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The Dallas Cowboys’ early success in the 2021-22 season has come on the back of a high-powered offense. With top defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence out, Big D has surrendered an average of 402 yards a game, which won’t win them many ball games. As a result, the Dallas coaching staff has decided to go full force on the opposite side of the ball — especially with the return of franchise QB Dak Prescott.
Fox sportscaster and Cowboys legend Troy Aikman spoke about Dallas’ winning formula, and gave some advice for upcoming opponents about stopping one of the premier pass offenses in the NFL.
“If you’re an inferior team, and I think a lot of teams who are going to come and play Dallas are going to be inferior to them, then the best way in order to get into the fourth quarter with a chance to win, which is all you’re hoping for, you want to minimize the offensive snaps,” commented Aikman, in an interview with WTCK’s The Ticket.
With Kellen Moore coaching the offense, Dallas has jumped to a 2-1 start this season — securing wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles. Their sole loss came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Cowboys still scored 29 points in the outing.
Aikman, the prominent Dallas QB from the ’90s, got his insight from his time under offense-first coach Jimmy Johnson and OC Barry Switzer, the legendary former head coach of the Sooners. Aikman won two Super Bowls, thanks to impressive pass-heavy offenses, and he won a third (Super Bowl XXX), thanks to the esteemed Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys put up 52 points in Super Bowl XXVII and 30 against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII.
By zeroing in on the receivers rather than the Dallas backfield — a once formidable unit that has regressed due to offensive line trouble and Ezekiel Elliott’s fluctuating usage — opponents can control the clock and keep Dallas sidelined enough to stay in contention going into the fourth quarter.
“You try to shorten the game by controlling the clock on your side of the ball, but also not giving up big plays. So I would play coverage. I would try to keep them from making big plays in the passing game and then make them just commit through the game of running the ball. Can you stop them? You get them to third down and you make a play, a dropped pass, a DB makes a play, then they’re punting. That’s the way that I would do it. I would not come up and try to stop the run and be over-committed to that and Ezekiel Elliott and [Tony] Pollard — and I like what he’s done too — and then allow CeeDee Lamb and the rest of them to run through your secondary. I think that’s a recipe for getting blown out.”
The Carolina Panthers are next up to heed Aikman’s advise to preserve their undefeated season, 3-0. With the loss of first-round cornerback Jaycee Horn, Carolina’s secondary should be bracing for plenty of activity from Dak and his three receiver options: Lamb, Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper.
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Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela