As good as things felt after last week’s victory against the New York Giants, it felt equally sickening sitting through the Mile High blowout at the hands of the Denver Broncos. In what was touted to be a battle of the Cowboys offense vs. the Broncos defense, it ended up being a lopsided contest as both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were ineffective. And without those two guys making plays, the Cowboys offense just spun its wheels.
A lot of credit goes to the Broncos defense. They had a game plan and they executed it. Denver would load up to stop the run and allow their talented corners to go one-on-one with the Cowboys receivers. That may seem like risky business when you look at the Cowboys offensive weapons, but the Broncos have the resources to pull it off. Over the past two seasons, Denver has had the league’s best pass defense. The Broncos secondary, known as the “No Fly Zone” are led by All Pros Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., who each had an interception in this game. They also have a great nickel corner in Bradley Roby as well as a Pro Bowl safety in Darian Stewart. They’re legit.
The Broncos would challenge Prescott to beat them and the Cowboys second-year quarterback was not up to the challenge. Prescott would have the second worst game of his career, completing 30 of his 50 passes for 238 yards and two interceptions. There were other times where Dez Bryant would essentially have to play defense and slap the ball away to prevent the defender from picking off another pass.
The Cowboys started off trying to establish the run, but that ended quickly. Last year’s rushing champion, Ezekiel Elliott would be held to the worst rushing output of his career. Elliott had only eight yards on nine carries. The Broncos defense just mauled the Cowboys blockers and Elliott had no running lanes. Everything up the middle would be stuffed. And when they tried to bounce outside, the Broncos would get push and tackle Zeke for a loss.
This was the worst defeat for the Cowboys in the Dak and Zeke era, but serves as another example of the struggles the offense has whenever it faces a team that has good pressure up front as well as strong coverage corners. Dallas lost both games to the Giants last year as they also have some good tools in place to cause problems for the Cowboys offense. Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and All Pro safety Landon Collins man the secondary. In each of the three games that Dallas has played the Giants in the Dak and Zeke era, the Cowboys offense had one touchdown. It’s not a coincidence that Dallas had problems with this style of defense.
As good as the Giants secondary is, the Broncos are in a league of their own. It’s shouldn’t be that much of a shock to see teams struggle against them. It might have caught us Cowboys fans off guard a bit because we’ve seen this offense explode on teams. But on this day, they couldn’t make the plays. Some will claim that the Broncos have laid out the blueprint in beating the Cowboys. Maybe so, but blueprints are nothing if you don’t have the tools to get the job done. Denver has the tools. Don’t get me wrong, a more accurate Prescott would give the offense a fighting chance, but he has to make the plays.
There’s some good news and some bad news going forward. We haven’t seen the end of these tough defenses. The Cowboys have a handful of good defensive teams on the schedule this season. Dez will feel the brunt of it as he will draw nine of the tougher corners in the league.
But despite facing good corners this year, these teams won’t have the arsenal of defensive backs that the Broncos have. The Cowboys will be able to find matchups they can exploit.
Do you think the Cowboys offensive struggles will continue or can they bounce back? Share your answer with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.