It’s getting harder and harder to write these lists.
The excitement in compiling a countdown of “stars” from each Cowboys’ slate is completely codependent on the ‘Boys themselves, and how their performance every week measures up to their faring from the last.
And right now, the team continues to dwell in collective infamy, growing exponentially worse by the second.
Mike McCarthy clearly lied about his analytical dexterity on his job application. Nothing’s changed about the nearly decade-old offensive approach he utilized in Green Bay - the same blueprint that sent him packing in street clothes after Aaron Rodgers turned a cold shoulder towards him.
Mike Nolan’s tabasco fiasco in a recent interview is entirely emblematic of his inability to foresee any opposing offensive strategy or play design before it actually happens. He too has shown zero improvement from his previous coaching escapades. Mike #2’s last pit stop came nearly six years ago in Atlanta, and he was subsequently booted out of town after leading the forge for a bottom-five ranked defense that allowed the NFL’s highest yard total.
To make matters even worse, continuous reports are surfacing that reveal several early-season cuts stemming from player transgressions with their coaches’ ideologies. Namely: Brandon Carr and Haha Clinton Dix, two players who could’ve easily bolstered a Dallas secondary unit that’s on pace to solidify themselves as one of, if not the worst ever in league history.
But, let's try to bring joy to Dallas’ misfortunes with these compilations, and although the players are offering up little of the sort for Cowboys nation to revel in, we'll muster up whatever inklings we can to illuminate the team’s few bright spots from Sunday.
And boy, we cannot put enough emphasis on few. Nonetheless, here are your three stars from the Washington debacle.
3. Amari Cooper
Say it with me: COOOOPPPPPPP!
Bring a smile to your face?
It’s a sound that’s become a constant at AT&T stadium when the Alabama product is deposited the football, but the advent of COVID has relegated the joyous crowd unification to a much quieter one.
Amari Cooper was a man on a mission vs. Washington.
He reeled in seven receptions on just as many targets on what was ironically his lowest total snap count on the year, and was a force to be reckoned with in the Football Team’s backline, turning several short dump-offs into big gains on the singular strength of his legs.
Cooper’s made a career out of blazing defenders on hot routes, and Sunday was a true testament to the vitality of his presence on Dallas’ offense. He’s been the most consistent threat by far in their last two outings, and with Andy Dalton facing a possible sidelining due to concussion protocol, Coop will be the unquestioned safety net should things fall into Ben DiNucci’s lap.
2. Ben DiNucci
Oh hey, speaking of DiNucci.
Let me start off by saying flatly that Andy Dalton was just awful Sunday. The league’s “best backup quarterback” already has supporters calling for his name to appear on trade market rumors, and if things weren’t already bad for the Red Rifle leading up to his untimely demise, Jon Bostic's hit to his head in the third quarter likely sidelined Dalton.
The hit on Andy Dalton that sent him to the locker room— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) October 25, 2020
Bostic was ejected. pic.twitter.com/6RnlR0WFyJ
DiNucci wasn’t head and shoulders better than his predecessor (Dallas’ repeat O-line collapse led to two miserable fumbles that escaped his grasp) but he did show off some breadth of his caliber, albeit in just three attempts from the pocket.
But they weren’t half bad.
He went 2-3 in relief of Dalton, first connecting with Coop on a fly route that could’ve netted six had Amari gotten past a desperate arm tackle. It was good for 32 yards and DiNucci’s first career completion.
His second: a textbook short out that resulted in a seven-yard scamper, placing his stat resume at 39 total yards, with a 109.7 passer rating to boot.
Now, DiNucci’s display wasn't a head-turner, nor did it signal any sort of significance in terms of sample size heading into their crucial Eagles matchup next week.
It was solid, but as poorly as his teammates played, DiNucci’s solid is more than enough to substantiate for inclusion in the top three. Kudos to him.
1. Demarcus Lawrence
Demarcus Lawrence couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to make his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball.
He’d been quiet as a mouse up to this point in the season, which was a painful eyesore for more reasons than one (the biggest though, centers around his gaudy contract total).
The stipulations of a written NFL agreement are two-sided, and much to Jerry Jones’ chagrin, Lawrence’s stability on his end of the bargain has been faulty at best.
After the squad was bludgeoned by Kyler Murray‘s rabid Air Raid attack, and bitten even worse by the emergence of a Slater report that outed certain players’ reservations regarding their coaches’ aptitude, Dallas was in desperate need of someone to strap up their big boy britches and make a bold statement.
That someone was Lawrence.
He easily posted his best statistical showing of the year Sunday, finishing with four solo takedowns and seven tackles total, along with two big stops in the backfield that brought some stoppage to the busted floodgates that Washington had bombarded them with on the ground.
His two TFLs (tackles for losses) in the game were one more than he'd had all season prior to its outset, and he topped off his spicy rendezvous with a little dressing for good measure, - posting his second sack late in the fray.
Lawrence’s impact was unmistakably obvious.
His militia still surrendered record-shattering numbers to Washington’s rushing barrage. It was a rare occasion to see the defense quell Washington’s onslaught, but D-Law was standalone in his playmaking ability, and when they actually did, #90 usually had something to do with it.
Dallas is headed straight towards an unscalable abyss should they continue the pitiful slide they’re currently on, but Lawrence’s emergence may just shield them from a last place defensive rating in all-time history books as the season painfully wears on.
That’s not saying much, but hey, it’s something.