Dallas Cowboys Point / Count Point: Time for optimism

It’s a completely different feeling for Cowboys in Dallas this week. After a truly terrible show to open the season, which was exacerbated by injuries to Dak Prescott and the other key members of the roster, the depleted team came out with a surprise win over the team. Cincinnati Bengalswho just played in Energy. Suddenly the mood around the team began to improve. But not everyone is so sure that the Cowboys are completely out of the corner. David Homan and Tom Ryle offer their views.

David: After going out for the first week and talking too much, the biggest question for the Cowboys was whether the crime was really that bad or whether Tampa Bay Buccaneers it was good. Since the first week had come to overreact, many across the country opted for the first, but the second week provided strong evidence to support the latter. Not only did the Cowboys do noticeably better against the Bengals, and without their quarterbacks in the boot, but the Buccaneers defense assembled the Saints’ talented attack in a similar fashion.

Needless to say, I feel optimistic after this win. Getting into the Bengals game, I noticed some areas where Cowboys could take advantage of advantages over their opponent to earn a win. Surprisingly enough, they did all of these things. In recent years this has become rare for this franchise. I’m not ready to drift off and say this team can compete for the Super Bowl, but the season – and the race in the NFC East – is still alive.

Tom: I enjoyed winning like everyone else, but there are reasons I still hold on to the judgment. The first is that we should see Cooper Rush maintain some consistency from week to week. There were plenty of other instances of back-up quarterbacks and being the number one champion, only to fade away as other teams prepared for them. Rush is simply unknown in this respect. If he can look like he did against the Bengals, especially the first two drives, it’s all well and good.

It’s a big deal, and it’s closely related to something else I’m watching with skepticism. Calling in impressive touchdown drives, Kellen Moore looked a tortoise, and the ensuing lack of attacking and scoring nearly done the team. The topic of my articles this week was how much better it is with the first 15 or so plays of the game that was either pre-planned or written. After that, his decision-making seemed to quickly regress. Fortunately, the last drive recovered it somewhat, but it was less than very few options on the playing card with very little time left. He simply has to improve mid-game for this team to succeed.

In the meantime, we’re still waiting to see if the offensive line will hold up and if someone other than Noah Brown, Sidi Lamb and Dalton Schultz can be reliable targets. You could also include Tony Pollard in that group, although they still need to get the ball in his hands more. Young recipients have to step up, especially with Schultz’s knock. Now we’re seeing yet another confusion with Dennis Houston now on the coaching staff. Hopefully Michael Gallup will be back soon, but he may need to step up efforts. There is hope that Galen Tolbert has also completed his preparation process. At stake, Matt Farniuk is now the weak link, and we don’t know what they might be planning there. I think they tend not to make any significant changes until Conor McGovern returns.

Against the snap giants 2-0, they will have to put in more effort to win.

David: I’ll go ahead and challenge you to the idea that Keelen Moore became reticent after the first two drives. I’ve seen this criticism a lot since the match, and I understand coming to that conclusion based on the results, but I don’t see it. Moore entered this game with a plan to commit to running, just as he did last week and as the Cowboys planned it to be off-season. In the first two drives, as well as driving just before halftime that resulted in a field goal, the runs were doing well. Of the six drives that didn’t score points, five involved playing with big losses (blasted out in the backcourt, bags, and incompletes on the first down) that led to third and long positions. Dallas also built a really good drive in the third quarter which ended in a Schultz failure.

I think what some call the call of conservative play is just a response to how this crime operates now. Losses in the wide receiver and a philosophical shift to a heavy attack translate into fewer points-scoring opportunities, a very drastic shift for the unit that led the NFL in points a year ago. Take Dak Prescott and the effect becomes more apparent, but the harsh reality is that the front office spent all summer building an offense that wasn’t designed to achieve much. If Moore wanted to throw up the points in a hurry, he’d have to get creative with his play designs, but we killed him because he did it against Tampa as well.

For me, the biggest question heading into week two was whether Moore would be able to adapt play to the reserve quarterback, something he didn’t do in 2020. That year, in games without Prescott, the Cowboys were 28th in the NFL American football in offensive/playing EPA. In one match with Rush this year, they placed 16th in the offensive EPA/play. It’s obviously a pretty small sample size, but for a week Moore showed me this crime could go on without Prescott for a few weeks. With the defense and special teams emerging the same, this made me very optimistic.

Tom: I’ll give you a little more on your defense of Moore, but those early botched failures affect him in part as well.

Now the defense in particular was a source of hope, as they twice held some beautiful explosive units from last year with less than 20 points. They did it in the last game without Jayron Kearse, who is a big part of the defense. So this is also very encouraging. The rush of passing feels like everything we could have hoped for. Micah Parsons is showing no signs of stagnating sophomore and has already started a campaign for Player of the Year.

But this season it still depends on what they can do offensively. I was worried about seeing Prescott perform in the first week, but I hope this is a bad day in the office, and he hasn’t put a lot of those together. It’s still about the things we worry about each season, the future wire and the offensive line. This is a lot of work in progress, and we should expect growing pains. The challenge now is not to allow those with early injuries to cause them to fall behind in a section that has suddenly become very difficult.

I hope for the best, but like I’ve said all year long, I’ll believe it when I see him.

David: We’ll find out more on Monday when the Cowboys play their first divisional game of the year. But in the meantime, I’ll be ranting from Kool-Aid.

%d bloggers like this: