The Dallas Cowboys continue to build on a promising season with back-to-back wins of over 20 points. There is no denying that the defense is spectacular, and in contrast, it makes the offense the unit that still makes us squint our eyes a bit as we try to figure them out. At first watch, they were okay, but what can we learn after re-watching the game film? Let’s run through what we can gain after further review.
CeeDee Lamb did it all
If you looked at the stat sheet for the Cowboys wide receivers, you’d think this was 2022 all over again. It’s CeeDee Lamb and nobody else.
- CeeDee Lamb = 220 yards
- Brandin Cooks = 22 yards
- Jalen Tolbert = 18 yards
- Michael Gallup = 13 yards
In fact, through the first two games, Lamb has more receiving yards than the rest of the Cowboys team combined.
While it’s understandable to wonder what’s going on with the supporting cast, it’s also very comforting to see that Lamb continues to be nothing short of spectacular. Since landing in the Cowboys' lap in the 2020 NFL Draft, the young receiver just keeps getting better and better. And the way he played on Sunday against a good Jets defense was fantastic.
CeeDee Lamb is an amazing receiver. The way he creates separation, extends for catches, and just hangs on in traffic is incredible. And the chemistry between him and Dak Prescott appears to be growing stronger. These two had it going on Sunday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/BIt6PzDxCn— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 18, 2023
Game-planning for Lamb
Dak Prescott went to Lamb early and often as you could see the Cowboys were committed to making sure their top playmaker was involved. Whether it was short stuff or down the field, Prescott found Lamb for key completions that moved the chains. And credit Mike McCarthy for putting together some nice route concepts to create space, oftentimes allowing Lamb to be wide open in the process.
I love calling plays to get your biggest playmaker involved in the offense. Some of these play designs are simple pitch and catch, but some have good route design to create enough space to get the receiver open. Good job, McCarthy. pic.twitter.com/PYqpFAff9Z— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 18, 2023
When you step back and look at the play-calling as a whole, it was pretty good. It felt like the offense kept stalling out in the second half because all they got was four field goals. When you look closely, the Cowboys had chances. They had a Tony Pollard touchdown taken off the board from a Tyron Smith holding penalty. And they had 1st-and-goal at the one-foot line where they failed to punch it in. If one (or both) of those things would’ve worked out differently, not many would be saying much about it.
It was puzzling that McCarthy called a tight end jet sweep at the goal line when a simple QB sneak seemed like it would’ve done the trick. This type of cuteness is what fans didn’t like about Kellen Moore, so please, Mike, just keep it simple.
No TDs in the 2nd half, only 4 FGs. I don't mind the conservative playcalling as McCarthy had his finger on the pulse of the game script. No turnovers. I'm cool with that.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 18, 2023
What I'm not cool with is having 1st & goal with a foot to go. Be like PHI here & sneak it. Keep it simple. pic.twitter.com/xTgNgHRh9D
Strength in the middle
Speaking of QB-sneaking, how cool is it that opposing teams aren’t able to pick up those last few inches at will. Last year, not only was the Cowboys rushing defense a weak spot, but you might as well throw up the white flag in 3rd/4th-and-short situations.
Not anymore. The Cowboys' interior defensive line is getting pushback and linebackers are getting through the holes. This equates to nothing easy for the Cowboys' opponents.
It's so weird to see the Cowboys' defense great in short-yardage situations. As if they weren't good enough already. pic.twitter.com/myrbRmB0zi— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 18, 2023
The Micah Zone
You unlock this door and find yourself trailing in a football game. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, but no ability to run the football. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance from of a pass rush that is gradually approaching. You’ve just crossed over into the Micah Zone.
It’s scary, I know. Teams fall behind, can’t get the ground game going, and are forced to rely on the one thing they were hoping to not have to do, step back and throw the ball continuously. The Cowboys' pass rush is dangerous. After two games, no team has more sacks than the Cowboys. They can come at you from all angles, but that’s largely because the offensive line is focused on that one you... oh, you know the guy.