What’s been the difference for the Dallas Cowboys’ offense since the Amari Cooper trade? What resources should the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles divert into slowing Cooper down? Is Dak Prescott’s much improved QB Rating fool’s gold?
Those are just some of the questions we try to answer on The Kist & Solak Show #51! We preview the Eagles’ defense as they attempt to shut down a Cowboys’ offense that has improved in important categories during the latter parts of the season, but still have some fatal flaws.
Cowboys’ 2018 Rankings (Weeks 1-8):
- 24th points per game
- 17th 3rd down conversions
- 26th red zone touchdown frequency
Cowboys’ 2018 Rankings (Last 3 Weeks):
- 16th points per game
- 4th 3rd down conversions
- t-30th red zone touchdown frequency
You’ll notice the red zone numbers haven’t changed. It’s a mix of Prescott not being able to quickly work through progressions with a condensed field and the Cowboys’ not featuring Ezekiel Elliott in the red zone. In terms of run:pass balance inside the 20-yard line, the Cowboys are right around league average. You wouldn’t expect this when Elliott is an excellent red zone runner and Prescott’s legs can be utilized to punch through.
In the red zone Prescott ranks 22nd in QB Rating among those with at least 30 passing attempts, but also has 5 touchdowns with his legs. Perhaps the Cowboys try to shift their balance to what they’re better at against the Eagles, whose 4th ranked red zone defense has trended towards the middle of the pack in the last three weeks.
When it comes to shutting down the new passing attack with Cooper, you could see the Eagles try something similar to what they did to Odell Beckham Jr. in their first meeting with the New York Giants. That includes cone brackets, safety shades, and straight up double teams.
The idea would be force Prescott away from the defined windows Cooper is providing. According to Next Gen Stats, Cooper not only leads the Cowboys’ in average separation (3.0 yards), but he does extra after the catch with an xYAC differential (+2.3) that is tied for 5th in the league.
#NextGenStats has Dak Prescott w/the 3rd highest AGG% (tight window throw frequency) in 2018.— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 8, 2018
He had 3 top three AGG% finishes before the bye. Since the Cooper trade, he's hit under his average 4 of 5 games and has two bottom three finishes.
This would also force Prescott to check down more frequently or take a sack. The Cowboys rank highest in sack percentage for the season and for the last three weeks. Elliott has been the 2nd most targeted Cowboy since the bye and provides value after the catch. Ultimately, if the Eagles focus on Cooper, they have to win their individual matchups and tackle extremely well. They failed to do this against the Saints and it burned them.
We did into all of this and much more on The Kist & Solak Show #51 along with giving our final predictions for the game! Stream it on the media player below or click here if the media player doesn’t load. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts and while you’re there, drop us a five-star rating and a written review if you enjoyed the show. FLY EAGLES FLY!