After a decisive blowout of a quality team, Dallas Cowboys fans have to wonder if this team has finally turned a corner or if it is another setup.
I was wrong about the Dallas Cowboys this week. Not entirely wrong, mind you. I actually was right about most of what I thought. I believed this past week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars would be a blow out. It was.
I said quarterback Dak Prescott would throw for less than 200 yards for the sixth time in his last eight games. He did. I told you that the Dallas Cowboys would need multiple turnovers and likely a score from the defense or special teams to have a chance. They did the former and almost the latter as well. A 40-7 dismantling of last year’s AFC Championship game participant was something no one could have foreseen.
Yet, here we are, reveling in what was the most complete performance from this Cowboys team in quite some time. You have to go back to 2014, four days before Christmas, to find a game in which Dallas put up 40+ points and allowed just one score.
So, what does it mean? Is it an aberration or have the Dallas Cowboys fixed their pathetically futile offense? The answer is whatever you would like for it be.
The Cowboys did a very good job on Sunday. They should probably send a thank you card to Andy Reid however. Yes, the success Dallas enjoyed Sunday came, in large part, due to the Kansas City Chiefs game plan from a week prior. The coaching staff essentially utilized the same formations Kansas City employed in their 30-14 victory against Jacksonville.
Is that the innovation we’re dying for? Not really, but shame on the Jaguars for not learning from their mistakes. It is a copycat league and it obviously worked, so good for Dallas I suppose.
Dallas also utilized their quarterback’s best talent, his abilities in the run game, to keep Jacksonville honest. The Cowboys are 10-3 when Prescott rushes five or more times. They are 11-3 when he gets more than 25 yards rushing. They are 11-2 when Prescott scores a rushing touchdown. Alas, Prescott had 11 carries for 82 yards, both career highs along with a score on the ground.
Will the Cowboys figure out that this needs to be a prominent part of the offense moving forward? Only time will tell. The Cowboys also let Prescott be an actual quarterback. His five deep pass attempts before half time were the most all season. While he did not complete every one of them (he actually only completed two), the threat of doing so keeps the defense honest.
It also allows for the run game to prosper. As such running back Ezekiel Elliott broke 100 yards against a team previously in the top ten in rush defense.
Then there is this defense. I know the Jaguars aren’t the 80’s Niners or 90’s Bills. Quarterback Blake Bortles has his own fair share of limitations. Still, this defense seemed pumped up by the presence of another alpha defense in the building. Getting back reinforcements along the defensive line in tackles Maliek Collins and David Irving certainly helped.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith had another stellar game, as did rookie Leighton Vander Esch. Cornerback Byron Jones showed he is, at minimum, in the conversation with opposing corner Jalen Ramsey for top corner in the league.
All in all, it was a complete performance for this team. Exactly what they needed at the exact time. The trick will be to duplicate that effort week-to-week.