Football is hardly an easy venture, even when you have a roster full of All-Pro and Pro Bowl level players. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the worst teams in the NFL and a lot of it obviously has to do with the number of injuries they’ve sustained. Who would have thought that the hard thing is made harder without the people that are good at said thing?
What we are seeing is more than football being hard, though. The Cowboys are a disaster and their latest loss to the Washington Football Team proves it. Week in and week out we are watching a group that is void of health, talent, and perhaps the most disappointing of all, the will to win and compete.
Reality is that the Dallas Cowboys are 2-5 and still in the thick of the NFC East race. There were absolutely no winners from Sunday’s performance, once again we had a game full of only losers.
Loser: Mike McCarthy
This isn’t said as much to criticize the job that he’s doing but just point out the fact that McCarthy is in the middle of something quite grim. Who he’s coaching is hardly who he envisioned when he took this job, but this team is broken and he is the main man in charge.
Perhaps someday things will work out for McCarthy’s Cowboys and we will look at this season as the year that his process began to take hold and that certain players were not fit for it. That is merely wishful thinking at the moment, though, as this coaching staff continues to make weird decisions.
Why are we not seeing Reggie Robinson play? Or Bradlee Anae on Sunday for that matter? If this season is going to be one of painful lessons we might as well learn the right ones. What’s more is that we are not seeing this team improve even in the slightest way.
We have a number of questions at the moment.
Loser: Extreme offensive line depth
It is hardly like the Cowboys are barely opening up the cupboard on their depth of offensive linemen. Obviously the further into it you get the less likely you are to have sustained success. That is where we are at.
With Connor Williams as the team’s only starting lineman left standing, the group got absolutely pummeled by the Washington defensive front. This was predictable given the talent that they have on that side of the ball and the Cowboys simply did not have the manpower to combat against it.
When you are relying on untested players with various skill levels, things are usually not going to go well for you. They did not go well for the Cowboys.
Loser: A legitimate pass rush
Everson Griffen and DeMarcus Lawrence each got on the board with a sack, but somehow this felt like the worst overall performance from the Cowboys pass rush that we’ve seen all season. Kyle Allen had all day to do whatever he wanted and Antonio Gibson ran right through them all.
We have already reached the point on the season where it has been acknowledged that the pass rush would not be what we thought it would during training camp, but it is regressing. The splash plays happen, but there is no consistency. No duress to put anyone under.
There is simply getting pushed backwards series in and series out.
Loser: Jaylon Smith
It should be said that Leighton Vander Esch played okay all things considered, but he was the only person on defense that played even to that bare minimum level. His fellow linebacker Jaylon Smith was atrocious.
Smith got beat in coverage, in tackling, and in common sense as he was seen celebrating what he thought was a stop even after officials had thrown a play for blatant pass interference. There is no understanding how he could be of help to this defense at the moment.
Loser: CeeDee Lamb
We are all very hopeful about Lamb’s future with the team, but Sunday in Washington was his worst game as a professional. He had multiple drops and a few mental mistakes, and whether fair or not, he is one of the biggest contributors on the team right now and he is hardly living up to that without Dak Prescott.
Obviously this is a tall task and not one that is easy to accomplish. But there are high expectations for Lamb and he simply did not deliver on Sunday. He’ll bounce back.
Loser: Mike Nolan
I’m honestly not sure how many times we can say the same thing over and over and over and over. The Cowboys are the classic “get right” game for offenses that are playing them and will continue to be that barring any sort of dramatic change.
Obviously the offense isn’t helping them, and to the defense’s credit they did stop Washington on fourth down early in the game. But this side of the ball isn’t down their biggest playmaker like the offense. This unit isn’t missing the beef up front like the offense is. Leighton Vander Esch (who again, played rather well), DeMarcus Lawrence, Everson Griffen, and all the rest are there.
Where are the results?
Loser: Ezekiel Elliott
While there was no fumble to be found today there was a tipped ball that wound up in the arms of the wrong jersey color. Andy Dalton tried to hook up with Ezekiel Elliott near the end of the first half and threw an interception as a result of a tipped pass that went off of Zeke’s hands. Those are the facts.
Where things are a bit open to interpretation are who deserves blame for the pick. The pass was undeniably behind Zeke, but Dalton was under duress for much of the game to this point. It’s hard to blame him for being a bit quick in getting rid of the ball.
Additionally, Zeke is the one who should be tasked with bearing the bigger burden here. He is the All-Pro, the highly-paid running back, and the point of stability that the team is supposed to have without Prescott under center. He has come up small in games without Dak next to him making it incredibly ironic that people used to wonder if Dak was only Dak because of number 21.
Loser: Chris Jones
This is also something that we have talked about forever to this point, but the Cowboys simply do not have a good punter at the moment. The fact that punts are happening so often is unfortunate, but that they aren’t even successful is making matters all the more worse.
John Fassel’s special teams group has only regressed so far this year in just about every way. Tony Pollard did have a nice kickoff return that gave the Cowboys their best starting field position of the day, a drive that went three and and out and gave the team their only points by way of a field goal, but Chris Jones was mostly forgettable.
Loser: Trevon Diggs
If there is anyone who is likely going to benefit from the trials of 2020 it is rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs. He learned a hard lesson early on when he got beat by Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
Diggs showed a lot of promise at times this season but has also looked like a rookie. Similar to Lamb, it is in a vacuum unfair to expect so much of him so early into his career, but the reality is what it is and he is not performing at a good enough level.
Loser: Xavier Woods
There is no telling what Xavier Woods is doing when he is on defense at this point. I understood his point when he created controversy with his comments about giving 100%, but what he is doing on the field is not capable of defending in any sort of way. Put simply, he looks lost.
Year in and year out we have expected Woods to take the next step and he simply hasn’t. The Cowboys have continued to bank on this idea as they have not invested more heavily at the safety position.