Dallas Cowboys rediscover an old weapon (and other Wk 7 observations)

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Tavon Austin #10 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a 20-yard rushing touchdown during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in the game at AT&T Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Tavon Austin #10 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a 20-yard rushing touchdown during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in the game at AT&T Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys had a lot go their way in Sunday night’s beat down of the Philadelphia Eagles, but one noteworthy play saw them rediscover an almost forgotten weapon.

The Dallas Cowboys got back to their winning ways beating the Philadelphia Eagles 37-10 and taking sole possession of first place in the NFC East heading into the bye. Ezekiel Elliott collected 111 yards on 22 carries but more important than the cumulative stats, is the way he played.

Zeke has been near the bottom of the league in broken tackles and elusiveness but on Sunday he showed both, finally looking like the player Dallas thought they had when they invested top dollar in his extension. But it wasn’t just the usual suspects catapulting the Dallas Cowboys back into the win column for the first time in nearly a month. It was a couple role players as well. Including this nearly forgotten game changer…

Tavon Austin

This offseason, many people questioned why Tavon Austin was still with the team. After failing to remotely live up to expectations in 2018, Austin looked expendable. But Dallas still saw an important role for the dynamic speedster.

Optimism was rekindled in training camp only to see him shrink again during the regular season. His injuries, limited availability, and overall impact seem like more hype than substance but speed kills and when given opportunities in the open field, Austin proved last night he can take any ball to the house.

His TD was a new wrinkle that showed typical orbital sweep motion, but cut back to its origin on the pitch and gave Tavon essentially half the field to beat 1 guy. Lucky for us the player who was matched up in man was Orlando Scandrick and he didn’t stand a chance.


That said, Tavon is just a terrible run-blocker and showed it again Sunday night being about as impactful as a worn out speed bump. He was targeted again later in the endzone but was double-covered and didn’t have the space to stretch the coverage with his speed. The key is – space – and when Dallas schemes him space to work, Tavon delivers. He can be a real difference maker down the stretch if Kellen Moore keeps finding ways to get him the ball.

Return of the Hot Boyz

One can certainly argue the most important element of the game was the defense finally showing up.  For weeks (technically dating back to the end of last season) the Hot Boyz have been lukewarm, at best. But under the lights of Sunday Night Football, they stepped up and set the tone on the game – forcing turnovers and swarming to the ball.

In the first half I tracked a 60% blitz rate on first down. The extra LB/DB kept the Eagles offense on their heels and never let Carson Wentz get comfortable. Their ability to basically shut down the Philly TE combo – Wentz’s favorite targets – is especially noteworthy.

4 More Observations

1)- I complain a lot about 1st down runs and running the ball into 7 and 8 man boxes. The numbers are just so overwhelmingly against it. Zeke’s big run to the 1 yard line in the first was against 8 in the box which usually translates to a 3 yard gain, but he willed himself into the endzone and showed some star quality we haven’t seen a whole lot of from him this season. On first down, the Dallas Cowboys ran the ball 13 times in the first 3 quarters and produced successful plays just seven times. Pollard and Zeke both had plays on first down runs that saw them hit deep in the backfield, only to have them create something out of nothing and earn a “successful” grade.

Note: the only thing worse than a first down run is a run on second and long. Dallas was 0 for 2 on these futile attempts.

More from Dallas Cowboys

2)- We talk about the strength of this defense being the depth and the ability to rotate in fresh players along the D-line, but Dallas sees such a huge fall-off when Tank leaves the field. Kerry Hyder is a fine rotational piece but he’s not the talent Tank is as run-stopper. He was gashed pretty badly Sunday night when the Eagles ran to his side.

3)- Maliek Collins has been absolutely terrible against the run this season but on Sunday it appeared he gave that element of his game some added attention. Just last week PFF named him one of the season’s most productive pass-rushers on the season but his terrible play against the run this year tanked his overall score. Collins was still bad Sunday night – he was just noticeably less bad.

4)- It took Dallas’s 3rd drive to target their WRs but when called upon they performed. Randall Cobb and Amari Cooper’s routes were sorely missed last week, and could have had even had bigger numbers than they did. Dallas just didn’t need to target them as much.

As far as the Dak-to-Gallup connection, it appears to be more timing than accuracy that’s holding them back. My theory is Gallup’s routes aren’t always consistent, thus explaining the problem. But we’ll track this throughout the season and be sure to check the All-22 when it comes out.

Next. Cowboys have 2 of the top rated pass-rushers in the NFL. dark

Final Thought

Jaylon Smith’s first quarter roughing the passer penalty single-handedly got Philly back in the game. Obviously it also took a porous run defense and easy to diagnose coverage for Dallas Goedert to beat LVE down the middle, but unnecessary penalties have been killing this team. Dallas just stopped them on 3rd and was set to receive the punt from deep within Philly territory up 14-0. Instead they let Philly keep the ball and score. This could have changed the game and needs to be addressed.

  • Published on 10/21/2019 at 11:30 AM
  • Last updated at 10/21/2019 at 07:06 AM