The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Cleveland Browns 49-38 on Sunday. Dallas is officially a quarter of the way through the season and they could not be more disappointing if they tried. They are one crazy sequence of events away from being winless on the year and have a lot of looking in the mirror to do.
Normally after every Cowboys game we field five winners and five losers. There are no winners here. Welcome to our ten losers for the week.
Loser: Mike McCarthy
Let’s be clear in saying that the Dallas Cowboys needed to move on from Jason Garrett. The following is not meant to suggest that the team should have kept down that path.
Do you know the last time that the Cowboys were 1-3 like they are now? It was 2010 under Wade Phillips... the season that he was fired. Some connecting of dots will tell you that the Cowboys were never 1-3 through four games under Jason Garrett which calls into question the galactic failure that this season is for the Cowboys.
Mike McCarthy is the head coach so the buck stops with him. Why did he allow the team to start Terence Steele at right tackle to handle Myles Garrett? That predictably blew up in their face. Turnovers are still an issue. There is absolutely no discipline on defense. He has to answer a lot of questions over this next week.
Loser: Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys lost by a sizable margin so it ended up being somewhat insignificant, but Elliott’s fumble cost the team seven points. There was thought and discussion that he looked good in the season opener, but he is making some really costly mental mistakes and turning the ball over more than he should be.
There are still people that believe that running the ball is the answer. It’s hard to do that when these mistakes are happening.
Loser: Jaylon Smith
Where do we even begin here? Jaylon Smith has been very not good for the Cowboys for over a year now.
Dallas thought they were getting ahead of things when they gave him a contract extension two years ago (when they paid him and Elliott while not paying Dak) but that hardly looks genius right now. He is a liability on defense to say the least. He also had a huge face mask penalty that fueled a Browns touchdown drive. He also was flailing after Odell Beckham Jr. on the game-icing touchdown and helped push the blocked extra point into a position where Cleveland could net two points out of it.
Leighton Vander Esch is hurt and that is clearly impacting Smith’s abilities. He is supposed to be a leader and major talent on the team in his own right, though. He certainly has not been.
Loser: Everson Griffen
There have been questions as to how much Griffen is contributing to the Cowboys in his first year with the team, and while he does have a sack on the season he is largely absent from games.
The Cowboys aren’t generating any pass rush and Griffen was supposed to help fix that issue. Quarterbacks have all day to throw and are having so much success that they are spreading it around. Jarvis Landry even threw a touchdown on Sunday afternoon.
Loser: Darian Thompson
What were the Cowboys expecting? Not going out to get talent at the safety position is going to leave them vulnerable and that seemed to happen.
It appeared that Thompson got benched for Donovan Wilson in this game but we will have to wait until we find out more to officially say. He is part of a Cowboys secondary group that is sub-par all the way around and letting opposing wide receivers run wild.
Loser: Tony Pollard
It’s hard to understand why John Fassel is continuing to allow Pollard to return kickoffs. He continually winds up behind the 25-yard line where he would be if he just took a knee.
What’s more is that Pollard also had a drop when used on offense in this game. He made a nice play in garbage time that wound up making the game closer, but generally any time the team looks to involve him it results in something not good for the team.
There is no reason why he should still be on kickoff duty.
Loser: Injuries... again
We don’t know what the status of Joe Looney is moving forward, but he left this game early on and did not return. Tyler Biadasz filled in for him and actually held his own, but obviously the depth along the Cowboys offensive line is being tested rather early.
Loser: Defending the run
We already touched on this a bit with Jaylon Smith, but it bears mentioning again.
The world knew that the Cleveland Browns were going to want to run the ball against the Cowboys. They literally had over 300 yards on the ground. This would merit a bit less shame if Nick Chubb had been a huge part of it, but he left the game with an injury and “only” had 43 yards.
Odell Beckham Jr. had 73 yards rushing for goodness sake.
Loser: Turning the ball over
This was similarly mentioned, but the Cowboys simply cannot afford to turn the ball over. It is an unfair expectation but due to how bad the defense is the offense simply must play perfect. That is our normal.
Ezekiel Elliott’s fumble gave the Browns remarkable field position that they were able to turn into a touchdown. Those mistakes are costly.
Loser: The preseason hype... again
People thought the Cowboys were going to be Super Bowl contenders this season, and when it’s all said and done, maybe they ultimately will be.
This is very hard to anticipate and envision in the current moment, though. The Cowboys are 1-3 and don’t have even an average defense to field.