It’s pretty hard to look back at week two and find anyone worth giving praise to in the beat down they received. It was the epitome of a Murphy’s Law game where every little thing that could have gone wrong occurred. As we try to put it behind us, there were a few Cowboys who saw their stock rise and fall after week two.
For the second week in a row, Lawrence played really well and racked up two sacks. He made PFF’s team of the week:
Quite honestly, if not for Lawrence’s strip-sack in the first quarter, the Cowboys might not have have found the end zone:
Demarcus Lawrence is an animal. pic.twitter.com/UwSqfv0CGr— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) September 19, 2017
Don’t look now but four sacks in two games puts Lawrence at the top, tied with Calais Campbell as the sack-leader. The Cowboys may have found their edge presence and they still have guys like Damontre’ Moore (returns this week) and David Irving (returns in two weeks) on the way.
If not for one terribly called penalty for leverage, Demarcus Lawrence would have no demerits. He’s been outstanding in the first two weeks of football:
Cowboys defensive stats through two games:— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 19, 2017
DeMarcus Lawrence: 4 sacks, 6 QB pressures, forced fumble, etc. pic.twitter.com/5tYvJF61uL
It’s worse than a bad day for Elliott when he’s only got eight rushing yards to show on the stat sheet. All this talk about him being a quitter is a bit premature but this game was unlike any game Elliott had seen before. This is not a kid who is used to losing and especially not use to getting his tail kicked:
Ezekiel Elliott asked when's the last time he was held to less than 10 yards rushing? "Never."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 18, 2017
The key is how you respond to all of this. Elliott is still looking for his first rushing touchdown and the Cowboys saw first-hand that being able to run the ball is very important for this team.
Ezekiel Elliott: "We definitely won't be discouraged. Last year at this time we were 1-1. Its a 16-game season...We can get so much better."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 18, 2017
If the Cowboys don’t start putting up the rushing yards in these games, they will continue to struggle. They’re 1-1 but the offense needs a wake up call. The good news is that they get another Top-10 rushing defense this week, the Cardinals give up 79 yards per game on the ground.
He did a nice job at handling Jason Pierre-Paul in week one and outside of one quarter, he took care of his own against Von Miller, too. Collins is going to experience the growing pains as expected but he’s played about as well as you can against some of the NFL’s best, here’s Bryan Broaddus:
“The narrative will be that Von Miller destroyed La’el Collins in this game. But let’s be honest, it wasn’t until the Broncos had a 35-17 lead when Miller actually came to life. Once he knew that the offense was no longer going to run the ball, it played right into his hands.”
“How many times did he have to jump offsides trying to beat Collins up the field? He appeared to be a desperate player because he knew the questions were coming his way after the game if he didn’t get a sack. Like I always do, I am going to grade Collins on the 66 plays that he had and see how he really fared against one of the best pass rushers in the league.”
It’s important to do as Broaddus says and look at all the snaps, not just a few bad ones. La’el Collins is going to be a very good right tackle in the league, maybe Bobby Hart can learn from him.
For two straight weeks, Prescott has not been able to get the offense going but it’s not all his fault. He’s got three touchdown passes to two interceptions but he could have easily had more in this game if not for Dez Bryant playing cornerback a few times. The truth is that Prescott can’t win games by himself.
If the defense has cornerbacks good enough to play man on the Cowboys’ receivers, it’s up to those guys to make plays. Prescott has made some very tough throws in the past but he’s not on par with guys like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. If you take away his run game and receivers can’t find separation, it’s over. Dak Prescott is not at that point in his career where you can dare him to beat you. He got no help in this game and the offense struggled for a second week in a row.
The bright side? There isn’t a lot of defenses in the NFL that can do to the Cowboys what the Broncos did. What you witnessed was the Cowboys’ offense at rock bottom, time to rise back up.
In his debut, after receiving zero time in the preseason, he looked athletic and played okay for a rookie. You have to expect him to struggle with so little experience, but he kept himself in good position most of the game. Lewis took advantage of a terrible route by Demaryius Thomas:
Jourdan Lewis with his first career INT 〽️ pic.twitter.com/zJXhgcApYc— Barstool Blue (@BarstoolUofM) September 17, 2017
He showed some ability to makes plays on the ball and stuck his nose in there to make tackles. Lewis looks like he has the potential to be a player once he gets more experience and settled into this defense.
Here’s a cop out call but they deserve it this week. Even the guys that played well made bad plays. This was hopefully a learning experience for everyone because they just learned that certain teams can bludgeon them just like they do to others.
Trevor Siemian has no business looking like the second coming of John Elway but Nolan Carroll, Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, and Anthony Brown allowed him to. C.J. Anderson abused Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith in this game. Folks whiffed on tackles left and right, which is uncharacteristically bad for this team.
Travis Frederick struggled mightily with the Broncos’ inside presence. It was a bad game from top to bottom and all in between. You hope that this team received the much needed jolt to get back to what made them so good last season. There is always a lesson to be found in a defeat like this. The Cowboys are 1-1 on the season but a beat down like that makes you feel 0-2 (sorry not sorry Giants). It’s time for the Cowboys to prove last week was an aberration.