Dallas Cowboys: The bumpy road ahead


After a drubbing by the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, the road ahead gets even bumpier for the Dallas Cowboys…

Going into the game against the Atlanta Falcons I had some reservations if the Dallas Cowboys could win the game outright. I had decided that there was a chance if the defense could play as they had over the past few games.

I wasn’t as worried about the run game being the deciding factor as a lot of pundits were. On Friday the news broke Tyron Smith was not going to play. I still thought there might be an outside chance. Then it all came crashing down.

As soon as Sean Lee went out of the game I remember turning to my wife and said, “Well, there goes Sean Lee, we are about to get run up on.” Sadly, this became true. Sure, the offense wasn’t clicking fully at that point in the game, but it was close and they were moving the ball decently. Once the defense was unable to stop the Falcons, the offense had to go to a pass first mode, and then Chaz Green‘s weakness in pass blocking was exposed. Well, the rest as they say, is history.

Adrian Clayborn said after the game that Green’s hand placement never changed and it was easy to just keep swatting his hands aside. Watching early in the game after the first sack, I messaged Sport DFW writer, Dink Kearney, and said Green’s feet were slow and he wasn’t turning toward the defensive player. All three of these things made Green look, not only terrible, but as Troy Aikman said, embarrassing.

Before I get into why the road will get really bumpy soon, let’s approach the elephant in the room. Anyone who has followed me over the past few years, knows I have been a harsh critic of Jason Garrett. I’ve said he doesn’t make adjustments well, has poor clock management skills, and seems to be lost at times.

Too little, too late.

This came to the forefront during this game as Chaz Green was not given help, or pulled, or even coached much on the sidelines. Instead, Jason Garrett stood there perplexed. His rhetoric of “next man up” sounds great, and to be fair, it is hard to replace an All-Pro. But he did nothing to alleviate the problem. At least not until halfway through the fourth quarter.

Aside from the abysmal coaching and even worse lineplay by Chaz Green, the game changed once Sean Lee went out. The middle of the field became at attack point, and the Dallas Cowboys had zero answer for it.

Completion after completion, run after run, right to where Sean Lee would have been showed just how far Jaylon Smith has to come. Even if you want to get away from Lee and his injuries, who is there to replace him? Smith is not that guy, maybe one day, but right now.

Looking ahead

So now Dallas has to face a red-hot Eagles team without their leader on defense. It isn’t just the plays Lee makes, it is the little things that are so noticeable. When he is in the game, the Cowboys don’t over-pursue as much. They seem to be in better position and have better angles. When he is out, it looks like a lot of them forgot how to play defense.

It is here where Dallas will be hurt the most. A note here, watching Jaylon Smith is curious. He seems to over run most plays and he misses a ton of backside plays. If he is in the right place he shows flashes, I’m thinking this is more coaching than player.

More from Dallas Cowboys

This makes the road really hard and bumpy over the next few weeks.

Lee is expected to miss at least two games, and latest news is maybe even three.

If Tyron Smith misses any more games, well, the Dallas Cowboys will miss the playoffs. At this point, every game is a must win. But there is a far reaching problem on the horizon here. Depth.

Lee is thirty and has a history of injuries. Injuries are no longer “if” but “when”. Why aren’t the Cowboys prepared for life without him?

While the pass rush looks to be quite serviceable right now, without a player like Lee or at least a quality middle linebacker behind him, this defense is extremely beatable.

Furthermore, they could be a marginal defense for a few seasons, until hopefully some of the youngsters grow and get experience. This is directly on Stephen Jones and the staff with what looks to be a marginal history of building depth. Sure, the starters might be good, but you shouldn’t be this bad if just missing a player or two. Right now the Dallas Cowboys are that kind of team.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Why losing to the Atlanta Falcons is a good thing

Like I said, to be fair, replacing four All-Pro level players is difficult for any team. However, the drop off is so steep, we should all be holing our collective breaths over the next few weeks. If the Dallas Cowboys can find some kind of answer without Lee, and Tyron can play, they should be able to be in the playoff hunt when Lee and Elliott return. If both are gone, this road will be one no fan wants to go down.