I don’t think I can remember going through such a rude awakening over such a short span of time. It wasn’t that long ago that many of us felt great about this team. Dallas was sitting at 5-3 and just came off a dominant win against the Kansas City Chiefs who earlier in the season looked like the best team in the NFL. But now, just 11 days later, the wheels have completely come off of the Cowboys 2017 season.
On Thursday, the Cowboys gave fans a Thanksgiving stomachache with a terrible showing, losing to the Los Angeles Chargers, 28-6. The offense put out another horrific outing, not scoring any points until the fourth quarter. The Chargers had over 500 yards of offense and the Cowboys offense had only six points. The Cowboys defense didn’t have a turnover. They didn’t even have a sack. Everything that was good earlier in the season appears to have completely disappeared. It was nauseating.
Here are my 10 thoughts on the game.
1. Reluctance to run the ball
Early on, the Cowboy had some nice first down runs with Alfred Morris, but drives would stall out because the Cowboys wouldn’t stick with it. They would insist on working pass plays into the mix and more times than not they weren’t productive plays. They tried to get cut with jet sweeps rather than just imposing their will against a suspect Chargers run defense.
The Chargers ended up with more rushing yards than Dallas despite only averaging 2.5 yards a carry. The Cowboys didn’t run enough early and they had to abandon it late. It was another incomplete performance by what is supposed to be the teams bread and butter.
2. Great punts by Jones
Despite the Cowboys going three-and-out on their opening drive, Chris Jones would still punt the ball inside the Chargers 20 by booming a 57-yarder. Then, Jones would kick the next one inside the 10-yard line. He would have several outstanding kicks in the game as Jones continued to pin teams deep in their own territory.
I HAVE GOOD NEWS!!!!! I HAVE GOOD NEWS!!!!! I HAVE GOOD NEWS!!!!! I HAVE GOOD NEWS!!!!!— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) November 24, 2017
“Chris Jones has the highest percentage of punts downed inside the 20 in NFL History” #mvp pic.twitter.com/Edfj2m20RS
It’s embarrassing to have to mention the punter when you are looking for good things to talk about, but unfortunately it has come to that.
3. More kicker troubles
For the second-straight game, the Cowboys opponent lost their kicker early in the game. Last week it was Eagles kicker, Jake Elliott, who left the game with a concussion. This week, Chargers kicker Nick Novak left the game with a leg injury. This left the Chargers punter, Drew Kaser, as the team’s backup kicker. Of course, when you can’t even get it in the kicking net, that might be sign that he’s not up for the task.
The Chargers would opt to go for it on fourth down which resulted in a turnover of downs. Then, Novak would return to the game and shank a couple of extra points. It was never anything that caused the Chargers any reason to worry as they had the game well in control.
The only action Chargers punter Drew Kaser saw today was extra point attempts.
4. Sun of a gun
The sun was back doing sun things again. Apparently, when it’s in your face it makes it hard to see the ball. This simple problem continues to show up and hurt the Cowboys, but nobody seems to care about it.
Jourdan Lewis is too good with his hands for this not to be related to the sun. pic.twitter.com/GZL8ZLrQoh— Cowboys Nation (@CowboysNation) November 23, 2017
To be fair though, the Cowboys don’t make plays when they can see the ball so it’s really a moot point.
5. Complete let down
There are fans who have been calling out the coaches for years now. Of course, those fans went into hiding in 2014 and last season, but they are back now in full swing.
I get it. The Cowboys have problems and the coaching staff is right in the middle of those problems. This team doesn’t look prepared. Their tackling is becoming more indicative of a cellar team. And most importantly....
This team just ... doesn't make plays.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) November 23, 2017
The Cowboys are not playing good football. There are many players we can call out that aren’t playing well, but it starts with the coaches. When you have so many things going wrong, it’s a team problem and Jason Garrett is losing grips of his team.
It's really hard to buy in to a mantra of "Fight." when you're letting conversions happen on 3rd and 11 with your season hanging in the balance.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) November 23, 2017
I’m certainly not at a point where I want to just blow this whole thing up and hit the reset button, but there are certainly issues going on that need corrected. And if you’re hoping Jerry Jones is starting to lose faith in his coach, you’re going to be disappointed.
Jerry Jones asked if the coaching position is being evaluated:— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 24, 2017
"No. Just no. Again, I don’t step out of the dressing room and evaluate the coaching position at all. Candidly, and I don’t even want to say it so that somebody might repeat it. Absolutely not."
6. Can’t catch a break
There was a moment where Cowboys fans had a chance to celebrate as Dak Prescott took a read-option run for a touchdown. But all that excitement was short lived as a penalty negated the play. Tyron Smith would be called for holding and instead of a touchdown, the Cowboys would end up having to punt.
Tyron Smith has been called for holding five times this season. That's the most in his career.— Drew Davison (@drewdavison) November 23, 2017
Considering he’s missed a couple games, that speaks even further to how much the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle is struggling this season. Whether it’s the back or groin, Smith is just not healthy.
The team would also lose Zack Martin for the game as he left with a concussion. The Cowboys offensive line has had a rough season. Travis Frederick is the only starter from last season who has not missed action this season, but there are still five games left so who knows?
7. Horrible tackling job on Keenan Allen
The Cowboys needed a big stop on third down in the fourth quarter, but instead what they got was a complete collapse. The attempt to tackle Keenan Allen was just pathetic as he maneuvered around defender after defender. It was like something out of a Disney movie where the tackling has to be atrocious so the hero can score the winning touchdown. Five defenders would have a chance to tackle him, but they all apparently had Tyreek Hill flashbacks and just thought someone else would get him.
8. Another defensive score for the Chargers
After abusing the Buffalo Bills backup quarterback and putting up two defensive touchdowns last week, the Chargers kept the party going with a 90-yard pick-six. The Cowboys put a nice little drive together, but as we all should have known by then - we can’t be having any happiness. Desmond King would see to that by stepping in front of Cole Beasley and intercepting Prescott.
It’s starting to become a regular thing for the Chargers. Unfortunately, it’s becoming all too familiar for the Cowboys as well.
Two consecutive games Dak Prescott has been victimized for a turnover returned for a touchdown— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) November 23, 2017
It’s been a rough last five days for the Cowboys young quarterback.
Dak Prescott has thrown 5 INT in last 5 days. He had only 4 all last season.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) November 24, 2017
9. Is Zeke really that important?
We all expected it to be a challenge, but never expected the offense to sink as low as they have without Ezekiel Elliott on the field. This is a completely different offense. They can’t sustain drives, they can’t hit the big plays, and they continue to struggle finding the end zone. And even if the defense holds down the fort early, the levee eventually gives way and all hell breaks loose.
Zeke's absence has been felt. pic.twitter.com/ScvO1Lsmjp— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 24, 2017
10. Can 10-6 still make the playoffs?
Maybe, but what have we seen over the last three weeks that makes us think the Cowboys can win the next game they play, let alone the last five games of the season? All this playoff watching should be pushed aside until the team can prove it can win a game. It’s not over, but it’s over.
For 2nd time in 3 years a Jason Garret-led #DallasCowboys team that supposedly was a SB contender has their season end on Thanksgiving.— Michael Strawn (@LifeInCharts) November 24, 2017
Let’s face it, Cowboys fans are headed to the pit of misery. Dilly Dilly?
The best part of this game was the new "Dilly Dilly" commercial. At least Budweiser can make "adjustments."— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) November 24, 2017
Those are the terrible things I had to sit through this Thanksgiving. How about you? I’m going to go eat a whole pie now and put myself in a food coma. Maybe when I wake up things will be better.