After a week one loss to the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys went up against another division rival, the Washington Redskins. Here are five takeaways from their victory last Sunday.
- The Cowboys have found a way to win without Tony Romo
Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys since 2006. However, his past five seasons have been plagued with injuries leaving any hopes for reaching the playoffs in the hands of second-string quarterbacks.
In the past, his absence has led to a derailing of the season for the Cowboys as the team has only won one game without Romo under center for the past five seasons, according to SportsDay.
Now it appears there is a glimmer of hope in rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, as he led the team to victory against the Washington Redskins in just his second NFL start.
Prescott tallied 292 yards passing and scrambled for his first career-rushing touchdown on Sunday. While he has yet to throw a touchdown pass, he has also avoided throwing an interception during both regular and preseason games. It’s still early in the season, but Prescott just may be what the Cowboys need in order to have a successful season while Romo is sidelined.
- The offense needs Dez Bryant to succeed
After the Cowboys week one loss to the Giants, Dez Bryant was limited to just one catch totaling 8 yards. This underwhelming performance resembled the struggles that Dallas faced the previous season when Romo was not under center.
In this past game against the Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys targeted Bryant more aggressively and Prescott connected with Bryant 7 times totaling 102 yards.
If the Cowboys are going to be successful, Prescott and Bryant must continue to develop together. Bryant’s red zone presence will allow Prescott to finally get that passing touchdown we have yet to see.
- Lower your expectations for Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott 4th overall this year making it the first time Dallas has had a top five draft pick since 2003 (you can read more about these stats here). Fans and analysts soon began to create high expectations for the rookie running back, especially behind what is arguably the league’s best offensive line.
Elliot showed flashes of promise in his first two games as a starter, however his lack of patience on the run has led him to a mediocre 3.2 yards per carry. Despite scoring twice since his season debut, his performance against the Redskins included two fumbles. Elliot shows promise as a runner but he is not going to be an overnight success.
As the season progresses we will see Elliot begin to fill out his role as a runner, but his goal of breaking Eric Dickerson’s rookie season rushing record will be much more difficult than he anticipated at the beginning of the year.
- The defense will only get better
The Dallas Cowboys are allowing 21.5 points per game so far this season. While they are only two weeks in, the absences of Rolando McClain, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are evident. These three defensive players, two of which are defensive linemen, are all suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Both Gregory and McClain will be suspended for the next 10 games, but Lawrence will be back after serving his 4 game suspension. While these suspensions do hurt the Cowboys defense greatly, these players will be back just in time for Dallas’ playoff push.
In the meantime, players like Morris Claiborne must continue to step up on defense if Dallas has any hope of maintaining contention.
- The NFC East playoff race will be very close
Over the course of the first two games of the regular season, the Cowboys have faced two of their division rivals. While the NFC East playoff race will be close, the good news for Cowboys fans is that there is no stand out team.
It will be intriguing to see how the season plays out, but if the Cowboys hope to win the division they must stay healthy and win the remainder of their divisional games.
Find out more about the Cowboys stats this season at ESPN.com