Once upon a time the Dak Prescott-led Dallas Cowboys scored seven points in a road loss and it felt like the ground had been yanked out from under them.
This could be in reference to 2016’s loss in New York, or Sunday’s loss in Atlanta. Sometimes a loss is a loss, a spade is a spade, and blah is blah.
Blah might adequately describe how we all felt watching the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons scored 27 unanswered points as they cruised to their fifth win on the season. Dallas walked out of the game with an equal record, but with a heavier head.
What will the world be saying about the Cowboys? What will people come up with next? We’re glad you asked, and here’s a fresh batch of 10 Predictable Headlines, all rising up (sorry) from the Falcons loss.
“Dak Prescott can’t get it done without Ezekiel Elliott”
I don’t have the exact numbers on this, but I’m fairly certain that people who saw the original Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) waited a million years for the trilogies that preceded them.
In the same sense, Dak Prescott haters have been lurking in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to prove he’s merely the product of what’s around him. With Ezekiel Elliott not there for the first time, people watched intently.
Dak is fantastic. He can run, he can throw, he can lead, he just can’t overcome a second-string left tackle that lets his man have one of the greatest defensive performances ever.
“Chaz Green is the worst left tackle of all time”
I’m not about to defend Chaz Green or anything, because well, I watched the Cowboys lose in Atlanta.
It is November 12th and Adrian Clayborn has more sacks in this game than the Cowboys do wins on the season.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) November 13, 2017
There are many who questioned the Cowboys drafting Green in the third round back in 2015, especially when (at the time) the team was in the market for an heir to DeMarco Murray.
Chaz Green was awful. It was one of the single worst performances we’ve ever seen from a Dallas Cowboy. He’s been fine at times, though. Let’s not overreact... too much.
“Tyron Smith is more important to the Cowboys than Zeke”
It was Tyron Smith’s spot that Chaz Green took, and ultimately failed to come even remotely close to filling. Tyron is regarded as the best left tackle in the game, and missing that is kind of a bummer.
Elliott’s absence was an interesting one to watch, especially to see how the Cowboys handled it logistically. We’ve seen the Cowboys have success without Tyron, but how would they fare without #21?
The loss of both is a gross cocktail that we never want to try again, but it does stand to reason that Tyron Smith is indeed more important to the overall success of the team.
“The Cowboys need to consider life without Dez Bryant”
A lot of the predictable headlines we work in are typically things thrown out into social media, hence the predictable-ness of them. There are many who believe life without Dez is worth considering.
Many like to note that Dez hasn’t been the player he was from 2012-2014, but maybe that’s because Dez did something historic in that stretch not something normal.
There are a handful of NFL wide receivers that are generally absolute money in the redzone. Dez Bryant is one of them. In the open field, he’s a tough guy to bring down.
This is nonsense.
“Dan Bailey’s absence is a bigger deal than we expected”
Dan Bailey is one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL. For real.
It’s a whole different game when you can make decisions knowing that three points are guaranteed. Mike Nugent isn’t that same sort of security blanket, but he isn’t chopped liver either.
There’s no denying the Cowboys miss Dan Bailey. But in the world of Tyron, Zeke, Bailey, and Sean Lee, Dan is missed the least/has the most capable replacement.
“The Cowboys defense takes a significant step backwards without Sean Lee”
“The General”, as he’s known by many, exited the game in Atlanta early with a hamstring injury. It was a hamstring injury that caused Lee to miss the Rams and Packers games, so this was immediately concerning.
Sean Lee was essentially at full health all last season, and while hamstring injuries aren’t the biggest deal (Chidobe Awuzie would disagree), he’s essentially missed three games this season because of them. All losses.
It is undeniable at this point. Sean Lee is Tony Romo reincarnated from a football standpoint. When he’s out there, he makes everyone better. When he’s missing, everything is terrible.
“DeMarcus Lawrence needs to do more”
There are a few stars on the Cowboys: Dak, Zeke, Dez, Tyron, Jason Witten, Lee, and potentially DeMarcus Lawrence.
Tank notched a sack of Matt Ryan early in the game that was enough to make him the NFL’s current leader in the category. After that, he somewhat disappeared.
Yes, Lawrence was double-teamed, but guess what? Stars get double teamed. Dez beats double teams, Zeke beats nine men in the box, Tyron beats double rushers, so on and so forth.
If DeMarcus Lawrence wants to really get the load of cash his celebration of unlocking a safe would suggest, he needs to do more. He needs to live up to that hype. Shockingly, leading the NFL in sacks isn’t enough.
“Anthony Hitchens needs to be brought back in the offseason”
You could argue that the best performance by a Dallas Cowboy during the loss to the Falcons was Anthony Hitchens.
Hitch stepped up in the absence of Sean Lee, seemingly making play after play. He made up for no Lee and for actual Jaylon Smith.
The Cowboys are in an interesting spot at linebacker entering 2018. Sean Lee is great, and Jaylon Smith is well, you know. Damien Wilson will be entering a contract year, and Kyle Wilber is still there. It makes sense to prioritize Hitchens.
“Jaylon Smith can’t handle a heavy workload”
As noted, Jaylon Smith struggled, again, against the Falcons.
In Jaylon’s defense (this shouldn’t be an excuse for a second-year second-round pick) he can’t necessarily handle heavy workloads. We learned this lesson early in the year.
We all want Jaylon Smith to be the next great thing. Unfortunately as bad as we all want it, it seems like right now he couldn’t be further from it.
“Jason Garrett and Co. should’ve helped Chaz Green out”
As much as you think about the loss in Atlanta, you pretty much always come back to something relating to Chaz Green.
Adrian Clayborn picked up six sacks (six!) against the Cowboys, granted not technically all against Chaz. I’m not an NFL head coach or anything, but maybe after the third you say something like, “well hey this is a problem,” right?
A tight end. An extra offensive lineman. A running back to chip off the rusher. There are many ways to help out an offensive lineman who’s struggling, yet the Cowboys left Chaz Green on an island.
The question we all have is why, and we likely won’t ever know the answer.