Cowboys Players Who Deserve More Snaps in Week 2
The Bucs are an unprecedented team heading into 2021. They bring back all 22 starters from a Super Bowl-winning side that was playing together for the first time in 2020. There are plenty of teams who are going to lose to them.
Not many teams are going to beat Tampa or even force it to kick a game-winning field goal the way Dallas did on Thursday night. The fact that Dak Prescott played to the level he did after missing most of last season with an ankle injury and dealing with a shoulder issue and the defense held its own are reasons to believe the Cowboys are in for a strong season.
That being said, there's always room for improvement and week-to-week adjustments will be pivotal. Part of that means figuring out rotations and how the coaching staff will divvy up the snaps each week.
Looking back on Week 1 and the matchup coming in Week 2, here are three players who should see more action when the team heads to Los Angeles to face the Chargers.
CB Maurice Canady
Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher when looking at the snap counts from Week 1 is Maurice Canady. The cornerback was a standout for the Cowboys in camp, making several plays and earning a spot on the roster.
It didn't equate to playing time on Thursday, though. The 27-year-old played just two snaps against the vaunted Bucs' passing attack.
Meanwhile, Anthony Brown didn't come off the field, playing all 65 defensive snaps. Trevon Diggs was the only other Cowboy to play every snap. It made sense to keep Diggs on the field. He was mostly covering Mike Evans and neutralized him.
Brown, though, was primarily responsible for Antonio Brown and that didn't go well. According to Pro Football Reference, he was targeted eight times, giving up seven completions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Canady might not have done better, but he certainly couldn't do worse. There's no reason he shouldn't get the opportunity to show that against another team in the Chargers that will look to exploit Brown.
LB Micah Parsons
Micah Parsons was the most-played linebacker for the Cowboys on Thursday night. He played 51 of the 65 snaps, yet his play indicated he should be on the field even more often.
For example, the Bucs played both Devin White and Lavonte David 100 percent of their 84 defensive snaps. Shaq Barrett played 85 percent. The Buccaneers coaching staff left their best linebackers on the field.
Going against another pass-heavy team in the Chargers, Parsons should be on the field even more in Week 2. Justin Herbert threw the ball 47 times against the Washington Football Team while Austin Ekeler had just 15 carries and Larry Rountree III had eight more.
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are better off on the field in run situations, but Parsons is effective in coverage and as a blitzer.
The Cowboys used the 22-year-old as a blitzer eight times against the Bucs and he generated one pressure. He was targeted seven times, giving up the lowest passer rating of all the linebackers (87.8) on the field for either team.
Parsons' utility and level of play should make him someone approaching 100 percent of the snaps sooner than later.
RB Tony Pollard
The Cowboys' run game was nearly non-existent in the season opener and there was good reason for that. The Bucs' run defense is among the best in the league, and the loaded box they presented was not going to be good for the run game.
The run-to-pass ratio was highly imbalanced at 58 pass attempts to 18 rushing attempts. But Prescott averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt despite the high volume. Given the ferocity of the Bucs' run defense, which held them to 3.3 yards per carry, it was the right game plan.
Things will change in Los Angeles, though. The Bolts bring a pass rush anchored by Joey Bosa, who had a sack and two quarterback hits last week against Washington.
WFT was able to run for 4.7 yards per carry, including 90 yards from Antonio Gibson.
That should mean more touches for Ezekiel Elliott, but it also means we should see more of Tony Pollard. The backup running back saw some looks on jet sweeps and swing passes against the Buccaneers and did well with his limited action. He caught all four of his targets for 29 yards in the passing game and took his three carries for 14 yards.
With Michael Gallup out of the lineup, the Cowboys could look to go to more sets with Elliott and Pollard both on the field. Some of those targets that were going to Gallup could go to the running back who has been efficient with his workload going back to last season.
Snap counts via Pro Football Reference.