The injury to Dak Prescott in week one has become a blessing in disguise. The thumb injury has forced the Dallas Cowboys to find other ways to win: One built on a physical running game and spearheaded by relentless defense with a suffocating pass rush. The defense is the thermostat for the team, according to Mike McCarthy.
This new brand of Dallas Cowboys was on full display at SoFi Stadium today. I talked about the defense needing to do the heavy lifting after last week’s victory. Did they ever.
The defense came out hot, courtesy of Dorance Armstrong strip-sacking Matthew Stafford on the opening possession. Defensive end Tank Lawrence recovered and returned the fumble for a 19-yard touchdown.
Dorance Armstrong was not done yet. On the next possession, Armstrong blocked a punt and returned it 14 yards to set up a field goal.
Do people understand why Dorance Armstrong is regarded at the star, now? How many defensive ends play special teams in the league? Hard work pays off.
The Dallas Cowboys ran the ball 34 times for 162 yards and 4.8 yards per carry. That is dedication to the running game. It showed as running back Ezekiel Elliott delivered body blow after body blow on 22 carries for 78 yards. Running Tony Pollard showed us again why he is the most explosive player on the team, with a 57-yard touchdown run during the second quarter.
The Dallas Cowboys have done it again and here’s how everyone did…
Cooper Rush only completed 10 of 16 passes for 102 yards. He played mistake free football. Produced some timely plays. He dropped a dime on a 3rd and long to Michael Gallup that kept a key drive going, but the Dallas Cowboys defense was dominate.
The offense might be average but it is playing well enough to not lose.
Dallas Cowboys Run Offense
The running game was back on track. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard were outstanding. Combining for 33 carries for 164 yards, 4.8 per carry and 1 TD. Pollard is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.
Dallas Cowboys Pass offense
Cooper Rush was Rush passed for only 102 yards on 10 for 16 pass attempts and with no touch downs, but Rush didn’t turn the ball over either. Drops from Cee Dee Lamb and Michael Gallup did not help Cooper Rush, either. Both coming on 3rd downs and stalling drives.
The grade would have been lower if Rush didn’t drop this dime to Michael Gallup keep a key drive moving.
Dallas Cowboys run defense
The run defense snuffed out the Rams running game as they could only rush for 33 yards on 13 carries. Better gap awareness by the DT, penetrating up field, and wrecking the block schemes upfront. Leighton Vander Esch played his best game of the year. Playing Micah Parsons more at linebacker and starting DE Dante Fowler was a good move.
Dallas Cowboys pass defense
The Dallas Cowboys’ pass rush was like a pack of great white sharks in blood-soaked waters with a feeding frenzy. They abused Matthew Stafford all afternoon. They sacked Stafford five times, hitting him 11 times, and applied relentless pressure on him all afternoon, as the defense forced three turnovers.
Micah Parsons is making a case for himself as the best defensive player in the league. Parsons has often called himself a “lion” but on this day he was Kang the Conqueror. He had a left groin injury and continue to wreck the offensive game plan of the Rams. Dallas has hit on a special player.
Dallas Cowboys special teams
I love the Brett Maher makeover. He is all grown up now and performing like an NFL kicker. John Fassel is proving his weight in gold. The extra point bobble was terrible. Long snappers are important. You never know how important until you don’t have one. What is happening with Bryan Anger? The block by Dorance Armstrong was big, but it only resulted in an FG, but points are points.
Dallas Cowboys coaching
Mike McCarthy had proven he is an excellent football coach before he rode into town, but each week, he continues to show why he is the right man for this job. After week one, he got his troops to rally around each other and circle the wagons. I look forward to seeing how the rest of the season unfolds.
The Cowboys have beat both teams in last year’s Super Bowl with a backup QB. I guess the head coach isn’t getting fired.
Next up: Showdown in Philadelphia against the Eagles.