Thank God November 2021 is over because it was Hell for the Dallas Cowboys and fans alike. They finished the month 1-3 after a 6-1 start, resembling nothing like the team from the 1st 7 games.
Key players have been in and out of the line up. Some to injury and others to replacement like Connor Williams and La’el Collins. The Cowboys had to go without players like Tyron Smith, Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory for a time, and the results shown on the field that the team doesn’t look the same.
Dallas’ lone win coming at the hands of a withered Atlanta Falcons team that has more problems to the point the Dallas Cowboys should feel fortunate.
The average margins of defeat in their 3 losses during the month were by 9 points, all against AFC West opponents. In those games, they gained nearly 300 less yards and had the ball for less than 37 minutes of play than their opponents.
Not a good month of football.
Now, there’s good news. And plenty of it. Next up is a team going into December who’s having worse luck and a worse November than the Cowboys.
The New Orleans Saints lost their last 4 games after losing Jameis Winston for the season. However, that has only scratched the surface to the Saints injury bug.
The #Saints won’t have:
& possibly also w/out:
Literally no excuses. #CowboysNation
— Shane Carter (@ShaneCarterTx) December 2, 2021
This game is a must-win. The Cowboys have to take advantage of an injured Saints team to get back on track with the playoffs getting closer. There are many ways the Cowboys can win this game, and these will all be key.
Air it Out
Even though the Saints have a proud, nasty, hard-hitting defense, they haven’t looked the same in recent weeks. They’re currently ranked 22nd against the pass, and are ranked in the middle of the league in pressures and QB blitzes.
It isn’t all their fault. With the offense as beaten up and playing poorly, the defense has been disproportionately on the field by more than 22 minutes. Which has only worn them down more.
For the Dallas Cowboys, it means a chance to see their trio of CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the field for only the 3rd time this season. Quarterback Dak Prescott had a good game statistically against the Raiders on Thanksgiving, but didn’t always look himself throwing the ball.
Whether the passes have been behind, or a receiver has dropped the pass, this is a game to reinvigorate the passing game. The Saints have a great secondary but have shown to be vulnerable as the game goes, something Dallas needs to do.
Prepare for the RPO
Jamies Winston is out for the year. Trevor Siemian has been benched. Enter Taysom Hill.
Taysom Hill is great fodder for people to joke about how he doesn’t have a true position. He also hasn’t shown to consistently be a threat as a passer. What he does offer is the ability to run the ball, and even be a contact runner as well.
This might be a true ‘old school’ game for the Saints with their starting tackles and guard, Andrus Peat, all gone for this game. The only starters playing on the offensive line will be center Erik McCoy and guard Cesar Ruiz.
Not only will Mark Ingram be running between those 2, and to the right outside, but there will also be plenty of times number 7 will be the ball carrier in those directions as well. Something which plagues this Cowboys defense, who’ve given up 562 rushing yards in their last 4 games.
It’s easy to look at this team and see who they don’t have and pencil in a win. When your team in hurt, you run the ball, control the line of scrimmage, minimalize turnovers and win the time of possession battle. All things the Saints offense can, and will try to do.
Apply Pressure from the Outside
Just in time, the Dallas Cowboys got great news this week with the return of DeMarcus Lawrence. The pass rush has been all but dependent on rookie Micah Parsons, who set the Cowboys rookie record for sacks.
To their credit, players like Dorance Armstrong, Tarell Basham and Chauncey Golston have all played admirably in this time, and will still have to. Lawrence hasn’t played since week 1, and coming off a foot injury is never easy for linemen on either side of the ball.
However, as mentioned earlier, the Saints will play without both of their starting tackles. This is big, not only because Armstead and Ramczyk might be the best pair of tackles in football, but for protecting their now starting quarterback.
Alvin Kamara and Adam Trautman are both out for this game, which will take away a lot of the Saints dump-off passes Hill would’ve needed. Still expect them to get the ball out of their quarterbacks hands before this Cowboys pass rush, who’s got the ninth highest pressure rate, can affect the game.
What makes this Saints defense so resilience has been pride. Not pride to the point of not realizing who they are, pride of belief that they will win the line of scrimmage.
Players like Demario Davis and Marshon Lattimore are the high point of this defense and have kept this team in winnable positions. Just not as recently, having given up 75 points in the last 2 games.
The thing that keeps hurting the Dallas Cowboys has been their intensity. Not only have they been timid on opening drives (sans Atlanta) but have allowed offenses to dictate early how their offense will control the game.
If the Dallas Cowboys want to avoid another loss (and would be their worst of the season), they need to match what the Saints will give on defense early, and go back to doing what has made them a contender on offense.
Their aren’t any stats that measure how intense a player or team is, but both teams blitz and apply pressure on teams near identically. The Cowboys can’t fall behind early. New Orleans won’t let them back otherwise.