The Cowboys-Packers Week 5 matchup ended in a 34-24 win for the visiting Packers, but the final score doesn’t really reflect the manner in which the Cowboys got dominated on both sides of the ball. While the Cowboys offense wasn’t completely shut down in terms of yardage, the Packers defense did a great job of getting in Dak Prescott’s face and the Cowboys found themselves trailing 31-3 before attempting to mount a comeback, making the score closer than it should have been. To be short and sweet, the Cowboys got their prideful and content tails beat, and here are a few key plays and reasons why they did.
The Dallas defense started off the game right, forcing the Packers to punt the ball. Dak Prescott and the offense moved the ball very well on their first drive, using a big play action pass to Cooper and a nice run up the middle by Ezekiel Elliott to set up a look that they wanted, and got.
The Packers line up on this play with a 7 man front, 1 safety high, and showing man coverage across the board. By the time Dak sells play action and turns back around to throw, he has what he wanted.
The safety that was in the middle of the field has chosen to cheat to the left half of the field because of the deep route by Gallup on the left sideline and Cobb crossing right to left, leaving Amari Cooper alone with Jaire Alexander, and he already has separation.
All Dak has to do is throw this directly down the middle in the spot that the safety had just vacated and it’s a touchdown. Instead, its slightly behind Cooper who drops it, unfortunately into the hands of Alexander.
This interception isn’t Dak Prescott’s fault. Amari Cooper should have caught the ball and possibly even score. Objectively speaking, however, Dak Prescott needed to place this ball in stride of Amari Cooper.
Here’s a better view of it.
The Packers would turn that interception into a touchdown from Aaron Jones.
This was a very poor play defensively from execution by a few people.
The Cowboys are in a 42 defense, with the defensive line in an “over” front with the strong side defensive tackle lined up in the 3-technique (3T).
The 1 technique (1T), Covington, gets completely washed down, but more importantly, the 3 technique, Collins, allows the right tackle to take an inside step and get him turned inside out, letting the right guard climb to Jaylon Smith. This creates a massive gap to run through as long as Jaylon gets blocked well, and he does.
The safety in the middle of the field (Woods I think), needs to give a better attempt at an open field tackle as well.
Speaking of poor rush defense, Aaron Jones had his way the entire game.
If you look at his rushing chart (via NextGenStats), the only area in which he didn’t average at least 6 yards per carry is off left tackle. I want to say a lot of the run defense problems were because of the defensive tackles, specifically the 3-technique, but when the rushing chart shows dominance from left guard to right tackle, everyone has to be held accountable.
Another play I blame Dak for. The Cowboys are now down just 7-0, and mounting a drive that looks like it’s going to result in 3 points at the very least.
3rd and 7 from the 34 (51 yard field goal), Dak Prescott CANNOT take a sack here. He loses 10 yards which kills any chances at a field goal attempt.
Trailing two possessions now in the second quarter, on ANOTHER promising drive that looks like the offense can capitalize on and gain momentum, Dak makes a big mistake.
When Dak turns around from the play action he immediately locks his eyes onto Cobb on the crossing route and telegraphs the throw back across the field. Once again, potential points get erased.
3rd and 3, Cowboys defense needs a stop to force a field goal.
The Packers picked the perfect formation here, with a bunch formation to the field, preventing Dallas from playing tight man coverage like they want.
Byron Jones and company have to line up with a cushion in order to diagnose the route concept from the bunch receivers. Allison uses this against Byron Jones who can’t close that space fast enough on a deep crossing route. Rodgers throws a great pass in stride.
As far as Rodgers goes, this game can’t be excused as a “But it was Aaron Rodgers!” loss. There was nothing special about Rodgers performance against Dallas.
He only had 4 attempts further than 20 yards and none were completed. He killed the Dallas defense underneath all day.
I’m all in on the Cowboys playing Jourdan Lewis over Anthony Brown, but this isn’t a penalty on Anthony Brown. Not only do his hands go straight up without restricting the receivers ability to use his arms, but the ball hits Brown in his back. Ticky-tack call.
I know this post has been a lot of negative, deservedly so, but I want to throw in a positive thought about this game. In my opinion, Dak Prescott’s two best throws of the game came on back to back plays.
The second one in particular is something I wish Dak would do more, which is recognizing blitz and throwing the ball to a spot where your intended target can catch it, and live with the results. He usually tries to hold the ball until last second under pressure and it causes a lot of preventable sacks.
This interception pretty much ruined any realistic chance at a comeback. The Packers defender gets away with mugging Michael Gallup. Had Dallas been able to score on this drive things could have been more interesting than they already turned out to be.
My last thought is after this game, the Cowboys decided to come out and voice their confidence in Brett Maher again, but he has to go. I’m not going to show any clips of his misses, but 1 of 3 and two misses while trying to climb back into a game is unacceptable. There aren’t many options on the free agent market that are probably any better, so I would look forward to the 2020 Draft to find his replacement.