- Brandon Brown
State of the Cowboys: Season Over?
- By Brandon Brown
On September 11, Week 1 of the NFL Season and the home-opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Franchise Quarterback Dak Prescott injured his hand and had to exit the game in the fourth quarter—the second major injury for Prescott in less than three seasons. Before that, he had 134 yards and an interception to his name. That yardage total had put him 31st among 32 quarterbacks for Week 1. Top wideout Ceedee Lamb was not helping Prescott, either, as he only had two catches for 29 yards and had trouble getting open throughout the game. However, even when he was open, Prescott frequently over-or-under threw Lamb and just generally struggled with accuracy, possibly due to his young and shaky offensive line. The only points the Cowboys managed to score came from a field goal early in the first quarter. After that FG, the offense was slow to adjust, often handing it off to (in)famous running back, Ezekiel Elliot (many times on third and long.) The game was not a complete failure, however, as the defense actually looked pretty good, which is surprising considering Owner/GM Jerry Jones let star player Randy Gregory walk in free agency. Unfortunately, the fourth-quarter injury to Prescott and an uninspiring half-a-quarter play by backup QB Cooper Rush left Dallas as the only team in the NFC East to finish with a loss in Week 1. Now for the big question: can Cooper Rush and co. bounce back from an ugly Week 1 performance?
Let’s take a look at some of their upcoming opponents:
9/18: Hosting the Cincinnati Bengals - Former Super Bowl Participant
9/26: Visiting the New York Giants - A troubled team, but did just beat the former AFC South division winner
10/02: Hosting the Washington Commanders - A beatable team IF Carson Wentz fails to pick up the offensive system
10/09: Visiting the Los Angeles Rams - Former Super Bowl Winner
10/16: Visiting the Philadelphia Eagles - Well… you Cowboys fans know!
10/23: Hosting the Detroit Lions - Likely the most beatable team on this list
10/30: Hosting the Chicago Bears - Looked VERY solid against San Francisco
And that’s all the teams BEFORE the Bye Week. Suffice to say that America’s Team was not given a particularly favorable schedule this season. Even if luck plays a factor (and it would have to play a HUGE factor), I only see this team going 3-4 at best before the Bye Week. It’s unfortunate that injuries have to rear their ugly heads because this time it feels just plain unfair. I’m not a Cowboys fan myself, but I was present at the game. I felt for the fans in that stadium which, as they watched their uninspiring offense lose perhaps their most talented player to a hand injury, realized that the road ahead would be long and tiring.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
Cowboys fans, there is a bright side to all of this. If Cooper Rush figures it out and shows off what has persuaded Dallas to keep him on the roster all of this time, there won’t be much to stop your team from making the playoffs. Yes, the NFC East improved, and yes, Philadelphia looked dangerous in Week 1, but this is still the division that still has some remnant of the “NFC Least” moniker attached to it. This division is still, as of the time I am writing this, anybody’s game. While the schedule looks rough before the Bye Week, afterward it actually looks quite manageable:
11/13: Visiting the Green Bay Packers - This is not last year’s team. They looked AWFUL against Minnesota in Week 1
11/20: Visiting the Minnesota Vikings - Just don’t lose this one… we don’t want the Cousins Curse on top of everything else going on this season.
11/24: Hosting the New York Giants - Daniel Jones can’t save this team
12/04: Hosting the Indianapolis Colts - A team who, in my opinion, is all sizzle and no steak
12/11: Hosting the Houston Texans - We all know who the best of the two Texas teams are
12/18: Visiting the Jacksonville Jaguars - Who have a 4-30 record over their last 34 games
12/24: Hosting the Philadelphia Eagles - Maybe bring earmuffs to this game?
12/29: Visiting the Tennessee Titans - Who just lost to Danny Dimes and the New York Giants
1/08: Visiting the Washington Commanders - Once again, very beatable
Besides maybe Green Bay and Minnesota, the back half of that schedule doesn’t look too tough. Say Dallas finishes 3-4 and only loses to those two teams, your team would be 11-6 and in prime contention to garner a playoff spot. Even at 10-7, which NFC team would rival that to beat out Dallas?San Francisco, New Orleans? I’m not convinced. It won’t be a pretty gameplan and it won’t be the most entertaining football on the planet, but there is SOME light at the end of the tunnel if Dallas’ coaching staff can get used to adjusting more per game and trusting the Zeke Elliot-Tony Pollard duo they continue to push out.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to really be comfortable putting a final verdict until we see how well Cooper Rush plays, but overall, this could be a very up-and-down season. We could see Dallas ending up 1-6 before the Bye Week, and then seeing them go 7-2 to snag a playoff spot near the end, but there is the possibility of the crushing blow to Dak leaving Dallas to damn near tank the season in hopes of a premier draft position (maybe they’ll draft a brand new Quarterback?). Either way, it’s going to be a rocky ride, and I would just encourage my Cowboys fans out there to sit back and enjoy what you can.Y’all have been through so much with this team and have watched as, for thirty long years, Dallas has come close but not close enough. This season may not be your season, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stay like this forever. Cowboys fans… Let’s ride.