The new coaching staff continues to disappoint.
Why didn't Zeke get more touches?....Perhaps Kellen Moore believed the Cowboys' best path to victory was through Andy Dalton and the team's other playmakers but it was a little surprising to see Elliott's role diminished in the second half after a solid start. The All-Pro runner had it going against the Ravens with 53 rushing yards on 10 carries in the first half, including a 13-yard run that showcased his speed, vision, and burst. Elliott's strong performance should've prompted Moore to give him more touches in the second half, particularly with the game within reach until the fourth quarter. The Cowboys' RB1 should've been the centerpiece of the offense's game plan with a backup quarterback and a patchwork offensive line facing one of the NFL's top defenses but Moore opted to feature others instead of leaning on the talented workhorse.
The O-Line holds up against the Ravens' formidable frontline....The Cowboys' patchwork offensive line was expected to get pushed around by the Ravens' rugged front but the unit held its own in the trenches for 60 minutes. The Cowboys rushed for 100-plus yards (28 carries for 111 yards) and surrendered just a single sack on 49 dropbacks.
Although Moore protected the unit by featuring a game plan littered with quick passes and screens, the Cowboys' front five kept the Ravens from harassing Dalton in the pocket for most of the game. In addition, the quintet moved defenders off the ball and created a few creases for Elliott on the ground. Given the presence of two undrafted* free agents (Brandon Knight and Terence Steele) on the edges, the performance of the Cowboys' offensive line should earn solid marks in film sessions this week.
Other first-year coaches are having success implementing their program. Dallas is not.
But the New York Giants (5-7) have won four straight games with new coach Joe Judge while running back Saquon Barkley sits out for the season with a knee injury and Colt McCoy wins his first game at quarterback since 2014. The Washington Football Team (5-7) has won three straight games with quarterback Alex Smith, who almost lost his right leg because of infections from a compound fracture in 2018, and first-year coach Ron Rivera, who has undergone treatment for cancer during the season.
The Cleveland Browns are 9-3 for the first time since 1994. Rookie coach Kevin Stefanski is a candidate for coach of the year, and he hasn't had wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. because of a knee injury for the past five games and the Browns' best pass-rusher, Myles Garrett, missed two games because of COVID-19. The Giants won a game few thought they could at the Seattle Seahawks. Washington won a game few thought it could by defeating the previously unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Browns throttled the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
So, what about the Cowboys?
Poor play at the linebacker spot has been a constant this season.
While there are certainly issues on the Dallas interior, those issues don’t completely explain the poor play from the linebacker position. Jaylon Smith has been the target for much criticism this season, but he shouldn’t be alone. Leighton Vander Esch has struggled mightily in his return from injury. The duo has struggled reading hand offs at the mesh point or dealing with misdirection. And that’s something that’s gone on for years. Going back to the Los Angeles Rams game in the 2018 Divisional Round, that’s exactly how they beat the Cowboys; misdirection.
Their two starters at linebacker, two of the biggest investments on the defense have struggled to be consistent playmakers in this defense or even simply adequate run defenders. Smith and Vander Esch once looked to be one of the premiere young linebacker tandems in the NFL back in 2018 until they were exposed in that playoff matchup to the Rams.
Film room: 3 things we learned from Cowboys-Ravens, including why Mike Nolan should be a one-and-done DC - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Should Mike Nolan return as DC next season?
Nolan should be one and done as DC
Continuing the theme of the entire season, Dallas’ run defense struggled mightily to defend the Ravens on the ground, as Baltimore finished with 294 rushing yards while averaging an absurd 7.9 yards per carry Tuesday night after rushing for just 304 total yards in Weeks 9-12 combined.
While the rest of the NFL figured out ways to slow down Baltimore’s vaunted ground attack, the Cowboys looked like they had no clue how to stop it.
Similar to their previous performances, the Cowboys were atrocious with their run fits versus Baltimore’s ground attack. Baltimore’s movement and option game had Cowboys defenders vacating gaps, creating wide-open running lanes for Baltimore ball carriers all night — issues that have plagued the Cowboys defense all season long.
While Nolan was dealt a bad deck of cards due to the pandemic shortening the offseason in a year where he was supposed to implement an entirely new scheme — one that was the polar opposite of the previous scheme in many ways — there are no excuses for the constant missed assignments that have plagued the Cowboys defense this year.
Let’s face facts, Nolan has done an atrocious job teaching, installing and implementing his scheme with the Dallas defense, even after simplifying it to make it easier for the players to learn and execute. And given Nolan’s struggles in his previous stops as defensive coordinator, we probably shouldn’t be surprised.
Cowboys need more accountability, an area in which Mike McCarthy fell short Tuesday - Michael Gehlken, Dallas Morning News
At the moment, Dallas clearly needs more accountability for their poor performance.
McCarthy offered no personal accountability for what transpired, including not using a timeout when it was evident from the sideline that the play clock was expiring. Zuerlein’s ensuing 40-yard field goal hooked right, a miss that might have been made if from 35. The Cowboys took a 17-10 deficit into halftime.
“There was obviously a breakdown there in the communication,” McCarthy said. “But at the end of the day, the operation has to be in tune with the 40-second clock. We were clearly near there, and obviously, we missed the field goal. Those are the kind of mistakes you can’t make in a game like this. We needed points there.” OK.
But why no timeout? “Frankly, I thought we were going to snap the ball and kick the field goal,” McCarthy said. “So there was obviously a breakdown in our operation.”
ICYMI:The Dallas Cowboys hit a new low, they have been flexed out of their Week 15 SNF game - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
As if 2020 could not get any lower for the Dallas Cowboys....
Week after week the Cowboys have found new ways to not just lose, but to lose in catastrophic fashion so far in 2020. They have lost many of their stars, but that has happened in seasons before. Typically the weight of The Star carries the group through thick and thin in that capacity, but it appears that those days are a thing of the past.
The NFL announced on Wednesday that they are flexing out of the Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers Week 15 game on Sunday Night Football. They are putting Dallas and San Francisco in the 1 PM ET hour where the less popular teams play and are instead choosing to highlight the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants.
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