Dallas Cowboys improve to 1-1 but offense still an issue
By Tyrone Starr
Despite a fairly decisive victory that puts the Dallas Cowboys atop the division, there are still several issues to work out offensively.
A win is a win is a win. After that putrid display in Week One, the Dallas Cowboys and their fans will take any notch on the left side of the win/loss column, regardless of how it looked.
It’s unfathomable to think a game two weeks into the season could be considered a “must-win,” yet here we are. Given that (a) it was a divisional game and (b) a loss would have put the Cowboys at 0-2, it was pretty much that. Mission accomplished… sort of.
The Dallas Cowboys came away victorious on Sunday Night Football over the New York Giants. The final score (20-13) does not illustrate the dominance Dallas put on display in front of a National television audience. The final score fails to do so because of an issue that continues to exist, despite what some may want to believe.
This Cowboys defense is the real deal. If you didn’t believe so after the first game, it’s hard to not believe that now. Odell Beckham, Jr., Saquon Barkley, and Sterling Shepard were all non-factors. The Dallas defense got to Eli Manning six times, forcing one fumble. All is well on that side of the ball.
Unfortunately, the offense is still anemic. Winning removes some of the stench. A deep touchdown pass to wide receiver Tavon Austin helps as well.
The problem is two-fold, however. First of all, aside from maybe three to five plays, the play calling remains bland. Yes, the Cowboys utilized quarterback Dak Prescott‘s run-pass option abilities far more Sunday night. Sure, they implemented a few more gadget-type plays.
Unfortunately, those slight improvements did not really translate to success on the scoreboard on when it comes to amassing yards. Those are things that are absolutely vital to sustainable success. Scoring and gaining yards.
After the dust has settled from Week Two, your Dallas Cowboys are 30th in total yards 30th in passing yards and tied for 29th in points scored. So far in 2018, fifteen teams have scored 30+ points in a game. Dallas has 28 points total through two games.
Obviously it is early, however, the track record for teams who are in the bottom five of both yards and points is not good. Over the past five years, 15 teams have achieved that dubious mark. Their combined record is 64-176. Only one, the 2016 Houston Texans, finished with a winning record.
The Dallas Cowboys desperately need to find some juice to the offense. The other issue, maybe even the biggest one, continues to be the play of the quarterback. After starting out 2 for 2 for 72 yards and a touchdown, Prescott went 14 for his next 23 for just 87 yards. While he did finish 5 for 6 for 34 yards on the game-sealing drive, it’s clear to see that he’s not making plays with his arm.
Sunday night marks the fourth straight game Prescott has failed to throw for over 200 yards. It was his eighth such game in his last eleven. This is not an aberration, this is a problem. Maybe the Cowboys can be successful on a consistent basis without Prescott throwing for big numbers. They absolutely cannot be so with a passing game stuck in the 1930’s.
Again, part of that is play calling and play design. If route concepts are not designed to stretch the field or go beyond 5-10 yards, Prescott is forced to rely solely on yards after the catch to boost his numbers. This is a problem that needs to be rectified immediately. It’s also an issue due to Prescott’s mechanics, footwork and overall technique as a quarterback.
The honest truth is that, for some reason, Prescott tends to drifts into the rush, usually to his right-hand side. He rarely steps up into the pocket or tries to escape in front of him. He also doesn’t step up into throws enough. The tendency is to throw a lot of back foot, relying too much on arm strength. These issues create inaccuracy on all levels.
These are things that should have been fixed long ago. This is not year one. He has had three full training camps getting the lion’s share of the reps. How this has not been diagnosed and fixed is beyond me.
The Dallas Cowboys won Sunday night and, for now, everyone can be happy. It’s highly possible they win a few more games while only managing one or two touchdowns. It’s not sustainable however. This team deserves to enjoy the victory but needs to get better, quickly, in order to be what they want to be in 2018.