The Dallas Cowboys returned to practice Monday after their bye week and are now prepping for Sunday’s game against the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens.
In their last outing, Dallas turned in a nightmarish 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears, as quarterback Tony Romo amassed five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and the rushing game continued to struggle and managed only 41 total yards.
The Cowboys should consider the following as they prepare for Week Six.
No One Can Throw Against the Cowboys
Dallas boasts the top ranked passing defense in the league, allowing 169.5 yards per game, which could give the Cowboys a leg up on the Ravens.
Baltimore’s offense barely squeezed out nine points versus the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, and it was the first time this season that quarterback Joe Flacco failed to throw a touchdown and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Flacco finished with a season low 187 yards and a 55.6 passer rating.
Rushing Attack Must Improve
Dallas fields the 29th ranked rushing game in the NFL, but it may be bolstered Sunday if center Phil Costa makes his return. Costa has not played since Week One against the Giants due to a strained back, but did practice Monday.
The offensive line has struggled in his absence with penalties, but so has the run game. Top tail back DeMarco Murray hasn’t rushed for more than 44 yards in three straight games.
Murray could have an easier time establishing the run against Baltimore, who are 20th in rushing yards allowed, giving up 118.4 per game.
Protect the Football
Dallas is second-worst in the NFL in takeaway-giveaway ratio, with four takeaways to 11 turnovers. Most of those turnovers are attributable to Romo, who has eight interceptions on the season. The veteran has always been an aggressive quarterback, but he will have to play with more composure against Baltimore. The Ravens have held passers to a 74.6 rating this season, and are tied for eighth in the league with six interceptions.
Repeat Kansas City’s Game Plan
The Chiefs allowed Baltimore slot receiver Anquan Boldin to make four catches for 82 yards, including a 43 yard reception. Receiver Torrey Smith’s longest catch was for 26 yards, and he finished with three total receptions for 38 yards.
Those were the Ravens longest passing plays and two most productive receivers on the day. Boldin was even targeted 10 times and only pulled down four passes. The Chiefs were aggressive with Baltimore’s receivers at the line of scrimmage and did not give up the big touchdown play.
Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr should study the Kansas City game extensively.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Dallas is currently a half game back of the 3-2 New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, which isn’t a huge hole to overcome, but the Cowboys understand they must recover quickly to turn their season around.
"We had a week to recoup, refresh, regroup," Carr said to KSAT-TV. "I felt like we were refreshed, guys had a sense of urgency. We just erased the last four weeks out of our memory. ... Guys are just eager to get out there and to have fun, just get out there and mix it up a little bit."