The Dallas Cowboys were hotter than fish grease coming into Arizona to play the Cardinals, especially defensively. Well, they got carved up for 222 rushing yards and 400 yards total as they fell to 2-1. Chalk this defensive performance up to a bad day at the office. However, Dallas has another issue that needs to be talked about.
As bad as the defensive effort was against the Cardinals, the Cowboys' red zone offense was equally atrocious as they only converted one of their five possessions into a touchdown. This isn't just a Week 3 thing, though, as the Cowboys were only two for six in the red zone versus the New York Jets last Sunday despite a 30-10 win.
Dallas has a tough slate of games over the next five weeks (four games). To add to that, three of those opponents (New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers, and Los Angeles Rams) currently have top 10 defenses, so points could be at a premium, which will emphasize capitalizing in the red zone.
One way to assist in that is better play selection.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter against the Cardinals, the Cowboys were down 21-13 and took four minutes off the clock, which set up a first-and-goal from the 10. Dallas would run the ball with Tony Pollard for two yards, then an end around to Cee Lamb for no gain, followed by Dak Prescott throwing an incomplete pass to Lamb, which led to a field goal. That's some weird play section there.
Dallas was down 12 points with about five minutes left with a first-and-10 from the Cardinals 16 looking to make it a one-score game. Yes, they got a first down with consecutive running plays after that and had another first-and-goal situation. However, with time being the enemy, head coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys play-caller, called two more running plays that only gained a yard, and then Prescott was intercepted as he tried to force a pass into triple coverage which basically ended the game.
The lack of creativity in the red zone was mind-blowing, and that simply isn't acceptable for a guy with McCarthy's experience calling plays. Dallas is loaded with weapons on the outside, and Pollard is a treat in the passing game, so there's no need to continuously run the ball and force passing situations.
As mentioned before, Dallas has a tough road ahead, and this red zone issue could have them looking up at the better teams in the NFC soon if it's not corrected.