The Dallas Cowboys are now 8-3 as they head into Week 13. There are some areas of improvement the offense can continue growing on as the rest of the season rolls around.
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has broken up the season into three trimesters, with the final one starting next week after the Cowboys face the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.
But with the team needing to win some key games in the season’s final six games, what areas of growth have the offense made and can continue to focus on?
Continuity on the Dallas Cowboys’ Offensive Line
The Cowboys’ offensive line has continued to build its continuity, which has made for better play from the entire offense. Overall, Dak Prescott has been sacked 22 times this season. However, the last time the unit allowed a sack was in Week 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Although this isn’t necessarily an area of improvement that’s needed, it is an area of focus that can continue to grow.
The pass protection is allowing Prescott to play lights out right now. According to Inside Edge, Dak has a passer rating of 97.7 when under pressure since Week 8, which is third best of 28 qualified NFL quarterbacks.
Cowboys’ Ball Distribution Continues To Improve
This also ties into the ball distribution, which has also shown improvement. The “Texas Coast” offense is changing the team’s identity to be pass-heavy, allowing the run game to open up more.
Going into Thursday’s game, here are the percentage of snap counts for the Cowboys’ receivers, tight ends, and running backs according to Pro Football Reference:
- CeeDee Lamb: 79.42% of snaps
- Brandin Cooks: 61.62%
- Michael Gallup: 56.97%
- KaVontae Turpin: 12.62%
- Jalen Tolbert: 40.90%
- Jalen Brooks: 8.76%
As expected, Lamb is getting the most snaps on the offense overall. Although the starting receiver has been producing, we have also seen more involvement from Cooks.
Getting other receivers involved allows Dallas to give more unscouted looks from their playbook when needed, especially if Lamb is getting schemed against by opposing defensive coordinators, which is expected.
Getting Turpin even more involvement in the next few weeks could add another element of speed to the offense that could amplify its play.
- Jake Ferguson: 71.71% of snaps
- Luke Schoonmaker: 33.73%
- Peyton Hendershot: 12.75%
- Sean McKeon: 12.22%
Getting the tight ends more involved in the passing game will be critical for the team going forward and an area of improvement they can continue to work toward.
In McCarthy’s new scheme, the tight ends have been more used in the pass pro and blocking aspect of their games. But with the offensive line finding its continuity, this could become less of a necessity.
- Tony Pollard: 69.72% of snaps
- Rico Dowdle: 20.72%
- Deuce Vaughn: 7.04%
- Hunter Luepke: 11.42%
The running back room is another group that could benefit from more balanced ball distribution. Although Pollard is the starting RB and has shown more production by getting a touchdown in the last two games, you would still like to see more from the run game overall.
Pollard remains a productive starting back who can get consistent yardage, especially with the offensive line playing like it has been the last two weeks.
Getting Dowdle more involved as the second RB could be beneficial, especially in the red zone. Dowdle brings a physicality and speed aspect to the game that could make him a perfect red-zone threat for rushing touchdowns.
Penalties Leading to Self-Inflicted Wounds for Dallas
The Cowboys are the second-most penalized team in the NFL, with 81 penalties for 637 yards. So far this season, the top two penalties called on the team have been offensive holding (17) and false start (12) penalties.
Dallas’ three losses against the 49ers, Eagles, and Cardinals have all been their most-penalized games. Although the team is still finding a balance of being aggressive and can get holding penalties called because of that, it’s the presnap penalties that set them behind the sticks that are the issue.
With three away games left this season, the Cowboys must minimize the presnap penalties as much as possible.
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