Dallas Cowboys: 3 important takeaways from week one

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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dallas cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Kellen Moore is the real deal

You might hate that Dak Prescott had to throw the ball 58 times last night, but you probably wouldn’t have cared had the Cowboys won. The Buccanneers allowed 3 yards per carry so running the ball more was only going to stall the offense. Moore clearly had the foresight to recognize this as a possibility, especially without Zack Martin in the lineup, so he varied his game plan accordingly. The result was brilliance!

Instead of forcing runs into stacked boxes, Moore used screens to test the Bucs on early downs. Sometimes these screens resulted in four-yard gains, sometimes they turned into first downs. The volatility that came from these screen passes was certainly more exciting than Elliott runs that gained less than four yards every time.

It also goes without saying the Buccanneers played man coverage a lot; throwing wide receiver screens into man coverage constantly stresses the defensive backs without the quarterback having to constantly throw well past the line of scrimmage. This is also why Dallas kept connecting on isolated quick-outs against Jamel Dean; Dak had the ball placement to get it outside while all three starting receivers had the explosiveness and grip strength to beat Dean out of the break and haul the ball in. (Gallup couldn’t stop the toe-tapping)

The offense used play action to force defenders in one direction and it started to open the middle of the field for Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Blake Jarwin to take advantage. It kept Tampa Bay on their toes while also buying time for Prescott to make throws downfield. You can always make the argument that they should’ve done it more often, but the fact that it was a point of emphasis this week shows how adaptable Kellen Moore is as an offensive mind.

Tampa Bay has so many pieces on defense to disrupt an offense; Moore and OL coach Joe Philbin knew that and came in with a plan to get the ball out quickly and use our playmakers to generate yards after catch consistently stressing the opposing defensive backs’ ability to tackle in the open field and cover man to man.

They found a good balance between early-down screens, play action, and traditional drop-backs and were almost able to win the game. They were two points away from a game they were initially considered ten-point underdogs. We already know the brilliance of Dak Prescott, but the attention to detail by Kellen Moore to get this week’s unique gameplan right is a testament to how lucky the organization is to have another boy genius on its hands.