Football is back! Week one is finally in the books as the league began the 2020-2021 regular season last Thursday. Our favorite team had a premier game on Sunday night, yet they couldn’t pull away with a victory. Below is my recap of how I felt the Dallas Cowboys did in their first game of the season.
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First and foremost let’s get the difficult part out of the way. The Cowboys disappointed us with a loss and an excruciating one at that. But to be fair, after watching the first quarter, it didn’t seem as if they would have a chance. A neutral zone infraction and a few big passes helped move the Rams down the field in five minutes. They followed this up with a seventeen play, nearly nine-minute drive. Dallas was fortunate that the Rams missed the field goal.
As Dallas settled in, the game became a lot more exciting. Unfortunately, though they faced some injuries and a critical missed fourth-down opportunity. During the second and third quarters, the Cowboys did play well. After doing a quick analysis of some statistics, I will share my concerns heading into week 2.
Prescott and Goff were pretty even throughout the night. As the game progressed, you could tell that Cooper was the go-to option for Dak. Plus Prescott seemed to do better as the game went on. Goff on the other hand started hot and cooled down as the game went on. Dallas was able to force Goff into an interception whereas Prescott did not have any turnovers.
Elliott ran well for the Cowboys but the dual-threat of Brown and Akers did very well. When it came to receiving, Cooper was a target monster with 14 targets. He had 56% of Prescott’s passes thrown his way. For his debut, Lamb did well and looked explosive at times. Gallup did his usual thing and keeps looking stronger each year. For the Rams, Woods led the receiving corps. He and Goff looked very comfortable throughout the game.
The Cowboys defense recorded one sack and one interception. Awuzie was the one who was credited for the interception and Aldon Smith the sack. For the Rams, Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Michal Brockers recorded a sack each. Aldon and Jalyon Smith both recorded eleven tackles, and Darian Thompson had ten.
A few things stick out about the total statistics. Dallas had the ball for nearly 40% of the game while the Rams possession percentage was 59% (+/- .05). This difference put a lot of pressure on the Cowboys defense. On third down, Dallas only converted three of twelve opportunities. It’s difficult to win games without converting on third down. The Cowboys will have to do better next week in terms of conversion.
The Cowboys did not walk away healthy from this game. Initially, Jourdan Lewis didn’t even play due to an ankle injury and his availability is questionable for Week 2. Blake Jarwin is out with an ACL injury and looks to be done for the year. Leighton Vander Esch is hurt for an extended period of time. Cameron Erving is going to be out for a few weeks himself.
The offensive line is a huge concern for the Cowboys. For most of the night, it was very apparent that Prescott was scrambling on nearly every pass play. Travis Frederick’s retirement might be bigger than the Cowboys let on. Elliott did look well, but Dallas has to preserve him and use Pollard a little more. It would also be nice to see Dallas lineup Lamb in the slot, run some screens, do some things creatively with him. He seems electric, so I do not want the Cowboys to waste an opportunity to make him an x-factor. Finally, the loss of Blake Jarwin could be a bigger blow than we think. Yes, we utilize our tight ends for blocking purposes and as a safety net, but Jarwin was coming along well before the injury and Dallas doesn’t have the depth or experience behind him.
When it comes to defense, the team has a lot to work on. Not only were they gauged early in the passing game, but the Rams running game also did a number on them. Nolan has a new group and it makes sense to give them a few weeks. But I wonder what was practiced. A lot of assignments were missed or players seemed to be reacting late. Losing LVE is a big blow, and not having Lee early is a concern. It was nice to see the defense force a turnover. They also did make some good adjustments to slow down the Rams as the game progressed.