Dallas Cowboys: Unpacking Sunday’s ugly loss

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys kneels on the ground after being sacked on third down with 47 seconds left against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys kneels on the ground after being sacked on third down with 47 seconds left against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys suffered a pretty tough loss against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Here are some of the glaring issues this franchise is facing.

What went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys? Sunday’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks was supposed to give them excellent matchups to exploit however Dallas couldn’t get anything going. Plenty of people want to blame Dak Prescott or the coaching staff but realistically the problem is staring us right in the face. With that said, let’s take a look at what went wrong for the Cowboys in Week three.

Offensive protection breakdowns:
Look we knew it would be rough sailing without Travis Frederick, but we did not exactly know how bad it would be. A team’s starting center is supposed to call protections and basically make sure no one touches the quarterback, Joe Looney is not really that guy. Has he done an admirable job in Fredericks absence, of course.

But Frederick is a Pro Bowler, a guy who is looked at as one of the best centers in the league, you cannot just plug another guy in there and get the same results. Along with Looney, surprisingly Tyron Smith has been a bit of a disappointment this season. We know the nagging injuries he has been battling but it does appear that age is catching up with him a bit.

He has been stopping some of the best pass rushers the NFL has to offer for years now, and that may be taking a toll. Lastly, Connor Williams is a rookie and will have games where he looks like a rookie. 

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Mark my words, next year Week Three he will look 1,000 times better than he has so far this season. But also it is not optimal to start a rookie, no matter who he is, along with the offensive line. Now the protection issues are not solely on the offensive line, tight ends and running backs need to do a better job protecting number four as well.

There is just a lot less room for error in terms of Dak Prescott facing pressure, and this protection plan really isn’t working out. Prescott has been sacked 11 times in three games, that puts him on track to be sacked around 59 times this season, that is unforgivable. Letting your third-year quarterback see that much pressure and take that many hits will undoubtedly have dire consequences for everyone involved.

Eight for 34 on third down just shows you how little push this offensive line can get currently as even Ezekiel Elliott is getting hit behind the line of scrimmage. It is strange to watch the Cowboys get manhandled like this especially when Zeke has a big game like he did this week.

If the offensive protection cannot give players space to do their jobs well then offensive efficiency will decline and will we have production like we have seen over the first three weeks of the season.

Dak Prescott: What we know and what we don’t:
Look not everything is a protection issue, being a playmaker requires intelligence and a few un-measurables that only the greats possess. Right now, I see a smart quarterback who is under duress but was his ceiling ever comparable to those of Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees?

I mean the kid was a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, no one believed he would be on the field let alone set rookie records. Getting upset because Dak is not Rodgers is irrational as Dak can only be as good as the organization around him.

A blend of bad play calling, bad offensive protection, and a bad receiving corps is the sole reason behind his production. Now am I skeptical that Dez Bryant would make things better, of course.

Am I skeptical that Dak could make every throw with a full cadre of offensive weapons, you bet. But realistically Dak is suffering from Stephen Jones overconfidence in the offensive unit. For years all we have heard about is how the Dallas Cowboys need to fix their defense (guess what it isn’t fixed yet).

But little attention has been paid to the offensive side of the ball. Think about how much better Tony Romo could have been if he was throwing to a talented group of receivers? Dez Bryant in his prime was fantastic, but beyond that who are we talking about?

Jason Witten is one of the greatest tight ends in history but even he was past his prime five seasons ago. Where are the speedsters, the weapons that break games? The Dallas Cowboys never invested in those players, just players to tag along with Bryant and Witten. Terrance Williams is not a true second receiver, I have said this for years and neither is Cole Beasley.

When you look at real passing offenses there is more than one option downfield. The Packers have had the same guys around for years and make it work because of their quarterback’s talent sure, but also because those wide receivers are all talented and understand perfectly what they are supposed to do.

Getting bargain bin receivers may work if you have Tom Brady, but Dak isn’t Brady and the Dallas Cowboys do not have a Gronk to turn too. So a lot of the blame here goes to Stephen Jones for not taking more chances with personnel on and off this football team.

Would bringing in Josh Gordon been a good idea? Probably not, but it shows the fan base you are trying to do something productive instead of sitting on your hands. Now look I know there is a salary cap and there are limits to what a front office can do, but the Philadelphia Eagles just won the Super Bowl with Nick Foles and a bunch of free agents, your argument has become invalid.

Getting Prescott the right weapons to help him succeed during his formative years in the NFL was the Dallas Cowboys front office, primary job. The team tried to follow Seattle’s model of roster building around Russell Wilson, the only problem with that is that the Seahawks have not been very good recently and Dak is no Russell Wilson.

My biggest concern is who is teaching him to be better? Jason Garrett was a perennial backup, Kellen Moore was well Kellen Moore enough said, how can these guys teach Dak to be great if they never were? Jim Bob Cooter, Sean McVay, Mike McCarthy, I can see all of these guys leading a players development, Garrett and Moore not so much.

Prescott does not even have a veteran to ask for advice during a game-time situation, he just has his raw ability and that is what we are seeing on Sunday’s a raw Prescott throwing the football to absolutely no one. We will never know how great Dak could be when there is no one around him that could even be considered great, to begin with.

Some guys are born with it, some guys just don’t have it, I feel as if Dak is in between and the only thing that will bring out his elite talent is well elite coaching. We cannot ignore that he has failed to pass for over 200 yards in roughly about nine or ten starts, it not because he can’t it is because he has not grown since his first season in the NFL.

With guys like Deshaun Watson, Baker Mayfield, and Patrick Mahomes have insane amounts of success, it is fair to wonder if the Cowboys have not put enough of a premium on finding their franchise quarterback.

The front office:
Another glaring failure, another week of negativity surrounding this roster, but realistically the only group of people to blame is the front office. Stephen Jones to his credit stopped Jerry Jones from getting Johnny Manziel and probably making 100 other bad decisions, but that does not give him carte blanche to make poor decisions himself. Thinking that you can skimp on a developmental quarterbacks weapons is beyond me.

The confusing thing is, Dak Prescott ain’t even supposed to throw the football that much, this offense is supposed to be built around Zeke. So making an offense Dak Friendly by getting rid of Dez Bryant has made this unit worse for Ezekiel Elliott.

With no down the field threats, Elliott faces stacked boxes and he does not even get the space the offensive line once provided for him. All security nets are gone and the Dallas Cowboys a plunging to the bottom of the NFC East.

Instead of going out and spending money on a quality free agent offensive lineman or trading for one, they picked up a bunch of bandaids and hoped for the best, guess what the best is not happening. Instead of giving Dak a bunch of solid weapons in a pivotal year in terms of development, they took away his most dangerous weapon and replaced him with a bunch of third-string receivers who were some of the cheapest options on the market.

Instead of finding one capable tight end, the Dallas Cowboys kept four on the roster that makes establishing a consistent chemistry with the quarterback possible. The best thing this front office has done over the last two years is bringing in Kris Richard, but the one thing they passed on was equipping him with his most dangerous weapon Earl Thomas even though it was possible.

I mean my god, if the Dallas Cowboys front office pulled the trigger, those two picks could have happened for Dallas and not against them. I believed a trade didn’t happen because the two franchises had a game early in the season and that may be true, but still pretty wild stuff that any decision maker would be happy with the depth currently at the safety position.

Earl Thomas is a player who can lead a secondary and make the plays needed to get your team to the playoffs, you cannot find bargain versions of these guys. Now is a first round pick a little too expensive for Thomas, of course, but I am certain a two and a future three would have gotten the job done.

But more than that is appears that the Dallas Cowboys front office does not know what great looks like in the modern era of professional football. This offensive line was far from great during the offseason, and bolstering that unit was a must, adding Connor Williams helped but not securing any depth at the position whatsoever hurt tremendously.

I love the thought of drafting a quarterback between rounds 1-4 because it could have a positive effect on your football team and help the Dallas Cowboys find their next signal caller a lot quicker.

But going heavy along the defensive line again seemed unnecessary and it also seemed as if the Cowboys could have grabbed a few extra linemen to help keep the strongest part of the roster, well, strong.

I understand passing on Calvin Ridley for Leighton Vander Esch (especially now) but why didn’t the Cowboys spend an earlier pick on some offensive players who could make a difference right now?

This offense was never elite, so why neglect to acquire talent for it? Why are we in a place where Tavon Austin is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver, and it is financially irresponsible to get rid of Terrance Williams? Well that all lands on the front office.

It is my true hope that this team can finally begin to function on offense as an actual unit, but realistically it is fair to expect more of the same. 100-yard rushing games from Zeke in a losing effort, awesome.

Jim Bob Cooter has to be on  Jerry Jones radar as a potential replacement for either Garrett or Linehan at this point, I do not see how he is not thinking about making a change. The Detroit Lions do not have a ground game at all, and yet somehow Matt Stafford can beat the New England Patriots through the air and outduel Tom Brady.

Next. Dallas Cowboys: Three keys to victory Week Three. dark

That is the play caller I want for this offense. Until the front office commits to being great, this roster and this coaching staff will continue to go in circles.

  • Published on 09/24/2018 at 21:54 PM
  • Last updated at 09/24/2018 at 21:54 PM