After the Dallas Cowboys dropped to 3-4 following a devastating loss to Washington, the season felt like it was hanging in the balance. The Skins may have looked like they were somewhat pulling away from the rest of the division, but we should all know how these NFC East races are gonna go by now. It’s going to come down to the last few weeks and this time Dallas is not going to be in the thick of it, Washington and the Philadelphia Eagles will have it out down the stretch and with the Eagles far superior roster and QB they should repeat as division champs. This all being said to state the obvious about Monday Night Football... The Dallas Cowboys are done halfway through the season with a 3-5 record and a horrific home loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans put the final nail in the Cowboys’ coffin, a mediocre team with a mediocre quarterback lit up the much vaunted, #1 ranked scoring defense for 28 points.
The defense was tired and bad, but they weren’t the worst part of the team last night, roster-wise this loss falls solely on the shoulders of quarterback Dak Prescott. Dak has been mediocre at best this season, with 10 passing touchdowns to 5 interceptions, but his mistakes keep coming at the worst possible times. At the beginning of the game against the Titans, the defense was roaring and it looked like the Cowboys might put their foot on the opposition’s neck early and put this game away within the first quarter. Alas, going 1 for 3 in the redzone while your defense is able to get you two quick turnovers is how you lose football games and that’s exactly what happened. The missed field goal and terrible, TERRIBLE interception by Prescott, throwing off of his back foot, in the endzone came back to haunt the Cowboys and they were never able to recover.
On the brightside for the Cowboys, Amari Cooper looks like a star and the true #1 receiver they haven’t had since Dez in 2014, but the Cowboys still had to trade their 1st round pick to the Raiders and with three of the next five games coming against the Eagles twice and probably the best team in football, the New Orleans Saints, that pick is most likely going to remain in the top 10. The Cowboys have to hope that Cooper is better than anyone they could have drafted with a top ten draft pick, which only time can tell.
Amari Cooper is a bonafide #1 receiver, Michael Gallup looks like he is going to become a really solid 2nd receiver, and of course Cole Beasley is great in the slot. The Cowboys still have a relatively decent offensive line even though it surely has regressed from that top spot they held a couple years ago. Dallas also has a top five runner in Ezekiel Elliott as well as what appears to be, at least, a top five defense...so what’s the problem? There are three constants, other than the team’s owner/general manager Jerry Jones, that have been a part of this team for the last two and a half seasons: Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett, and Scott Linehan. Obviously this team has lost several games this season they could have easily won with better clock management and a more aggressive offensive mindset, but that can be said every one of the last eight years that Jason Garrett has been the head coach of the Cowboys. This team is one of the worst coached rosters in the entire NFL and apparently Garrett hasn’t learned in his near decade as a head coach that the aggressive team usually wins the game, not the one who goes for the tie instead of the game-winning touchdown (at Washington) or punts in the opponents territory in overtime (at Texans).
Scott Linehan has often been critiqued as “unimaginative” with the offense, whether it be from his own receivers or opposing players. So what more does Jerry need to see/hear to make a change? The Cowboys’ receivers rarely ever run across the field and it feels like 80% of the time they are either going to run a vertical route whether it be a curl or just a straight go-route and everyone else knows what they are going to do, as well. It seems as though the Cowboys run a typical halfback dive on every 1st down and besides screen plays never find a way to get their best offensive player, Zeke, involved in the passing game as well as never providing him with any creative rushing plays. Whenever Linehan has incorporated designed QB runs for Dak into the offense the Cowboys have been able to find success, but they rarely ever do the things that get them in a winning position. Statistics would most likely show that the Cowboys are at their best when Dak is running RPOs or they are utilizing play-action after establishing the run game, but Linehan seems to be the only one oblivious to this.
Dak Prescott is not going to win you many games dropping back and slinging it like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers, so it’s time to give up that fantasy, but he is able to be effective in other ways especially with his legs. Dak isn’t as big or fast as Cam Newton, but he can still be a very effective runner if the Cowboys would utilize Prescott’s running ability the same way his coaches did at Mississippi State. Dallas would win some more ball games if they would just accept the fact that Dak’s greatest strength is his mobility, because he’s not wildly accurate passing the football when he has to stand idle in the pocket; getting the 3rd year QB moving more would lead to better results for the win-hungry team. That being said, Dak cannot be your franchise quarterback with this poor coaching staff, because he will never be able to progress without a great offensive mind around him as well as a QB coach who is able to help develop his skills. This is why Prescott is regressing and if this coaching staff stays around he will never live up to his great rookie season.
Dak, Linehan, and Garrett...either the coaches need to go or all of them, but if all three stick around for the 2019 season then be prepared for more mediocrity.