The Dallas Cowboys clinched a playoff berth on Sunday, well before their game against the Buffalo Bills even kicked off. But the thing about the Bills game is that it represented what was supposed to be different about these Cowboys. These Cowboys were supposed to be able to be the top team in a matchup, the one not necessarily playing for more or in a more desperate/hungry situation, and be able to win and dominate no matter what. These Cowboys were supposed to be different.
With three weeks to go in the regular season and a playoff tournament that Dallas will be a part of, it is possible that they prove to us that they are different; however that was certainly not the case on Sunday. In weather conditions that didn’t affect the game, the Cowboys were outdone and outmatched in just about every way and opened the door for doubt and pessimism to linger.
It felt like more of what we have known to be as the same.
Stock Down: Mike McCarthy
In short, the entire team felt and looked unprepared. That falls on the head coach. But beyond that, penalties, horrible ones, continued to be an issue. There was a non-challenge on what would have been a Stefon Diggs fumble during a possession that Buffalo ultimately turned into a touchdown.
Or how about leaving Cowboys starters in the game well into garbage time and risking everything getting even worse on a day where Zack Martin was injured, reminding us how precious health can be. This was one of the worst games of the Mike McCarthy era.
Stock Down: Dan Quinn
For the second time in three games we have seen Dan Quinn’s unit get totally destroyed. This is the coordinator who gets a lot of the credit in Dallas. What about blame? Not just for this game, but for who the Cowboys have been as of late on his side of the ball?
James Cook ran through the Cowboys defense and the excuse cannot be that Johnathan Hankins is the key to everything working. It is time to hold Dan Quinn accountable.
Stock Down: Dak Prescott
QB1 entered this game as the front-runner and betting favorite for the league’s Most Valuable Player award which means, even beyond the situation given the post that he holds, the standard was and is higher for him.
It is not like the Cowboys offense had a lot going on, but Prescott simply has to find a way to will the team to more. He is the straw that stirs the drink, the engine that powers this all, and for him to be flat led to the offense being flat.
They scored one touchdown in the game overall, and did so in the aforementioned garbage time. Except for a field goal, they were basically shut out when they were supposed to flex who they really were.
Stock Down: Sam Williams
Sam Williams had a roughing penalty on Buffalo’s punter when he should have had a block. He has to know the rules and has shown at other times that he does not.
Instead of Dallas getting the ball back, they saw Buffalo walk down the field and score a touchdown on an opportunity that Sam Williams directly gave them. Enough of these kinds of things.
Stock Down: Jayron Kearse
If there was a truly overmatched defender on the Cowboys on Sunday it was unquestionably Jayron Kearse. He looked like he could not even run with anyone on Buffalo’s offense.
At one point in time the broadcast specifically noted how Kearse was unblocked and still unable to make an impact. Kearse also had a rough, but debatable, penalty that kept things moving for Buffalo. It was one of his worst games in a season where he has been subpar.
Stock Down: Micah Parsons
Like we mentioned with Dak Prescott, your superstars have to shine. Micah Parsons is a leader of the Cowboys defense that had no answer against a team who’s quarterback barely even threw the ball.
It sounds unfair and ridiculous to say “Parsons has to be superhuman” but he has set that standard with his incredible play. Like Prescott, Parsons entered the game as the betting favorite for Defensive Player of the Year. Those types of players have to find the magical way of swinging games and moments and he did not.
Stock Down: DeMarcus Lawrence
Early in the game it seemed like Lawrence was going to be a problem for Buffalo, but my goodness was that wrong. Like everyone else, Tank was outmatched while defending the run and even had a horrible penalty that saw a Buffalo drive given new life and turned into a touchdown as a result.
Stock Down: Markquese Bell
The middle of the Cowboys defense was completely nonexistent. There isn’t a whole lot else to say about that.
Stock Down: Mazi Smith
He is a rookie but one that is supposed to come in and be able to handle the load when called upon like was the case with Hankins being out. Smith has gone largely unnoticed throughout the season which is obviously not ideal for your first-round pick.
Volatile Stock: The Run Game
The game was not one that warrants any kind of stock up but it did sort of feel like the Cowboys offense had success on the ground in this game. Unfortunately for them they just fell behind and had to abandon it.
In that sense it was nice to see Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle have success. Hopefully situations work out from this point forward to where they can be more involved and contribute to the team.