What We Saw: Week 16

It was a big week for young WRs

Football Team @ย Cowboys

Final Score: Cowboys 56, Football Team 14

Writer: Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)

 

The Cowboys absolutely routed the Washington Football Team on Sunday Night Football, ending the first half with a 42-7 lead. Dallas dominated in every phase of the game, as the offense was supplemented with a pick-six and a blocked punt for a touchdown.

 

 

At one point in the first half, Dak Prescott was 21 of 23 for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air, and Taylor Heinicke was under a constant barrage of pressure from the Cowboys’ fearsome pass rush. Much of the Cowboys’ offense was able to take the majority of the second half off, and Antonio Gibson was barely seen on the field in the second half for Washington. This was a game that was every bit as one-sided as the score would suggest.

 

Washington Football Team

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Quarterback

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Taylor Heinicke: 7/22, 121 yards, TD, 2 INT, 4 sacks | 1 carry, -1 yard

Kyle Allen: 8/10, 67 yards, TD, sack

 

Washington came out of the gates taking a deep shot on a play-action pass on the first offensive play, and Taylor Heinkicke‘s pass was intercepted by Trevon Diggs. The pass was intended for Terry McLaurin but Diggs was playing way off the ball and seemed to be expecting it. Heinicke threw it anyway and gave McLaurin very little chance to make a play on the ball.

It was all screens and short stuff the next drive, but when Heinicke tried to get it downfield Diggs was draped all over McLauren again, a pass that could have been another interception. A free rusher off the edge on 3rd and 4 was immediately in Heinicke’s face, and he had no chance of a completion.

On 3rd and 7, trailing by 14, Heinicke was intercepted on a short crosser by Demarcus Lawrence, who returned the pass for a touchdown. Heinicke had a rare clean pocket and the pass would not have produced a first down even if he hadn’t thrown it directly to Lawrence.

To his credit, Heinicke came back the first play after the interception and lofted up a deep ball into double coverage that was caught by Dyami Brown. It was a risky throw but they desperately needed a big play and Heinicke gave his receiver a chance to make a play.

 

 

The resulting red zone drive saw Heinicke running for his life on two straight dropbacks with defenders all around him, unable to get a pass out on time. On third down the protection finally held up, and Heinicke went through his progressions across the field and hit Gibson on a swing pass for a touchdown.

The next drive started with a play-action and Heinecke was immediately sacked by Micah Parsons. Under pressure later on the drive, Heinicke tried scrambling but was caught from behind, an example where he probably needs to sense the pressure better. Washington attempted a screen on 3rd and 8 but the Dallas defensive line was so dominant that they couldn’t give the screen time to develop.

Heinicke began to look even more rattled as the game progressed, and it affected his accuracy when he did have time. He had poor accuracy on an open out-route to Cam Sims, and he didn’t have the arm strength to hit an open McLauren deep when he had a step. He had a poor throw on a third down to start the second half while scrambling, and Heinicke seems to be running out of gas at this stage of the season. He was frequently running for his life in this game as the pass rush swarmed him.

Heinicke was under more pressure and threw off his back foot on 3rd and 15 and was nearly picked, and the following punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown. Heinicke’s last drive of the day would end under pressure, where took a shot from the defender and missed an open Adam Humpries for a big play. He was in pain but stayed in the game, and fired incomplete to a covered Humphries on 4th and 1.

Kyle Alen took over to start the fourth quarter down 56-7. He promptly hung Humpries out to dry on a screen pass. Allen continued the trend of running for his life under pressure and chucked one up that McLaurin caught in traffic for a first down. Allen managed to check it down against soft coverage for a late touchdown drive but did not do anything to take the job from Heinicke.

 

Running Backs

 

Antonio Gibson: 6 carries, 29 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, TD

Jaret Patterson: 9 carries, 33 yards

Jonathan Williams: 3 carries, 9 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

Antonio Gibson didn’t really have a chance in this game and was largely bottled up on runs that he was able to receive. Gibson caught a swing pass in the red zone and beat the defenders to the pylon for a touchdown, and looked good overall in the passing game.

 

 

Gibson had a nice first-down run showing off his speed on a 2nd and 10, but Washington just couldn’t stick with the run. Gibson had a big catch on a Texas route out of the backfield to start the two-minute drive, but was barely seen in the second half, as the game was out of reach and Washington smartly preserved one of their only playmakers.

Jaret Patterson and Jonathan Williams began to see work in the second half as the Cowboys went up 49-7. Neither made an impact.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Terry McLaurin: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 40 yards

Adam Humphries: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

Cam Sims: 3 targets

Dyami Brown: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 53 yards

DeAndre Carter: 2 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards | 1 carry, 15 yards

Dax Milne: 1 target, 1 reception, 14 yards

John Bates: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 45 yards, TD

Ricky Seals-Jones: 1 target, 1 reception, -4 yards

 

Terry McLaurin was blanketed by Diggs throughout this game, including on one interception and another near interception.

 

 

McLauren did have a step on Diggs out of a bunch formation with Diggs playing press, and McLaurin beat him deep but Heinicke didn’t have the arm strength to get it past Diggs, who recovered and tackled McLaurin from behind. There inexplicably no penalty called, but McLauren had Diggs beat, and with a good quarterback it may have been a long touchdown. McLaurin caught his first pass of the game from Kyle Allen down 56-7 on a slant. He caught a desperation heave in traffic later on for a first down, and mercifully added another catch to tack on some points late for anyone that started him. McLaurin is talented but this passing game is beyond repair, and it has tanked his fantasy value in redraft leagues.

Dyami Brown had a nice 48-yard catch in double coverage on a play-action deep play with Diggs on him. For some reason, on an offense desperate for playmakers, the rookie would see just one more target the rest of the way, while playing just 13 of 60 offensive snaps.

John Bates received an end zone target on a defensive holding, but his big plays came after the score was already 49-7. Scored a touchdown with Allen at QB in garbage time where he caught it short of the end zone but fumbled and recovered his own fumble into the end zone. Ricky Seals-Jones was out-snapped by Bates 45-27 and I barely noticed him in this game. With the Cowboys ripping through the Washington pass-blocking, this was likely in an attempt to keep a better blocking tight end on the field.

Adam Humphries saw most of his work late with Allen, and a converted 4th and 2 was the highlight of his day.

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

Quarterback

 

Dak Prescott: 28/39, 330 yards, 4 TD, 3 sacks | 4 carries, 21 yards

Cooper Rush: 2/3, 70 yards, TD | 2 carries, 0 yards

 

Dak Prescott was sacked twice on the first drive to set up a third and long, and Dallas punted after a trick play came up short.

It was fireworks from there on, and Prescott started it by getting a defender to jump offsides and hitting Amari Cooper with a pass downfield. It was all Cooper and Dalton Schultz early on. Dak later got yet another offside call for a free play and hit CeeDee Lamb downfield for a good chunk gain. Prescott’s first two scores were on excellently designed red zone passing plays for touchdowns, one to Ezekiel Elliott and one to Schultz.

Later, Dak made an excellent play stepping up in the pocket, buying time, pointing Michael Gallup downfield, and hitting him up the sideline. The same drive he scrambled for a first down with nobody open and the pocket collapsing. Dak would tack on a third first-half touchdown on a goalline play-action pass to offensive lineman Terence Steele. At one point in the first half, Prescott was 21 of 23 for 245 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Prescott nearly threw an interception in the two-minute drill taking a deep shot into double coverage looking for Gallup. Dak marched them down the field and found Cooper while backpedaling and rifling it to the pylon, giving Dallas a 42-7 lead going into the half.

With two runs on a three and out to start the half, the Cowboys began to take their foot off the gas. They threw more on the second drive of the half, including an incomplete deep shot down the sideline to Cooper. Prescott had a rare poor throw on 3rd and 7 over the middle to Schultz that was nearly intercepted.

 

 

Cooper Rush came in the next drive, up 49-7 with close to a minute left in the third quarter. He promptly hit Malik Turner on a short option route that he weaved his way for a 61-yard gain against a Washington secondary that looked gassed. Rush finished the drive off with a play-action touchdown to Turner to end Dallas’ scoring.

 

Running Backs

 

Ezekiel Elliott: 9 carries, 37 yards, TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards, TD

Tony Pollard: 8 carries, 34 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 16 yards

Corey Clement: 4 carries, 18 yards

 

Ezekiel Elliott ran strong early on behind good blocking. Zeke dropped a handoff but recovered in the red zone and then scored on a well-designed play where the bunch receivers to the right broke in and Elliot leaked out to the right for a wide-open receiving touchdown.

 

 

Elliott scored his second touchdown on a beautifully designed run out of a three-wide set with pulling linemen, where he followed his blockers and extended for the score. Zeke was still on the field and running to start the second half, but was quickly removed in the blowout. Zeke wasn’t flashy in this one, and he may not be the player he once was, but he is taking advantage of the touchdown opportunities that this offense affords him.

Tony Pollard came in on the third drive and started out with a run and a reception to produce a first down. Pollard seemed to block the wrong way on a completion, where he completely missed the edge rusher coming for Dak and let him get hit. I’m not positive that it was his assignment, but the rusher was right on his side and had a clean look from the start due to the offsides. Pollard remained in the game and was split out wide but Prescott was late getting to him and overthrew him.

Pollard looked good on the next drive that he received, on the ground and through the air. He was stuffed on his red zone opportunity during that drive, and would sit for much of the second half along with Zeke.

Corey Clement entered for a three-and-out drive early in the fourth quarter and would handle the work for the remainder of the game.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

CeeDee Lamb: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 66 yards | 1 carry, -2 yards

Amari Cooper: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 85 yards, TD

Michael Gallup: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 53 yards

Cedrick Wilson: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

Malik Turner: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 81 yards, TD

Dalton Schultz: 9 targets, 8 receptions, 82 yards, TD

 

Amari Cooper had the first reception on the first play of the game and was featured early. He converted a 3rd and 6 on their second touchdown drive in the red zone. Cooper dropped a slant in traffic to start the two-minute drive but Dak went right back to him and Cooper made a tough catch while taking a shot for a chunk gain. He then received a third-straight target down the sideline deep, and he just barely missed the making the play. Cooper would finish the drive with a touchdown at the pylon, and didn’t produce much in the second half of the blowout.

 

 

CeeDee Lamb grabbed his first catch with 5 minutes left in the first quarter on a high degree of difficulty catch as Dak ran a play-action bootleg and threw it across his body. Lamb added another tough jumping catch on the next play where he took a big hit and held on. Lamb was later open between two defenders for a big catch on the sideline to cross midfield late second quarter. Lamb made the tough catches when called upon, but Dak was often able to find easier completions, leading to just five targets, albeit with four in the first half. Lamb would have had a bigger game in a more competitive matchup.

Dalton Schultz was used in both red zone situations early on and was wide open on a play-action bootleg for an easy touchdown. Schultz converted a 3rd and 10 as the check down option as the defense was playing back to defend the receivers. He had a huge catch on 4th and 2 after taking a shot from a defender. Schultz was an excellent check-down option for Prescott and is nearly impossible to defend when defenses have to focus on stopping Dallas’ three super-talented receivers.

Michel Gallup‘s big play came on 3rd and 7, where Prescott bought time and pointed him down the field for a long catch along the sideline. Gallup caught a slant and was tackled at the three on the next drive. A goalline fade in the end zone went off his hands on the next play, and Gallup ended up just missing out on a touchdown that would have made his day. Gallup ran nearly as many routes as Lamb and Cooper, so he remains a big part of the offense.

Malik Turner‘s big play closed out the third quarter, up 49-7, as he caught a short pass and broke a 61-yarder against an exhausted Washington defense with Rush at quarterback. Turner was rewarded with a touchdown later that drive.

 

Erik Smith (@ErikSmithQBL on Twitter)

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