Cowboys vs WFT Week 16: history, weather, key players, and projection
By Riley Donald
Cowboys vs WFT: “Under the Radar” Players
Dallas Cowboys: Michael Gallup, WR
Washington Football Team: Ricky Seals-Jones, TE
Simply put, Dallas needs to figure things out offensively. For about the last month it has looked like the offense can’t find any sort of rhythm or continuity. They take one step forward then two steps backwards with a drop, penalty, or red zone collapse.
The Cowboys should look to the air to get back on track this week. Open up things early and test Washington’s secondary down the field. Dak Prescott’s yards per attempt have been roughly two full yards below his career average and after looking at a myriad of different factors, I think this is what has the Cowboys offense looking a bit “off” lately.
Pushing the ball downfield forces the secondary to respect the shot play and home run attempt. Linebackers have to worry about getting into their drop a little more and can’t play downhill as much. Taking the deep shot opens this offense up and I think getting back to that is what fixes things.
That is where Michael Gallup comes into play. Personally, I think he is the Cowboys best deep threat between himself, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb. The other two are fantastic in route running and when they get the ball in their hands. Gallup brings another element of taking the top off of a defense and going and getting the deep ball.
The Cowboys would be wise to try Gallup on some one-on-one fades, deep posts, and set up a few play action shots to test the secondary. Trying deep shots does so much and can only help this offense. Gallup might be the X-factor this week, but also the rest of the year if they can get him going deep. Zeke and Pollard will see room up front, the underneath reads are less congested, and the Cowboys get their quick strike ability back. Give me a Gallup touchdown of 40+ yards Sunday night.
To put it politely, Washington has been ravaged by COVID-19 on offense and defense. They started former Cowboy, Garrett Gilbert, at quarterback on Tuesday against the Eagles due to Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen out due to COVID-19 protocols.
With the first two quarterbacks questionable for Sunday, running back Antonio Gibson questionable, Curtis Samuel questionable, that doesn’t leave many options for Washington. They have Terry McLaurin at receiver, but I think the Cowboys are going to have the luxury of Trevon Diggs shadowing him and the freedom to shade a safety over the top if they wish to.
That leaves tight end Ricky Seals-Jones as a target for Gilbert. It just makes sense. A backup quarterback should look to his tight end for easy throws and moving the chains. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn knows this and will have safety/linebacker coverage on Seals-Jones most of the day.
I have horrid memories of Washington tight ends (talking to you Chris Cooley and Jordan Reed) gashing the Cowboys up the seam and this is one way that they may find luck on Sunday night. That is if they have time. The Cowboys will have Demarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons, Randy Gregory, and Osa Odighizuwa all rushing the passer. That pass rush has more firepower than most teams in the NFL can handle.