DALLAS - The Dallas Cowboys opened their season with a 20-19 loss at the hands of the New York Giants on Sunday. Here are five things we learned from the contest:
Dak Prescott is the real deal: Nothing rattled him. The Giants dialed up several different blitzes and coverage packages, all of which Prescott diagnosed. Plain and simple, he didn’t look like a rookie quarterback. He had no turnovers, and looked more than comfortable not only throwing in the pocket, but navigating the offense.
He made plays with his feet when he had to, but did not solely rely on his escapability. When his first and second options weren’t there, Prescott wasn’t afraid to check down to Jason Witten or a running back in the flat. The Cowboys lost on Sunday, and Prescott was not the reason.
Ezekiel Elliott still needs to develop: There’s no questioning Elliott’s physical abilities or his intangibles, but I am calling into question his maturity – something that hurt him against the Giants. Being a running back requires patience, and knowing exactly when to hit the hole or cut to the outside.
Granted, it was his first game in the NFL, but the Ohio State product seemed far too eager to put his head down and bully his way. That may have worked in college, but it won’t work in the NFL. He will learn and get better, but Zeke did not dazzle on Sunday.
The defense has question marks: Aside from the Brandon Carr interception, which was the only turnover of the game for either team, the Cowboys defense seemed, well, average. They didn’t give up many big plays, the one exception being the 40 plus yard catch by Odell Beckham Jr., the same play Orlando Scandrick aggravated his hamstring on.
The biggest issue Dallas needs to be concerned about now is the front seven, which everyone knew coming into the season would be a problem. At the end of the game, New York’s offense lineman manhandled the Cowboys defensive line, and as a result, Dallas blew through all of its timeouts. For the majority of the game, Eli Manning had a clean pocket, something I’m sure Rod Marinelli was not pleased with.
The offensive line is the best in the business: This should come as no surprise. The Cowboys returned three Pro Bowlers from last season, and have the highest paid center in the game in Travis Frederick. Couple that with youngster La’el Collins from LSU and veteran Doug Free, and you get a very happy Dak Prescott, who hardly ever hit the turf. The line was good opening holes in the running game and exceptional in pass protection. When healthy, this is the single best unit in the NFL.
Terrance Williams goofed: With 12 seconds remaining, Williams caught a pass near the sidelines, and instead of diving out of bounds, cut back inside to try and pick up more yards. With no timeouts, the clock ran out on the Cowboys, who couldn’t spike the ball.
If Williams had dove out of bounds where he caught it, Dan Bailey probably would have been looking at a 60 yard field goal, something that is achievable for him. A chance is better than no chance at all. Bailey is one of the best kickers in the NFL and was 4 for 4 in the game, converting two 50 plus yarders. If only, right?
What were your thoughts on the game? Share them with Reece on Twitter @reecewaddell15.
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