2023 Week 4

Cowboys changing signals vs. Patriots to guard against ex-player intel

Two Patriots players are very familiar with Dallas' offensive operation.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Will Grier and Ezekiel Elliott could play an important role in the New England Patriots' game planning this week. Unless the Dallas Cowboys take preemptive action.

Grier and Elliott both spent multiple seasons in Dallas' offense: Grier was the Cowboys' backup quarterback in 2021 and 2022 before signing with the Patriots last week, while Elliott was Dallas' workhorse running back for seven seasons.

That means both players can provide the Patriots valuable intel on how the Cowboys run their offense. Which means the Cowboys may have to switch things up.

Dallas offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said Monday his team will change its hand signals ahead of Sunday's Week 4 matchup with the Patriots to guard against Grier and Elliott giving New England's defense an edge.

"We’re always aware of it,” Schottenheimer said, via Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith. “Those are things we monitor every week.

"But, certainly, we know Will knows where a lot of the bones are buried. Zeke does as well. So those are things you talk about and you think, 'OK, let’s adjust this.'"

Even if the Cowboys switch up their calls, Grier and Elliott should be able to give their teammates valuable information, such as the individual tendencies of Dallas' offensive players and how they can be exploited. But Schottenheimer believes there's a potential edge for the Cowboys if the Patriots defenders rely too much on that information.

"You can use it to your advantage because they think they know what’s coming and they hear something and they think, 'It’s this' and we’re smart enough to adjust those things," Schottenheimer added.

Still, Schottenheimer knows that won't stop Bill Belichick's staff from gleaning all it can from its pair of ex-Cowboys.

"I’m sure (Grier) is definitely being interrogated and spending a lot of late nights with their defensive coaching staff," Schottenheimer added.

The Patriots defense will be looking for any edge it can get, as Dallas put up 70 combined points in its first two games before falling 28-16 to the Arizona Cardinals last week. Kickoff is set for 4:25 p.m. ET at AT&T Stadium.

Contact Us