Beyond not being fun, losing also tends to raise panic levels (albeit sometimes rightly so). Losing spurs questioning, criticizing, and other things ending in “ing” that are likely not good for those seemingly responsible for the loss.
A 30-35 loss to the Rams is a tough pill to swallow, and Cowboys fans are going to have to digest it over the course of this week. As we do, what will the world be saying? What will the new narratives be? Here are 10 predictable headlines.
“Dak Prescott needs to do more”
The second-year franchise quarterback for the Cowboys finished the game 20/36 for 252 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. It’s an “ehh alright” type of stat line.
One of the best things about Dak is his high level of leadership. After the game he acknowledged that he should have done more on the final fourth down play.
Dak said he threw it to Zeke on final play cause Zeke had one guy to beat. Thought Zeke could. Said in hindsight he could've maybe scrambled— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 1, 2017
It seems that 2017 is going to be when Dak Prescott is indoctrinated into the lifestyle of the Dallas Cowboys quarterback that Tony Romo lived for so long. When you win, you’re a hero, but if you lose, you get severely questioned.
“Rod Marinelli isn’t doing a good enough job”
The Los Angeles Rams looked to be getting ready for a Texas-sized beatdown (you always have to make a “Texas-sized” reference, it’s a rule, I think) as they went into the locker room at halftime. That’s when former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips stepped in.
The Rams did a far superior job when it came to second half adjustments. They ended the day with 412 yards, seven field goals, a win in time of possession, and the all-important win on the field.
There’s zero disputing that the Cowboys as a whole were out-coached in the second half, but let’s add perspective before we go all the way in. Dallas was down Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Chidobe Awuzie, Nolan Carroll, and David Irving yesterday. This isn’t an excuse, it’s simply a fact.
Los Angeles, to the surprise of many, has one of the premier offenses in the NFL at the moment. Should the Cowboys have stopped them more frequently? Of course, but because they didn’t isn’t a 10/10 on the panic scale.
“The Cowboys can’t be reliant on Sean Lee”
In case you hadn’t heard, Sean Lee is one of the best defensive players in the NFL.
He missed yesterday’s game due to injury, and he was sorely missed.
This now stirs up the idea that the Cowboys can’t be reliant upon Lee and his services. Can I grab the microphone for a second and say... why not?
As mentioned... Lee is a legit DPOY-type of player. If you’re not relying on him, you’re ignoring that. Now there’s a difference between relying on him and being totally lost without him, but for what it’s worth Justin Durant wasn’t atrocious in his stead.
Previously here at BTB I noted that Lee has somewhat shed the injury-prone label (ducks for cover). It makes sense to have him be your foundation, you just have to be able to handle it if it is gone for whatever reason.
“Jeff Heath shouldn’t be starting”
The thing about predictable headlines, is they’re predictable for a reason. They’re either born out of a widespread panic that’s collectively shared, or they’re a legitimate idea that makes sense.
Jeff Heath is the greatest player of all time, except he isn’t. There are moments, not just Sunday against the Rams, where Jeff Heath is a legitimate liability.
Is Heath the worst player of all time? No way, I’ve seen Matt Cassel play football. But it is impossible to ignore/dispute that Heath is at times a legitimate cause for negative plays for the Cowboys Defense.
“The Cowboys were dealt a disadvantage due to Thursday Night Football”
If you just started watching football on Sunday then maybe you weren’t aware, the Los Angeles Rams entered this game off of far more rest than the Cowboys.
L.A. played on Thursday of Week 3, while the Cowboys played on Monday. They had four extra days of rest, and whether or not you think it was a relevant thing it was by definition a thing.
The good news though is that the Cowboys have this thing to deal with again considering the Packers played on Thursday this past week. Yay.
“Ryan Switzer lost the game for the Cowboys”
Losing sucks, but so do muffed punts (unless we’re recovering a muffed punt I like those). Ryan Switzer’s muffed punt in the second quarter was a catalytic moment for the game that brought the Los Angeles Rams closer in contention.
Social media was pretty hard on Switzer in the immediate aftermath. There were tweets ranging from “put him on the bench” all the way to “he belongs on the practice squad.”
It says a lot that the Cowboys not only kept Switzer in the game on returns after, but they used him offensively (we finally got a jet sweep!). Did that punt lose the game? In a way, yes, but it is not at all a reason to launch an onslaught against this year’s fourth-round rookie.
“The Cowboys need to use Jason Witten and Cole Beasley more”
Jason Witten had been targeted 22 times before the Cowboys visited the Arizona Cardinals. He’s been targeted six times since. Cole Beasley had four catches in Denver and has as many in the time since.
Through the first four games of 2016 Jason Witten had 29 targets and 21 catches. Cole Beasley had 29 targets as well with 23 catches.
Currently through four games Witten is at 28 and 19 while Cole is at 20 and 11.
Witten and Beasley obviously have less targets and catches in a statistical sense, but it’s not as dramatic as it feels (although Cole does have quite a dip). There’s no denying that they need to be involved more offensively, even the data supports that.
“Travis Frederick isn’t playing like Travis Frederick”
From Day 1 Travis Frederick has been one of the better centers in the National Football League. He’s great at all things and is incredibly reliant. That’s rare.
Not to say that there’s something wrong with his game, but Travis Frederick isn’t playing to the level we’ve seen from him before. In his defense the Cowboys have faced four stout pass rushes in as many games, but he’s been beat more often and it’s strange.
The identity of the Cowboys lies in the run game and offensive line as a whole. When it’s not the best in the NFL, we can see the repercussions.
“Jaylon Smith is still a work in progress”
The mere fact that Jaylon Smith is playing football is a testament to the medical miracle that he’s undergone.
Jaylon has also been thrust into a serious role a lot sooner than anyone could have envisioned. Injuries to Anthony Hitchens and Sean Lee have put more on his plate, and when you look past the medical hump he got over you must also remember this is literally his first season playing in the NFL.
After the game Jaylon Smith said that the Rams didn’t do anything they weren’t prepared for, Los Angeles just executed better than them.
Jaylon Smith said Cowboys will go back to work and learn from this. Said Rams did what the Cowboys expected them to do, just didn't execute.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) October 1, 2017
Jaylon would also say that he’s “very comfortable” calling the defensive plays. There’s no denying Smith’s football intelligence or overall potential abilities, but it isn’t all executed to its finest degree at times.
There is still well more than enough time for Jaylon Smith to become the monster he was at Notre Dame, but right now he isn’t that guy on the football field. There are reasons why that makes sense, but the reasons don’t make it untrue.
“The Cowboys can’t put back-to-back winning seasons together”
A narrative that pops up every now and then is that the Cowboys are incapable of putting back-to-back winning seasons together. Of course, the data does support this stretching back to a certain point in time.
Last season the Cowboys won 13 games. Through four this season they’ve won half of them. They are literally one loss worse at this point today than they were at this point a season ago. That doesn’t mean they’ll win 13 or 12 games this year, it just means there’s a lot of time left.
The Cowboys lost to the Rams. That sucks, but there’s a lot of football left.