At the end of the night on Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys won against the New Orleans Saints and that is what matters the most. They are 8-4 as opposed to 7-5, have all of their goals still in front of them, and look like they are going to host at least one playoff game. Those are all positive things.
But if we are honest with ourselves, there was a lot from Thursday night in New Orleans that was greatly concerning. This is even more troubling given that Dallas entered the game coming off of a concerning four-game stretch that featured three losses. Despite that, the Cowboys were five-point favorites heading to New Orleans, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. It isn’t shocking that SB Nation Reacts users were incredibly down on the team entering this week’s contest.
It is unlikely that anyone who had fears about this team had them calmed in The Big Easy given that the Cowboys offense - what was the most elite part of their team - was inefficient and hardly elite. Consider that they were given three possessions by way of defensive takeaways (the fourth was the pick-six from Carlos Watkins which obviously didn’t lead to an offensive possession). Do you know how many points they managed to squeeze out as a result? Three.
This is supposed to be the best offense in the NFL (it has been this season by many objective measurements) and that they were unable to score more than three points off of three turnovers. What was particularly troubling is that in the fourth quarter the Cowboys defense protected their 10-point lead with interceptions on back-to-back possessions only for the offense to go three-and-out each time. Against a better team the Cowboys might have seen their lead squandered and potentially lost the game.
Thursday night’s result is better than the Week 1 result against Tampa Bay where the Cowboys actually did lose but gave us all a lot of confidence. We will take the win every single time and not apologize for it.
And while it is fair to note that the Cowboys are coming off of the most unique part of their season where they have to play consecutive Thursday games, that their head coach was out along with several other staffers, and that they are just now putting pieces back together on offense, it is still disconcerting to see them struggle like this. They are in a five-game stretch where their best offensive showing was against a suspect Atlanta Falcons team outside of a nice fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Perhaps what is most frustrating about Dallas these days is their level of decision-making. They don’t seem capable of properly evaluating what they are doing offensively as evidenced by the fact that they have reverted to just trying to mash the ball up the middle all of the time with results showing in an overwhelming fashion that this is not wise.
Average rushing yards this season by play direction: pic.twitter.com/Sen0AX4oNW— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) December 3, 2021
There were a ton of people early on this season who were ready to fire Mike McCarthy and elevate Kellen Moore to the top of the coaching pyramid. It has become abundantly clear that Moore isn’t quite ready for that. This isn’t to say that he can’t still rebound this season, and some time off might be what he and everyone needs to properly recalibrate things before the stretch run truly begins.
On Thursday night, the Cowboys looked like a less creative offense than the New Orleans Saints who were clearly living and dying by Taysom Hill’s ability to run the ball. It was frustrating, maddening, and upsetting in multiple ways and the only way it could be made worse is if no lesson was learned from it.
Hopefully that is not the case starting next Sunday at Washington.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.