DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys are preparing for their first non-divisional game of the 2019 season after beating both Washington and New York to take an early lead in the NFC East. The winless Miami Dolphins come to town on Sunday as the Cowboys go for their first 3-0 start since the 2008 season.
Just one season ago, in a campaign that saw the Cowboys reclaim the top spot in the division, Dallas was led by a top 10 scoring defense and an offense that was ranked 22nd overall. Early on this season, the statistics for each unit has been the polar opposite.
Through two weeks of the young season the defense is middle of the road in terms of scoring defense while the offense is carrying the load for the Cowboys.
There's no reason to suspect the defense has fallen off so those numbers should improve as the season goes on but they perhaps will be forced to adjust to the offense scoring points in bunches. However, the vast improvement of the offense thus far is worth noting. After all, getting more out of the offense was a stated goal for the season but seeing it come together so quickly couldn't have been foreseen.
Could the improvements be coming from the addition of Jon Kitna as the quarterbacks coach to help put the final touches on Dak Prescott? Perhaps the return of Jason Witten has helped open the floodgates or the elevation of Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator has unlocked the unit's potential? Let’s not forget the return of All-Pro center and offensive line anchor Travis Frederick after missing the entire 2018 season following his diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Whichever way you want to lean, the early returns on the offense have been a hit.
Perhaps the biggest tangible difference so far is the Cowboys have improved their red zone offense from a season ago that was barely over 50% conversion rate of red zone touchdowns to 83.3% this year. Getting into the end zone instead of settling for field goals will run the score up considerably.
While the sample size is too small to draw definitive conclusions, there is plenty of reason to be excited. Kellen Moore and Dak Prescott have this offense humming at this point. Through two weeks of the season, the Cowboys are third in the NFL in passing yards behind only the high octane Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals with 333.0 yards per game. Dallas is second in the league in overall yards per game behind the Baltimore Ravens with 484.0 yards per contest.
In back to back games the offense has scored on five consecutive drives after their initial drive stalled, showing the offense refuses to take the foot off the pedal once they get going. Against higher level competition ahead of them on the schedule, the Cowboys will need to get off to much quicker starts to keep the pressure on the opposition but for now, they've had the opportunity to wait to pounce and then never let up.
With the offense soaring, it could be that the Cowboys defense just hasn’t had the time to really gel together but that should come with time as the defensive group is still likely the most talented unit on the roster. For now though, it's the offense that's firing on all cylinders.
Dallas has playmakers all over the skill positions and with Moore now calling the plays, it looks like a much more explosive group and one that is finishing drives. Should Prescott continue playing at the level we have seen over these first games, the sky's the limit.
Do you think the early success on offense is a byproduct of playing two weaker teams or do you feel like Kellen Moore and the gang are coming into their own? Share your thoughts on the offensive production so far this season with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.