The season is over for the Dallas Cowboys as they finished with a 48-32 loss at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. There wasn’t a whole lot to be happy about in this one, but plenty to scratch our heads about. The offense was bad, the defense was worse, and the special teams made their share of mistakes. Let’s take a look at what we can learn after re-watching the game film.
It wasn’t just that the Cowboys' defense couldn’t stop the Packers' rushing attack, but rather just how easy it was for Green Bay to run the ball. Far too often there were wide open lanes to run through. The Packers did a good job moving guys around and getting would-be tacklers going in the wrong direction. They got to the second level and sealed off defenders. They put on a blocking clinic while the Cowboys' defenders looked completely helpless.
I don't know if I have seen such huge running lanes before. Aaron Jones, James Earl Jones, or Catherine Zeta-Jones could all run through those holes. pic.twitter.com/vdXvEXVujU— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024
The Packers' running game might been even more damaging if it wasn’t for how easy it was for them to pass the ball. Jordan Love only attempted 21 passes on the day, but he made them count. The Cowboys weren’t able to apply enough pressure, and when they did get a little, Love would just stutter-step himself into space and throw off his back foot. He looked a lot like the guy who previously took the snap behind center for the Packers and that is not a comforting feeling for Cowboys fans.
I was impressed with Jordan Love before, but what we saw on Sunday gave me some Aaron Rodgers PTSD. Pressure/no pressure, the guy was so composed and his throws looked effortless and were right on the money. pic.twitter.com/Wt2oJHz4T8— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024
The Packers knew exactly how much time he had and planned accordingly. These slower-developing plays caused the Cowboys' secondary to fall asleep and left the Packers’ receivers wide open.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, you know.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 15, 2024
The Cowboys play like seven safeties on defense and none of them are playing safety. This is embarrassing. pic.twitter.com/lB4QiTOxXB
THE LITTLE THINGS MATTER
The Cowboys weren’t too terrible with penalties, so this isn’t as damaging as it’s been in the past, but the type of penalties is still bothersome. It feels like every game they jump offsides. Their most savvy veteran defender, DeMarcus Lawrence, just couldn’t help himself. The penalty only cost them a couple of yards, but it changed the Packers play-calling options on third down and allowed them to lean on Aaron Jones.
DeMarcus Lawrence blows up two of the first few plays of the game, but then gets antsy on a third down play near the goal line. Allows the Packers to now run the ball. Costly.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024
If you can't get a 10-year veteran to stay disciplined, what chance do the others have? pic.twitter.com/qCv6i0eXAK
CAN’T TAKE A SACK, DAK
Another one that will get filed in the “does it really matter” box is a second-quarter sack taken by Dak Prescott. The Cowboys desperately needed seven points on this drive after falling behind 14-0. If Prescott just tosses the ball away, Mike McCarthy likely goes for it on fourth down as they are in that grey area of the field. Keeping that drive alive could’ve changed the complexity of the game script. Or, he could have chosen to kick a field goal there. A sack, however, forced the punting team to come on.
Dak has to throw it away here. Doing so allows McCarthy to go for it on 4th down or at the very least try a Brandon Aubrey field goal. Instead, they punt. It may seem minuscule, but it's just another moment when the Cowboys hurt themselves by doing the wrong thing. pic.twitter.com/WGXPR2VnRN— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024
NOT-SO SPECIAL TEAMS
The Cowboys’ special teams group has done some great things this season, no question about that. Blocked punts and near-perfect kicking have been part of their arsenal this season. But this group can also make mistakes. Sam Williams, who was flagged for roughing the punter earlier in the season, got called for catch interference because he just couldn’t keep his distance from Packers returner Jayden Reed.
What are we seeing here? It's so tiring to keep seeing bonehead penalties. Do we not understand the task in front of us?— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024
And I know Turpin had one nice return, but lately, it just feels like the Cowboys are bad at this. Just take it at the 25. pic.twitter.com/MAYHRcdTHP
There were all kinds of problems with the Cowboys offense on Sunday. The Packers' defense was sitting on plays just waiting to strike. It didn’t seem like there were many great options for Prescott early, and at times, he made poor decisions and threw into coverage. There is a shared blame between the play-calling and Prescott as they weren’t able to find the holes in the Packers' defense.
There weren't a lot of open receivers early so Dak Prescott rolled the dice with some tight coverage throws. Some worked out, but some didn't.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024
The playcalling and quarterbacking were very predictable and the Packers' defense made them pay for it. pic.twitter.com/IivTwCVpAq
And this one sequence is the epitome of the Cowboys offense on Sunday.
Let me paint this picture for you. The all-important opening drive of the 2nd half. Gotta get a touchdown. Get down to the red zone and call a 1st down play with two players running to the same area. Dead. 2nd down, no one is open. Dead. 3rd down, ball batted down at LOS. Dead. pic.twitter.com/Uc3A9nSy5M— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 16, 2024