Dallas Cowboys faced a bitter rival in the New York Giants in Week 1, but the team from Texas proved they wanted to repeat the success from the last y. Dallas has a tough schedule, especially in the second half of the season, so starting strong is essential. This was exactly what the Cowboys did – they played amazing defense, limiting NY Giants to only three points, but the offense struggled slightly with only one TD and 19 total points. Still, the first win is in the books and let’s see who the winners and the “losers” are in the Cowboys lineup after the first match.
1. Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott once again proved that he is one of the best running backs in the league. With 104 rushing yards and 36 receiving yards, he led the team to victory. Pro Football Focus reports that Elliott forced six missed tackles and totaled 77 yards after contact on the ground. His overall grade was 82.4, which was the second-highest score of the week, putting him behind Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs. The only thing which bothers Elliott and Cowboys fans is the six-game suspension, but we may see the running back play the entire season.
2. Jaylon Smith
Smith came back after a difficult injury, and he started at middle linebacker for the team and managed to play 36 snaps. Just for comparison, he played 27 snaps in the preseason, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota. Smith was in the top 30 linebackers in Week 1 with the overall grade of 74.7. He had seven tackles and almost forced a fumble, but the official blew the play dead. The good news is that he will get healthier as the season progresses.
3. Sean Lee
Sean Lee’s fantastic performance cannot be seen on the stat sheet, but he was the most dominant player on defense. Lee had eight tackles and six stops, according to Pro Football Focus, but he didn’t force a turnover or recorded a sack. He showed the young players who the leader was.
4. DeMarcus Lawrence
DeMarcus Lawrence had a magnificent performance, and he was just behind Sean Lee. He had three tackles for a loss, five total tackles and two sacks on 35 snaps. It is nice to see Lawrence back after he had only recorded one sack in nine games last season. This guy is only 25, but if he can keep up with this level of play, the Cowboys will have to reward him in the seasons to come.
1. Alfred Morris
Running back Alfred Morris proved that he could be a good player during training camp, and he earned to be the replacement to Elliott in the season opener. He had just six carries, and he rushed for just one yard on four carries. If this man wants to justify his spot on the roster, he needs to run well because he is not a great receiver (50 catches in 79 career games) and he is not a part of the special teams. Morris will have a chance to prove himself as the second running back against Denver this week, but if he stays unproductive, McFadden will replace him soon.
2. Brice Butler
Brice Butler’s performance on Sunday was far from what he can actually do. At one point, he ran a beautiful route and managed to separate himself from the cornerback, but he dropped the ball on the great pass by Prescott. It was the drive which should have ended in a field goal opportunity at worse, but Dallas was forced to punt. Later in the game, Butler made a phenomenal catch, but it is crucial that he becomes consistent.
3. Taco Charlton
If we were to compare the defensive end Taco Charlton to some other rookies such as T.J. Watt who recorded two sacks and an interception in his debut, we would have to be slightly disappointed. Charlton didn’t have a single tackle against one of the worse offensive lines in the NFL, but it is too early to panic. He is still learning how to use his athleticism to compete against the other players in the NFL.
4. Orlando Scandrick
The only reason why we are putting Scandrick in a “loser” segment is because of the fact that he may miss a few weeks due to a fracture in his hand, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com. He is the best cornerback on the team, and he leads the secondary. His injury might be a blow for the Dallas Cowboys, but we expect to see rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis getting extra minutes. The actual strength of the Cowboys defense will be displayed in the next game against the Denver Broncos when Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders attack the young and inexperienced secondary.