Despite the impressive 11-5 record, NFC East champion title, and locked in as the #4 seed in the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys have many question marks entering the final week of the season.
It’s not all doom and gloom as would have you think. The Cowboys offense is top notch, the defense is one of the best in the NFL forcing turnovers, and this team has play-makers galore. All positives. Right?
Sadly, this Dallas Cowboys team has more ups and downs than a roller coaster at Six Flags. The latest example is in its recent loss to an undermanned Arizona Cardinals team.
Simply put, it is time to put the excuses to bed, and the Dallas Cowboys have to hit the reset button in order to make a deep playoff run.
Before Arizona, Dallas was riding a four-game winning streak with a their recent 56-14 blowout win over the Washington Football Team as the headliner. A win last week would have kept Dallas in the #2 slot in the playoff seeding, and in control to keep it for the playoffs
But just like in Dallas’ other unexplainable losses to inferior foes, this team executed poorly, had untimely penalties on both sides of the ball, exhibited miscommunication between Dak Prescott and his receivers, predictable play calling, bad clock management, and simply getting outcoached by a head coach who wanted it more.
Same problems against inferior teams
Those aforementioned miscues are non-excusable this late in the season and should have been addressed a long time ago — like during Dallas’ two-game losing streak in November.
Dallas can ill-afford to carry those bad habits into the playoffs when they face stiffer competition, or they will be one and done. Their only hope is to work out its kinks against a “perceived” weaker foe like the Eagles. The Eagles are riding high with their own four-game winning streak, although they have recently placed several players on the Covid-19 list.
Despite Dallas losing star wide receiver Michael Gallup for the year with an ACL injury, this team is still loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball. But with all of the talent, why isn’t Dallas clicking on all cylinders like I claimed them to be against WFT?
Why didn’t Dallas expose a Cardinals secondary that was playing with practice squad players? Or how about the defense not taking advantage of the Cardinals not having any offensive play makers besides Kyler Murray? Yes, Murray made his wide outs look like Pro Bowlers against Dallas’ stout defense! You have to be kidding me!
This ill-preparedness is a pattern we have witnessed against the likes of the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders (two winnable games against less talented teams). Those losses were carbon copy against the Cardinals. Ironically, all home losses.
But how does this happen after Dallas clicked on all cylinders against WFT? They checked all the boxes. If anything, Dallas was supposed to duplicate the same whipping on the Cardinals like they dished out to WFT. That’s what elite teams do. They take advantage of undermanned/weaker teams and discard them like last night’s trash.
What is even more frustrating with the Cardinals loss is that they were riding a three-game losing streak and had an embarrassing loss to the deplorable Detroit Lions. My Gawd! You cannot make this up about how Dallas fumbled away a win.
Everyone knew the Cardinals were desperate. They were like a fish trying to jump back into water. The Cardinals were going to throw everything at Dallas to secure a win. For example, forcing head coach Mike McCarthy to call an unnecessary timeout late in the game. Which led to…
Kliff Kingsbury ran Murray and his kicker out onto the field at the same time- confusing and forcing Coach Big Mac to burn a timeout that came back to haunt Dallas. In a game of this magnitude, it never should have come down to Dallas burning a timeout to begin with. Because they used that timeout, Dallas could not challenge a sure fumble by a Cardinals running back late in the fourth quarter.
Push the reset button and start anew
To be fair to Dallas, this team won four games in the month in December that included winning three on the road against the New Orleans Saints, WFT, and the New York Giants. Say what you want, but those were must nice wins – especially against a Saints defense that is tops in the league. If Dallas loses one of those games, there is a strong possibility Dallas is still fighting for the NFC East title.
Besides, it is not Dallas’ fault if the teams they face are awful. You play who’s on your schedule.
However, Dallas needs to reexamine their weaknesses, maximize strengths, become more disciplined, and better coached. Period. There is no reason for long runs to be wiped out because of a holding penalty or jumping offsides and missed tackles in the open field that converts to a third down.
Further, there is no reason for lesser talented players on a Cardinals team to look like future Hall of Famers when facing Dallas’ defense. To correct all of these issues, Coach Big Mac, offensive Kellen Moore, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn must take the same approach they took in Dallas’ six-game winning streak.
Honestly, Dallas played their best during that streak because it was missing key players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Michael Gallup, Trysten Hill, and other contributors. But you would not have known that because the team played flawlessly, and Dallas’ coaching staff did a tremendous job of keeping opposing teams guessing. They must go back to playing with a sense of urgency.
For the record, I do not want to hear about Dallas beating bad teams on their first winning streak of the season because two of those teams (Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots) are playoff bound with another one on deck (Los Angeles Chargers). Let us not forget those teams have some really good quarterbacks -yes Jalen Hurts is decent, too.
In order for Dallas to hit the reset button, they must get back to re-establishing the running game. Instead of giving up on it so easily like it did against the Cardinals, at least stick with it to keep opposing defenses honest. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are a lethal one-two punch that can open up the offense. It is a sad day when Dak leads the team in rushing with 20 yards.
Lastly, the season finale against the Eagles is Dallas’ “get right” game. Site expert Reid Hanson believes Dallas should rest their starters for the playoffs. I concur, but only after Dallas hits the reset button to clean up their ineffectiveness because they are out of excuses. BOOM!