To everyone’s surprise, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 40-7 rout. Dak Prescott’s offense looked the best it has since 2016. The Cowboys were able to run and throw at will against a potent Jaguars defense. The Cowboys gathered 378 total yards on offense (206 on the ground, 172 through the air), while the Jags only managed to move the ball a total of 204 yards (65 on the ground, 139 through the air). For the first time in the year, the offense and defense were able to complement each other. Due to the offense’s success and time with the ball, the defense was fast and fresh for a mere 47 plays, forcing two turnovers. Which, in return, gives the offense a better position to be successful, and continues the cycle. Let’s look into what the Cowboys did well in all facets of the game:
- The Cowboy’s defense was able to slow the Jaguars from the very beginning, forcing punt after punt. This, along with the offense scoring, caused Blake Bortles and the Jaguar’s offense to be one dimensional.
- For the second straight week, the duo of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith dominated the field. LVE had another week of 10+ tackles, adding a pass breakup to end a drive and force a punt. Jaylon was all over the field–9 tackles and forced a fumble which was recovered by Jourdan Lewis to ice the game. The duo’s tremendous production and consistency will likely tempt the coaching staff to sit Sean Lee against the Redskins giving him an extra two weeks of healing (bye week 8).
- Byron Jones continues to play at a pro-bowl caliber level. Bryon Jones continues to show he is a lock-down cornerback. Not allowing a single catch, Jones had 2 PBUs and targeted only 3 times. Jones would have an interception, but he was not able to get a handle on the ball, tipping it up in the air for Jeff Heath to pick it off. Every week, Byron proves to the Cowboys that he is the number one CB they have been searching for.
- Chidobe Awuzie was activated for the game, but did not play a single down due to an ankle injury. So, Lewis though starting slowly in the preseason through week 5, seemed to get back into his 2017 form.
- Lastly, Randy Gregory recorded his first sack since 2016. He gave constant pressure, showing off his natural bend around the corner, impacting the passer.
- Let’s start with the quarterback. Dak Prescott had an efficient or 183 yards on 27 passes. Those numbers do not give him all the credit he deserves. He scattered the ball to 8 different receivers. He began the game with a strike to Michael Gallup on the sideline for 27 yards. Immediately giving the crowd and the team hope that they could play against the nasty defense of the Jaguars. He threw 2 touchdowns. However, this offense did not just rely on Dak’s arm. They relied on his legs too. Dak ran for a career-high 82 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries (7.5 YPC). Prescott played his best game of the season. Despite not passing for 200 yards, one could say he played one of the best games of his career. Here is his passing chart:
- Cole Beasley scored his first touchdown since Kansas City almost exactly one year ago. This week, he tacked on two TDs. Cole Beasley had the best game of his career. Beasley caught 9 catches for 101 yards. Beasley seemed to get constant separation against the opposing slot defenders. He caught 6 passes on third down. Since 2016, when this offense is functioning properly, Dak went to Beasley as the chain mover. On a run-first team like the Cowboys, with their top-tier defense, if they can convert third downs at a decent rate, more wins will follow.
- Michael Gallup’s play has been a little strange. Early in games, he is targeted pretty early, but then is not getting any action after the first few series. He has shown glimpses of great potential with the jump balls along the sideline, a few slants every once in a while, but is not a heavy focus in the offense. I expect this to change as the season goes forward. Coming out of the draft, some in the Cowboys world believed that Michael Gallup would evolve into the Cowboy’s number one receiver. With the weekly disappearance of Allen Hurns, Deonte Thompson, and whoever else not named Cole Beasley plays receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, Michael Gallup has a shot at being WR1. Gallup only caught one pass, but Dak seemed comfortable throwing up passes down the field to him against A.J. Aboye and the likes. Gallup almost came down with his first TD in his NFL career, but could not get his feet down in time. From the pile-on camera, it seemed as though he was literally walking on stairs. If the Cowboys can get more balls to Gallup, only more things will open up for this offense.
- Dak’s 82 rushing yards alone are what some running backs will call a good day on 20+ carries. Zeke added another 106 yards on 24 carries (4.4 YPC). A wrinkle of the offense that is not talked about is the go-to run play this year. The Cowboys line up in the gun and run an inside zone to the weak side with the left guard and center pulling play side. This scheme is rather clever because it decreases the number of “hats” that can make a play on the ball. Plus, it makes the backside defensive end have to freeze for a second because Dak Prescott can just as easily tuck it and run. Effectively, this design decreases the number of defenders able to stop the run from 8 to about 6. Week after week the offense is showing more tricks in the running game. But, the Cowboys did prove they can run it under center in 12 personnel and beat the opposing defensive line.
- The offensive line of the Cowboys played an excellent game. Joe Looney has surprised me personally. He has been a leader on that line. Here and there a miscommunication error, but this game, in particular, it seemed every play was executed properly pre-snap. Tyron Smith and Zach Martin were the players we all know and love. Rookie RG Connor Williams seems to get better every week. But, Lael Collins had his best game all year long. People had great expectations for Collins coming off a great first year starting at right tackle. If he can be consistent, this offensive line has the ability to recapture their title as “League’s best offensive line”.
- A few of our TEs have been making plays multiple weeks in a row. This week RICO made another catch for a first down. If only Blake Jarwin can do anything in the passing game, this unit would not be so sorry. With Jarwin’s lack of production, expect Rico to get more involved.
Overall, it is a good day for Cowboy’s fans. Week after week, the defense increases their case that they are among the best defenses in the league. The Cowboys offense looks resuscitated. Linehan called an excellent game. Is the Cowboy’s offense back? Only time will tell…