The Dallas Cowboys defense once again let their offense and fans down against the Cleveland Browns. Now with a record of 1-3, the Cowboys are still in position to win the division, but face big trouble thanks to a historically bad defense. Dak Prescott and the offense are doing everything they can but it can only go so far, although they do need to eliminate the turnovers.
So let’s take a look at the grades this week for each position.
This Cowboys team as a whole has all of the talent in the world to go out and win these games and yet they continue to drop them thanks to their defense and turnovers. This is a historically bad defense and it’s not an exaggeration, this defense has given up 146 points in four games, that’s 36.5 points per game as Charles Robinson pointed out. They currently rank dead last on defense. But that isn’t their only problem, they also have a problems in special teams with kickoff returns by Tony Pollard and the offense turning the ball over.
Until they fix these issues this team will continue to struggle in games and have another season where a team with so much talent again fails to get the job done.
The only reason this isn’t an “F” is thanks to the play-calling from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore who has been able to draw up plays and put points on the board. The rest of this all falls on the head coach and defensive coaching staff. When you have a rookie tackle going against one of the best pass rushers in the game without help you aren’t doing your best to help the player or the team. Then you have defensive coordinator Mike Nolan who has to get his players on the same page so this team can get some confidence and start making plays.
If he can’t do that then his time with the Cowboys could be coming to an end very soon.
Prescott is doing everything he can to keep this team in the game but with poor blocking in front of him and a Pro Bowl running back that all of a sudden can’t stop fumbling the ball, it’s a battle. Prescott had another great showing putting up 502 yards and four touchdowns but was sacked three times with one fumble and an interception. The fumble was due to poor blocking and scheme, and the interception was due to his receiver not running the route effectively.
If Prescott can keep this up and the defense can turn things around this could be a dangerous team.
Running Backs: C
This offensive line is really hurting Ezekiel Elliott in the running game. Elliott did bounce back this week after dropping the passes last week, catching all eight of the passes thrown to him. Elliott will need to keep performing in the passing game until this offensive line can get healthy and return to form. But he absolutely has to stop fumbling.
Wide Receivers: A
Another strong showing from the Cowboys receivers this week with the running game not showing up. Amari Cooper led the team in yards with 134 yards while rookie CeeDee Lamb caught two touchdowns. It seems like no matter who they face these receivers will be able to get the job done.
Hopefully they can keep this up.
Tight Ends: A
Dalton Schultz has now proven that he is a weapon in this Cowboys offense. He was able to catch four balls for 72 yards with another touchdown before going down with an injury. Hopefully the injury isn’t serious and he’s able to get back on the field next week against the New York Giants.
Offensive Line: D
Just when the Cowboys get left tackle Tyron Smith back they lose center Joe Looney on the first play of the football game to a knee injury. Then you have Connor Williams again being beaten inside forcing Prescott off his spots and rookie right tackle Terence Steele not getting any help against Myles Garrett who worked him until he was benched. Brandon Knight didn’t fare well against Garrett either.
Until this offensive line can get healthy don’t look for this grade to change. Also what happened to Connor McGovern?
Defensive Line: F
The Cowboys defensive line once again failed to get any real pressure on the opposing quarterback. Not only did they not get pressure but they also gave up 307 yards on the ground to a team without their best running back. It’s another sad showing from what was suppose to be the strength of this defense.
Time for this group to get back to the basics.
What has happened to Jaylon Smith? Missing tackles, making poor reads and taking bad angles to make tackles. He’s clearly not the right person to man the middle of this Cowboys defense. It might be time for Joe Thomas to take over and man the position until Leighton Vander Esch can get back on the field because this isn’t working right now.
Once again the play at safety hurt the defense early in the game. I’m still not sure what these safeties are looking at when their job is to keep everything in front of them. Putting in Donovan Wilson for Darius Thompson was the best move they made in the game. He was reliable and was active in the running game as well.
Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown should be back soon to help this secondary.
Overall this was a poor showing for everyone except for the quarterback, receivers, and tight end. This week is a divisional game that has now turned into a must win for the Cowboys. Nolan and this defense need to figure out who they are and get to work on the field.