The Dallas Cowboys have taken their share of criticism over the past month. Despite entering this weekend with a perfect 3-0 December record, Dallas has been lacking style points. Style points may only count in the court of public opinion but the court of public opinion is a loud and relentless sort if it concerns the Dallas Cowboys.
The national media and fans had all been quite critical of the Dallas Cowboys offensive decline and many questioned whether or not things could be corrected. Something I’ve discussed here at Sport DFW over the past two weeks is the “who” and the “why” behind the slump.
While all parties clearly share a degree of blame, it was the highly regarded WR group that we determined carries the most blame. Over the most recent sad stretch, they were league leaders in dropped balls. And besides having major availability issues, they were also inconsistent route runners and displayed some questionable conditioning.
The Dallas Cowboys elite WR corps played like it on Sunday, silencing critics and putting the NFL on notice.
Looking up and down the roster, it’s clear that the WR position is Dallas’ most elite unit. For as good as the offensive line is, the running back room is, and the defensive line is, it’s that WR room that has an embarrassment of riches in the form of both blue chip players and depth.
As we discussed in Great news, Dak isn’t the problem, if anyone was falling short of expectations it was them. And if anything (besides Kellen’s aggressiveness in play-calling*) could pull the Cowboys offense out of their said slump, it was surely those star WRs.
* We’ve suspected this past month Kellen Moore has been dialing down the aggressiveness and rolling with a very vanilla script. The idea is to save the real plays for the postseason and when it matters the most rather than waste on winnable games in the middle of the season
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb were targeted 16 times on Sunday (most in the first half) and in the first half alone the Dallas trio combined 204 yards. Lamb’s average depth of target was 11.6 and Coopers was 15.4 indicating and aggressive attack and downfield execution that had previously been missing.
Lamb, specifically, had a noteworthy evening. After dropping three critical passes a week before, he was a vacuum against Washington – even pulling in some tough catches in back-to-back plays in the first quarter.
The Dallas Cowboys offense
As we alluded to to earlier, the rest of the Dallas Cowboys offense was explainable. The offensive line was constantly injured and being shuffled around. The running back room was visibly hurting. The playbook was being held back. And Dak was trying to survive it all.
That’s not to say Dak, Zeke, and that O-line were blameless, just that their less-than-great performances were perfectly explainable. What wasn’t explainable was the poor play from Dallas’ elite pass-catchers. So to see the aforementioned WRs corps step up and execute to a standard we’ve all grown to expect, is a sight for sore eyes.
In coming days we’ll shift the focus to Dallas’ amazing defense and breakdown the goings-on there, but for now let’s appreciate the effects some strong play-calling and WR execution had on this Cowboys offense.
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Who were you most impressed with at the WR position? Amari, Gallup, Lamb, or Turner?