COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys dominate the Dolphins; Saints up next

Zeke Elliot keeps rolling. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys put another "W" in the win column on Sunday when they beat the Miami Dolphins by the score of 31-6.

Cowboys Cruise

There was no doubt that the Cowboys were the better team, but the Dolphins put up a good fight for the first half.The Cowboys came out of halftime only up 10-6 but quickly scored two touchdowns and put the game away.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was 19/32 for 246 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.He also had 2 carries for 7 yards and 1 rushing touchdown.The loss of his #2 receiver didn't seem to bother him much. He delivered passes to 7 different players, including 6 balls to superstar Amari Cooper for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.

With Prescott spreading the ball around, the Dallas running game was able to produce two 100-yard rushers for the first time in 21 years.Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball 21 times on Sunday.He had 19 carries for 125 yards and caught 2 passes for 14 yards.His backup running back Tony Pollard (rookie) carried the ball 13 times for 103 yards and the final touchdown of the game that enabled Dallas to cover their huge 22.5-point spread.

The Cowboy defense also came out to play. They held the Dolphins to less the 300 yards of total offense, 17 first downs, and had 3 sacks. Linebacker Jaylon Smith led the team in tackles with 10, (8 solo).

This is the first time in 11 years that the Dallas Cowboys have started a season at 3-0. Most importantly, they sit all alone atop the NFC East and a 2 game cushion over their biggest threat the Philadelphia Eagles.

3 Things to Watch For

1.Ezekiel Elliott (Running Back): Zeke is main driver of the Cowboy offense and will need to have another great game this upcoming week if Dallas wants to pull off a win in New Orleans.I expect Elliott to have another 20+ touches on Sunday.

2.Jason Witten (Tight End): Only had 3 catches against Miami but one of those was a clutch 33 yard reception on 3rd and 20 that led to a Cowboy touchdown early in the game. Witten is crucial to keeping Dallas drives from stalling out.

3.Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith (Linebackers):These guys are going to have their hands full on Sunday as they will be tasked at stopping Alvin Kamara, who is one of the best running backs in the league.They will need to keep him contained if they want to pull out another victory.

Coming Up

Sunday Night September 29th, the Dallas Cowboys (3-0) will be on the road in the Big Easy taking on the New Orleans Saints (2-1) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is set for 7:20 pm Central Time. The Saints will be without their starting quarterback Drew Brees who is out with a thumb injury. Before last week, I would have thought Dallas should have a good chance at picking up another win but New Orleans just beat the Seahawks in Seattle.The Cowboys are going to need to control the ball with Zeke and keep Kamara off the field.

If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB)

Saints: Alvin Kamara (RB), Michael Thomas (WR)

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are currently -3 and the over/under is 46.The number will dictate what side to take. If it's less than 3 play the Cowboys. If it is more than 3, play the Saints.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome