FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have had one of the more unique starts to the season through six games on the offensive side of the ball under Mike McCarthy's new Texas Coast system.
While the offense has excelled in areas such as third-down conversions (4th in NFL), scoring offense (6th in NFL) and giveaways (7th in NFL), it has also been inefficient to a fault in other areas such as red zone touchdown rate (26th in NFL) and passing yards per game (19th in NFL).
As the team resets during the bye week, let's take a look at the offensive storylines from the team's first six games.
MVP - CeeDee Lamb – While the offense has had about as roller coaster of a start as it could have, CeeDee Lamb has found success in bunches at times in providing the biggest spark through six games. His 475 receiving yards are 11th in the NFL and his 34 receptions are 16th in the league. When he's on, it's hard to stop the passing game. When he's not, the offense doesn't operate to its fullest potential.
Best Play - Pollard for Sixty – Improvisation hasn't been good to Dak Prescott and the offense since the start of 2022, but when things broke down against the Los Angeles Chargers, QB1 was efficient and surgical. The highlight of his ability outside the pocket came on a fourth quarter 3rd-and-11 when Prescott escaped a broken pocket and found Tony Pollard leaking across the middle of the field. Pollard took the reception, bounced off a pair of tacklers, and accelerated sixty yards downfield before being pulled down deep into Chargers territory. The play would help set up a Brandin Cooks touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 17-10 lead in the final frame. Without that play, the result most likely looks different – as does the Cowboys record going in the bye week.
Worst Play - The Arizona Dagger – Even though the game against Arizona was as ugly as ugly gets (at least at that point of the season), the offense had a chance to make some noise late on a drive that got Dallas down inside the 10-yard line trailing by 12 with less than five minutes to go in the game. However, with red zone execution becoming a louder talking point as the game went on, Dak Prescott threw a third-down interception in the back of the end zone to seal the fate of Dallas' first loss of the season.
Biggest Surprise - Jake Ferguson – It was expected that Jake Ferguson would play a bigger role in 2023 as the starting tight end, but his usage and efficiency within his opportunities has exceeded expectations through six games. His 21 receptions for 190 yards are both third on the team as he's become a safety net in the pass game for Dak Prescott. Even aside from the receiving game, Ferguson has stepped up in a major way with his run blocking ability. What was once a liability in his game, his protection for running lanes has him ranked as one of the top run-blocking tight ends in the NFL.
Key Stat - 0.6 – The Cowboys are ending drives with punts just 0.6 times for every time the offense scores which is fourth in the NFL behind only Miami, Philadelphia and Buffalo. Why is this very specific statistic important? It proves that while the offense has had its struggles, it has still been able to execute with a score on the end of drives. Taking care of the football was a big emphasis for the Texas Coast offense over the offseason, and the Cowboys have done just that with only six giveaways in six games. Even though drives have typically stalled out in the red zone with the offense, Brandon Aubrey's stellar start has kept the Cowboys on the board consistently.
Watch Out For … Brandin Cooks – A case could be made that we saw the tip of the iceberg of what Brandin Cooks can add to the Cowboys offense during the game against the Chargers when he gets the ball in his hands. Even though his production hasn't matched the expectations through six games, there's still a high potential at any moment for Cooks to take the top off a defense and have a big day in the receiving game. His big play ability was the reason he was brought in. Expect that to be utilized in the next ten games.