After the Dallas Cowboys last game, a dispiriting offensive output that resulted in a 19-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, we pondered the idea that the Cowboys season was starting to wobble. Thanksgiving’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders means the Cowboys have lost three of their last four games, and the idea that their season is wobbling is confirmed.
The hope was that Dallas would get-right against the Raiders and re-establish their credentials as an elite contender. That obviously didn’t happen, so it is fair to wonder if we’ve reached a turning point in the season. In their first seven games, the Cowboys were magical. Even the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to portend greater things down the road. The loss to Denver seem to break the spell.
Since that time, not much has been magical outside of the total beatdown of Atlanta. We thought that proved the Broncos game was an aberration, now that win over the Falcons seems like the aberration in a string of losses.
When the Cowboys got the ball in overtime against the Raiders, it’s a fair bet that many Cowboys fans felt the magic was coming back from the first half of the season. The Cowboys had been generous with the mistakes and penalties through much of the game, only to rescue themselves late. It’s not unlike some games earlier in the year where the Cowboys started slow, or had to battle at the end of the game, but almost always came out victorious.
It felt like the Cowboys could overcome injuries, mistakes, penalties, and whatever came their way. Cowboys fans wanted that feeling back, and if Dallas had taken the ball in overtime and driven to victory, it might be like the first half of the year again. It wasn’t to be. Dallas went three and out then bungled their way to an overtime loss.
The magic is temporarily gone, and now it’s fair to wonder if they will get it back. Getting reinforcements back like Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, DeMarcus Lawrence and others may prove to be the silver bullet. Maybe when the Cowboys get a little more healthy, they will get back into the groove. Maybe we are just in some mid-season doldrums that we’ll forget about in a few more weeks.
But as it stands now, there are very few Cowboys players who can honestly say they are playing at the level needed. Dak Prescott has been very uneven through the Denver game and since. Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t look the same as he did earlier in the season, probably because of the knee. The offensive line has certainly regressed. Trevon Diggs isn’t getting the turnovers at the rate he was, and his lapses in coverage are becoming more prevalent. Anthony Brown killed the team on Thanksgiving with penalties. Damontae Kazeee looked lost on several plays against the Raiders. The sickness has spread throughout the team. Only Micah Parsons seems immune.
It’s probably too early to start panicking as a Cowboys fan. There is so much right about this team that the odds say they will get things righted to some extent over the final stretch of the season. But just how right will they get? Will they revive the magic of the first half of the year and become real contenders again? Or will they have ups and downs but just squeeze into the playoffs? It’s impossible to know at the moment.
The other possibility is they will continue to struggle and then collapse. That isn’t something any Cowboys fan wants to see; we’ve seen that movie plenty of times before. But given the last month of football, it can’t be dismissed. Last game we wondered if the wobble would turn into a troublesome vibration. Safe to say we’ve reached that. After the next game, let’s hope we aren’t wondering if the real cracks are starting to appear.