Combine poor execution and missing players at wideout, with an offensive line that forgot how to block, and you get the Dallas Cowboys’ performance against the Kansas City Chiefs. The shootout that many thought was coming turned out to be a defensive struggle that tilted in the Chiefs favor thanks to mistakes by the Cowboys offense. Even though the score had the Cowboys losing by ten points, it could have been a lot worse if not for the tough play from the Cowboys defense that was holding on for dear life.
Let’s take a look at what went right and what went wrong for the Cowboys this week by grading the Cowboys performance.
The Cowboys offense was out of sorts all game, just like they were two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos. Poorly thrown passes from Dak Prescott, the running game was never established against the Chiefs defense, and the coaching staff just didn’t seem to have an answer for the Chiefs on defense or special teams. The only saving grace for the Cowboys this week was the play of their defense that kept them in the game the best they could.
The Cowboys offensive coaching staff just didn’t seem to have an answer for the inside pressure that Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones was able to put on Prescott and the running game this week. They also failed to give much help to Terence Steele once again on the left side of the line, allowing pressure to come from Prescott’s blindside for most of the night. The only reasons this wasn’t an “F” was due to the injuries and players missing on offense and defensive coordinator Dann Quinn’s defensive game plan to slow to the explosive Chiefs offense.
It just seemed like the pressure got to Prescott this week and that’s something that we just aren’t used to from him. That, along with him forcing the ball down the field and into tight coverage. Prescott looked mortal this week after losing his two best wide receivers and receiving constant pressure up the middle and from his blindside. With a short week ahead, we have to hope that Prescott can return to form but he’s going to need some help if that is to happen.
Running Backs: C
The running game just was never established this week and when the Cowboys utilized Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard in the passing game, the Chiefs were ready for it and able to bring them down quickly. For that reason, you can’t really fault this Cowboys running game, they had defenders in their face when running the ball. The main takeaway here is the hope that Elliott who left the game with an injury will be able to return on a short week and be effective now that the Cowboys could be down two receivers next week and 16 total carries won’t cut it.
Wide Receiver: C-
The team already came into this game shorthanded with Amari Cooper out due to Covid protocols. Then going into halftime they lost CeeDee Lamb to a head injury. From that point on the Cowboys just weren’t able to threaten the Chiefs secondary outside of Michael Gallup. The majority of the passes after that went to the Cowboys tight ends and running backs. They were also phased out thanks to the pressure Prescott, but the drops from some of the understudies at receiver really hurt the offense. The only reason this group doesn’t get a worse grade is due to backups being used for the most part.
Tight End: C
Tight end Dalton Schultz once again seemed to be the only receiver that Prescott was able to actually get the football to down the field. Schultz was able to catch six passes for 53 yards, outside of that they weren’t really effective in blocking this week when lined up along the offensive line. They are going to be relied upon again on Thanksgiving if Lamb is out.
Offensive Line: F
The Cowboys offensive line was the main reason for the Cowboys’ offensive struggles this week as they weren’t able to give Prescott any time in the pocket consistently. The loss of left tackle Tyron Smith still looms over this group, and the move to start Connor McGovern at left guard didn’t have a positive effect on the the offensive line and Terence Steele needs help at left tackle. They were also unable to create lanes for the Cowboys running backs to gain yards, instead, they were fighting most of the day to get back to the line of scrimmage and didn’t have any success stopping Chris Jones.
Defensive Line: B
The defensive line was getting pressure on Patrick Mahomes all day but was just a step to slow on getting home most of the time. Rookie Micah Parsons, who started at defensive end this week, was able to pick up two more sacks on the season and Dorance Armstrong added one of his own. They were also able to keep the Chiefs running game in check for the most part before being worn out thanks to the offense’s turnovers and three and outs.
The Cowboys linebackers were in position to make plays and for the most part they were able to, but there were times when tackles were missed allowing the Chiefs to pick up first downs. With the injuries at defensive end the linebackers sorely miss having Parsons in the middle of that defense making plays against the run and pass. Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal did a good, but not great, job overall this week.
The Cowboys secondary did a good job of limiting the Chiefs explosive plays to a minimum this week, but they still gave up chunks of yards to move the chains. Tight end Travis Kelce did most of his damage in the middle of the field late in the game that dropped their grade overall. It was raised a bit though thanks to another take away that gave the Cowboys offense nice field position that they couldn’t take advantage of.