Dallas Cowboys ground game comes alive, getting turnovers
By Tyrone Starr
Facing a depleted Chicago Bears squad, the youthful Dallas Cowboys handled business with poise and purpose in a 31-17 win at home.
The Dallas Cowboys youth movement showed poise and purpose Sunday night, handling business like veterans.
Missing the best left tackle in the game as well as their best cornerback had no consequence on their effort. Starting a rookie at both quarterback and running back for the third straight game, the Cowboys were dominate.
The painful streak of home losses is a thing of the past, slayed in large part to poise of quarterback Dak Prescott and the purpose of running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Sunday morning, I wrote that the biggest key to a victory would be the ability to avoid complacency. They did exactly that, jumping out to a 17-0 lead and never being seriously threatened the entire game.
More than that, however, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line was able to establish dominance, allowing three different guys to score on the ground. They also paved the way for Elliott’s first 100-yard game.
Most impressively, they did so minus All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith and suffering another injury to guard La’el Collins.
The theory throughout the entire offseason was that this team was going to replicate what it did in 2014. The plan was to punish teams into submission with the run game and keep the defense fresh to make plays.
Sunday, that plan was set into motion.
Gain fourteen first downs via the run, check. Score three touchdowns on the ground, check. Own time of possession by securing the ball for over 35 minutes. Checkmate.
As a result, the Dallas Cowboys defense has continued on a trend of improvement. The yards allowed on the ground have decreased in every game. In two of the three games, they have allowed less than 21 points. Maybe the biggest key, however, has been turnovers.
For the third straight game, this defense was able to create a turnover. This time, they forced multiple errors from the opposition. Through three games, the Dallas Cowboys have forced four turnovers.
Last year, they had eleven… Total.
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Say what you want about this defense, they are doing their job. It may not be at a level such as the Minnesota Vikings or Seattle Seahawks but it is effective. The best part is, things should only get better.
There is just one game left before defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is back. Rookie tackle Maliek Collins has already assumed a starting spot along the line. Cornerback Morris Claiborne is finally playing to the level of his draft position. Safety Byron Jones continues to improve and shore up the back-end.
If this offense is able to continue producing in the ground game, it will pay dividends everywhere else. For the first time this year, the offense appeared to look the part we thought it might. Hopefully, the results will come along as well.
More Dallas Cowboys observations from Week 3:
- This front office gets a lot of flak, often fairly, for bad drafts and dull free agency moves. In fairness, they also deserve credit for moves they did not make. With Collins suffering a significant injury, there was Ronald Leary stepping in perfectly. Depth is never a bad thing.
- Every week receiver Cole Beasley shows more and more just how much of an asset he is to this team. He is on a pace for 105 catches and over 1,100 yards. With Bryant on the outside and tight end Jason Witten still drawing attention, it’s hard to see him slowing down.
- It’s getting harder and harder to envision a role for running back Darren McFadden on this team once he is finally healthy. Obviously Elliott will continue to be the bell cow. Reserves Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar both received goal line carries Sunday. Elliott and Dunbar produce in the passing game as well. It’s not looking good for DMC.
- How much money is Morris Claiborne making himself next offseason? At this point, it would be a huge mistake to not sign him to a long-term deal. It’s up to owner Jerry Jones whether to not he wants to pay now or pay later.
- Remember all the hype surrounding receiver Brice Butler in the offseason? Through three games, he has just one catch for 16 yards on just four targets. For those of you waiting on him to supplant Terrance Williams, you may continue to wait.
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- The defense continues to play with fire. On Sunday, they allowed six plays over 20+ yards. That’s now nineteen such plays in just three games. With some explosive offenses on tap over the next month, this has to improve immediately.
Let’s head west to San Francisco.