Having one of the best running backs in the league, it doesn’t make sense that the Dallas Cowboys would choose not to destroy Green Bay on the ground.
As fans start to deal with the heartbreaking 34-31 loss against the Green Bay Packers that knocked the Dallas Cowboys out of the post season, it’s good to look at what went wrong in Dallas that day.
Fans weren’t the only ones bummed out about the loss, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott left and tight end Jason Witten were among the players to leave the field bummed. But the loss, and the great regular season run is just the start to the new era of Cowboys football, one that will be led by a rookie duo.
Going into the game against the Packers, the Cowboys had an unstoppable force against a defense that couldn’t slow it down. Yet, they chose not to use it to destroy the opponent.
Despite putting up 31 yards and 429 yards, offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan, chose not to use his unstoppable force of Zeke behind their talented O-Line. Yet, on third-and-2, they chose not to run the ball up the middle and elected to instead pass. Giving up the golden opportunity of using Zeke when it matters the most.
The Packers wouldn’t have been able to stop him; so why didn’t the Cowboys utilize him?
Even so, one good player can’t win the game. He wasn’t going to be able to carry the entire team on his shoulders as he ran down the field. Dak played well. The pass protection was decent. Receivers made catches. The only difference from them being successful in past games to their most recent is that Zeke was not fed.
A quick overview of what he could have done. On the third play of the game, Elliott runs wide and stumbles picking up only seven yards. Had he not stumbled, it could’ve been a 60-yard touchdown run because he was open.
Green Bay was playing nickel defense because they weren’t trying to stop the run. They play to poach big plays. The inside zone was constantly leaving huge gaps in the play every time the boys ran.
So instead of using a player that can’t be stopped, they are forced to rely on their rookie quarterback to make plays in double coverage situations. This led them to settle for field goals at crucial moments, feeding into the Packers game plan.
Another great example was the last drive. Third-and-3. One play call to win or tie. The Cowboys elect to go empty and slant to Dez. Great, the play could have worked. But Green Bay gets to Dak and affects the throw before it’s batted down.
The outcome of that drive could have been different had they used Zeke to run up the middle or even for a play fake. But they never forced the red hot Packers to stop their best asset of the game; the run.
So yes, while losing the game by just three points looks phenomenal considering they at one point were trailing by 18 points is great. It shows the strength that the team has. It looks great for the future. But it just doesn’t make sense that they didn’t destroy it on the ground with one of the best rushers in the league. Rather than putting up a larger fight, the Cowboys offense allowed Green Bay to survive when they really had no power.