The Cowboys are now through their second day of padded practices in training camp. As expected, that has helped us all get an even better idea of what this team looks like and, perhaps more importantly, what the new offense looks like under Mike McCarthy and Brian Schottenheimer.
It’s obviously still very early, but the initial reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Dak Prescott, in particular, has looked about as good as he ever has. He’s had instant chemistry with CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks, while just about every receiver has had a flashy moment or two already.
On Tuesday, before practice started, Jerry Jones provided some comments on the biggest change McCarthy and Schottenheimer have made on offense:
Jerry Jones on @dfwticket on what he's excited about with the Cowboys' offensive changes: "It's Dak-friendly. He's going to have an offensive line that is going to be able to protect him better, their spacing is narrower, which is conducive to protection. He's going to have more…— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 1, 2023
This more or less tracks with what McCarthy has said in the offseason, highlighting pass protection as an area of adjustment and wanting to be faster between plays. With that comes a necessary simplicity to the offense, something Lamb has noted as well:
Ceedee Lamb on the #Cowboys Mike McCarthy offense -— Roy White III (@RDubThree) July 31, 2023
“It’s a lot more simple. All the offense is in Dak’s hands now….however he’s feeling against the coverage, if he likes the matchup, we’re gonna call that play.”@1053ss @rjchoppy @bobbybelttx @1053thefan
Prescott has frequently been lauded as one of the more cerebral quarterbacks in the NFL, so it makes sense to build everything around him and what he wants. McCarthy also has experience with a similar setup from his extensive time calling plays for Aaron Rodgers.
It didn’t take long for the offense to start showing off just how easy things are in this new approach. In Tuesday’s practice, McCarthy held a mojo moment with the offense attempting five consecutive two-point conversion tries. They ended up converting all five of them.
Two of those plays saw Prescott use his legs, rolling out to one side and hitting a receiver in stride. The first one went to Lamb, who was wide open, and the next one went to KaVontae Turpin, who is seeing an awful lot of reps at receiver.
Mojo Moment try 2— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 1, 2023
Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb - ✅ pic.twitter.com/321FA5eKmt
Mojo Moment try 3— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 1, 2023
Dak Prescott to Kavontae Turpin - ✅ pic.twitter.com/chQ8QugfVh
There were two other plays in the two-point conversion mojo moment that saw Jake Ferguson end up wide open in the endzone, seemingly a result of crossing routes that either confused the defense or jammed up defenders.
Mojo Moment try 1— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 1, 2023
Dak Prescott to Jake Ferguson - ✅ pic.twitter.com/9WdD7Pxz8N
Mojo Moment try 4— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 1, 2023
Dak Prescott to Jake Ferguson - ✅ pic.twitter.com/HdcVSQnZvS
Finally, to cap off the perfect run for the offense, Prescott executed a perfect bucket-drop to Cooks on an endzone fade.
Mojo Moment try 5— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) August 1, 2023
Dak Prescott to Brandin Cooks - ✅
…this one was particularly pretty pic.twitter.com/n8aIvJrKkP
This series of plays was especially encouraging to see all in a row. Ferguson, and the rest of the group, has great potential to be a reliable red zone threat just by virtue of not being named Lamb or Cooks, and it seems McCarthy was able to scheme up some easy completions to Ferguson in that fashion.
There’s also the intentional use of Prescott’s legs, an area that was sorely underutilized by Kellen Moore. Nobody expects Prescott to start playing like Jalen Hurts out there, but his mobility is a great weapon to be taken advantage of, especially closer to the goal line. Getting him on the move adds an extra stressor to the defense, especially when he can still take off and run like he did later on Tuesday.
All of this is made even more impressive when remembering what the Dallas defense has shown themselves to be capable of doing to opposing offenses. Again, it’s still early, but it looks like Cowboys players are loving this new offense McCarthy is running. All hail the Texas Coast!