The 2021 Cowboys’ offense, expected by many to ride Dak Prescott and his trio of talented receivers’ passing attack, has taken a decided turn back to the Triplet’s ’90s. All of a sudden Dallas leads the league in rushing percentage notching their third consecutive 200-yard rushing game this past Sunday.
Part of this turn was necessity. Wideout Michael Gallup injured a calf muscle in the season opener against Tampa Bay and has not returned to fitness. Another is simply that Dallas exudes a flexibility not seen in any prior Cowboys offensive attack. The remaining wideouts — CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper — and the tight end duo of Dalton Schultz and Blake Jarwin all show the ability to make plays down the field.
Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has therefore stayed with a 12-personnel package that keeps two receivers and both tight ends on the field most of the time.
It’s no surprise, given this balance and explosiveness, that the Cowboys lead the NFL in explosive plays(20-yard or more passes, 10-yard or more runs). What is a bit surprising is that the Cowboys have far more explosives on the ground than they do through the air. They lead the league with 27 explosive runs, tied with the Cleveland Browns. That number is eight more than the sum of explosive passes.
The hidden reason why Dallas can hurt an opponent on land or through the air? Those four receiving targets are selfless blockers, ready to do the dirty work to help Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard reach the third level after the offensive line has broken them into the second. It’s this dedication to the blocking part of their jobs that gives them an edge when they go out on patterns.
Today, we’ll look at three variants of the old Packers sweep, which Moore dusted off to outflank the Giants. Each of these calls produced an explosive run, and each was spurred by outstanding edge blocking by Amari Cooper and the two tight ends.