Each and every week, we assess a question that is prompted by the previous game. This week, we saw the Cowboys defeat the Detroit Lions with a strong defensive performance that forced turnovers and sacked a quarterback that has largely avoided sacks this year. However, the offense struggled and had trouble moving the ball, especially in short-yardage situations.
This performance led to Jori Epstein, NFL reporter, writing about a buoying recipe that relies on the defense.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t take the lead until midway through the third quarter, and then, perhaps as much due to Detroit Lions mistakes as their own successes, they ran away with a 24-6 game that seemed far less dominant than the score suggested.
At halftime, the Cowboys drives had amounted to three punts, a fumble and a field goal. Dallas opened the game converting 1-of-7 third-down attempts in quarterback Dak Prescott’s return from a six-week recovery.
Nonetheless, Dallas improved to 5-2 in a competitive NFC East by powering the 2022 recipe that has worked best for them: a disruptive defense and two-headed running game.
So, this week’s million-dollar question: Can the defense do enough to also lift the offense?
There is hardly anyone currently making the case that anything but the defense is the strong suit of this team. This defense is going to keep them in games, but questions have arisen about the offense since the middle of last season. With a defense that creates turnovers and is able to sack the quarterback, the offense should enjoy good field position most of the game and be able to start possessions in plus territory.
However, the 24-6 final scoreboard Sunday did not feel like an accurate representation of what transpired. Dak Prescott, although his first game back, made some poor decisions. The offensive line was exploited on a few third and shorts, which is problematic for a team that relies on the running game. The wide receivers struggle to consistently get open. They could really use another integral part of the offense that can get open easy. Kellen Moore has also lost the confidence of many fans.
All that being said, this feels a lot like the back end of last year. A defense that wins game and an offense that struggles to move the ball without a turnover forced by the defense. Hopefully history doesn't repeat itself with an early first round playoff exit because looking at how weak the NFC is, the Cowboys should have no problem clinching a playoff berth come January. It may be a steep hill to climb once there, though, and if that is the case, an offense that can score a bit more easily would be useful.
The Cowboys offense kept it simple Sunday, but is that enough to break the barrier that has cursed this team for two decades? This defense is great, but they will give up points eventually, and how the offense responds will probably dictate how the season goes.