Ugly, shocking, reality check, and however else you want to describe this Cowboys loss, it will fit just fine. This may have been one of the worst Cowboy let downs in a long time. Nothing seemed to go their way, whether it was offense, defense, and even special teams, the Cowboys couldn't buy a positive play. Time to flush this game and forget about it.
However, before we do that, here are 10 thoughts from the Cowboys disappointing week nine beatdown.
1. From the beginning Dak Prescott looked a touch off.
Three weeks off, no game reps, and coming off a calf injury looks to be the only thing that has slowed Dak Prescott and this Cowboys offense so far this season. From the jump it looked like Prescott was just a hair off, whether it was his throws or his decision-making, it did not look like Dak was firing on all cylinders like we are accustom to seeing. Give credit where it is due, the Broncos came out ready to play, but ,there were opportunities out there and Dak and the offense simply did not take advantage of them when presented.
2. Fourth-down go-for-it situations have been an issue all season.
The Cowboys cannot crack the fourth-and-short code so far this year. For whatever reason this team that has been able to move the ball at will, with their elite weapons, has come up short in these situations far too often. Whether it is execution or play-call, the Cowboys will want to look to getting back to the drawing board on these pivotal situations as they surely will continue to be vital to this team’s success.
3. Micah Parsons is on the brink of superstar status.
There was not much to be happy about after the conclusion of this game, but if you are looking for some glimmer of hope to get you through, look no further than the play of Micah Parsons. Parsons has been all over the field, whether it is rushing the passer, dropping in coverage, or being a force in defending the run. There really hasn't been any challenge he hasn't been able to conquer so far this season. The future is so bright and to think he is only eight games into his career is definitely something to take solace in moving forward.
4. Terence Steele at left tackle is an issue.
When it comes to Terence Steele this season, he has rightfully been lauded for how he has played on the right side in La’el Collins’ absence, but the young man struggled on Sunday in Tyron Smith’s absence. Yes, Steele is a quality swing tackle in this league and he has proven that much this year, however to ask him to man the left tackle spot for an extended period of time rather than some spot duty when needed is going to put this team in a bind. It’s clear that Steele is much more comfortable on the right side, and that is fine, in the NFL the left tackle spot is a whole different beast to conquer, but the bottom line is if Smith is going to miss extended period of time, the Cowboys may need to get creative in how they help Steele and keep Dak clean going forward.
5. The punt block turnover was this entire game summarized in one play.
Just when the Cowboys made a stop to get off the field, the special teams unit looked to make a game-changing play as Malik Turner came screaming in untouched to block the punt. However, Nashon Wright, who granted was just looking to make a play, went for the ball, made contact and did not secure the ball which ended up back in the Broncos arms, and due to a horrific NFL rule the Broncos retained possession with a fresh set of downs. Almost everyone was in disbelief, that is how the Cowboys luck was throughout that game. When the Cowboys had to have it, they came through, and still got burned. That was the moment it was clear that it wasn’t the Cowboys day.
6. Osa Odighizuwa is legit.
Odighizuwa was disruptive all day, and despite little to nothing going right for the team, Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs and Odighizuwa have the future looking very bright for the Cowboys defense. From the beginning you could see him control the line of scrimmage and give the interior offensive line of the Broncos fits. You couldn't say the same for the rest of the defensive line, but from early on Odighizuwa presence was felt. The Cowboys loved him in camp and in the absence of Neville Gallimore, he has ensured the Cowboys have another bright star on the roster they can build around.
7. No excuses, but you wonder if the early kickoff played a factor.
Like the headline says, no excuses, the Cowboys got punched in the mouth. However you wonder if the 1 PM ET kickoff time played a factor. This was the Cowboys second game in this time slot all season, and it just felt like they were sleep walking, especially early on. It shouldn't be a factor, but we you have to take human element into factor as you look at the whole picture. These players arrived to the stadium around 10 AM ET which is much earlier than a usual game day. Again, this should not be an excuse, but it may be something to ponder. They have another 1 PM ET start time next week versus the Atlanta Falcons, and if they come out playing similarly, we might see a similar result.
8. They have lost games like this in the past, but this year’s team felt like they could overcome it. They couldn’t.
All through the game fans were waiting for the defensive stop, the Trevon Diggs pick, the Amari Cooper touchdown, the big Zeke run to spark the comeback. It was built on the fact that this team has faced all adversity this season pretty much flawlessly, and the assumption was they were going to be able to just do so again. Wrong, and this is yet another reminder of how hard it is to win in the NFL. Soon as you feel a little to big for your britches, you play a game like this that brings you back down to size. Hopefully the team got the message and they will take this game for what it was and move forward better for it.
9. Beyond just this game, the run defense has to be better.
The Cowboys got gashed on the ground on Sunday, and that is becoming a recurring theme for this defense. It needs to be figured out, and fast. We all understand there are injuries across the defensive line and the Cowboys are thin in the interior, with the expectation that help may soon be on the way. With all that being said, if the scheme, or talent, or effort, or whatever needs to be tweaked, it needs to be done now. If this team ultimately gets to where we all want them to be, which is the playoffs, they are going to square off against some smart offensive minds, some good offensive talent, and some quality rushing attacks. If they see that there is a weakness, best believe teams will take advantage and by doing so they will keep the Cowboys high-powered offense on the sideline.
10. Despite all the bad on Sunday, the sky isn't falling and everything they want is still in front of them.
The Cowboys have a commanding division lead, and there doesn't seem to be a real contender within the NFC East to strike fear into the team’s heart. The other NFC powers have their own issues and struggles going on as well, and the Cowboys are still squarely in the picture for the prized one seed. Everything is fine, this was one game, one game does not define a team or a season. They need to learn from it, grow from it, then flush it down the toilet and never speak of it again. We will know the make up of this team come next Sunday vs Atlanta. If this team has the heart we all think they do, the Falcons will be in for some serious trouble. Lets put this game in the past and as a coach once said, sorta, “On to Atlanta”.