8:15 p.m. ET
Key Decisions #1: (DAL ball, leading 7-0 / second-and-goal, TEN 6 / 3:36 Q1)
• Dallas has a short field after recovering a fumble, with a chance to take control of the game early. After Ezekiel Elliott takes a short pass and runs 37 yards for a goal-to-go situation, the Cowboys are in good position to take a two-possession lead.
• The Cowboys scored their first touchdown on a pass to their latest acquisition, WR Amari Cooper. In this situation, however, they made a poor play call — trying too hard to force the ball to Cooper, who was being double-teamed. The pass is intercepted.
• Tennessee takes possession and drives for a game-tying score, so the interception amounted to a 14-point swing.
Key Decision 2: (DAL ball, trailing 21-14 / first-and-10, DAL 20 / 10:58 Q4)
• This was a key possession in the game. The Titans had just missed a short field goal attempt that would have given them a two-possession lead. Dallas takes possession with a chance to tie the game.
• Instead, it’s a three-and-out. QB Dak Prescott is sacked on first down, they complete a screen pass for no gain on second down and then Prescott is sacked again on third down. Dallas punts and Tennessee scores a TD on the ensuing drive.
• The Dallas play-calling was unimaginative; it is as if Dallas runs out of plays after the opening series of game — there is no real identity on offense. They don’t do anything superbly — just a few things well here and there, but no cohesiveness or rhythm.
• Jason Garrett is responsible for the offense; it has no identity. The offense should run through Ezekiel Elliott, but it doesn’t. They seem to want to run it through Dak Prescott, but the scheme asks him to do too much; it is too far beyond his capabilities. He is an average passer who doesn’t have natural rhythm throwing the ball and does not have superior accuracy (he missed a wide open Cole Beasley for a TD on the opening drive of the game).
• Titans HC Mike Vrabel has a similar issue; even though QB Marcus Mariota had success throwing on third down Monday night, he is not a natural thrower, either, and their offense will always contain RPO and option elements that put Mariota’s body at risk. It’s hard to commit $100 million or more long-term if his health always will be in question due to the offensive scheme.
• Titans RB Dion Lewis got a lot of touches Monday night; it’s hard to think that is sustainable.
• The Titans defense played well together; Vrabel and staff did a good job not panicking even though the beginning of the game was rough.
• From a personnel standpoint, we’d like to see Tennessee acquire and use a traditional fullback. They have an above-average OL and good backs; we think a traditional fullback would open up their offense. They use TEs as FBs, but the effectiveness is lacking.