They’ve had the opportunity three times this season, but the Dallas Cowboys have failed to put themselves on the right side of .500 five games through 2018.
The latest loss is a little bit more bitter than usual as it came from the Cowboys self-assigned little brother in the Houston Texans. Dallas had multiple chances to win, made many mistakes, and ultimately failed to have the confidence to take the win themselves. Needless to say it was not a fun way to spend a Sunday night.
What did we learn from the loss, though? Who played well? Who played poorly? Who’s responsible? Who do we blame? Welcome to BTB’s five winners, five losers, with a whole lot in between.
Winner: Jourdan Lewis and maybe his future with the Cowboys
Perhaps the only person who was negatively impacted by the addition of Kris Richard to the Cowboys coaching staff was cornerback Jourdan Lewis. The second-year cornerback actually fell so far down the Cowboys depth chart that they “lightly shopped” him.
Chidobe Awuzie endured an ankle injury so Jourdan Lewis was called into action. He played quite well for coming in with relatively no action this season (save for a bad snap against Golden Tate), and he even recovered a fumble!
It's true, turnovers really do make you happy pic.twitter.com/fFe6b5wQbI— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 8, 2018
It’s never a bad thing to have too many cornerbacks on your football team. The Cowboys experienced that on Sunday night, and hopefully Jourdan earned some more snaps, but hopefully everyone is healthy as well.
Winner: Those looking for an interception this season!
They said it would never happen, they said we were fools to believe, but the Dallas Cowboys defense ended their interception drought against the Texans and they did it at an incredible time.
With Houston driving for what would have been the game-winning field goal (they’d get another) the Hot Boyz finally got home on Deshaun Watson in the form of DeMarcus Lawrence. Tank and Swipe (that sounds like a dance) hit Watson as he let the ball go, taking some serious oomf off of it.
The ball floated in the NRG Stadium air like a pop fly heading into George Springer’s outstretched glove; however, instead of the reigning World Series MVP waiting at the bottom it was Dallas Cowboys safety Xavier Woods.
The interception gave Dallas an opportunity to score (however small of one it was) late in the game, and it helped send the contest to overtime. Unfortunately, um, you know what.
Winner: The Allen Hurns experiment, even if it was just one moment
Allen Hurns was one of the bigger free agent acquisitions for the Cowboys this past offseason, and we hadn’t really seen him get involved much in the offense. That changed a bit in Houston, and good for Hurns, man.
TOUCHDOWNS ARE AWESOME pic.twitter.com/B7f7UKDDnL— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 8, 2018
The NBC broadcast went as far as giving Scott Linehan some props for how creative this was, but we’ll save that discussion for another day. It was definitely great to see Allen make a splash on offense, but unfortunately this was the only touchdown of the game for the Cowboys.
Winner: The rest of the NFC East
Dallas entered their game in Houston with a lot of things having gone their way on Sunday afternoon. The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles both lost, opening the door for capture in the NFC East. The Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle Seahawks all lost as well, giving the Cowboys the chance to pick one up on potential wildcard contenders.
Unfortunately the Cowboys failed to capitalize on the positive momentum going their way before kickoff. Losses from other teams are only useful if you use them as wind behind your sails, but the Cowboys opted to use a paddle boat instead.
Winner: THE RICO GATHERS HYPE TRAIN
Did you know that Rico Gathers used to play basketball? I doubt it. Did you know that Rico Gathers caught his first ever NFL pass on Sunday night in Houston? I know you know it, and it was amazing.
The Cowboys got their tight ends involved early and often against the Texans (they should probably use some receivers too, but we’ll get to losers), and Rico was among that utilization. Perhaps more shocking than anything is that the Cowboys called a play action pass! What a time to be alive.
Loser: Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan
As these are some rocky times I’m doing you a solid and giving you a two-for-one on this loser. Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan have definitely seen better days.
Jason Garrett decided to punt in overtime when facing a 4th and 1 on the Houston 42-yard line, an error Cowboys fans won’t soon forget. Scott Linehan managed to call an offensive game that only found the endzone one time and produced a measly 16 points against a defense that got bullied by the New York Giants of all teams.
It’s not like Garrett and Linehan haven’t faced hot water before, but this is a little different. Jerry Jones took it upon himself to publicly second-guess the all-important punt decision and that is certainly a sign of smoke indicating a fire might not be far behind.
Loser: J.J. Watt against Cowboys quarterbacks and their spin moves
We all know what happened in 2014. It’s permanently burned into our brains.
One of the game’s top defensive players in J.J. Watt was once spun around by the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo at the time, right before he threw a deep bomb for a touchdown. Would you believe that it kind of happened again? Dak Prescott put him on his own personal carousel shortly before finding Tavon Austin downtown.
Unfortunately this game didn’t end like the last one. Boo.
Loser: Tavon Austin on the first interception of the night
Dak Prescott has been intercepted four times this season, and would you believe that all four of those passes have been tipped by Cowboys receivers? That’s unreal.
Dallas has elected to go with a “receiver by committee” approach this season (we’ll expand on that soon), and the committee isn’t exactly doing much. Late in the first half when the team was driving and looking to come away with points Dak Prescott hit Tavon Austin in the hands and, well, the ball was intercepted.
This is completely on Tavon Austin. pic.twitter.com/vg7v5YA8SX— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) October 8, 2018
A debate quickly emerged all over Cowboys fans minds everywhere as to who was at fault for this. Many blamed Dak, many blamed Tavon, but at the time of this writing a majority of BTB voters place the responsibility on the wide receiver.
Maybe Dak Prescott shouldn’t hit him in the hands next time.
Loser: The idea of tackling DeAndre Hopkins
With the game on the line the Houston Texans went to the one weapon that Dallas couldn’t stop all night, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. That was a very good idea by them.
This was very late in the game, very late in overtime even, so the Cowboys defense that had carried the team was gassed; however, this poor tackling is never excusable. The Cowboys got dominated by a number one wide receiver. I hear those are useful.
Loser: The Dallas Cowboys wide receivers as a whole
The biggest buzz word of the offseason for the Cowboys was undoubtedly “Dak-friendly.” We heard all about how they were going to fit the offense to Dak like a fine custom-tailored suit.
Dallas kept Cole Beasley and that’s a move that made sense, but their acquisitions were suspect from the very beginning. They cut Dez Bryant, let Brice Butler walk (more in a second) signed Allen Hurns, brought in Deonte Thompson, traded away Ryan Switzer (that looks smart at least), acquired Tavon Austin (we just hit on that, yikes), and drafted Michael Gallup. Those were the moves that were supposed to help and be Dak-friendly.
As it turns out the Cowboys didn’t assemble the greatest wide receiver group to ever live. They’ve recently placed one of the only veterans in Terrance Williams on injured reserve, and they were so desperate to get some familiarity that they brought Brice Butler back... and they refuse to use him despite the exact reason that they brought him back.
Think about what we said when discussing Tavon as a loser for a second. All four of Dak Prescott’s interceptions were tipped by his intended receiver. Is Dak Prescott perfect? Obviously not. But Dak Prescott has played to a far more legitimate degree than any receiver has so far this season. The Cowboys version of Dak-friendly is a bunch of receivers that hinder his game and cause interceptions. Imagine if they wanted to be unfriendly.
We’ve experienced some long weeks as Cowboys fans, but this one has the potential to be particularly lengthy. The Cowboys are in a bad place as a team, and they’ve got a tough contest with the Jacksonville Jaguars next on the schedule. It’s going to be a long road.
Hopefully Dallas finds a way to turn this thing around because if the way they lost in Houston is an indication at how they plan on playing for the final 11 games of the season, well, we might need more than five losers soon.