The Cowboys found additional depth as a linebacker when Damone Clark made his season debut against the Bears.
Clark was a top-50 prospect in the 2022 draft, falling 176th in the fifth round for Dallas after requiring spinal fusion surgery in late March. It was the Cowboys medical staff who found the herniated disc in Clark’s neck, and while most expected him to miss the entire 2022-2023 season, the Cowboys believed Clark could play again this season. He was active for the first time on Sunday, just 220 days since his surgery.
Clark, expected only as a Special Team Unit operative, was forced to fill in when Anthony Barr injured his hamstring running after Bears QB Justin Fields, whom he was spying on. Clark ended up playing 40 of the 79 defensive snaps, 50.6%, but he wasn’t a star just for snapping in one game. He was productive, finishing the game fifth on the team with six tackles and showing his speed chasing Justin Fields on a long run that was eventually recalled by a holding call in Chicago.
This was the breakout game the Cowboys have been waiting for with Dak Prescott.
Make no mistake, this is the best the offense has seen all season and a blistering start from Prescott allowed Pollard to dominate the rest of the game.
The offense scored six out of eight possessions; Regardless of who you’re playing against, this is one offensive performance you’re looking for every week.
In a game where the cowboys defense gave up a season high in points, the offensive found a great time to put on the best game of the season.
The balance was beautiful; Let me tell you, the third offense was fantastic. When they got into that matchup, the Cowboys were ranked 30th in the NFL. Yesterday, Dallas converted 9 of 11 third-down attempts, another great takeaway from this side of the ball.
The Bears had third-place pass defense yesterday, and the offensive balance allowed them to make it all seem no-Zeke or easy Noah Brown in the lineup.
How will Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard equalize after bye week?
Pollard is clearly the best option from the backfield
Ezekiel Elliott hasn’t been a workhorse for the Cowboys this season. Part of the reason for this is his inconsistent production (having four games at 3.8 yards per carry or less). And the other part is thanks to the incredible skills of Tony Pollard.
With Elliott missing Sunday’s game with a knee injury, Pollard played a bigger role on Dallas’ offense. The 25-year-old RB capitalized on those increased opportunities as he had 14 carries for 131 yards and three touchdowns, one of which came on a 54-yard rush that extended the Cowboys’ lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Could this stellar performance lead to more touches for Pollard in the future, perhaps at Elliott’s expense?
“We look at Tony as a one and Zeke as a one,” Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy said, according to Patrik Walker on the team’s official website. “We are very lucky to have this back duo. This is how we prepare and how we plan.”
Even though the Cowboys seem determined to split the work between the two RBs once Elliott returns, they might want to get the ball in Pollard’s hands as much as possible. Because at this point it is clear that he has the hotter hand and will become the top option from the Dallas backfield.
Kellen Moore owes a touchdown to Malik Davis, but play action against him resulted in a wide-open touchdown from Jake Ferguson.
3. Malik Davis and Jake Ferguson help Dallas score again
With Elliott and Noah Brown out, the Cowboys had to count on depth and reinforcements to help them against the Bears.
An example of this was running back Malik Davis, who got to play with Pollard today. The rookie was so incredibly close to his first NFL touchdown, but kicked just inches out of bounds at the one-yard line.
The Cowboys could have done the obvious and passed it on to Davis the next game. Instead, they used another rookie for a quick pass to score the third touchdown of the day.
Prescott made a quick pass to Jake Ferguson, who scored his second touchdown in just three games.
The Cowboys have indicated they may be active at the close but still have an internal option to play at the receiver.
With Sunday’s 49-29 performance against the Bears, many of those concerns could be forgotten. Especially on the cusp of bye week to rest and get back in shape.
But with the injury miss and receivers’ slow start, the Cowboys were tied to plenty of free-agent receivers and trade scenarios. However, the answer could already be on the squad.
On March 18, former Steelers wideout James Washington, who has local connections, signed a one-year deal with Dallas. Washington was injured in training camp and was placed on injured reserve on August 31.
Washington is on the verge of a return now, and it might be just in time for the Cowboys.
“Obviously everyone wants to point out the reception corps, but we like that group there. Noah will be back. We brought James (Washington) just before the return,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said in reference to possible moves ahead of Tuesday’s close.
Washington spent four seasons in Pittsburgh trying to replicate his productivity at Oklahoma state, but he never really thrived.
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