Today we continue our midseason review with our second question, “Who or what disappointed you most in the first half?” With the current state of the Dallas Cowboys, there are plenty of valid answers.
You could go with Ezekiel Elliott, the former All-Pro running back who has failed to record a 100-yard rushing game once this season. You could also go with the overall performance of the defensive line, a unit that seemed to be a strength coming into the season, but has severely underperformed as a group.
On a 2-7 team, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and lots of players who have been a disappointment.
Now onto the BTB Writers biggest first half disappointment....
My biggest disappointment has to be the injuries. We never got to see what this roster, especially the offense, was truly capable of. With both starting OTs out, soon to be joined by Blake Jarwin and Dak Prescott, things just collapsed for the team. We thought this was a very talented bunch of players. We usually overestimate that, but this year, we never had a chance to see just how good they might have been. Prescott was of course the biggest blow, as even with the severe issues surrounding him, he was on track to have a monster season. To miss so many games with what is one of the best sets of WRs in the league is just cruel, to him, the team, and the fans.
Jaylon Smith definitely disappointed me the most. I was expecting him to be take a huge step forward in this defense, and he didn’t. Part of that is due to the poor play of the defensive tackles, but Smith has also routinely walked himself into blocks or been completely out of position on plays. Smith also discussed the complexity of the defense and how it’s affected his play.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith said the defense "absolutely" could benefit by simplifying Mike Nolan's scheme. "Just allowing us more opportunity to (hone) in on what we're actually going to run in our game plan. ...With a smaller playbook, it gives us better opportunity to do that."— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 24, 2020
I was a fan of Smith’s coming into this season but I’ve been so disappointed by his performance that I can’t argue bringing him back next year.
The biggest disappointment to me is the poor play of the defense, in particular - Jaylon Smith. We knew coming into this year that there were going to be some growing pains with a defensive coaching makeover, but I couldn’t have predicted it would be this excruciating. The injuries are plentiful and the team has gotten next to nothing from their free agent acquisitions, but the thing that caught me the most off guard was 54’s performance. Jaylon just looks like a rookie out there. His reaction is slow, his decision making is sketchy, he’s often running in the wrong direction, and even when he almost makes a nice play, he ends up getting flagged for some cheap penalty. If it was happening here and there, we could get mad at the officiating, or chalk it up to “everyone makes mistakes.” However, it’s a regular thing with him. I love the guy as a person, but his performance combined with the unpredictable health of Leighton Vander Esch has me putting a top collegiate linebacker atop my draft wish list.
The biggest disappointment for me through the first half of the season would have to be the play of the safeties. Xavier Woods and Darian Thompson weren’t playing sound defense and we’re continually caught out of position or looking at the quarterback instead of focusing on receivers. This led to big plays for opposing teams and would take the wind out of a defense that was already struggling to stop teams. The Cowboys were wise enough to make a change, replacing Thompson with Donovan Wilson and that change has improved the play of the safeties. Hopefully they can keep that going throughout the rest of the season.
My biggest disappointment through the first half of the season has to be Jaylon Smith. After a rough year in 2019, I really believed Smith would rebound big in 2020. So far, it’s been about the opposite. Smith has looked, at times, worse than he did last season, and his ability to go sideline to sideline seems to keep getting worse. Now you can’t put all the blame on Smith. The Dallas defensive tackles have been getting blown off the ball all season, making it hard for the linebackers to be free to make plays, but Smith has to be better. With the money the Cowboys are paying him, Smith needs to be a difference maker. Currently, he’s not.
The biggest disappointment is the failure of much of the Cowboys outside free agent class, besides Greg Zuerlein and Aldon Smith. The Cowboys signed Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to shore up the middle of the defense and McCoy never got on the field because of injury while Poe was released for poor play. Everson Griffen was supposed to add to a pass rush that was thought to be a force, but the Cowboys ended up trading him for a late-round draft pick. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix never even made the final roster. Corner Daryl Worley was also dumped. They really struck out on many of their outside free agents, meanwhile they let Byron Jones get away and didn't sign Dak Prescott long-term. Disappointing.
Let us know what you think about our answers, and drop your biggest first half disappointment in the comment section below.