If you’ve found yourself thinking that the Dallas Cowboys offense is stagnant this season, you’re correct. You’d also be accurate if you felt like this wasn’t something new and something that rippled over from the tail end of last season.
We all remember what happened when the Cowboys traveled to Atlanta last November. It was their first game without Ezekiel Elliott (Tyron Smith and Sean Lee, too) and it showed. The Cowboys scored in the single digits in three consecutive games, something that had never been done in the long history of the franchise. A new low.
It made sense that it was the sudden change though, didn’t it? Zeke disappearing so suddenly, Tyron Smith getting hurt, Sean Lee’s absence, that was when Dan Bailey first started to regress... it made sense that a perfect storm of yuck had encapsulated the Cowboys and that things could get better. That was fair logic then. It isn’t now.
The Cowboys offense has been completely ineffective for a full season’s worth of games now
If you were one of those, I know that I was, who thought the second half of last season was some sort of aberration then that is justifiable. There was reason to think, or at least reason to hope, that with an offseason of preparation and the confirmation (theoretically, at least versus last year) of Ezekiel Elliott that the offense would regain its form from the first half of 2017. Those thoughts were wrong.
We’ve now seen the Dallas Cowboys play 16 games counting the “burning of Atlanta.” This became apparent when Jason Witten returned to work a Cowboys game on the one-year anniversary of Tony Romo’s first time doing so. We have a full season’s worth of games and the point totals are not good, in fact they are terrible.
Cowboys point totals for their last 16 games:
- 7 at Atlanta Falcons
- 9 vs. Philadelphia Eagles (the worst loss in AT&T Stadium’s history)
- 6 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- 38 vs. Washington Redskins (the night Dez Bryant broke the record)
- 30 at New York Giants
- 20 at Oakland Raiders (Index card! Jeff Heath!)
- 12 vs. Seattle Seahawks
- 6 at Philadelphia Eagles (the Cowboys actually “won” this game)
- 8 at Carolina Panthers
- 20 vs. New York Giants
- 13 at Seattle Seahawks (Earl Thomas, sigh)
- 26 vs. Detroit Lions
- 16 at Houston Texans
- 40 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (this feels forever ago)
- 17 at Washington Redskins
- 14 vs. Tennessee Titans
Longtime NFL defensive coordinator and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Dick LeBeau has a rule of thumb. If as a defense you hold the opposing offense to 17 points or less, you should win the game. That makes sense. If your offense can’t outscore 17 points you really won’t be winning many games in the NFL. In fact, in the six games that the Cowboys have scored more than 17 points listed, they’ve won them all. What’s that tell you?
The Dallas Cowboys have scored 17 or less points in 10 of these 16 games. TEN. And they lost every one of them except the end-of-year Philly game where the Eagles didn’t play their starters.
This is not the mark of a good or even relatively functional NFL offense. This is a state of inefficiency that is now no longer something that can be attributed to a suspension, injury, or any otherwise unforeseeable circumstance. The sample size here indicates that there is a real and identifiable problem that needs to be addressed.
Will Jerry Jones and the Cowboys address such a thing, though? That remains to be seen. For now we can only grit our teeth and hope that somehow, some way the Cowboys manage to score at least 18 points against the defending Super Bowl Champions on Sunday. That’s all. No big deal. The bar is pretty low.