Following the latest display of absolute ineptitude in Chicago, it is clear that there are no miracles left for these Dallas Cowboys. No messages by the owner, coaches, or leaders in the locker room will make any difference at this point because nothing is resonating with these players on the field. We’re at the point that major wholesale changes are needed and we’re on borrowed time with a coaching staff that has overstayed it’s welcome.
Unfortunately, this past Thursday’s performance vs. the Bears shows that the Cowboys problems run much deeper than just coaching. The theme of the Cowboys’ struggles had been slow starts up until two week’s ago. In each of the last two games, the Cowboys have scored touchdowns on their opening drives only to vanish without a trace until the final quarter of their games. Most NFL teams design their first 15 plays or so in a game before they can get a feel of what’s working or not and make their adjustments.
The Cowboys went on a 17-play scoring drive against the Bears and it seems like 17-plays were all they had offensively. Defensively speaking, the Cowboys have been in free-fall mode for a while now and getting worse. As bad as coaching has been this season, we see the writing on the wall for Jason Garrett and his staff. That’s a change that should be imminent but where is the accountability from the players? All offseason we trumpeted how talented a team the Cowboys were, yet we have been scratching our heads asking when this “talent” was going to take over since week five. Well, with three games left, we have that answer, it’s not.
That’s because they don’t play football with any resemblance to a team at all. What you see on the field is a lot of perceived individually talented players with no idea of how to execute like a team. The most depressing part of it all is that some, if not, most of the Cowboys’ best players have grossly underachieved and this team is trending down quickly.
From the top, the Cowboys’ quarterback, Dak Prescott has put up great numbers all season but has regressed in the past few games. In Chicago, Prescott was missing his targets left and right, he didn’t come alive until it was way too late to salvage the game. Amari Cooper’s skill set apparently doesn’t translate on the road, where he has only 23 receptions and 296 receiving yards for the year. The rest of the Cowboys’ receiving options haven’t been much help lately as they can’t even consistently beat one-on-one coverage. To make matters worse, the offense has an affinity for self-infliction with drive-killing penalties, turnovers, and incompetence in the red zone.
Defensively, the Cowboys can’t execute an already very simple scheme because they play with zero awareness or discipline. There is no gap integrity, almost no tackles for losses, and very little playmaking to speak of. They are missing a few injured pieces to the puzzle but those pieces weren’t playing well to begin with. Now, you have an All-Pro, $100M+ pass rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence, crashing down inside and allowing Mitchell Trubisky to run right past him to the end zone. Jaylon Smith is celebrating second-down tackles before giving up third-down touchdowns. Sean Lee is too late and too slow. The secondary wants no part of tackling and has become incredibly soft. Even a former Pro-Bowl, Super Bowl-winner like Michael Bennett can’t draw life from this defense. Coaching is certainly a problem but so is not being able to rely on your best players to do their jobs.
Following their 31-24 loss to the Bears, the locker room was projecting a now very stale message of fortune: “We’re fortunate to still be first-place in the NFC East”. Being the best in the NFC East division is akin to being ‘King of the Trash” and the consolation prize will likely be a first-round playoff exit at home. Right now, we’re all looking around for that easy answer to fixing all the Cowboys problems but it’s not going to be easy at all this coming offseason. Even the media closest to the team have began questioning whether these players have too much brand awareness and not enough field awareness. It’s hard to argue when you see the on-field product. As ‘talented’ as the roster is perceived to be, they have not accomplished anything in this league worth celebrating over.