Dallas Cowboys still an enigma despite gaudy start

Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys eventually found their bearings and drubbed the outclassed Dolphins, but if we’re being honest, there’s still a ton of work to do.

Before this gets all doom-and-gloomy, there is still a lot to be enthused about regarding these Dallas Cowboys. First of all, they’re 3-0 for the first time since 2008. They are winning games by an average margin of 32-15. It hasn’t been a smoke-and-mirrors effort, either. The offense, despite a lull in the first half yesterday, still racked up 400-plus yards and topped 30 points for the third week in a row.

Further, quarterback Dak Prescott continues to put up numbers at a torrid pace. Through three games, he has 920 yards passing with nine touchdowns against two interceptions. He was a bit off in the first half yesterday, but came out in the second half and put up a dominant third quarter that effectively removed any doubt about the outcome. Overall, life is good.

But there are some notable red flags, and they primarily reside on the defensive side of the ball. This isn’t to say the offense has been flawless. Prescott’s interception in the first half against Miami was a bad one. In that instance, it’d be good to see him chuck it out of bounds and live to fight another day. That pick momentarily deflated Dallas. Had it not been for the Dolphins remembering that they were, you know, the Dolphins, it could have changed the course of the game dramatically.

The Dallas defense, however, just hasn’t put up a complete game yet, and that’s troubling, considering the caliber of competition the Cowboys are soon to encounter. And maybe it’s just me watching the Saints manhandle the Seahawks in Seattle as I write this, but the Cowboys defense has two major problems that will affect them next week.

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For one, teams are simply getting too many chunk plays against them. Too many sub-par quarterbacks are finding wide open receivers for big gains. Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with the biggest problem to date: the lack of a consistent pass rush. Time and again, opposing quarterbacks are left with clean pockets and plenty of time to find open guys. Through three games, the Cowboys defense has amassed five sacks. That’s a 27-sack pace. That puts them middle of the pack so far this season. But for some context, if they continue at this rate, they would have finished 31st in the league last year. Their inability to get to the quarterback regularly will come back to bite them as the level of competition improves.

Of course, we need look no further than next Sunday. The Cowboys will have to travel to New Orleans to play the Saints in that crucible of a stadium. It’s the Sunday night game, too, which means that the crowd will be suitably lubricated and in full throat for three hours. Wins against the New Yorks, Washingtons, and Miamis of the world are nice and all, but next week will be time for big boy football, and it would have been nice to see the defense be more consistent to this point.

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So while the Dallas Cowboys are 3-0 and have taken care of business against bad teams, we really don’t know too much about their ceiling. I don’t think there’s any question that they are a solid football team, but their true character will be revealed as soon as next week. It just remains to be seen whether or not the defense can be counted upon to bail them out if the offense has an off week.

  • Published on 09/23/2019 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 09/23/2019 at 10:19 AM