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Progress Report: After 5 Games, Taking Closer Look at Cowboys’ Offense
FRISCO, Texas -- With only five games into the 2017 season, there’s still plenty of football left for these Cowboys as they enter the bye week. But a handful of games is also enough time to evaluate not only the team as a whole, but breaking down the three phases of the team.
So over the next three days, let’s take a closer look at what has gone right, what hasn’t been up to par and what needs to change on the offense, defense and special teams.
Today, let’s kick off the series with the offense.
Best Performer: Dak Prescott.
The record might tell you differently, but quite frankly, he has deserved a better fate these past two weeks. Since that Week 2 contest in Denver, he has been outstanding, especially when there have been other issues. The offensive line is off to a slow start. The receivers have had trouble consistently winning, and the lack of a running game has been alarming for a unit that prides itself on their ability to move the ball on the ground no matter the situation.
Prescott has had to do more in these first five games than he did the majority of his rookie season. Avoiding pressure and sacks have been all too common through the first month of the season. It would be difficult to imagine where this offense would be if not for his ability to win with his feet.
After the Rams loss, Prescott stood before the media and said that he needed to work on his accuracy, which at times has been a struggle. In reality he was being a leader and taking one for his teammates. Prescott has not been the problem and anyone that’s watched him play will understand that.Read
What’s Working: Brice Butler
After what I observed during OTAs and training camp of Brice Butler, I felt like there was a good chance that he was going to make good on the opportunities that the coaches gave him. They challenged him to be a better finisher and through five games this season, he has been able to do just that.
It has come to the point where there are those that follow the team that would like to see him receive more snaps in the place of Terrance Williams. His touchdown against the Rams and his third down reception against the Packers were big plays in those games. He has been a reliable target for Prescott, especially when things tend to break down -- and that is something you’re looking for from your receivers.
I personally feel that the coaches wouldn’t go in that direction, but with the way that Butler has played, it is something that they should consider going forward.
Not There Yet: Running Game
There are very few teams in the league that rely on their ability to run the ball more than the Cowboys. Their very identity is based on it, and when there is a lack of success, it not only hurts the offense’s ability to move the ball -- but also how well they play on defense.
As much as people want to place the struggles on the departures of Doug Free and Ronald Leary, it has really been more than that. The opponents they’ve played, in my opinion, have been a huge factor in their lack of success. Other than the Packers, the Cowboys were lining up against opponents that were outstanding the previous year when it came to run defense. Where they were able to win more of those one-on-one matchups last year, this season appears to be different.
It hasn’t just been the left guard or right tackle. Your most reliable linemen and tight ends have not been consistent enough when it comes to securing those blocks. Some blame can also be directed at Ezekiel Elliott, as well. There have been snaps where things were blocked cleanly and he has made a poor read that resulted in a smaller gain.
If you’re looking for a good sign going forward, running the ball improved in the fourth quarter of that Packers game, when they needed to have success. Read