Another week, another poor outing by the Dallas Cowboys. After losing by 28 last week against Arizona, the team lost it’s second straight game by 20+ points with a 25-3 shellacking from the Washington Football team. Just when you think the team has hit rock bottom, they dig even deeper into the depths of awfulness. It’s been a rough season, and there isn’t much indication that things are going to get any better going forward.
Here are ten thoughts on this upsetting divisional defeat.
1. The goal line stand
Let’s start with something good, okay? Things weren’t beginning all that well when Washington took its first possession of the game 74 yards on 11 plays. Sparked by a nice play design on a hand off to running back Antonio Gibson, Washington rolled down the field with ease. The Cowboys run defense was right on par with how they’ve been all season as 66 of Washington’s 74 yards were on the ground.
As bad as those first 10 plays were, the Cowboys defense made a great goal line stand to keep Washington out of the end zone. For a defense that has been dreadful a great majority of the time, this was a nice moment, and we have to give them props.
Of course, the Cowboys offense started in poor field position, and we don’t need to talk about what happened next, but yada, yada, yada the Cowboys were down 9-0. For those keeping score at home, this is the sixth straight game this Cowboys team has trailed by at least nine points in a game. That’s not ideal.
2. Running out of gas
We knew that Washington wasn’t good at running the football as they ranked 32nd in the league in rushing this season. We also knew that the Cowboys defense is terrible at stopping the run, so this Washington team would find some level of success on Sunday. What we didn’t know is that Washington was going to run all over the Cowboys in this game.
The rookie running back Gibson finished the game with a career high 128 yards on 20 carries. Even more embarrassing is that he reached that career high by the end of the first quarter. In all, the Cowboys defense allowed yet another game with over 200 rushing yards. They just cannot stop anyone.
3. Van Jaylon is just bad
It’s hard to understand the coaching strategy to assign Jaylon Smith to hang with the quick receiving back J.D. McKissic, but that’s just a recipe for disaster from the beginning. Of course, it’s almost like anything Smith is assigned to do, he just can’t pull it off. Smith couldn’t stay with his man, got called for a pass interference penalty, and failed to make an open field tackle that led to the Logan Thomas touchdown reception.
And it’s not just Smith who’s struggling. Leighton Vander Esch isn’t making plays either, that is unless you count tackling the running back as he’s trying to run his route. It’s just a giant mess for this Cowboys defense and the play of these linebackers are a big reason why.
4. Wow, he broke one?
Much to the chagrin of fans this season, Tony Pollard has just been completely ineffective at returning kicks out of the ends. Almost every instance he’s done that, the team has started with bad field position, often times behind their own 20-yard line. Why they keep trying to run it out is baffling.
Well, we got a small taste of that why when Pollard finally broke one. After trailing 9-0, Pollard took the kickoff 67 yards to give the Cowboys offense great starting position. Unfortunately, the offense went nowhere fast as they had to settle for a Greg Zuerlein field goal.
5. A fitting finish to the half
When Washington went up 22-3 with just over three minutes left in the half, things were not looking good. But as bad as things were, the Cowboys could do some damage control if they could just put together a scoring drive. A touchdown there would cut the lead to 22-10, give them a little momentum, and they even got the ball first in the second half, so there seemed like a glimmer of hope.
When the offense started moving the ball, hope started fluttering it’s way back into our hearts. But who are we kidding. In true Cowboys fashion, the 11-play, 63 yard drive ended when a poor pass went off the hands of Ezekiel Elliott and into the arms of Washington linebacker Cole Holcomb. That seems about right.
6. No offense taken
The Cowboys defense is not playing well, but even if they were, would it even matter? Without Dak Prescott behind center, this offense is going nowhere. Yes, the offensive line continues to reach a new low of vulnerability with each game, but it’s gotten to a point where the offense is essentially rendered useless.
A three point showing is embarrassing, and the offense only put up a total of 142 yards. They only produced 2.6 yards per play (compared to 6.0 for WFT), and the team was 3 for 12 on third downs. It was just a horrible performance for this Cowboys offense.
7. Losing so much in the punting game
You have to tip your cap to Tress Ways for being an exceptional punter. To be able to kick the ball and have it just plunk in the mud on the three-yard line is an impressive skill. And nobody is expecting that type of excellence from Cowboys punter Chris Jones, but why does he have to be so bad?
Even when the Cowboys have a chance to give Washington somewhat bad field position, the special teams unit just weren’t up to the task. Midway through the second quarter, Jones shanked a punt for just 32 yards, which gave WFT the ball at their own 40.
8. DeNooch debut
In the third quarter, Andy Dalton was knocked out of the game when linebacker Jon Bostic took a cheap shot on the Cowboys quarterback as he was sliding. Bostic was ejected from the game. This meant the Cowboys offense was now in the hands of 2020 seventh-round draft pick Ben DiNucci.
The rookie quarterback got off to a rough start as his very first play was a two-handed chest pass to Ezekiel Elliott that resulted in a fumble and a nine yard loss. But then on the very next play, DiNucci connected with Amari Cooper for 32 yards. It was the biggest play of the day for the Cowboys offense.
The coaches didn’t let the rookie do much as he only threw three passes on the day. He completed two of them for a total of 39 yards. Whether it was Dalton or DiNucci, the protection was terrible, so it was tough to see what they’re actually capable of.
9. Still no turnovers
The Cowboys takeaway total remains at three for the season as this is the second straight game the defense came away completely empty in creating a turnover. It’s even more frustrating that a Washington team who is seventh worst in the league in coughing up the ball was able to play a clean game. This Cowboys defense just doesn’t put any type of pressure on their opponents to force them into mistakes.
Kyle Allen, in particular, struggles to protect the ball. Dating back to last year in Carolina, Allen has turned the ball over 20 times over his last 11 games. But leave it to this Cowboys defense to help their opponent clean things up.
10. Cooper’s consistency
Since coming over from Oakland, Amari Cooper has been criticized for disappearing as he’s had several games where he’s just not involved in the offense. In each of the last two seasons, he’s only had six games where he’s caught six or more passes. And after the Cowboys gave him a five-year, $100 million deal, fans were hoping those disappearing acts wouldn’t reveal themselves very often.
Well, believe it or not, Cooper has been pretty consistent this season. We are only seven games into the 2020 season, and he’s already hit that six game mark of six or more catches. Even without Dak Prescott, Cooper is still showing up in games.