The Dallas Cowboys offered fans an extraordinary example of offensive ineptitude on Sunday leaving us to question who and what is really to blame.
After an offseason of promises and excitement, the Dallas Cowboys offense underwhelmed to the tune of eight measly points. All phases of the offense was poor leading many of us to argue over who is mostly to blame.
After a clunker like this, it’s only natural to pin the blame on someone. But the reality is no singular entity is to blame. A failure of this magnitude offers far too much blame for any one scapegoat to absorb. This was a team effort.
While you could say accurately it’s an institutional failure brought on by the dysfunctional consequence-free leadership structure at the top, that’s just a reality we must come to grips with. Most of know by now, the Joneses ain’t goin nowhere. It’s far more helpful to whittle it down to the primary culprits:
- Subpar execution
- Inaccurate passing
- Poor play-calling
This speaks primarily to the offensive line. Ever since Doug Free and Ronald Leary left the unit in the 2017 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys vaunted offensive line have been a shadow of themselves. The good news is the right pieces are in place.
RT La’el Collins looks like he’s on the verge of breaking out. All he needs is a liitle more seasoning and he’ll get that consistency he’s been searching for.
Ideally, you draft offensive linemen to develop – not to start. That’s because it takes time to develop the build necessary to win on the interior line. Connor looks like a blue-chip talent but he’s just not big and strong enough yet. This is the reason offensive linemen typically peak in their late-20s (An age when skill position players start to decline). Connor is just going to take time.
Throw in Tyron Smith and Collins’ penalties and Travis Frederick’s indefinite absence, and you have an overrated unit experiencing underrated problems. In the offseason I repeatedly pointed out it was the offensive line – not Zeke’s absence – that led to Dak’s decline. We saw proof of that again here in week one.
Dak Prescott was 5 for 6 before his first sack. After that hit, everything started to go wrong. That shellshock he had from last season reemerged and we saw his patience, pocket presence, and mechanics dissolve. The result – inaccurate passes.
“Dakuracy” has been a big topic over this past offseason. And rightfully so. Even in Dak Prescott’s amazing rookie season he missed open targets. The Dallas Cowboys were winning so we didn’t pay them much mind but once the “W”s started being replaced with “L”s, we could ignore them no more.
Receivers were open on Sunday. Look at the All-22 and you’ll see that. Dak either wasn’t looking (or even considering) or he was misfiring. If he took advantage of just 80 percent of the opportunities presented, the Dallas Cowboys would have won pretty easily.
If Dak Prescott had better blocking in front of him (he was under pressure on 41 percent of his passing attempts) , you can bet he’d come a lot closer to that 80 percent success rate. That’s why the offensive line and Dak Prescott share the blame. They were both the problem. It certainly didn’t help the subsequent play-calling did little to help…
We heard all offseason about how the Dallas Cowboys were implementing new twists and schemes to move the ball in 2018. They kept practices under wraps. They revamped coaching and personnel. They even talked about getting ahead of the RPO trend currently hitting the NFL.
What did we see on Sunday?
Not much. Even Troy Aikman commented about how uncreative this offense was. Granted we did see more screens than normal. And since the screen game needs to be a big part of this offense for the personnel to work – I commend the move (even if many fans complained about it).
But beyond that we saw some very questionable decisions. We repeatedly saw a packed box on 2nd and long situations. The Carolina defense was begging to get beat by the pass. And repeatedly we saw Dallas respond with a run. It’s almost as though the plays were decided without ever considering either down and distance or the defensive personnel/positioning.
Arguments are waging all over Cowboys Nation as to who and what is to blame. Is it Dak? Is it the O-line? Is it the coaching staff? The answer is yes.
The problems in Dallas are more than a trickle-down effect. Each entity must take ownership for their respective shortcomings and find a way to overcome those shortcomings. Tomorrow we’ll discuss what needs to happen to fix this offense, but for now let’s just agree multiple entities carry the blame and multiple entities will need to fix it.
- Published on 09/11/2018 at 12:01 PM
- Last updated at 09/11/2018 at 11:48 AM