No opponent has done more damage to the Dallas Cowboys in the past two weeks than they have done to themselves. That’s not meant to discount two very good teams in the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers, but how many self-inflicted fatal errors can one team make in the span of two weeks?
Through the first three games, the Cowboys were one of the hottest teams in the league but the jets have cooled with two frustrating losses. Fans on social media are looking all over for reasons to blame coaching or officiating; both are contributors. However, the lion’s share of this goes to the players, who are simply failing to execute in a big way. What’s depressing is that the Cowboys worst offenders happen to be their best players.
We’re talking All-Pro’s and Pro Bowlers. Let’s start at the top...
Dak Prescott has thrown four interceptions in the last two games. Three of which came in this past game against the Packers. Have they all been exclusively his fault? Absolutely not, but a couple have been on his shoulders and there could have been a few more had the Packers not committed errors that wiped it away.
Per PFR advanced passing formula, Prescott has made 20 poor throws this season. 11 of the 20 have come in the past two games. Prescott’s performance against the Packers was his worst of the year with seven poor throws credited to him. The Cowboys coaches want him to be more aggressive but there is a difference in being aggressive and pressing too much. That’s something he must clean up.
Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb have been very successful players in their careers but the focus has not been ideal two week’s straight. About half of Prescott’s interceptions have come off the hands of his receiver. Dak’s critics can rightly point out the accuracy of each pass, but the rule in the NFL will always be the same for receivers. If that ball is in the receiver’s catch radius and hits them in the hands and they don’t catch it... that’s on the receiver.
Veteran star receivers with Pro Bowl resumes making the mistakes they have made is killing this offense that has moved the ball rather easily. It’s the drops that are also becoming a problem for this offense and keeping them from cashing in on their possessions. Amari Cooper has four drops on the season, already more than he had in Dallas last season. Randall Cobb has three drops of his own and Michael Gallup has also dropped two passes.
It’s not just the quarterback and receivers making it hard on themselves. The Cowboys have turned the ball over six times in two weeks which includes fumbles by Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliott. Losing the turnover battle is often going to decide the majority of games but especially against good competition. The Cowboys have also had serious issues with penalties by the offensive line. The offense has opened up the last two weeks by making critical mistakes that has told the story of the game. It hasn’t made a difference that you’ve seen them fight back, these starts have put them in holes they don’t have enough time to climb out of.
The Cowboys are still among the top producers of offense in the NFL. Dak Prescott has 11 20+ yard passes in the past two games, which is second-best in the league. Only three quarterbacks have 10 or more 20+ yard passes. Among those, Prescott has gained a league-best 32 yards per pass. They are eighth in yards per drive but are finding ways to walk away empty-handed. You add all these errors together and there is no way the Cowboys are going to win if the offense keeps beating themselves. This is not a bad offense, not even in the least bit, they just have a propensity for self-infliction.
As much as it stings to drop two games in a row, the Cowboys are fortunate that they did win their first three games or it could be really ugly. The first two tests have come and the Cowboys are 0-for-2, not a great feeling.