There were plenty of storylines and even some surprises when the Dallas Cowboys met the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon.
One of those surprises was the absence of Troy Aikman’s usual partner, Joe Buck, who is covering the MLB postseason. At first impression it seemed as though Buck was replaced by Mayor Quimby, but alas it was none other than Thom Brennaman.
Another pregame surprise was Eddie Lacy’s new and improved physic. I thought he was supposed to be slimmed down this season. Dude looked like a hippo in high heels. With that said, Lacy is an excellent running back who could have had a huge day if he was anywhere close to 100%.
Here are the Dallas Cowboys Week 6 standouts, notes, and observations:
- Ezekiel Elliott had another strong day rushing for 157 yards on 28 carries. His 5.7 yards per attempt moved his season average up to an even five yards per carry. But I’d be interested to see what his average yards per carry are immediately following a long run. The Cowboys like to leave him on the field after long runs (over 15 yards) but more often than not, the outcome is poor. Getting a runner momentum is important but there’s a reason most teams pull players after a big play. Considering the Cowboys have solid depth in Alfred Morris, I expect the Cowboys to address this issue going forward. I’ll dive more into this in coming days…
- The defensive line regressed to their mean after a brilliant performance last week. I had flashbacks to 2014 playoffs (which happened in 2015) where the Cowboys allowed a crippled Aaron Rodgers to pick them apart and take over a game the Cowboys had control of. If Aaron was remotely accurate we’d be talking much more about the D-line’s deficiencies today.
- It appeared Barry Church’s interception came on a mix of man and zone coverage. The outside DBs were matched up in man while the middle of the field was in zone. Aaron Rodgers was following his receiver across the field and failed to realize Church occupying the shallow zone.
- Sean Lee had another suspect game despite what the stats may say. He over-pursued a couple times, got lost in zone coverage, and dropped a simple interception. He’s by far the best player on this talent-starved defensive front seven but he’s not been playing like it. I plan to dive in deeper and grade his snaps on the All-22 coaches film but I expect he had another “C/B” performance when the Cowboys need him to be an “A” performer every game.
- This was a match-up of two of the best offensive lines in football and they both played like it. But the biggest thing was how much better the Green Bay defensive front seven was compared to the Dallas defensive front seven. Sure, they got gashed for 190 yards but they had at least three capable pass-rushers the Cowboys would kill to have.
- Defensively, the Cowboys looked every bit as impotent as they did in January of 2015 when their magical 12-4 season came to an abrupt end. If there’s a way, any possible way, to upgrade the pass-rush at the trade deadline, the Dallas Cowboys need to explore it, because this pass-rush won’t work in the playoffs.
- Green Bay lined up defensively in some very aggressive looking fronts. Determined to rattle and/or confuse Dak Prescott, defensive coordinator, Dom Capers showed a multitude of looks. Sometimes showing blitz and then blitzing. Sometimes showing blitz and backing off. Dak was impressive in his ability to read and react to changing defensive looks.
- Similarly, Dom Capers did his best to mix and disguise his coverages. What appeared to be clear before the snap was anything but once the ball was snapped.
- Perhaps it’s the Cowboys most recent history with the Green Bay Packers but it seems the Packer faithful lobbies for incomplete passes more than any other franchise. Whether it’s a pass to Dez (in 2015), Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, or even their own Jordie Nelson who caught and fumbled, they want incompletions. Oh yeah, #DezStillCaughtIt
- Want to know how terrible the NFL rules are for a catch? A valid argument could be made that both of the Cowboys first half TD catches were incomplete passes.
Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews were giving the less-than-100% LT Tyron Smith all he could handle in the first half. Luckily, Dak Prescott is blessed with Romo-esque pocket presence or this game could have gone wrong very quickly.
Even after the game was well in hand, the Packers faithful did an impressive job of staying vocal. The crowd has no insecurities about standing up and making noise – a lesson the home crowd from Texas should take note of. Sure, there was booing, but that’s understandable given the beat-down they just watched. The Dallas Cowboys could really use a loud home crowd because that would finally give them a homefield advantage. Here’s betting they’ll get one after the bye week.