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Week 10 Tweetcap: All-Pro absences leave Cowboys’ battered by Falcons 27-7

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Absence really does make the heart grow fonder as the Cowboys found out Sunday.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Any time there is a loss, it’s not a lot of fun to talk about but it is often the best way to get past it. The Cowboys got their backsides whipped on Sunday and gave life to a Falcons’ team in the NFC wildcard race. At 5-4, with the NFC-leading Eagles coming to town, there is rightfully urgency for the Cowboys to right the ship.

The Cowboys were 3-0 following their bye week but ran into the struggling Falcons without perhaps the team’s best player, Tyron Smith. We all learned rather quickly that the All-Pro left tackle is mightily important:

Adrian Clayborn took Chaz Green to the woodshed and earned six of Atlanta’s eight sacks in this game. No offense to Clayborn but he’s not a premier pass rusher in this league and never has been, the Cowboys might have made him earn a Pro Bowl nod in one game. Dak Prescott came into this contest being sacked the sixth-fewest times at 10 sacks in eight games, giving up eight in one is unacceptable.

Tyron Smith’s been dealing with back tightness for the better part of two seasons, it was a groin injury that kept him out of this one. The Cowboys learned that Smith is all too vital to their success. They also learned that they currently do not have an adequate insurance policy if he misses time.

Chaz Green has played well in absence of Tyron Smith last season but he was an absolute disaster in this game. When the coaches gave him help, which was seldom, he was still getting beat. Folks are jumping all over the coaching staff for their inability to make adjustments. They brought Byron Bell in later and he gave up two sacks of his own. Dak was sacked three times in the first half alone, something that hasn’t happened all year. This coaching staff did him no favors and they’re lucky he didn’t get carted off the field.

The Cowboys’ offense had no chance in this game due to how poorly they protected the quarterback. They were 1-2 in the red zone and converted 5 of 11 third downs. Whether it was penalties or sacks, the offense was missing in action.

That wasn’t all though as the Cowboys also had to play the majority of this game without Sean Lee. He re-aggravated his hamstring injury in the defense’s third series of the game. They actually held up well until more exposure for Jaylon Smith only spelled bad ending for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys defense just isn’t the same and it’s incredible how much one player means to the unit. Without Sean Lee, the Cowboys defense is in serious trouble and it’s not looking great for him being available this week:

There are some that are more optimistic than others but remember that the Cowboys tend to be very cautious:

Either way if the Cowboys’ defense is going to be without Sean Lee then they must find another solution at middle linebacker. Jaylon Smith is not the answer right now and it’s been far to easy for teams to pick up chunk yardage.

Without Lee, the entire middle of the defense is open for business. The Cowboys will need to start looking at linebackers for next season too:

Much like the week two debacle in Denver, this was just a game that was bad all around. After the rookie Xavier Woods picked off Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott took it in for the score, the rest of this game was just a clunker. All Pro absences really do make the heart grow fonder:

What this means for the Cowboys is that they are 5-4, tied with three other teams in the NFC wildcard picture. However, they currently sit outside the wildcard with three teams (Packers, Lions, Falcons) owning the tiebreaker over them.