FRISCO, Texas – There are a lot of ways to classify explosive plays in the NFL, but by any metric you want to use, the Cowboys didn't have many last week.
It's been well-documented by now that the running game struggled, with a 13-yard run by Alfred Morris serving as the Cowboys' longest run of the day. After a few missed opportunities downfield, Dak Prescott finished the day with his longest completion going to Geoff Swaim for 21 yards.
"We were really efficient in the game, but it wasn't an explosive game," said offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. "You need those explosive plays, because it puts more points on the board – it's proven."
The stats back that up. The Cowboys classify explosive plays as runs of 12 or more yards and passes of 16 or more yards. But Linehan said a team's chances of scoring skyrocket when it hits on a play of 20-plus during a possession.
"The number is, like, off the chart. So I'm a little more greedy for those bigger plays," he said. "Explosive plays are a big part of it, and we have a goal for that. But having one play of 20 yards or more is going to tend to show up on the scoreboard."
That helps explain why the Cowboys kicked so many field goals and scored so few touchdowns. Of course, they had their opportunities, given that Dak Prescott just missed scoring completions to Dez Bryant on distances of 24 and 27 yards. But those obviously don't reflect in the stat sheet.
Linehan said improving the running game should help with that. Even the Cowboys aren't hitting explosive runs, a more consistent effort on the ground should help open up the field for larger passing gains.
To achieve that, he said it'll take a little bit more effort from all the way around.
"We've got big-play playmakers, and we've got to just – each and every one of us – has got to do one thing better," he said. "We've got to break a tackle here, don't have a touchdown overturned there. Those kind of things will be a big difference."
-- David Helman