Dallas Cowboys in ‘Attack Mode’ at Los Angeles Chargers, Says Coach Mike McCarthy - Adam Schultz, Sports Illustrated
We will shortly find out what exactly “attack mode” entails.
Coach Mike McCarthy isn’t stewing on the offensive deficiencies that were on show against San Francisco; he’s moved on to the Chargers’ 24th-ranked defense.
“I’m into the plan of how we’re going to attack their defense,” McCarthy said. “I’m focused on attack mode. We’ve done our self-scout. We’re in tune with what we’ve done. I think a big thing is what we’ve put on tape, particularly in the details of the mannerisms and how we’ve played and how it’s going to line up against these guys.”
The Chargers defense gives up points (averages 26.0 per game) and hasn’t kept a team under 300 total yards of offense yet this season, so that is where Dallas can attack.
The Chargers do give up scores and yards regularly (in three of their four games, they have given up 24+ points). This is where McCarthy’s offense needs to get its groove back.
With CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Brandin Cooks all looking to bounce back from the San Francisco loss, there could be some openings in the Chargers’ defense.
5 final Cowboys-Chargers thoughts: Injury woes among multiple issues ahead of MNF clash - Michael Gehlken, DMN
A few notes to keep in mind before Dallas attempts to rebound following their SNF loss.
When Austin Ekeler returns to the lineup Monday for the Chargers, a missing dimension to the passing game returns with him.
The standout running back suffered a high-ankle sprain Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. His absence was felt in multiple areas, most predictably as a receiver out of the backfield. Ekeler’s 107 receptions in 2022 were tied for the second-most by a running back in NFL history.
Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore can revisit elements of his offense that are tailored specifically to Ekeler’s skill set.
Quarterback Justin Herbert connected with Ekeler four times for 45 yards during the season opener. In the three games without him, running backs Joshua Kelley, Isaiah Spiller and Elijah Dotson combined for five catches and 33 yards.
The Cowboys have allowed 118 receiving yards to running backs this season, eighth-fewest in the NFL. A 19-yard catch by the 49ers’ Christian McCaffrey was the only reception of more than 10 yards Dallas allowed to a back in the first five games.
Now with just hours remaining before kickoff, what is your bold prediction for tonight?
2. Micah Parsons spends time at MLB, sacks Justin Herbert twice
Not only did Dallas get embarrassed on Sunday against the 49ers, but they also lost one of their top defenders. Starting middle linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a neck injury which is a concerning injury for any player, but more so for LVE who has had issues since his collegiate days.
With him heading to the IR, the Cowboys signed former first-round pick Rashaan Evans, who had 159 tackles for the Atlanta Falcons in 2022. They were fortunate to have the chance to sign a starting-caliber player at this point in the season but it’s not likely that he will be a huge factor on Monday night.
That means the Cowboys will lean heavily on Damone Clark and Markquese Bell against the Chargers — but they could also move Micah Parsons back to linebacker as well for certain packages.
This plan would allow them to put their best players on the field with DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler, and Sam Williams splitting time on the edge while Parsons can blitz from the MLB spot. In this bold prediction that happens and Parsons records two sacks on Justin Herbert as he does his part to get the defense back on track.
While Monday night is not a must-win in the sense that Dallas would be eliminated from playoff contention, it is safe to say another loss would not aid morale around the team.
This Cowboys defense has done a whole lot of talking even after taking an L last week.
They better not come out here and lay another egg against a Kellen Moore led offense.
You know he is going to want to light up the scoreboard against them, so Dan Quinn better have a good game plan ready to stop them.
The Chargers get Austin Ekeler back, Mike Williams is out for the year with a torn ACL, but Keenan Allen is a stud.
Dallas signed Rashaan Evans to help with that, but there is no chance he will be ready after only being in the building for three days.
If this team wants to flip the script and prove they can compete with the best in the league, then go out on Monday and give the media something else to talk about.
Take care of business and win this football game. To say it is a must win in week 6 is probably a bit much, but if they rebound and beat Justin Herbert and the Chargers it will show me something.
Avoiding another star-studded no show among 4 keys for Cowboys vs Chargers - Mike Crum, Cowboys Wire
Week six, in primetime against your former OC, would be a great time for the offense to find its groove.
How they win: Use more motion at the snap
This has been an issue for the offense from head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan through the Moore years and into the McCarthy, Brian Schottenheimer era. The team refuses to use it despite all the evidence it’s very successful.
The Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers, and the opponent this week, the Chargers, are the top motion teams in the NFL, and they are also top end offenses. In contrast, Dallas uses motion at a bottom five level in 2023.
The ownership of the Cowboys might see motion as “trick plays,” and they would prefer the team just win straight up, but the use of motion works for Dallas when it is implemented. The only touchdown scored against the 49ers was when they sent KaVontae Turpin in motion for a TD reception.
The offense set up the nickel corner of San Francisco to have to play man coverage against the fastest player for the Cowboys on a third-and-four play. Turpin, having the ability to break in for a first-down reception, can make the defender hesitate enough to blow right by him with a slot fade for a touchdown.
This is what motion brings. It allows the offense to set up favorable matchups against opposing defenses so the QB can exploit them. The best offenses help their receivers gain separation and make reads easy on their QB. Dallas needs to use it more to improve their offensive performance to beat the top teams in the NFL.
Monday night’s game against the Chargers is a big one for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
The 2023 Cowboys' defense remains an enigma. Questions will be answered on Monday night.
We need to see the proper Dan Quinn defense from the Cowboys on Monday night
The Cowboys play a game on Monday night and happen to do so against a very good offense. According to our friends at FTN Fantasy, the Chargers currently rank fifth in Offensive DVOA. Unsurprisingly, L.A. ranked fifth in Offensive EPA/Play (shout out rbsdm) entering Week 6. Keep in mind that the Chargers were on their bye in Week 5.
None of this would seem to be a problem for a Cowboys defense that ranks eighth in defensive DVOA and fourth in Defensive EPA/Play entering Week 6, but does anybody really feel like Dallas’ rankings across the whole of the season are representative of who they are right now? And that’s not even considering injuries (we know Leighton Vander Esch will spend time on IR as an example) that are now an issue as well.
FTN Fantasy has weekly DVOA data available and looking at the Cowboys numbers on defense shows what we already know, in three games the defense was wonderful while in two they were stinkers (the more negative the number the better).
Dallas Cowboys Defensive DVOA by Week
Week 1 at New York Giants: -54.9%
Week 2 vs. New York Jets: -39.2%
Week 3 at Arizona Cardinals: 41.8%
Week 4 vs. New England Patriots: -43%
Week 5 at San Francisco 49ers: 19.8%
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