It’s funny how winning has a way of masking problem areas and losing has a way of quickly bringing those areas of concern to the forefront. That’s exactly what happened to the Dallas Cowboys last week after the embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos. Not only did their six-game win streak come to an end, but the areas of concern rose to the surface as well.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a handful of the Dallas Cowboys biggest areas of concern heading into Week 10 against the Atlanta Falcons. Each one of these issues is fixable, however, some are easier to correct than others. With luck, and little bit of hard work, all of the areas of concern mentioned below will become a distant memory sooner rather than later.
Tyron Smith-less blindside protection
For the second week in a row it’s looking as if Tyron Smith could be sidelined because of bone spurs. Sadly, that means Terence Steele will likely start and be his replacement once again at left tackle. He was performing well at right tackle during La’el Collins’ absence, but looked completely out of place as Tyron Smith’s fill-in last week against the Broncos.
Tyron Smith has allowed 5 pressures in 7 games.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) November 9, 2021
Terence Steele allowed 9 in one game at LT trying to replace Smith.
Steele allowed 8 in his previous six games at RT.
The Cowboys absolutely must figure out some way to help protect Dak Prescott’s blindside better until Smith can return to the starting lineup. Whether that means giving a little extra help to the left tackle or seeing if La’el Collins or Ty Nsekhe is better equipped to handle the job. Figuring this out is a top priority because the offense can’t function properly with poor blindside protection.
Crank up the energy
Last week against the Broncos the Cowboys played without any energy and looked completely uninspired pretty much from the get-go. This is the first time this season we’ve seen them play with such a lack of energy and purpose, and that’s concerning. With half of the season remaining the Cowboys can’t afford to let off the gas pedal at any point moving forward. They absolutely need to find a way to inspire themselves and crank up the energy if they want to be taken serious as a Super Bowl contender this year. Luckily, it sounds like Mike McCarthy agrees and hopefully stresses the point this week.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy: “We were outcoached, we were outplayed all the way through. This is the first time I felt our energy didn’t exceed our opponent’s, and that was disappointing. …We weren’t the most physical team today.”— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 7, 2021
Improve the run defense/tackling
One of the biggest areas concerns heading into Week 10 is the Cowboys porous run defense and tackling on display last week against the Broncos. They gave up just shy of 200 rushing yards to Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, which sadly was a huge reason why Denver outplayed the Cowboys. They controlled the game by controlling the time of possession and emerged victorious because of it. The best way for the Cowboys to improve their run defense is to improve their tackling. They are in the bottom 10 in the league in missed tackles and missed 12 just last week against the Broncos. This can’t be allowed to continue and needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
Penalties continue to be a problem for the Cowboys each and every week, and yet, nobody seems to be able to fix it. Unfortunately, this isn’t an issue the coaching staff can fix. Yes, they can stress the importance of cutting down the amount of penalties, but ultimately it falls on the shoulders of the Cowboys players to correct this issue. That means players need to be held more accountable for their actions on the field. They need to understand every time they cause a penalty it’s hurting the team. As things stand right now, they are on pace to be one of the most to penalized teams in the league this year and that’s not a stat anyone wants to be leading.
Where’s the leadership?
Player accountability is one thing, but leadership is an entirely different issue in itself. It just doesn’t seem as if the Dallas Cowboys have anyone who’s taken control of that leadership role this year. Dak Prescott is arguably the closest at being that person on the offensive side of the ball, but defensively there looks to be a void at the leadership role. That’s understandable considering there so many new and young players on that side of the ball, but somebody needs to step up and take charge sooner rather than later. DeMarcus Lawrence will likely do that once he returns, but until then somebody needs to step up to rally the troops. An army needs a general, otherwise chaos ensues.