Cowboys Blueprint: Dallas needs wins in 2021, not more offensive balance simply for the sake of it

If you’d like stability, pull up a chair at your native yoga studio or head to a Barnum & Bailey present to benefit from the trapeze act. For the Dallas Cowboys, and each different group in at present’s NFL seeking to monitor down the ever-elusive Lombardi Trophy, it is not about placing stability — it is about profitable video games. And to take action means a relentless dedication to adapting to what’s proper in entrance of you, in real-time, and each single time. So when the Cowboys walked off of the field in Week 1 with a 31-29 loss to Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it wasn’t as a result of they weren’t balanced within the run/cross sport.

It is as a result of regardless of having a wonderful flight plan, they bumped into self-inflicted turbulence. That stated, stating causes the Cowboys truly misplaced is not the identical as manifesting causes for why they could’ve, and that is why the place right here: to separate the 2.

Coming into the competition, the Cowboys knew they’d be up in opposition to one of the best run protection within the NFL. That was set to be a problem in and of itself, however let’s develop upon this level a bit. Ezekiel Elliott, the two-time league speeding champ who seems faster, quicker and in one of the best form of his soccer life, was nonetheless set to run up in opposition to Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, William Gholston and Jason Pierre-Paul on Thursday evening, and Travis Frederick wasn’t working out of the tunnel for the Cowboys — leaving the duty to a second-year expertise in Tyler Biadasz to keep away from being bullied by a wildly underrated Vea. 

Moreover, perennial All-Professional Zack Martin wasn’t going to jog out of the locker room both, reserved to the COVID-19 listing simply forward of Thursday and, as such, leaving a succesful (however not Martin-esque) Connor McGovern to tandem with Biadasz in making an attempt to carve lanes via a metal wall with steak knife. And that is on no account, form or kind a knock to Biadasz or McGovern — two excellent gamers with super upside — however quite to level out they had been merely outmatched, which suggests the Cowboys needed to search for a vulnerability elsewhere.

Spoiler alert: They discovered it within the secondary and it led to each single yard of Prescott’s night being significant.

The safety on the edges for the Cowboys was principally stellar, with the return of beginning tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins holding true to kind, and that allowed Dak Prescott to unleash hell within the passing assault. Regardless of having not performed significant soccer (or a lot of any) within the 333 days prior, and lately overcoming a strained shoulder in August, Prescott lit up the Buccaneers for 403 passing yards and three touchdowns. His lone interception was a frozen rope via a keyhole into triple protection to wideout CeeDee Lamb, nevertheless it turned considered one of a number of drops by Lamb and was flipped right into a tip drill takeaway for the opportunistic Buccaneers protection. 

To the wire, it was Prescott and Amari Cooper taking the Super Bowl-winning scheme of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to process, and sometimes, to the purpose of seen frustration and anger on the face of Bowles at many factors through the contest. In the event you would’ve requested Bowles through the sport if he’d just like the Cowboys to have extra stability, and to as a substitute peel again on the onslaught by Prescott to as a substitute run Elliott an increasing number of right into a wall with no home windows or doorways, he would’ve given you a powerful “sure.”

And that is why the Cowboys did not, as a result of it was the unsuitable factor to do, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore knew it. So did Prescott, and that is why though Moore did initially have 28 run performs known as, he allowed Prescott to go off-script and alter 12 of them — Moore stated on Monday — primarily based upon the defensive take a look at the road of scrimmage.

Ah, adaptation. 

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Moore and Prescott hinted at a seemingly fluid sport plan within the first scripted performs of the sport, when Prescott was marching down the sector on the primary offensive drive, mixing in movement and quite a lot of routes that threatened a landing if not for 2 key drops by Lamb and a false begin penalty that stalled the drive and resulted in a punt. Prescott moved the ball with relative ease from the Cowboys’ 2-yard line to the Buccaneers’ 44-yard line on a sequence that included six cross makes an attempt to solely three runs, a 2-to-1 ratio that put Bowles and the Buccaneers on discover that they’d need to shoot their approach out in the event that they wished to outlive Prescott’s return.

Was the punt as a result of Elliott wasn’t given three extra handoffs to strike an ideal stability? No, it was as a result of Lamb did not catch the ball when he was focused and open, and since the offensive line landed a penalty. Brady and the Buccaneers went on to attain a landing on the following possession, after having been stopped on their first one, on a nine-play drive that went 94 yards in 4 minutes and 9 seconds and included seven cross makes an attempt and solely two runs — primarily doing what Prescott almost did, the exception being his receivers (Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin) all made their catches.

Did the Bucs rating on that drive due to stability? 

No. It was as a result of no person dropped catchable throws from Brady on that possession. 

And so it went, that Prescott and Brady went on to have a shootout that noticed the previous outplay the latter in each class besides the win column, however the loss would not grasp on what number of makes an attempt Elliott did not get. Not solely was Elliott mentally tremendous with letting Prescott prepare dinner, he was down within the trenches offering help as a cross blocker within the absence of Martin to verify Prescott may prepare dinner — adapting his function for the advantage of giving the Cowboys a really actual likelihood at surprising the world in Week 1.

Elliott completed with solely 33 speeding yards on 11 makes an attempt, and staring solely on the stat line would have you ever consider that is unacceptable in a loss from a $100 million working again. 

However what if I advised you the Cowboys would’ve seemingly misplaced by two or extra scores in opposition to the Buccaneers speeding protection in the event that they handed it off to him 25 occasions, and with out Martin in tow, merely for the sake of stability and sure seeing him end with fewer than 100 yards anyway; one thing that itself would’ve spawned an inventory of essential headlines that accused the Cowboys of being unwise in making an attempt to hammer away on the run sport when Prescott was taking part in nicely, which then results in hypothesis that Prescott wasn’t one hundred pc wholesome, or the group would’ve in any other case let him exploit the weaknesses within the Buccaneers protection?

It is a spiderweb of illogic that fits solely the informal, and kudos to Moore and head coach Mike McCarthy for not reverting to the decrepit 50/50 splits of Jason Garrett and former offensive coordinator Scott Linehan who, paradoxically, had been usually skewered for forcing the problem with Elliott when that is not what the opposing protection was giving them. 

But, abruptly, the methods of Garrett and Linehan are … missed?

That is unusual fruit, so do not eat it. Brady threw 50 occasions and the Buccaneers tried solely 15 carries, compared to Prescott throwing 58 occasions and the Cowboys ending with 18 makes an attempt, however there isn’t any one saying Tampa Bay ought to’ve been extra balanced — seeing as they received. The factor is, nevertheless, they nearly misplaced with that run/cross cut up, and which means it is not truly concerning the run/cross cut up, however as a substitute the execution therein (one thing the Bucs bested the Cowboys in on Thursday evening). Additionally take into account Godwin himself made errors that just about price the Buccaneers the sport (just like Lamb for Dallas), however one controversial potential OPI within the waning moments of the sport erased them and put his group in place for a game-winner by kicker Ryan Succop.

You are beginning to see an increasing number of how stability had nothing to do with the tone or consequence of this sport.

Playmakers did.

And with Collins presumably set to serve a five-game suspension, Prescott and the Cowboys higher proceed their adaptable methods, and never drive the problem as they’ve in years previous, however quite demand playmakers get extra constant at making performs (together with Zuerlein). I would even be remiss if I did not have you ever marvel how odd it might’ve been to see Brady — who primarily tortured cornerback Anthony Brown all evening — cut back after seeing an apparent benefit there and saying to himself, ” what? I believe we should always run extra.” That wasn’t going to occur anymore than Prescott scaling again in opposition to a protection that graded out with a 59.1 in cross protection, per PFF. 

Whereas they’re presently 0-1 to begin the first-ever 17-game season within the NFL, and whereas there are not any ethical victories in soccer, there’s nonetheless numerous optimistic to remove from the Cowboys being lower than 90 seconds away from giving Brady a Tremendous Bowl hangover on his personal subject, and from seeing it take uncharacteristic drops by Lamb and a poor day from a returning Greg Zuerlein to by some means make them worse than the group that received the Tremendous Bowl in February. 

The Cowboys are all in on what Moore has accomplished with the offense and so they’ve now put the NFL on discover that Prescott is totally wholesome, one thing that may finally enable Elliott to thrive but once more as probably the most gifted weapons within the NFL; however when it is time to take action, and never when it is not. So, no, they do not want extra stability. What the Cowboys desperately want is wins, and taking what the protection provides you in any given week, in any given quarter and on any given play is the way in which to finest guarantee they obtain that mission. Shedding stays unacceptable within the NFL, so be not mistaken there.

Refusing to adapt, nevertheless, will assure that is all you will ever do at this degree of the game: lose.

And infrequently. | Cowboys Blueprint: Dallas wants wins in 2021, no more offensive stability merely for the sake of it


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