For Dallas, it was possibly the most important win on the season so far, and moving forward through a tough 6 game stretch. Starting with Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys have been able to maximize what could be his last week, for the past two weeks in an ongoing appeal battle. Instead of falling to 4-4, Dallas was marched onto a 5-3 record, keeping them on the Eagles heels, and putting them into the playoff picture. Currently sitting in the 6th seed for the NFC, every week is crucial as the conference remains deep this year with a solid 7 teams that could push for a spot into the postseason.
As hot as any offense in the NFL right now, the Cowboys were able to score 28+ points for a sixth straight game, marking the longest active streak in the league and in Cowboys history. Dak has remained stellar, Zeke looks the part as being the best RB in the league, contributions is being found from everyone in the wide receiver core, and the offensive line is back. Those five bodies up front needed time with 2 new faces, and the stride it has hit is astounding. Considering what it has been in the past, and what is it now, it is so easy to forget what these guys are really able to do, because as spectators, we expect a continued dominance.. Allowing just 3 pressures and no sacks on the week, with a DL that can rush with the likes of Tamba Hali, Chris Jones, and Justin Houston, La’El Collins looked impressive as ever.
Going against a Kansas City defense that ranks 19th in points allowed, and 30th in rushing defense, the Chiefs liability at inside linebacker was deemed an advantage for Dallas heading into the game. With rushes designed between the guards, the Cowboys would average 3.7 yards per carry on 12 attempts, and account for Ezekiel’s only TD. Now how did they fare when in the direction of the RT? On 7 attempts, Dallas would run for just 21 yards (3 YPC). From hindsight, it seems bleak and like a lost cause, but most of Ezekiel carries would be found behind La’El, displaying trust from the coaches even in a tough matchup. Reversing back to only allowing 3 pressures in the passing game, and no sacks, there was one play that stood out from the rest for La’El that led to 6 points for Dallas.
dangers of running man coverage vs mobile QBs (especially in the redzone).
in man, everyone has their back turned to the pocket while in coverage. easy pickings for a QB that can run. pic.twitter.com/JzzpuD1z2S
— charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) November 7, 2017
While Charles is correct on how a man concept can inhibit a defense’s ability to stop a mobile quarterback, let’s highlight Collins on what he did during this play. Kansas City most likely knew the danger of playing man to man defense in the RZ on potential passing play, but tried to expose it by lining Houston up against La’El. Playing in a sort of “wide nine concept”, Houston is trying to get to Dak quicker by simply beating Collins off the edge on a shorter angle. Coming off the ball, we see La’El lose his hands on the punch, but by being able to reestablish his feet under his body, he was able to wall Houston off from Dak, stop his momentum, and open an easy lane for Prescott to run through for a TD. Collins won the matchup and helped Dallas take a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.
Still finding his comfort along the line, La’El has struggled in moments during the season, that has fans calling him for his return at LG. First and foremost, they need to calm down. Already matching up against JPP, Von, Kerrigan, and now Houston, he has been battle tested and continues to grow. With Atlanta up next, Collins and company will line up against a significantly better defense that contains Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and Grady Jarrett across its front 7. Though their offense has seemed to struggle under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, the OL needs to remain stout, and control the game from within the trenches as they head into the ATL.
What does Sunday’s win mean for the Colts?