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MORSE: Week 6 Preview – Patriots vs Dallas Cowboys

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
2 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Week 6 Preview – Patriots vs Dallas CowboysTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was a disaster for Dallas.  They lost QB Dak Prescott to a broken ankle in week 5 and the season went down with him.  They turned to Andy Dalton then Ben DeNucci and finally present Patriots Practice Squad QB Garret Gilbert.  In addition, the Offensive Line lost Tackle Lael Collins and Guard Zach Martin. Injuries also devastated the defensive side too.  Gerald McCoy never got on the field, Trysten Hill tore his ACL, Dontari Poe only lasted half the season.  Leighton Vander Esch played just 10 games after 9 the season before.  Despite all this, the Cowboys won 7 games and that was enough to win the putrid NFC East and make the playoffs.

Depth Charts from Ourlads

Offense

LWR 19 Cooper, Amari T/Oak 85 Brown, Noah 17/7
RWR 1 Wilson, Cedrick 18/6 17 Turner, Malik W/GB
WR 88 Lamb, CeeDee 20/1 81 Fehoko, Simi 21/5
LT 77 SMITH, TYRON 11/1 79 NSEKHE, TY U/Buf 69 Knight, Brandon CF19
LG 52 Williams, Connor 18/2 66 McGovern, Connor 19/3
C 63 Biadasz, Tyler 20/4 68 Farniok, Matt 21/7 52 Williams, Connor 18/2
RG 70 MARTIN, ZACK 14/1 69 Knight, Brandon CF19
RT 78 Steele, Terence CF20
TE 89 Jarwin, Blake CF17 86 Schultz, Dalton 18/4
QB 4 Prescott, Dak 16/4 10 Rush, Cooper CF17 15 Grier, Will W/Car
RB 21 Elliott, Ezekiel 16/1 20 Pollard, Tony 19/4 32 Clement, Corey SF21
FB

What did the Cowboys gain from that disaster last season?  Tony Pollard emerged as a legitimate backup to Ezekiel Elliott.  He can take some of the workload off Elliott.  TE Dalton Schultz has emerged as a force in the league.  He is presently the top TE in the league.  Cee Dee Lamb has eclipsed Amari Cooper as the #1 wide receiver on the Cowboys.   Tyron Smith and Zach Martin are two of the best offensive lineman in the league and are perennial Pro Bowlers.  Lael Collins has been suspended again for a failed drug test (he tried to bribe the tester).   That’s a break for the Patriots.  Not too much of a break as the Cowboys have been a well-oiled machine this year on Offense scoring 34.4 points per game.  Dak Prescott has brought balance back to the offense.  He is 122 of 165 passing for a 73.9% completion rate.  The average play is 8.3 yards and he has thrown 13 TDs to 3 INTs.  He carries a 116.9 passing rating.

Prescott stats through 5 games this year are better than last year’s first 5 games.  Stability in the passing game has also worked wonders for the run game.  Elliott is 85 carries for 452 yards, 5.3 average, and 5 TDs.  Pollard has chipped in with 51 carries for 325 yards. 6.4 average and 1 TD.  Don’t sleep on Dak Prescott because he can run and scramble out of the pocket.  The Patriots can’t lose containment because Prescott will burn them.  He has only run the ball 19 times so far this year.  That is just how the Dallas coaches want it.  Don’t expose the QB to unnecessary hits.  Prescott has been sacked 9 times in 5 games.

The receivers are top-notch.  Cee Dee Lamb leads the team in yards.  He is 24 receptions on 38 targets for 348 yards, 14.5 average, and 2 TDs.  Amari Cooper is no slouch at 25 receptions on 35 targets, for 318 yards, 12.7 average, and 4 TDs.  Schultz leads the team in receptions with 26 on 31 targets, 10.8 average, and 3 TDs.  Blake Jarwin is the 2nd TE.  He is capable of making the big play also.  Tony Pollard is a very reliable receiver out of the backfield.  He is a perfect 12 receptions on 12 targets, for 93 yards, 7.8 average, and no TDs.  I worry about Dallas spreading Pollard out wide against Ja’Whaun Bentley.  Total mismatch and a big play waiting to happen.  Cedrick Wilson, a former 6th round draft choice in 2018 out of Boise State, has battled his way onto the roster.  He has contributed 10 catches on 12 targets for 126 yards, 12.6 average, and 2 TDs.  Oh, and Wilson can pass too.  Another receiver I like is rookie Simi Fehoko out of Stanford.  He was a 5th round pick by Dallas this year.  Fehoko has been inactive, but at Stanford, he was 1st team All Pac-10 in the shortened pandemic season.  In 2019 led Stanford with a 23.5 average per reception which is #1 all-time for Stanford.  He had 24 receptions for 566 yards and 6 Tds (2nd on the team).  He is a big receiver at 6’ 4” 227 lbs and runs 4.44 40 with a 6.78 3-cone drill.  He was a player I had targeted as a possible Patriot.

Dallas has a big tell when they align in a 3-WR set.  In previous seasons, they pass out of this 3-WR formation 75% of the time.   Worst, they run out of all other formations 90% of the time.  I don’t think the numbers are as skewed this year with the emergence of Dalton Schultz.

Defense 

DE 93 Basham, Tarell U/NYJ 56 Anae, Bradlee 20/5 94 Gregory, Randy 15/2
DT 91 Watkins, Carlos U/Hou 95 URBAN, BRENT U/Chi 98 Bohanna, Quinton 21/6
DT 97 Odighizuwa, Osa 21/3
DE 92 Armstrong, Dorance 18/4 59 Golston, Chauncey 21/3
SLB 11 Parsons, Micah 21/1 54 Kamara, Azur CF20
MLB 14 Cox, Jabril 21/5 42 Neal, Keanu U/Atl
WLB 55 Vander Esch, Leighton 18/1 57 Gifford, Luke CF19
CB 30 Brown, Anthony 16/6
FS 18 Kazee, Damontae U/Atl 28 Hooker, Malik SF21
SS 6 Wilson, Donovan 19/6 27 Kearse, Jayron SF21 38 Mukuamu, Israel 21/6
CB 7 Diggs, Trevon 20/2 25 Wright, Nahshon 21/3 29 GOODWIN, CJ P/Cin
NB 26 Lewis, Jourdan 17/3 31 Canady, Maurice U/NYJ 29 GOODWIN, CJ P/Cin

This is a new and exciting defense led by 1st round pick LB Micah Parsons.  Parsons will line up anywhere on the field.  He has the speed and mobility to play defensive back if needed.  He leads the team with 2.5 sacks.  You need to account for him no matter where he lines up.  The Cowboys said goodbye to Aldon Smith and recently cut Jaylon Smith.  Another big surprise for Dallas is the development of 2nd year, ball-hawking CB Trevon Diggs from Alabama.  He has 6 INT in 5 games so far this year.  He was listed as limited in Wednesday’s Injury Report. had Diggs as a DNP.  Dallas took 8 defensive players out of 11 picks in the 2021 draft.  Rookies LB Jabril Cox and DT Oga Odighizuwa are also starters.  Dallas is also glad to have Leighton Vander Esch back healthy to give the young defense some stability.  Dallas is only giving up 23 points a game.

Special Teams

PT 5 ANGER, BRYAN CC/Hou
PK 2 ZUERLEIN, GREG U/LAR
LS 44 MCQUAIDE, JAKE U/LAR
H 5 ANGER, BRYAN CC/Hou
KO 2 ZUERLEIN, GREG U/LAR
PR 88 Lamb, CeeDee 20/1 1 Wilson, Cedrick 18/6 20 Pollard, Tony 19/4
KR 20 Pollard, Tony 19/4 1 Wilson, Cedrick 18/6

Zuerlein has been fairly consistent this year, going 9 for 11 with a long FG of 56 yards.  He is also 17 of 19 on extra points.  Seems every team is missing extra points.   Bryan Anger is an average punter with a 45.5 net average.  He has kicked 13 punts but put 7 of those inside the 20.

The bottom line is the Patriots will have to play their “A” game on defense as they did against Tom Brady and Tampa Bay.  They will need to come out strong and fast, control the tempo of the game if they want to be close with Dallas.  The Patriots will have to play mistake-free football on both sides of the ball.   Mac Jones must continue to progress and it would help if he could score more TDs rather than FG when in the Red Zone.  I liked the no-huddle offense and running the wildcat, especially if Jakobi Meyers was back at the wildcat position.    They will also need a good performance from Special Teams.

I think it will be a close game with the Patriots having an opportunity to win the game in the 4th quarter.   This is the national game of the week on CBS with the “A” team broadcasters of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo.


Posted Under: Patriots News


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