The Dallas Cowboys have been absolutely abysmal on third downs this season, as they have been among the worst five teams in the NFL this season at converting third downs. Although it isn’t a predictive stat, it’s a sign that an offense is stalling on key plays or simply putting themselves in deep holes early on. That latter fact cannot be ignored as it pertains to third down conversions, and it’s something Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett made sure to address when explaining the Cowboys struggles on third downs.
He said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “I don’t know that there were any great revelations. I think the biggest thing that we have to understand is third down is really oftentimes a product of first and second down. The better you are on first and second down, the more manageable those third-down situations are.”
The Cowboys have an extremely important game this week against the New York Giants, and it has huge bearing on their chances of winning the division. If an NFC East team wants to win the playoffs, then they will have to emerge as the best team in their weak division in order to do it. The Cowboys have as good of a chance at doing that, but doing the little things like converting third downs will be crucial. This offense should do better with Miles Austin set to return, but the focus will be on the Cowboys execution on offense, coverage on defense (particularly deep coverage), and third downs.