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What’s going on with the Dallas Cowboys offense?

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The Dallas Cowboys offense has been the champion horse for a few years and with Dak Prescott reaching new heights as a quarterback, the expectation was this is only the beginning of what should be an entertaining next few seasons.

 

 

But it’s been fairly discouraging to see that in three of the last four games, ironically all against the AFC West, the Cowboys’ offense has looked incredibly pedestrian against the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and Las Vegas Raiders.

 

 

Obviously, things were different in the final quarter of the Las Vegas game, but for the most part, the offense has struggled to move the ball at the same rate it did at the start of the season.

 

 

Here’s a quick summary of all three losses:
Against Denver, the Cowboys’ offensive line didn’t put up a fight against the Broncos’ high motor defensive line.

Against Kansas City, the Cowboys once again looked like they lacked energy. Kansas City was willingly pressing them all game while constantly stacking the box with 7 or more defenders on early downs to combat early-down runs.

 

 

Against Las Vegas, there was a lot that went wrong. Offensively, the team tried to emphasize running the ball early in the game and Dak Prescott couldn’t establish a rhythm until the second half.

Dallas Cowboys Offense: Press Man Coverage

Unsurprisingly, press coverage prevails again. When Tyron Smith was absent forcing Terrence Steele to the left side of the offensive line, press coverage has given opposing defenses enough time to get to quarterback Dak Prescott in the pocket.

 

 

With good protection, press coverage is far less problematic. That, however, leads me to my next point.

Stacking the Box

While the offense generated yardage against Atlanta and Las Vegas, the team has been quite bad at running the ball the last four games.

What gives?
Defenses are getting comfortable stacking the box against and playing their defensive linemen close together and offset to one side. When the Cowboys want to run the ball, they’re forced to run the ball to the weak side and don’t always have enough blockers to account for roaming defenders.

The last four weeks Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has only averaged 10.5 attempts per game at 3.55 yards per carry. (Carry total being low is partially due to injury, but the efficiency is quite bad regardless) This is quite the stark contrast to the previous seven games where Elliott averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Defenses realized that not respecting the run enough was leading Dallas to the top of the charts in rushing efficiency.

Drops
Not much to say here. Drops can’t keep happening at the rate they are! Drops are the reason the Cowboys can’t get favorable positioning on second-and-long and keep them off the field after they can’t convert on third down.

Dallas Cowboys Offense: Increase Play Action Pass Rate

Traditionally, Prescott can buy time for his crossing routes to open. But the moment defenders realize the run isn’t actually a “run”, the rollout doesn’t have the same effect. If the Cowboys can increase their play-action rate and incorporate different run fakes, it confuses the front seven while giving the receivers more time to get open.

In summation, pass the ball more. If you want to pass farther, draw up different play action passes.

More Power Runs
Traditionally, Prescott can buy time for his crossing routes to open. But the moment defenders realize the run isn’t actually a “run”, the rollout doesn’t have the same effect. If the Cowboys can increase their play-action rate and incorporate different run fakes, it confuses the front seven while giving the receivers more time to get open.

In summation, pass the ball more. If you want to pass farther, draw up different play action passes.

While they have generally had a good defense, things should eventually start to break for them if the Cowboys defense can shut out their offense. Hopefully the Cowboys can take advantage of this opportunity.

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