What We Saw: Week 4

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from Sunday's NFL action

Washington Commanders @ Dallas Cowboys

Final Score: Dallas 25, Commanders 10

Writer: Michael James (@MikeoftheFF on Twitter)


Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders debuted their all-black uniforms to visit Cooper Rush and the Dallas Cowboys in a clash of NFC East rivals.  Rush came in looking to become the first Cowboy quarterback to start 4-0.  Wentz looking to solve the Cowboys’ pass rush and take a division win.  Cowboys took the kickoff to start the half and open up with a drive that rode the yards-after-catch by Ezekiel Elliott, only to stall out in the Commanders’ territory and be the start of another busy day in the office for kicker Brett Maher.  The Commanders looked to respond with heavy use of the running backs both rushing and quick-out passes to avoid the problem of the Dallas defense front.  This set the pace for Washington to enjoy some moderate success, but a penalty resulting in third and long required Wentz to take more time in the pocket resulting in a sack.

Dallas answers back taking the first three plays of their third drive for three straight first downs, all to Ceedee Lamb for 56 yards before stalling out for another Maher kick for 3 points.  The Commanders responded with some good game sense, seeing that Dallas was without key defensive personnel, and opting to go hurry-up no-huddle to prevent Dallas from getting substitutions in.  In the end, Jahan Dotson beat his man to the corner of the end zone resulting in a punishing touchdown throw from Wentz.  Rush threw a very underthrown interception only to have that nullified by a Washington penalty.  With a lifeline sustaining the drive from the Commanders, Rush used a bit of no-huddle of their own to march down the field ending in a Michael Gallup touchdown to the back of the end zone.  Washington moved to some questionable clock management, seeming to be torn between just heading to the locker rooms for halftime or going for a score.  The decision was made by Trevon Diggs intercepting a Wentz deep throw to end the half.




Coming out of halftime, the Commanders looked to keep up the pace they established in the first half, only to repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot with penalties.  The next two drives went for nine plays combining for a total of -4 yards before getting it going again, both on the ground with Jonathan Williams and through the air with Dotson.  Once they found themselves in the red zone, they took themselves out of it with back-to-back penalties settling for a field goal.  The Cowboys’ next drive put the game away capitalizing on yet another Commanders’ penalty to put them in range for a Lamb touchdown catch. Ultimately the Commanders, having committed 11 penalties for 136 yards, turned the ball over on downs two more times and Wentz threw one more interception before the end of the game.  Cooper Rush is now the only Cowboy to go 4-0 in his first four starts at quarterback and sit in second place in the NFC East at 3-1 while the Commanders move to 1-3



Washington Commanders




Carson Wentz: 25/42, 170 Yards, TD, 2 INT | 1 Carry, 5 Yards


Greg Olsen said it best, the Commanders are taking two steps forward, two steps backward.  It started and ended with Carson Wentz who had one lone drive of looking good running the no-huddle offense in the first half to score the team’s only touchdown.  The Commanders knew coming into the game they were not going to have a lot of time with the sacks they’ve already given up and the massive pressure the Cowboys apply coming into the game.  So they drew up a game plan to do a lot of quick passes, getting the ball out fast.  But man, averaging 3.6 yards per pass hurts to look at your fantasy team’s box score.

The Commanders still gave up two sacks and had two more would-be sacks instead called intentional grounding.  As for the two interceptions, I would say the first one was his fault for underthrowing it deep, but the second one was just a fantastic timed route jump by the defender on a short pass over the middle.  Wentz was 1 for 8 on deep throws, with one of them being intercepted.  Most of them were just not catchable, accuracy being much more difficult to obtain when you’re on the move with the defense closing in behind you.  Dallas is giving up fewer than 20 points a game and only has allowed one touchdown in each game so far, and this was just a really tough job coming into the matchup for Wentz.



Running Back


Antonio Gibson: 13 Carries, 49 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 14 Yards
J.D. McKissic: 8 Carries, 40 Yards | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 16 Yards
Jonathan Williams: 5 Carries, 48 Yards


Washington’s best ball movement came on the play option and to set that up, they had to get the ball moving on the ground early.  The game plan of quick passes to get the ball out favors the running back and seven targets added to the 142 yards on the ground was working for them.  Unfortunately for fantasy owners, not only was the workload evenly split, a rare sighting of Jonathan Williams added into the mix further splitting the work.  When the Commanders fell behind by 12 and time was running out, the play shifted away from the running backs, JD McKissic only saw two targets, and Antonio Gibson had five of his carries with no targets.  With Brian Robinson eligible to return next week, it’s very uncertain how the backfield will shake out moving forward.



Wide Receiver/Tight End


Jahan Dotson: 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 43 Yards, TD
Terry McLaurin: 6 Targets, 2 Receptions, 15 Yards
Curtis Samuel: 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 38 Yards
Logan Thomas: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 19 Yards
John Bates: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 19 Yards, 1 Fumble (Recovered)
Dyami Brown: 4 Targets, 1 Reception, 6 Yards


With the game plan being short-sighted to protect the quarterback, you’re going to get a lot of targets to go for short yardage. There wasn’t a single receiver that went over 50 yards today.  The offensive line just had their hands full, with Wentz getting hit 11 times and under pressure the entire game.  A common theme observed was Terry McLaurin getting open on the left side of the field, but Wentz was scrambling to the right of the field with no chance of seeing him.  That was on top of the constant double teams and top coverage.  Jahan Dotson took advantage bringing in 3 of his 4 targets including one in the end zone for the team’s only touchdown.  Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas were big stick-movers today getting 13 targets between the two, but only accumulating 57 yards between the two of them.  As far as notable passes not in the box score, Samuel caught a touchdown pass but failed to get both feet in bounds.  McLaurin was targeted for a 4th and goal end zone fade, but Diggs had that ball covered to tip it away.  The biggest takeaway is committing 7 offensive penalties is just going to make it difficult to get any kind of sustained drives going.



Dallas Cowboys




Cooper Rush: 15/27, 223 Yards, 2 TD | 2 Carries, 7 Yards


You don’t get to 4-0 as a starter without a bit of luck on your side, and the Commanders were able to bail Cooper Rush out twice nullifying an interception in each half with penalties.  These would-be picks were balls underthrown and behind the receiver.  But would-be’s do not count and touchdowns do, completing them to Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb respectively.  Washington was able to get good pressure on Rush coming out of the second half but they just gave up too many free yards with penalties including 4 first downs off penalties.  Dallas was up by multiple scores in the second half and the desire to run out the clock was larger than the desire to get more passes downfield.  So a pedestrian day of fewer than 225 yards would be the overall summary.  Something of note, Rush has good short-term memory as he did not let the would-be interceptions get to him, unafraid to go right back down the field again.  Rush was 1-for-7 on deep throws, but two of them that were not caught drew pass interference penalties that were key to Dallas putting away the game.



Running Back


Ezekiel Elliott: 19 Carries, 49 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 32 Yards
Tony Pollard: 8 Carries, 6 Yards | 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 2 Yards


Some days you got it, some days you don’t.  Today, Tony Pollard did not have it.  Barring injury to either RB and with the Cowboys line being so fluid due to injuries, the immediate future is going to have a lot of ups and downs like this for Pollard who has both a very high ceiling and also a very low floor.  The only thing of note was the lack of outside runs, but rather trying to move behind the tackles between the hash-marks instead.  Someone who did get it, but didn’t do much with it was Ezekiel Elliott.  Finishing the game with a bell cow-like load of 19 carries and two targets, Zeke however didn’t do anything of note in the running game, mostly going downfield between the linemen to get hard yards and run out the clock to protect the lead.  He did have a catch for 31 yards, but that was about it of notable…. notes.   The takeaway is to temper excitement, the 27 combined rushing attempts were mostly to run down the clock, and future similar work will be dependent on the game script based on the box score.



Wide Receiver/Tight End


CeeDee Lamb: 8 Targets, 6 Receptions, 97 Yards, TD
Noah Brown: 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 61 Yards
Michael Gallup: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 24 Yards, TD
Jake Ferguson: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 7 Yards


Welcome back, Michael Gallup!  After 3 weeks of “will he?  won’t he?” our hero at wide receiver makes his season debut coming off an ACL tear and a shiny new contract.  The crowd welcomed him back with a roaring ovation, probably because he just caught a 15-yard pass for a first down.  People who follow the NFC East closely might note that Gallup does one thing well against the Commanders, that’s score touchdowns (has 5 in seven games) and he would not disappoint here bringing in a nice haul for the scrambling Cooper Rush to give the Cowboys six points.  His second biggest contributions were two deep balls that each drew pass interference penalties for a combined 65 yards given to the Cowboys for the two infractions.

CeeDee Lamb picked up where he left off last week bringing in 75% of his targets including a nasty post-route for a wide-open touchdown.  He also could have had an additional 40 yards on a well-thrown bomb by Rush that was just covered really well by Jackson for the Commanders.  The goal for the game heading into the weekend was for Gallup to see limited work to ease him back in which would still leave a lot of work for Noah Brown, who brought in half his targets for over 60 yards.  Brown took himself out of the game in the fourth quarter with a neck injury and is listed as questionable heading into next week.  More information should be known on Monday.  Dalton Schultz had a rough game back from his injury catching 0 of his three targets, a false start, and a holding penalty (declined)   It will be interesting to see how targets are split moving forward with both Brown and Gallup on the field, and how Dak will handle them should he return next week.  I mean, after all, there shouldn’t be a QB controversy, right?  Right?   Unless…



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.