What to watch in Week 2 as the Cowboys battle the Los Angeles Chargers.
Coming off a tough Week 1 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and hitting the road once again to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2, isn’t exactly the ideal way the Dallas Cowboys would’ve liked to kick off their 2021 season. But, that’s the way the schedule played out this year, leaving the Cowboys no choice but to try to put their best foot forward.
The Los Angeles Chargers did what the Cowboys failed to do in their season opener and won a close game against the Washington Football Team last week. If the Cowboys want to keep themselves from falling in a 0-2 hole early in the season they can’t allow for that to happen once again. They have to find some way to defeat the Chargers on the road and it begins with winning a few key matchups.
Joey Bosa vs. Terence Steele
With La’el Collins out while he serves his five-game suspension he was recently slapped with by the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have decided to turn to Terrence Steele. After going undrafted in 2020, the former Texas Tech OT gets the nod over other options to start at right tackle during Collins’ absence. He does have 14 games of starting experience as a rookie last year, but Week 2 is going to be a tough matchup for him.
Whether it was Collins, Steele, or anyone else Dallas decided to start at RT, Joey Bosa was going to be a problem for them. He is one of the top EDGE players in the entire league, and as such, has to be game planned for each week. There’s no way the Cowboys can expect their second-year OT to handle Bosa on his own, which means they will need to find some way to give him a little extra help. Tight ends and running backs will be employed at various times to help the situation.
Dak Prescott vs. Justin Herbert
This Week 2 matchup with the Chargers is shaping up like it could be another shootout for the Cowboys, just like in the season opener against the Buccaneers. While Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert may not directly square off against one another, the quarterback who ends up having the better day will likely end up leading their team to victory. Hopefully, Prescott comes out on top instead of his opponent.
For No. 4 to be the victor in Week 2 for the Cowboys he probably doesn’t need to change much, if anything, in the way he played last week. He was sharp against the Buccaneers and got all of his playmakers involved. He did have one interception off a tipped pass to CeeDee Lamb, but that was hardly his fault. If he can play mistake free football Sunday afternoon the Cowboys should come away with their first “W” of the 2021 season.
DeMarcus Lawrence vs. Bryan Bulaga
The Chargers rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater was sensational in his rookie debut in Week 1 against Washington. He did not allow a single QB pressure or sack going up against a talented pass rushing duo in Chase Young and Montez Sweat. With Randy Gregory potentially missing this game due to a positive COVID test, the Cowboys best hopes of generating a pass rush off the edge fall on DeMarcus Lawrence’s shoulders.
D-Law’s best chance of impacting this game in the Cowboys favor is to square off against Bryan Bulaga, the Chargers starting right tackle. Bulaga is currently day-to-day due to a lower back issue that only allowed him to play 45 out of 81 offensive snaps last week. Bulaga being less than 100% makes this a matchup that favors No. 90 and even more so if Storm Norman replaces him at RT the way he did in Week 1.
Anthony Brown vs. Chargers’ WRs
We are just one week into the 2021 NFL season and already fans around Cowboys Nation are wanting Anthony Brown replaced in the starting lineup. He was victimized early and often by Tom Brady and his receivers in the season opener and because of that he may have been exposed as the Cowboys weakest link on defense. Despite that, he has a chance to redeem himself in Week 2 against the Chargers.
While the Chargers receivers aren’t untalented by any means (Keenan Allen is especially formidable), they’re not quite up to the standards Anthony Brown was asked to cover last week against the Buccaneers. There’s little doubt he will be targeted early and often to test his ability, but there is reason to believe he can have a bounce back game to prove he’s no slouch in coverage. If he struggles once again though it could be the difference between a win or loss.
Austin Ekeler vs. Cowboys’ defense
Seeing as the Buccaneers only had 14 rushing attempts last week in the season opener, the Cowboys run defense wasn’t really tested all that much. That will likely change in this Week 2 matchup with the Chargers. To give themselves the best opportunity to win this game they must contain Austin Ekeler as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield this Sunday.
Ekeler is exactly the kind of dual threat running back who has given the Dallas Cowboys problems in the past. His ability to impact the game toting the rock or as a receiver in the passing game is something they need to game plan for and execute Sunday afternoon. That probably means we’ll see more of Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal once again because their athletic ability gives them a better chance to limit Ekeler’s production.