FRISCO, Texas – Three quick topics as the Cowboys look to regroup from another 12-round fight with the Saints, the teams' last two meetings totaling a mere 23-22 point tally on the scorecards:
- "The hottest seat"
- Explosive plays
- Epic steal?
Kellen Moore understands this is part of the gig.
You might say Moore, the Cowboys' first-year offensive coordinator, and LaFleur, the Packers' first-year head coach/play caller, are getting Monday Morning Quarterbacked this week – second-guessed by observers after the first loss of the season for their respective teams.
The Cowboys' offense, of course, posted only 10 points in the Superdome after averaging 32.3 the first three games.
This Sunday's opponent, the Packers: They scored touchdowns on only 3 of 7 red zone trips in a 34-27 loss to the Eagles. Twice in the fourth quarter Green Bay got stopped inside the 3-yard line: four straight incompletions by Aaron Rodgers for a turnover on downs, and then an interception by Rodgers in the end zone with 20 seconds remaining.
Of course, execution is just as important as the plays called. Putting the loss entirely on the play-calling is just flat wrong. But, as Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, the OC job is "the hottest seat in the business."
"Boy, when it doesn't work and you don't get the win, then get ready," Jones said. "They're going to be coming for you as a coordinator. So, Kellen knows this."
The Cowboys have plenty of faith in their young coordinator. And Moore, who grew up in a coaching family, knows there's a less sunny side to play calling.
"It'll happen. It's a long season," Moore said after the Cowboys' season-opening win over the Giants. "We'll have our ups and downs. …We'll go through some challenges, and I think we have the right guys to do it with."
chunk plays are the best way to get the offense back on track.
The Cowboys just couldn't get much traction up front in the running game, and the Saints subsequently were able to clog things up in the secondary. This offense feasted on explosive plays in the first three games: 16 with at least 20-yard gains, fifth-most in the league.
The common thread here: of those 16 plays, all but one occurred on scoring drives.
This past Sunday, the offense only got two: Dak Prescott's 35-yard pass to tight end Blake Jarwin setting up Ezekiel Elliott's touchdown run; and Prescott's 32-yard completion to Randall Cobb that gave them one last crack at the end zone on the game's final play.
New Orleans gave them nothing easy. When you have to drive the length of the field, mistakes (like the team's two lost fumbles) are more likely to happen.
Side note: wide receiver Michael Gallup accounted for three of those chunk plays in the first two games before undergoing a knee scope. Getting him back, whether it's this week or perhaps next, will help.
I Have No Idea…
where the Robert Quinn trade will wind up ranking in Cowboys history, but it's off to a mighty good start.
Jones on Tuesday made a creative Quinn comparison: "Gumby," the stretchy TV character/toy, because of Quinn's bendy pass rush skill set.
The 29-year-old has been ruthless off the right edge. Saints left tackle Terron Armstead, a Pro Bowler last year, had no answers for his burst at times. Despite spending the first two games on suspension, Quinn is tied for the eight-most sacks in the league (3). He's the first player in 32 years to register at least a sack in each of his first two games as a Cowboy (Randy Watts, 1987).
It's not just the quarterback sacks and pressures, though. It's his overall pursuit, chasing down plays across the field, that essentially makes Quinn -- who's in the final year of his current contract -- a D-Law clone on the other side of the line.
We're only two games in, but I got curious: Where might Quinn rank among veterans the Cowboys have traded for in the last 30 years?
Well, there's Charles Haley, the gold standard. The Cowboys flipped a second- and third-rounder to San Francisco in 1992 and Haley pushed their defense to dominance, winning three Super Bowls in four years.
Wide receiver Terry Glenn was an excellent pickup in 2003, giving young starting QB Quincy Carter a veteran deep threat on an underdog playoff team. The Cowboys got Glenn for a mere sixth-round pick that year.
In 2014, linebacker Rolando McClain's production at middle linebacker helped offset Sean Lee's season-ending knee injury that year. The Cowboys dealt a sixth-round pick to the Ravens for a seventh-rounder and McClain. They went on to reach the divisional round of the NFC playoffs, losing to Green Bay in the infamous "Dez Catch" game.
Like Amari Cooper in Oakland a year ago, Quinn was simply a byproduct of a rebuild in Miami. The Dolphins sent him to Dallas for a sixth-rounder in late March.
So far, it's looking like the steal of the season.