Dallas Cowboys flip the switch in second half – Why was it off?

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

It was a tale of two halves for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon. Facing off against the undefeated Carolina Panthers, Dallas began the day slow, lethargic, and inexplicably passive. What was being dubbed as a “trap game” by just about everyone and their brother this week, turned out to be just that.

After displaying all-world energy in their home opener last week, the Dallas Cowboys seemingly took a giant breath in Week Four. It wasn’t just the energy that was lacking, but the effort, and the game plan were all severely lacking as well.

Micah Parsons, arguably the most disruptive rookie in the league this year, was moved out of his attack position on the edge, and into a generic off-ball linebacker role. Scheming “not to lose” appeared to be the idea, but after being essentially a non-factor most of the first half, Dan Quinn called an audible and moved Parsons back into his disrupter role.

The Dallas Cowboys flipped a switch at halftime and utterly dominated in the second half, but why was the switch off in the first place?

The Dallas Cowboys trailed the Panthers 13-14 at the half. The Carolina defense was performing as advertised, causing a few headaches for the Dallas Cowboys offense along the way. But the Dallas defense was what was standing out. And not in a good way. Parsons was just a guy at linebacker, Trevon Diggs was equal parts up and down, Leighton Vander Esch was aimlessly jogging around, and Jaylon was…well, Jaylon.

But when the reality of the situation finally sunk in, the switch flipped.

The third quarter alone the Dallas Cowboys came out red hot. Their defense was unrecognizable from the first half, forcing two turnovers and scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter alone. Parsons was back rushing the passer, Diggs was playing ball hawk, and the entire team was playing with the level of energy they should have entered the game with.

Being critical in the wake of victory is nothing new, but this about correcting a problem that has plagued the Dallas Cowboys with for years.

Playing up to and down to different situations is not a good quality to have, yet the Cowboys seem to do it season after season. The “any given Sunday” mantra has never been more apt. If the Dallas Cowboys come out with a killer instinct and ready to roll, they can beat anyone. But if they come out conservative, it bleeds into all areas of the game.

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If the Dallas Cowboys want to be considered contenders this year, they need to come out as killers each and every game. there’s no coasting to victory in the NFL.