The Cowboys are now 3-1 on the season after losing to the New Orleans Saints. It is still early in the season, but Dallas is winning a lot of football games, which is the important thing. Here are five things learned from week 4.
1. Kellen Moore is Going Through Growing Pains
Moore did not have his best game of the season calling plays against the Saints. Credit is due to the Saints for playing good defense, but Moore and the Cowboys offense was not operating efficiently on Sunday night. Only putting up 10 points is not acceptable, but there are ways to improve the offense moving forward.
The Cowboys ran the ball on first down way too often. It was predictable and easy to stop. Even worse, they didn’t call as many RPOs or play-action passes off of those running plays as they did in previous weeks. While it is good to gameplan differently for each week, Moore needs to remember what made him successful in the first three games of the season.
2. Talent is Good, but Can’t Make up for Bad Play Calls
As mentioned in the first point, the Cowboys elected to run the ball a lot on first down. The offense lacked variety and was predictable. Even having one of the most talented offensive lines in football and a great running back can’t make up for that.
Moving forward, the best thing for the Cowboys will be to put their playmakers in the best positions to make plays. That will require them to mix up the play calls and focus on what is working rather than trying to do the same things over and over again without results.
3. The Pass Rush is Coming Along
While the defense has limited the number of points their opponents score, but have struggled to make big plays. Chidobe Awuzie had a nice interception to help the rest of the defense get on track, but the pass rush really stepped up in this game.
DeMarcus Lawrence faced a lot of double teams and still got a sack. Robert Quinn had two sacks, Jaylon Smith had one and Maliek Collins had another. The Saints have a solid offensive line so this is good news. The defense definitely played well enough to win, but the offense couldn’t get the job done.
4. Dak is no Longer on Fire
All good things come to an end. Dak Prescott was on fire to start the season, but has cooled off. It isn’t like he played terribly, just not at the same level as other games this season. He passed for 223 yards on 22/33 passing with one interception. Prescott was sacked just one time.
Up to this point, the Cowboys had played a lot of teams that didn’t have great defenses and Prescott torched them. He’ll have to raise his level of play down the stretch if the Cowboys want to make a deep run in the playoffs this year. The improvements to playcalling should also help Prescott moving forward.
5. The Linebackers are Still Great
Before the season it was widely known that the Cowboys had some of the best linebackers in the NFL. With Sean Lee coming back, Dallas should feel very comfortable with the middle of their defense. That notion was reinforced on Sunday night.
Leighton Vander Esch totaled 11 tackles and was seemingly all over the field for the Cowboys. Jaylon Smith had that sack mentioned earlier, but also had nine tackles and two tackles for loss. Even Lee had five tackles, which was impressive given the number of snaps he played.