Cowboys OC Kellen Moore Showed Out
Kliff Kingsbury's air raid offense was the headliner for most of the offseason, but the Arizona Cardinals weren't the only team changing their offensive identity. Typically a run-heavy offense, new OC Kellen Moore hinted at major changes, both with his words and his preseason usage. The Cowboys used pre-snap motion on 57% of their training camp plays -- that's up from 31% in 2018 -- and passed the ball at a much higher rate than usual during the preseason. The signs were there, but it wasn't a headline, largely because nobody knew who Kellen Moore was as a coach.
Well, the Giants quickly learned who Kellen Moore was on Sunday. The Cowboys came out firing early. Dak Prescott found TE Blake Jarwin for a 28-yard touchdown before finding Jason Witten (4 yards) and Amari Cooper (21 yards) for touchdowns to put the Boys up over the Giants, 21-7, at halftime. The fireworks continued in the second half with a 21-yard touchdown to Randall Cobb and with a 62-yard gain by Michael Gallup that set up Ezekiel Elliott's 10-yard touchdown. When the dust settled, Prescott had his second career four-touchdown game and his second career 400-yard passing game. Was this nearly a ceiling game? Of course. But this is an offense that looked juiced up and ready to utilize their pass-catching weapons more than they have with Prescott under center. From this point forward, I'm viewing Prescott as a QB1, Amari as a WR1, and Gallup as a high-ceiling WR3 at home.
The Vikings Established It
Another underrated coaching change was up in Minnesota. Kirk Cousins finished fourth in pass attempts last year under ex-OC John DeFilippo, but the Vikings changed their offensive philosophy when they hired Kevin Stefanski as offensive coordinator. Stefanski wants to #EstablishIt (read: the run). And so does Cousins, who said, "Nothing is more important than getting Dalvin Cook going," in his pre-game interview. Against the Falcons in Week 1, that's exactly what they did. The Vikings rushed the ball 38 times while only passing it 10 times. Yes. 10 times. Cook finished with 111 yards and two scores on 21 carries, solidifying himself as an RB1 with a monster ceiling for the foreseeable future. Cousins, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs will still get theirs at times, but it will be much harder for them to be consistent fantasy assets with the Vikings so focused on establishing it.
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The Bengals Did Not Establish It
For the fourth time in his career, Andy Dalton eclipsed 50 pass attempts. It was an insane amount, but an amount that felt necessary if you were watching. Joe Mixon (ankle) left early, and it was clear the offensive line was not going to up running lanes for Giovani Bernard. So Zac Taylor said, "Screw it. We're going full send." It wasn't always pretty, but it made the game a lot more unpredictable, something a road underdog needs to do to sneak by with a win. Dalton found Tyler Boyd underneath time after time (8-of-11 targets for 60 yards) and sent a few prayers deep to John Ross, who more than tripled his previous career-high in receiving yards (52) with a crazy 7-158-2 receiving line on 12 targets. Dalton's willingness to let his players make plays and Taylor's willingness to run an unbalanced offense when the game necessitated it was encouraging. I'm not convinced this offense will be good, but it may end up being strangely exciting, even without A.J. Green (ankle) for the time being.
Why You're Taking Victory Laps
Malcolm Brown had two goal-line carries, while Todd Gurley was limited to just 15 touches. … Derrick Henry had 159 total yards and two touchdowns as a road underdog. … Delanie Walker scored twice. … Patrick Mahomes picked up 378 passing yards and three touchdowns in Jacksonville. … Sammy Watkins had 198 yards and three touchdowns on 11 targets. … Lamar Jackson went nuclear, tossing five touchdowns with 324 yards on just 20 attempts. … Marquise Brown had 147 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 snaps. … Mark Andrews posted an 8-108-1 receiving line. … Mark Ingram had 107 yards and two scores. … As mentioned above, Dalvin Cook had 21 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. … John Brown had seven receptions for 123 yards and a score. … Jamison Crowder caught 14-of-17 targets for 99 yards. … Case Keenum had -- excuse me, what? -- 380 yards and three touchdowns. … Terry McLaurin had a 5-125-1 receiving line. … Carson Wentz had 313 yards and three touchdowns in a comeback win. … DeSean Jackson popped for 154 yards and two touchdowns. … Marlon Mack had 174 yards and a score by breaking off a 63-yard carry. … T.Y. Hilton had eight receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns. … Philip Rivers threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns. … Austin Ekeler had 58 yards and a score on the ground and 6-96-2 as a receiver. Sup Melvin. … Keenan Allen went for 8-123-1 against the Colts' zone defense. … Andy Dalton had 418 yards and two touchdowns. … John Ross had 158 yards and two scores. … Chris Carson led the Seahawks with seven targets. … Matthew Stafford had 385 yards and three touchdowns. … T.J. Hockenson a 6-131-1 line, which was the best first-game ever for a tight end. Big things are coming if the Lions pass enough. … Danny Amendola had a 7-104-1 receiving line. … David Johnson had 82 yards rushing and 6-55-1 as a receiver. … Larry Fitzgerald had eight receptions for 113 yards and a score. … Saquon Barkley had 120 rushing yards and four receptions. … Evan Engram had 11 receptions on 14 targets. … Dak Prescott had 405 yards passing with four touchdowns. … Amari Cooper 106 yards and a touchdown. … Michael Gallup had a 62-yard gain to get him to 158 yards overall. … Tom Brady had 341 yards and three touchdowns. … Josh Gordon had 73 yards and a score. … Phillip Dorsett had two touchdowns.
Why You're Getting Roasted
Todd Gurley didn't receive goal-line carries and was only targeted once. … "Training Camp MVP" Curtis Samuel was only targeted four times, while D.J. Moore was targeted 10 times. … Baker Mayfield and the Browns scored just 13 points at home against the Titans. … Devonta Freeman had 19 yards on eight carries with just three receptions. … Stefon Diggs had two grabs for 37 yards. … Derrius Guice had 18 yards on 10 carries. … Miles Sanders finished third in rushing on his own team. … Tyler Lockett had two targets. But one went for a 44-yard touchdown. … Dante Pettis played two snaps. … Jameis Winston threw three picks with only 189 yards at home. … Mike Evans only had two grabs. … Ben Roethlisberger had 269 scoreless yards. … James Conner had 55 scoreless total yards. … Sony Michel had more carries (15) than rushing yards (14). … Damien Harris was a healthy scratch.
Monday Night Football Storylines
The Texans vs. Saints game is going to be a lot more exciting to watch than the Broncos vs. Raiders, although I'm ready for more Antonio Brown and Jon Gruden discussions. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas should run through a bad Texans Defense that's without Jadeveon Clowney. The good news is the Texans' offense, one that has as much firepower as anyone in the AFC (maybe minus the Patriots with AB). Will Duke Johnson be a three-down back? Will Kenny Stills be involved? Those are the things in the first game. … The Broncos have competition at running back and receiver, and they should have chances to break out against what should be a deflated Raiders team that just lost their best player. The Raiders will need big seasons from players who have never done it as the lead guys. Can Josh Jacobs be a bellcow? Can Tyrell Williams be a team's No. 1 receiver? Can Darren Waller emerge as a TE1? They'll be tested against an elite pass-rushing duo.