Despite a very good start to the season, the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys have a lot to clean up as the schedule gets more difficult over the next four weeks.
The NFL keeps setting them up and the Dallas Cowboys keep knocking them down. Week Three was just more of the same from the previous two weeks.
The Cowboys played a pretty good game against an opponent who is not so good and came away victorious. After a 31-6 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins, Dallas improved to 3-0.
Through three games, here is what we know:
#1. Quarterback Dak Prescott has full control of the offense. Early in his fourth NFL season, it is clear that the light has come on for him. He has matured to a new level that puts him in the conversation with the best at his position.
#2. The return of center Travis Frederick has also helped put this offense on a new level. With all due respect to center/guard Joe Looney, who played quite well in 2018, there is a big difference between a good player and an All-Pro.
#3. The running game is exactly what you thought it could and should be. After back-to-back 100+ yard rushing games from running back Ezekiel Elliott, Sunday rookie running back Tony Pollard hit the century mark for the first time in his career.
We also know that there are things that need improvement, especially considering how the schedule is about to change.
The truth of the matter is that the Dallas Cowboys used the first half of this Dolphins game as practice. After starting the game with a lead for the first time in 2019, Dallas seemed to be more in scrimmage mode than game mode.
Thankfully the Dolphins were not capable of catching the Cowboys going through the motions. Once Dallas returned the field after halftime, they appeared to shift into a higher gear and play how we expected.
There are still issues that this defense needs to work out … quickly. They have yet to put together a full game’s worth of solid play. Even with three sacks Sunday, they only have five on the season. The next time a Cowboys defender picks off an opposing quarterback will be the first time in 2019.
Coming into Week Three, Dallas was not in the top ten in any major defensive category despite playing some pretty awful opponents. In the next six weeks, Dallas faces New Orleans on the road, while Green Bay, Philadelphia and Minnesota all come to town. If Dallas wants to win those four games, the defense will need to rise to a level much closer to the one this offense resides.
If they do so, the premature talk of just how good this team is will be real. Failing to do so will only go towards raising the volume of the talk that Dallas is just beating up on the afterthoughts of the league. Next Sunday will be the first true test for this team. I believe the defense can rise up to the challenge. Sunday night on NBC, we’ll find out if that belief is justified.