It is more than likely that you entered Sunday night with the expectation that the Dallas Cowboys would not fare too well in their road contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. If that was indeed your assertion, you were right.
To be fair, the Cowboys showed a lot of encouraging signs of competency that have been mostly absent over the last two months. While results are what ultimately matter the most, this team played with legitimate resolve and was fairly in the mix despite playing Ben DiNucci at the game’s most important position.
We are officially halfway through the mess that is the 2020 Dallas Cowboys season. They have won a quarter of their games and look to be on pace for one of the top draft picks come 2021.
Tonight was about their performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, though. Just what did we think about it? We have winners and losers, and it is time to sort of who is who.
Winner: Donovan Wilson
While the Cowboys are still struggling to find legitimate safety play overall, they are playing Donovan Wilson more and that is something that a lot of us have wanted to see.
This move paid off rather well early on in the game as Donovan, thanks to Carson Wentz’s mental mistake, was able to jar the ball loose for a Cowboys fumble recovery.
Ultimately, the Cowboys were unable to score on this possession as DiNucci fumbled himself after Terence Steele got beat. Still though, it’s nice to see some things working on defense.
Winner: Leighton Vander Esch
It was during a Sunday Night Football game in Philadelphia that Leighton Vander Esch announced himself to the world two years ago. On this particular night in the City of Brotherly Love, he announced himself rather loudly to Carson Wentz.
Vander Esch has been far from perfect (when he’s played), but when he’s healthy there is an elite linebacker somewhere inside of him. We have seen it before and if the Cowboys can completely figure out how to channel that version of him during this experiment of a lost season, perhaps they can put that to its best use when it truly matters in the future.
Winner: Trevon Diggs
There is no denying that rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs has had some struggles early on in his NFL career, but considering how long he has been playing the position (as in not very), the hope is that he is learning to get better as he goes along.
Diggs has come ever so close to generating a turnover over the first half of the season. Things finally clicked late in the first half against the Eagles when Carson Wentz threw a dime right to him in the endzone. Wentz must have seen something he really liked though, because he found Diggs again on Philly’s first possession of the second half.
One shin counts as much as two feet so the call stood as a result. Diggs used to play receiver so he is certainly used to toe-tapping near the sideline.
Cheers to Trevon Diggs finally breaking through. May these be the first and second of many.
Winner: Zack Martin
The Cowboys offensive line was an utter wreck last week, and most of it returned for another go on Sunday night in Philadelphia, but there was one noticeable return, that of right guard Zack Martin.
It is highly possible that we - people who fully know that Martin will one day be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame - underestimate the lineman. Not to overly credit him, but the group looked legitimate with him back in the fold.
Nice job, Zack.
Winner: Mike Nolan
The clocks fell back this week which means we are closer to the holidays which means our spirits should theoretically be brighter. I’m trying to be optimistic here.
By no means am I saying that Mike Nolan is a long-term solution for the Cowboys, but his unit entered Sunday night prepared to give Ben DiNucci a fighting chance and they definitely did that. Outside of the aforementioned linebacker there was far more effort than we saw for a majority of the season to this point.
Perhaps all is not completely lost in the defensive meeting room.
Loser: Jaylon Smith
It’s hard to not sound like we are just piling on at this point, but what are the Cowboys doing here? There is more than enough evidence to discern that Jaylon Smith should not be seeing the time that he is in the heart of the defense.
The same problems continue to persist with Jaylon, scheme issues aside. He is getting beat in the most fundamental ways and is a hindrance to a group that certainly does not need any more.
On the play before the Wentz to Travis Fulgham touchdown in the third quarter, Smith legitimately ran away from the Eagles quarterback that was scampering for a first down. As in ran in the opposite direction of him.
We say this all the time, but it is still important to note that the fact that we can even be upset about Smith’s skills on an NFL playing field is a testament to his miracle comeback. Amazing story aside, he is one of the biggest problems on the Dallas Cowboys at the moment.
The team tried to tell the world last week that accountability was going to be demanded by way of trading Everson Griffen, and releasing both Dontari Poe and Daryl Worley. There is no accountability here whatsoever.
Loser: Terence Steele
We made mention of it a little earlier, but the fumble that DiNucci had early on was largely Steele’s fault.
The Cowboys admittedly do not have a lot of options along the offensive line, but this play killed a promising start for the Cowboys. It is unfortunate that Steele is the actual face of his inefficiencies at this point because the coaching staff is the group leaving him out there despite mountains of evidence that he is not ready.
Overall the situation isn’t quite Chaz Green in Atlanta circa 2017, but it isn’t much better.
Loser: Tyrone Crawford
Now this is a conversation that we have absolutely been having for years, unfortunately, but Tyrone Crawford simply looks lost.
He brings a leadership element to the team and that’s fine, but his play on the field is hardly worthy of putting him on it. Just like Jaylon Smith, more often than not Crawford looks lost on plays. He got trapped in scrums with his back to the action and seemed to also weigh things down more than lift them up.
Loser: Chris Jones
How is it possible that we are annually having the same discussions about the same players not being up to par for the Cowboys? Scoff at the impact of punting if you want, but Chris Jones is also somebody who is causing more harm than he is boosting changes of victory.
The Cowboys have accepted mediocrity in a lot of places for far too long. This is unequivocally the case when it comes to one of their top specialists. Like Crawford, it is possible that the Cowboys view Jones as a leader of sorts, but it is time to find superior talent.
Loser: Ben DiNucci
This was to be expected, and unfortunately there was no miracle performance to avoid it. Ben DiNucci was very bad on Sunday night in Philadelphia.
Honestly speaking though, what did you expect? The Nooch is a rookie, seventh-round pick, playing quarterback in Week 8 of his first year in the NFL, which just so happens to be the most challenging position from a preparation (and many other obviously) standpoint. This is, of course, not to mention that his offensive line is hardly the one that others playing the position have had (they did hold up fairly well though as mentioned).
Still though, some of the mistakes that DiNucci made were more than just rookie warts. The game happens quickly as is always said, but mental errors can mount and cause you harm down the road. The quarterback is hardly the only reason that the team lost, but he is part of the collective mess.