FRISCO, Texas – It's always easier said than done in the NFL, but the New York Giants provided the league with a blueprint for how to beat the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys last weekend.
With a rookie quarterback under center a vaunted offensive line in place, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said it's obvious that opponents will try to force his team to throw the ball.
"If I were any team against our offense, I would expect to have to stop the run and I would make the point of making this quarterback with his arm beat you, our Dak Prescott," Jones said.
The Giants played that to perfection in Week 1, as they held the Cowboys to 3.4 yards per carry on the ground, and they prevented Prescott from connecting on his few downfield attempts toward Dez Bryant.
Washington struggled against the run mightily in their season opener, surrendering 147 rushing yards to Pittsburgh. It is worth pointing out, though, that the Redskins were facing Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and a dynamic Steelers passing attack. Facing off against Prescott might give them the confidence to focus a bit more on stopping the run.
The Cowboys weren't up to that challenge against New York, but Jones said he has confidence they can back Washington out of that mindset if they have to.
"Can we be good enough to break them or to make them get more honest with the defense? I think we definitely can. Dak has that ability," he said.
Prescott only averaged five yards per attempt against the Giants – owing in part to those several missed opportunities down the field. If he wants to clean out the middle of the field this weekend, he'll likely need to hit some of those – as Jones alluded to.
"I think we just got to be ready for that," he said. "You've got to take them out of that eight-and-nine- man stuff."
Another big part of that could be making shorter gains into bigger plays. The Cowboys didn't get Bryant involved in any of their short-area passing game, and gains by the likes of Lance Dunbar and Ezekiel Elliott were minimal at best.
If the Dallas offense can turn some of those short plays into longer gains, it could go a long way in helping them accomplish their goals.
"One thing is to make what would seem to be short in the passing game -- what would normally be a short gain, have the run after the catch, have the athletic ability out on the other end of the ball," Jones said. "And that's what you're talking about with Dez. And that's what you could be talking about with Zeke. You could be talking about it with a number of people -- Dunbar. We've got to get the ball into the hands of our playmakers."