The Dallas Cowboys season took an unscheduled and largely symbolic 180, and some of the most maligned parts of the team deserve most of the credit.
Ezekiel Elliott has been a shell of his former self this season. His rushing totals and ypc may not show his struggles, but his film sure does. He’s struggled to elude tacklers, break tackles, and even follow blocks this season. But the last couple weeks, he’s rediscovered his game and is playing with an edge. Sunday the Dallas Cowboys ran the ball at will, and Zeke collected 117 critical yards on 24 carries plus 2 TDs. He looked like an elite running back.
Jaylon Smith is coming off a pretty rough performance against the Bears and needed a big game to bring the support of Cowboys Nation back into his corner. He didn’t light up the stat sheet with his play but his intangible contributions were clear on almost every snap. Every time the Rams had the ball it seemed Jaylon was nearby being disruptive in one way or another.
The General Lee
The past two plus seasons, Sean Lee hasn’t been the dominant player many Dallas Cowboys fans have been used to. Age has clearly stolen a step and even the most prepared LB in the NFL can’t afford to a step.
This week in Leighton Vander Esch’s absence, Sean Lee dug deep and produced his best performance of the year: 1 interception (with a thrilling 25-yard return), 1 pass deflection, a sack and three solo tackles. Not too shabby, old man. And with LVE potentially out the rest of the season, they’re going to need to see more of this from their General.
The LA Rams’ pass rush is no joke. They’ve collected three or more sacks in each of the last seven games leading up to this contest. But yesterday in Dallas they were absolutely stonewalled. Dak didn’t have all day to sit in the pocket, mind you, but he did have just enough time to get it done.
Additionally, it’s no coincidence both Zeke and his back-up Tony Pollard had arguably their best performances of the year. The lanes were open and the Dallas O-line even opened things up in the second layer of the defense, providing big plays to their RBs.
The love was fading for Jourdan Lewis as of late. Lewis has been one of the most picked on players in the league since taking over the slot, and while he’s been able to make plays on the ball, he’s also been giving up far too many plays.
On Sunday he blanketed receivers and made a key deflection on a perfectly thrown ball midway through the game. Oh yeah, he also logged a pretty nice looking sack late. At this point I think fans are OK if Lewis gives up a few extra plays as long as he keeps producing some of his own.
Special Teams still blew chunks on Sunday. Not only did they get beat on a pretty obvious fake punt, but they also kicked two balls out of bounds on kickoffs. You’d think with a new and somewhat suspect kicker, they’d be more inclined to play it safe and drill a ball down the middle for a touchback attempt every time…but I digress.
The defensive line shut down the Rams running attack and covered receivers fairly well (which is all you really need when Jared Goff is throwing the ball). They blitzed a little more than normal and it paid off with both Lee and Lewis logging the only sacks of the day.
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Offensively they found a way to score touchdowns in the redzone, hitting pay dirt on 100% of their opportunities in the first half. They also used Tavon Austin more inside the red zone with varying results. But the point is, they went to the creative well and used one of their niftiest playmakers to shake things up. They went for it on 4th down multiple times and weren’t content trying for 3.
Rams fans laughed when Dallas traded for Tavon last year. He disappointed them for years and last year, he disappointed Dallas. This season, he’s been but a bit part on offense so it seems poetic his biggest game of the season was against his former team. Tavon was involved in multiple red zone plays as well as the 50+ yard bomb by Prescott.
We don’t need Tavon to explode every game but we do need him to be a threat. The film he just put out there on Sunday accomplishes that.
- Published on 12/16/2019 at 17:01 PM
- Last updated at 12/16/2019 at 14:12 PM