DALLAS — Who would have thought new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore would have called a game where quarterback Dak Prescott achieved a perfect passer rating of 158.3? Moore's OC debut had fans wondering why these plays had been locked up when Scott Linehan was the offensive coordinator for the past several seasons.
The aerial bombardment of the New York Giants in Dallas' 35-17 win was a pleasant introduction for the rookie play-caller, and the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback entering the final year of his contract.
Here are some impressions from the game:
1. Zeke who? — There was a reason running back Ezekiel Elliott was listed as a "sit" in fantasy football this week. The Cowboys knew Elliott coming back from his holdout wouldn't be ready for a huge workload, and they weren't going to saddle him up with a bunch of touches. That's why his 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown along with is lone catch for 10 yards makes him look like a player who just got his contract money days before the game.
However, even if Elliott were in Oxnard, Calif., for all of training camp, the two-time NFL rushing champion historically gets off to slow starts. In the meantime, the Cowboys offense had to lead through the air, and Prescott's 25-of-32 for 405 yards and four touchdowns was every bit of impressive as his supporters have made it.
Though Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson also had a 158.3 passer rating earlier in the afternoon, and did so with an extra touchdown thrown, Prescott nonetheless joins the ranks of 31 other quarterbacks who threw at least 20 passes and achieved a perfect passer rating.
It speaks to the growth from the 2016 fourth-round pick from Mississippi State.
2. All in favor of the team's execution — Detractors will downplay the win over the Giants, citing the New York NFC East team to be a train wreck and the bottom feeders in the division. While that may be true, it isn't as though the Cowboys toyed around with the Giants and added garbage time points to make it an 18-point win.
Dallas was 6-of-10 on third down. They were 2-of-2 in the red zone. They were 1-of-1 in goal-to-go. They had fewer penalties than the opposition (6-40 to 8-70). They didn't have a turnover. All of that speaks to execution, which is something that teams can do against air. A team is either going to execute well or they aren't, and it has zero to do with the competition.
The Giants probably are a bad team, and the Cowboys systematically dismantled them the way the New England Patriots have done to their AFC East foes for nearly two decades. All Dallas' win did was perhaps highlight how weak the division could be, not emphasize how the Cowboys are September pretenders.
3. X-factor at safety — Xavier Woods had a nice introduction to his third NFL season with a game-high 11 tackles and a forced fumble. The former Louisiana Tech product gives the Cowboys security on the back end that they have not had since the days of Roy Williams and Darren Woodson, or at least the Barry Church era to be conservative.
Big plays aren't going to get past Woods, and he takes the pressure off of fellow safeties Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier to where they can go out and make plays. There's no big gaps in coverage, and Woods has the knack to make impactful plays.
4. Cowboys will need their OL depth — Cowboys Radio Network reporter Kristi Scales said the team took All-Pro right guard Zack Martin out of the game early in the fourth quarter just as a precaution, not that there was anything wrong with him. However, the reality is Martin missed the whole preseason with some disc irritation.
That the Cowboys were even taking precautions with Martin to that degree speaks to how big of a problem the disc irritation could turn into, which also explains why Dallas didn't wheel and deal during cut weekend with their offensive line depth: they're going to need it.
The good news is Connor Williams appears to have grown into his role at left guard in his second season, so moving Xavier Su'a-Filo to right guard means Joe Looney can continue to be the backup guard and center. The Cowboys won the division and a playoff game missing an All-Pro piece along the offensive line last year in center Travis Frederick. If Martin has to miss time, offensive line coach Marc Colombo can coach up the right combination.
5. Does Jason Garrett deserve any credit? — Garrett has had Prescott for three full seasons to this point, and never has he had a game such as the one against the Giants. Interestingly, it's the promotion of Moore to offensive coordinator and hiring Jon Kitna as quarterbacks coach that has helped Prescott seemingly turn the corner.
Over his tenure with the Cowboys, Garrett has become more of a "walk around coach" than getting specifically involved with any one area. How much of the 35-17 win and the Cowboys' big step on offense can actually be attributed to Garrett? How about all of it? He brought in Kitna. He promoted Moore. He established the culture for Prescott to flourish.
True leaders empower others to be great, not do everything themselves. The success of the Cowboys offense is a trickle-down from Garrett establishing his "process" culture and allowing others to take the reins. Control freaks can have a good season, but don't get very far. Teamwork makes the scheme work.
How do you feel about the team after the Week 1 blowout victory over the New York Giants? Share your thoughts and impressions with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.