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Week 5 Patriots vs Cowboys: Instant Analysis and Observations from the Game

The Patriots walloped the Cowboys 30-6. What can we learn from this game?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Dobson is a game plan player

After exploding against the Bills, Dobson has seen reduced time and was a healthy scratch against the Cowboys. We have to accept that he will not be the outside wide receiver of the future, and that the Patriots are biding their time for the return of Brandon LaFell. Dobson doesn't play special teams and his vertical ability isn't very valuable against the Dallas defensive schemes.

Dobson will be active at other points in the season, when playing different styles of defenses, but he's not going to develop into an every down receiver for New England.

Dion Lewis is the starting running back

But whew, how about Lewis? 93 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown that knocks the socks off. He's such a threat and an every down player. LeGarrette Blount has value as the closer and he'll get his late in the game, but Lewis should be on the field every time the Patriots need a play.

Blount shouldn't be the short yardage back

Per Pro Football Reference's database dating back to 1994, Blount ranks 121st of 154 players in 3rd or 4th down situations with 2 or fewer yards to go (minimum 40 attempts). That's almost bottom 20% of the league. Lewis is a better option. Tom Brady is a better option. Just because Blount is big doesn't mean that he's a good short yardage back; he lacks the acceleration to hit the hole.

The offensive line has a lot of question marks

Nate Solder is hurt with an elbow injury, Marcus Cannon allowed a strip sack, and Sebastian Vollmer allowed a sack of his own. The interior line of Shaq Mason, David Andrews, Josh Kline, and Tre Jackson were far from stellar in pass protection upon first glace. The Cowboys sacked Tom Brady an insane 5 times in the first half, and they were getting pressure while rushing just three players. That's inexcusable and the coaching staff needs to step up and clean up their technique.

Tom Brady is on point

There is one starting quarterback that hasn't thrown an interception. He's third in passing yards and tied for third in touchdown passes. He ranks first in passer rating. He has also played one fewer game than his competitors.

Tom Brady is ascending to another level. When the offense wasn't great in the first half, he stoked the flames to burn the Cowboys in the second half. When he ran for a touchdown and started yelling at his teammates all over the field, it had a similar effect as Brady's slide on the opening drive against the Bengals in 2014. The game was already over.

Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are extremely consistent

Both Gronkowski and Edelman rank in the top 20 in the league in receiving yards and with one fewer game. Edelman is 5th out of receivers in yards per game and Gronk is 10th. The entire offense goes through Lewis, Gronk, and Edelman, so even if a talented Cowboys defense gave focus to these three players, they still produced. That's why they deserve to be considered some of the best in the league.

The defensive line destroyed the Cowboys rushing attack

Cowboys running back Joseph Randle picked up 60 yards on 15 carries for a 4.0 YPC clip. He picked up 20 of those yards on the Cowboys first field goal drive that was extended by three Patriots penalties on third down. Randle was stuffed more than a few times as the Patriots forced the Cowboys into numerous 2nd- and 3rd-and long situations over the first three quarters of the game.

Jamie Collins is in peak form

Collins was an animal. He was covering, he was tackling in space, he was getting after the quarterback. If he can play at this level for the rest of the season, the Patriots are going to ruin the days of every single offense in the NFL. Collins finished with 10 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble in coverage.

Malcolm Butler was on an island

Butler is the reason why the Patriots were able to put nine players in the box against the Cowboys offense. The Patriots needed a linebacker and a defensive back to bracket Jason Witten and Cole Beasley, and Butler played on an island with Terrance Williams and shut him down and nearly shut him out.

The safeties are playing very well

Devin McCourty, Jordan Richards, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon are all playing significant snaps (Harmon returned to the field after his injury). There seems to be a role for all of these players and Richards and McCourty were often swapping free and strong safety responsibilities, depending on where Witten lined up on the line of scrimmage.

Ryan Allen was huge early on

While New England won in a blow out, it took a while for the offense to click. The Patriots started the game with punts on three of their first four drives. The Cowboys started 11 of their 12 drives on or inside their own 20 yard line and a lot is due to Allen's tremendous field shifting punts. For context, prior to their kneeldown at the end of the game, the Patriots started on the 30-yard-line or better on seven of their first 11 drives.

Stephen Gostkowski ain't no thang

Gostkowski kicked 49, 57, and 34 yard field goals. He was 3/3 on extra point attempts. He kicked six touchbacks and the one kick returned was brought back to the 14 yard line. Gostkowski is the best kicker in the world and he's playing out of his mind.

Dont'a Hightower (ribs) and Nate Solder (elbow) have key injuries

Hopefully both players will be ready to return soon, but these are two of the most important players on the Patriots roster and they were taken out of the game due to injuries. Fingers crossed they're both suffering from relatively minor ailments and will be ready to go in week 6.

The Colts are up next.