch him blow up Giants safety Julian Love.
Ezekiel Elliott ran hard in this game, and he got some good blocking in front of him. Tight ends sealing the edge, linemen hitting the second level on combo blocks, and even a little help from his quarterback. pic.twitter.com/nNLV8sX6V7— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 26, 2022
Tight ends galore!
When you think about the Cowboys going with a heavy tight end personnel, it screams conservative as we know that means fewer wide receivers on the field. It’s a great formula when you have a backup quarterback who can’t stretch the field, but is the right way to go with Dak?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Kellen Moore is using his tight ends masterfully as they continue to bring this offense flexibility. Prescott targeted his tight ends seven times and between Dalton Schultz and rookie Jake Ferguson, they caught all seven passes for a total of 88 yards and two touchdowns. They also added a two-yard rushing touchdown by the other rookie Peyton Hendershot. Even their TE4 Sean McKeon can be found making good blocks in this game. It was a great showing by the entire tight end group. The only thing they executed better than their on-field assignments was their crowd-pleasing Salvation Army kettle whack-a-mole celebration. Take a moment to enjoy this super fun group.