X-Factors For The Chargers Matchup With The Dallas Cowboys

Tyler Lawrence
Highest-graded safeties in Week 1

X-Factors For The Chargers Matchup With The Dallas Cowboys

The Los Angeles Chargers are 1-0 after a tough win against the Washington Football Team. What might have been most impressive is how the offensive line handled the Washington defensive line. The Chargers allowed just six pressures in Justin Herbert‘s  49 total dropbacks. In the end, the Chargers won with a score of 20-16 and outproduced Washington in total yards (424 to 259), third-down efficiency (14/19 to 3/10), and time of possession (36:03 to 23:57)

In Week Two, the Chargers matchup with the Dallas Cowboys who had some positives against the defending Super Bowl Champions. With Dak Prescott back from an ankle injury he sustained last season, the Cowboys look like a totally different team. They are a high-powered offense with plenty of playmakers that Brandon Staley will need to a terrific gameplan to slow down. Here are x-factors for how the Chargers can beat the Cowboys on Sunday.

Slow the Cowboy’s Passing Game

The strength of this team used to be its running game behind one of the best offensive lines in recent history and Ezekiel Elliott carrying the ball. Times have changed and now the Cowboys have one of the most dynamic passing offenses in the NFL. Dak Prescott threw the ball 58 times, completing 42 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are bonafide stars and they combined for 20 receptions and 243 yards. Michael Gallup suffered a calf strain and will be on short-term injured reserve.

The Chargers blitzed the Washington Football Team on just 19.2% compared to the Buccaneers who blitzed the Cowboys 53.2%. One big difference is that the Chargers were able to generate more pressure on 34.6% of Washington’s total dropbacks, whereas the Buccaneers were able to only generate pressure on 14.5% of Prescott’s dropbacks. Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, and Kyler Fackrell will need to generate the same kind of pressure to help prevent the development of deep-breaking routes and force Dak Prescott to focus on the quick passing game.

To be successful in the Chargers matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, they have to slow down the passing game.  One way to do so is to generate pressure on Prescott and force him to throw the ball sooner than he would like. Expect Prescott to test Asante Samuel Jr. outside early and often. Samuel should have plenty of opportunities to make plays this week.

Take Advantage of the Cowboys Suspect Secondary

The Buccaneers had a great day through the air where Tom Brady completed 32/50 for 379 yards and four touchdowns. Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski all got involved and took advantage of the Cowboy’s weakness in the secondary. That weakness is something that Joe Lombardi should look to exploit. While the Cowboy’s did get two interceptions, both came off dropped passes. Jourdan Lewis, Trevon Diggs, and Anthony Brown overall struggled to force knockouts in contested situations and got beat over and over again. Mike Williams seems to have taken notice:

The Cowboy’s front seven looks strong, but a need for them this offseason was upgrading their secondary which ranked 29th in the NFL, according to PFF. They lost Daryl Worley, Chidobe Awuzie, and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix and replaced them with even worse backups, so the Chargers could have a huge day. If Herbert can pass for 337 yards against Washington’s secondary, there’s no reason to believe he could be less efficient against the Cowboy’s defensive backs. Expect a large number of the Chargers to get opportunities through the air and a potential AFC Player of the Week nomination for Herbert.

Matchup To Watch: Keenan Allen vs Trevon Diggs

Diggs is hands down the best coverage defender that the Cowboys have and he should shadow Allen on Sunday. Diggs followed Mike Evans when the Cowboys played the Buccaneers in their week one matchup. Evans had just three receptions for 24 yards in that game. Diggs was targeted five times and allowed just one reception for 10 yards. He also came down with an interception on a deflected pass.

Diggs should match up well against Allen. Both players are 6’2, but Diggs has the speed that Allen lacks. Allen was targeted 12 times in week one and plays a vital role in the Charger’s offense, especially on third down. If there is a matchup to watch, it’s how Allen’s route running matches on Diggs coverage skills.

Highest-graded safeties in Week 1 – Via PFF