INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys got back in the win column on Monday night with a 20-17 nail-biter over the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium to head into the bye week on a high note.
As the Cowboys moved to 4-2, there was a lot to take away from Monday night's win. Here are this week's 5 Takes, presented by Take 5 Oil Change.
- Brandin Cooks is here to stay. I think an official welcome to Brandin Cooks is in order after his performance on Monday night. First it was a big first down conversion in the first half, then the huge touchdown reception on third down in the second half saved a drive that saw the Cowboys drive down the field on the heels of a big play (more on that later). Then, on the go-ahead drive, Cooks took an end around for a first down before hauling in a physical third down reception right at the sticks to keep the drive moving into Los Angeles territory. His stat line might not blow you away, but his impact was felt on Monday night.
- Markquese Bell proved tonight that he can hold his own at linebacker. Whether it was filling Austin Ekeler running lanes, holding down the middle of the field in coverage, or accounting for Ekeler out of the backfield on passing plays, Markquese Bell filled in for Leighton Vander Esch on Monday night and proved that he can hold his own defensively. His size doesn't make him a permanent solution – and we saw that whenever he was rotated out with Micah Parsons at linebacker – but when he is fresh and can step on the field, he can be a reliable option.
- DaRon Bland is the defense's safety net in more than one way. Having DaRon Bland in the building has proven to be invaluable since his arrival in 2022 after filling in for an injured Jourdan Lewis last season and now filling in for Trevon Diggs in 2023. But his impact continues to expand bounds as we see with each game he plays in. On Monday, Bland was shutdown on the boundary, and while Keenan Allen continued to find success out of the slot throughout the night, he was stifled when lined up with Bland. Trust continues to build with the young gun in the secondary.
- The offense has to start getting creative with Tony Pollard. We saw a glimpse of Tony Pollard's big play ability in the fourth quarter on an improvisation by a scrambling Dak Prescott that found Pollard leaking across the middle of the field. Sixty yards later, Pollard set up Dallas for what would be its second touchdown of the night. The play gave me a little bit of pause, only because we saw so much of that in 2022 and have yet to see it extended into 2023. Most of Pollard's play so far has been on designed runs with little-to-no flare, but with a little creativity, you can see how dangerous he can be in the open field.
- Discipline has to be an emphasis going into the bye week. Penalties tried so hard to keep Dallas from winning this game as the Cowboys hit double-digit flags for the second time this season, and it felt like each time the yellow marker hit the field, it came at an inopportune time. Lining up offsides, 12 men on the field, holding, pass interference…you name it, everything was hindering the Cowboys on both sides of the ball. Staying disciplined has to be the emphasis coming out of the bye week with relatively mistake-free opponents upcoming.