The Dallas Cowboys are gifted a cupcake opponent in Week 3 against the Dolphins, but don’t set expectations too high because this one is set up to disappoint.
Let’s get something clear right off the bat: the Dallas Cowboys are not going to lose to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Even though Dallas is dealing with a sudden avalanche of injuries, and even though this game is the living definition of a “trap game”, Dallas is just far too talented to lose to Team Fish Tank.
But for those expecting the Dallas Cowboys to spread ’em out and light of the scoreboard with an onslaught of creativity, you may find yourself disappointed. Expected to win by roughly 21 points, the Dallas Cowboys offer plenty of reasons to think the biggest predicted margin of victory of the year will not come to be on Sunday.
The No. 1 item potentially holding the Dallas Cowboys back is the sudden rash of injuries the team has suffered this past week. Michael Gallup, Xavier Woods, Tyrone Crawford, Antwuan Woods, and Tavon Austin are all expected to be out. That’s four starters.
As explained early in the week by me, the great Dink Kearney, and just about every other Cowboys writer, team depth is a strength and they should be able to cover these significant loses without much slippage. But the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is going to feel compelled to play it safe with the unproven replacements in the game, therefore reducing the aggressive and explosive plays this offense has been building a reputation for.
Speaking of a conservative game plan, the thinking is the only way the Cowboys lose on Sunday is if the beat themselves. Reducing the high-reward plays will also reduce the risk. Applying a run-heavy approach would reduce both of those.
Miami is also expected to be the most porous run defense Dallas has faced. They are vulnerable in the secondary and while they fully intend to lose on Sunday (they are tanking this season), they don’t want to lose as badly as they’ve been losing. They have every reason to slow the Cowboys down and reduce positions/scoring, which means unlike the Giants and Redskins, they will not pack the box to stop the Cowboys run. Instead they’ll focus on playing back and stopping the big play.
We saw last season how Sean McVay and the LA Rams took the league by storm with their gameplan only to be completely exposed when it mattered the most – in the Super Bowl. Perhaps Kellen Moore doesn’t want to show all of his cards until he has to. The thinking is the Dallas Cowboys don’t have to pull out all the stops to win. They can run a vanilla brand of football, leaning heavily on 12 and 22 personnel groups that run the ball a lot and attack the seam with TEs.
Avoiding QB keepers on the read-option and saving the always-effective RPOs for another day could pay dividends down the road. It’s all about saving plays for when the Cowboys need them later in the season.
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I’m not trying to be pessimistic -rather I’m trying to adjust expectations. The Dallas Cowboys need to win but they gain nothing by margin of victory. Style points only help in power rankings. Not in actual standings. With all that said, I still think it’ll be a comfortable win boardering on blowout.