It’s a new week for the Dallas Cowboys and there are good feelings coming off a thrilling win against the Detroit Lions. A week ago, the feeling wasn’t so great. It’s funny how a win can cure what ails your favorite team.
The issues that plagued the Cowboys in week three, didn’t appear to be problems in week four. There were first down throws, pass attempts to the intermediate and deep parts of the field and some extra wrinkles in the offense. The result was a win at home.
Sounds a lot like what happened in week two at home in a win over the New York Giants. After a putrid offensive performance in Carolina to open the season, the Cowboys made the adjustments to kick-start the offense.
It sure seems like the coaches have tailored their game plans to be more conservative on the road. The offense takes more chances and is more aggressive at home than they do when they’re away from Dallas. Dak Prescott has a reputation for protecting the ball, so it’s hard to imagine why they are so guarded on the road.
To win in Houston, the Cowboys cannot have the same conservative approach. They need to trust their guys to make plays and be more aggressive. It helps that the upcoming game is in Houston, where the Cowboys will find a generous amount of fans. Perhaps a less intimidating environment will help keep the game plan creative this week.
Regardless of how the Cowboys attack, they still need better execution on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys are struggling on third downs, on offense and defense. Dallas is converting just over 28% of their third downs right now, good for 30th in the league. The Cowboys need to sustain drives and wear down defenses, it’s much of what their identity is based upon. Pound Ezekiel Elliott, control the clock and then attack on defense. That’s difficult to do when you don’t convert on third downs.
It’s also difficult when the Cowboys don’t score enough. They are only scoring touchdowns on 40% of the red zone trips, ranking them at 29th in the NFL. Dallas needs touchdowns, not field goals to make their strategy work.
The defense also has struggled on third downs. The Cowboys are allowing offenses to convert on almost 45% of their third down attempts. That isn’t going to work when you’re trying to keep your defense off the field.
Additionally, there have been too many blown assignments in coverage in their last two games. The Cowboys have given up three touchdowns the last two weeks because of busts in the secondary. Regardless of where the team has played, they cannot continue to blow coverages, especially against the Houston Texans, who boast one of the best receivers in the game, DeAndre Hopkins.
The Cowboys have struggled on the road this season and they will not make the playoffs playing so poorly on the road. In the NFL, you need to win some games away from home, something the team hasn’t had any trouble with in their last two playoff seasons.
Dallas needs to turn things around on the road. It can come from a more aggressive game plan and being more efficient on third downs. Playing in Houston should give the Cowboys a good opportunity to get their first win on the road.
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