To win ugly, that’s the theme from last week’s game. The good news is the Dallas Cowboys are now on ten wins for the season. The first time the Cowboys have had a back-to-back ten-win season, since 1996. The win did come with a host of injuries, so keep an eye on those practice reports this week. For now, it’s back to hitting the road as the Cowboys face the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. The Jaguars are on an incline currently, having won three out of the last five games. So how does each offensive position on both teams fare in a head-to-head battle?
Dak Prescott vs Trevor Lawrence
Against the Houston Texans, Dak was very up and down. The two interceptions looked pretty hideous, some of the blame we can put on Dak, but also on pressure getting to Dak and knocking his arm on a throw. A lot of people talk about why Dak doesn’t run as much anymore, and it’s true he doesn’t. The trade-off of Dak playing more as a pocket passer and not rushing as much is he has to take more opportunities and throw those 50/50 passes. Dak, generally, has always been satisfactory with his decision-making and for the most part he still is. But what we appear to be witnessing is him taking more chances trying to make the play, maybe even forcing some throws. The throws he made to Noah Brown last week are good examples of him taking chances to keep the momentum.
Is Dak’s interception issue becoming a regular problem? This week will be a good time to examine these matters and find out what’s going wrong. We need to find out why Dak only completed six passes targeted for more than ten yards against Houston. Dak hasn’t looked great for two weeks now. But the positive side of Dak’s game was seen during the final drive last week. They moved downfield on eleven plays, and got the game-winning touchdown. It truly was an inspiring drive. And Dak used his legs, and we see how effective this offense looks when he gets running.
At Jacksonville, they have the Clemson enigma, Trevor Lawrence. Since Week 9, Lawrence has really found his groove. Lawrence threw his last interception in Week 8, and since then he’s gone on to throw ten touchdowns. Last week against the Tennessee Titans, Lawrence was making some impressive plays. And his play-makers were also capitalizing on some big-time throws. Could this be a corner he’s turning in his career? It’s very possible. The Jaguars are missing depth and quality at the receiver position. If he gets that wish in this year’s NFL Draft, it will be interesting to see how Lawrence will develop.
Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard vs Travis Etienne/JaMycal Hasty
Another big week for Zeke last week. When the Cowboys needed the big play, it was Zeke they leaned on. His 25-yard run down the middle was not just a good play call, it was well-executed. It demoralized the Houston defense on a hopeful third down stop. What is interesting to see with Zeke is his expanded use lately in the passing game. He made some important catches for a first down. Tony Pollard continues to be dominant in the backfield, and he’s also fetching his fair share of targets. The touchdown to Pollard exhibited his athletic ability and contact balance. Pollard finished his day against Houston with 62 total yards and scored twice. That’s three times in the last four games Pollard has scored a minimum of twice.
The Jaguars running back duo has Travis Etienne, who is having a quality season, and ex-San Francisco back, JaMycal Hasty. Etienne had a pretty promising atart and went on quite a good run for a period of games. His average yards per carry still looks impressive, at 5.0 yards per carry. But in the last four games, he’s definitely looking like he’s hit the wall. Etienne has now failed to score a touchdown since Week 9, has only averaged 2.9 yards per carry in the last four games and has fumbled the ball four times. As for Hasty, he was on the field last week for a total of one snap. He averages two rush attempts per game. And his best game came in Week 6, where he rushed for 57 yards.
Lamb/Gallup/Brown vs Kirk/Zay Jones/Marvin Jones
Just when you thought Noah Brown was getting buried on the roster, he pulls you back in. Brown was one of the most instrumental pieces in last week’s victory. His catch coming back on the ball, locating it and diving down to make the completion was a hugely important play. On the final drive to take the lead, Brown also made a big catch to get the offense into scoring position. And his 85 receiving yards last week were the most among the wide receivers. The Texans did a lot to defend the pass last week and for most of the game, they played it pretty well. They kept Ceedee Lamb in check as best they could, and Michael Gallup has an endzone drop. James Washington got one target on his first game for Dallas.
The Jaguars’ wide receiver corps is boom or bust. Christian Kirk leads the team in receiving. He’s now on 874 yards, which is the 12th-most among wide receivers. Kirk's seven touchdowns are the fifth-most among receivers. He’s not a big receiver but has big hands, which he uses well to maintain the ball. Zay Jones is a receiver on the up right now. His connection with Lawrence and play-making ability have been on display of late. His ability to make catches and plays that look to be over is impressive. The question now for Jones is can he do this on a consistent basis? Marvin Jones can be productive but has only scored twice this year. In his last six games, he has failed to eclipse 50 yards in a game.
Dalton Schultz vs Evan Engram
Against the Texans last week, Schultz was maybe the most impressive and important receiving threat at Dak’s disposal. He finished the game with the most receiving yards. His catches for first downs were wildly important on some drives. He made the all-important catch between two defenders on the final drive in the red zone. Jake Ferguson will enter concussion protocol after a head injury, so keep an eye on his practice report this week.
Evan Engram has always been a tight end that looks to have the skills to be productive in the NFL. His issue has always been a matter of health. In his game last week against the Titans, he totaled a massive 162 yards and added two touchdowns. He’s now scored four touchdowns for the season, with three scored in the last two games.
The big report on the offensive line in Dallas this week is Terence Steele. Just as the line looks to get healthy with Tyron Smith returning, the right-hand side of the line loses a major component. Terence Steele is done for the year Josh Ball stood in for Steele until the final drive when Jason Peters took over. Let’s just hope Jason Peters can be as dynamic with Zack Martin on the right side as Steele. The unfortunate part of all this is we never got to catch a glimpse of the offensive line playing concurrently with its main starters. During Steele’s time as the starting right tackle, the line remained the best in the league for sacks allowed. It was top ten in pressures allowed, and last week against the Texans they only allowed one sack. That sack came from Josh Ball after he got put in due to the injury. How the front office decides to play the line personnel will be intriguing.
The Jaguar’s line looks to be pretty healthy coming in this week. Their line is led by guard Brandon Scherff. He’s solid, and the whole Jaguars line isn’t bad. Their line has given up the sixth-fewest sacks, and 15 fewer pressures on the year than Dallas. In fact, last week against the Tennessee Titans, the Jacksonville line allowed zero sacks. Right now with the questions at right tackle for Dallas, the Jaguars have a more solidified group.
Which team has the better offence?
This poll is closed