There were tons of question marks surrounding the Dallas Cowboys ahead of their Week 1 bout against the New York Giants. After winning the game 35-17, it’s safe to say that those questions were answered for the most part.
The Cowboys entered Sunday’s game with a new offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore. Fans and the media alike were anxious to see just how different Moore’s offense was going to be compared to Scott Linehan’s.
As a result, Moore began the game by allowing Dak Prescott to throw the ball 26 times in just the first half. Having 26 passing attempts in any half of a contest was a rare sight in a Linehan-led offense.
Along with the tendency to throw the ball, there was more pre-play movement going on in Dallas’ offense. The rookie offensive coordinator wasn’t shy to incorporate more motions and dummy plays to set up future plays that resulted in success.
In today’s NFL, there are plenty of teams who are leaning towards utilizing more motion-offense in their schemes. It just so happens that the Cowboys are coming around to using it more often in their offense as well—with fruitful results.
Provided that, here are the three biggest takeaways for the Cowboys in their Week 1 win over the Giants.
3. Michael Gallup is Ready for a Larger Role
The Cowboys were able to acquire Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders midway through the season in 2018. Cooper figures to be the team’s go-to guy but for them to take a step forward; they need Michael Gallup to improve.
On Sunday, the second-year receiver answered the call by catching seven passes for 158 yards versus the Giants. Gallup showed in Week 1 that he is ready to step into a more prominent role in Dallas’ aerial attack in 2019.
As a rookie in 2018, Gallup struggled to adjust in the offense with only 33 receptions, 507 yards, and two touchdowns. In just one game, the Colorado State product almost totaled a third of his production from last season.
After leading the team in receptions and yards in Week 1, the Cowboys should feel comfortable with Gallup’s development in their offense.
2. The Cowboys are Going to Gradually Increase Ezekiel Elliott’s Workload
One of the most asked questions for Jason Garrett prior to Sunday’s game was: How much work would Ezekiel Elliott get in Week 1? Considering the All-Pro running back only had 13 carries in Week 1, it seems as if they’re going to ease him into the backfield in the coming weeks.
Of course, Elliott spent the majority of training camp and the preseason away from the team due to wanting a long-term extension from the organization. Just a few days before their game on Sunday, the Cowboys were able to secure Elliott on a six-year, $90 million extension.
Despite him signing the deal, Garrett reiterated that they will need to get Elliott up-to-speed in the offense. In Week 1, Elliott finished the game with 54 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
At the same time, rookie Tony Pollard also finished the game with 13 rushing attempts for Dallas. Expect to see slightly more carries for the NFL’s leading rusher from 2018 in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins.
1. Dak Prescott is Perfect in Kellen Moore’s Offense
Following the kickoff in Sunday’s game, all eyes were on how Kellen Moore’s offense would look like in Week 1. At the same time, fans were curious to see how their franchise quarterback was going to perform in the new-look offense.
When the final whistle was blown, Prescott ended the game with 405 yards, four touchdowns, and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Prescott joined Lamar Jackson as the only quarterbacks to finish with a perfect passer rating on Sunday.
As a result of Prescott’s performance, Cowboys fans should feel ecstatic with how their first game went. The Cowboys offense looked vastly different than they did in 2018; incorporating more movement and play action in their playcalling.
In Week 1, Dallas utilized the play-action pass on 46.6% of their passing plays (second-most in the NFL in Week 1). When you have a running back like Elliott and a dominant offensive line, you can run more play-action sets.
With Prescott yearning for a long-term extension this season, the fourth-year quarterback may have found the perfect offensive scheme that benefits him the most.