DALLAS - The Dallas Cowboys aren't who we thought they were.
And Sunday, they let the Los Angeles Rams off the hook, falling at home 35-30 due in large part to an embarrassing six-point second half performance. Call it fatigue. Call it a tough matchup coming off a short week. Call it whatever you want.
Through one month of play, the Cowboys just don't look like themselves.
One year removed from a 13-3 record, the days of Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line dominating games seem like a far-fetched memory.
Elliott hasn't flashed the explosiveness many of us are used to seeing, and Dak Prescott may be slipping into a sophomore slump. Prescott has already just one pick (3) from the number of interceptions he threw all of last year (4) and we're only four games into the season.
Dallas has even had trouble – and that's putting it lightly – establishing a consistent ground game. The Cowboys ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing offense entering the game against the Rams, averaging just 89.3 yards per game.
And that's on the side of the ball many expected to carry this team.
We haven't even gotten to the defense, which, aside from DeMarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee and Byron Jones, has been lacking and depleted with injuries. Jeff Heath clearly isn't working out at safety, and if you need proof of that, watch Todd Gurley's touchdown reception and cringe at the tackling angle Heath tries to take.
Simply put, the Cowboys just don't look as good as they did last year. And what's more concerning is Dallas' remaining schedule.
The Cowboys host Green Bay next week, and still have to play Philadelphia and Washington twice, Oakland, Kansas City, Atlanta and Seattle. Those teams are all currently .500 or better and have a combined record of 15-7.
Worried yet? You should be.
Remember how well we thought Dallas played in Week 1 against New York, holding the Giants to a mere three points?
New York is 0-4.
All of a sudden that victory doesn't look nearly as impressive. In fact, you could argue it wasn't impressive at all given the fact the Cowboys managed just 19 points.
On offense, it boils down to execution. Dallas still has one of the best offensive lines in football, boasting three Pro Bowlers in Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. Dez Bryant is still alive and well – I think – even though he's only caught 16 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns this season. And Prescott, well, he's struggled just making routine throws, missing several open receivers and over-throwing others.
Defensively, however, it isn't as simple.
The Cowboys have to get healthy and figure out their secondary. Dallas is giving up an average of 257.8 passing yards per game, one of the many reasons they find themselves at the .500 mark. Lee was sidelined against the Rams with a hamstring injury, and as a result, Gurley burned Dallas for 215 all-purpose yards.
We knew this team was mediocre at best defensively, and when the offense doesn't perform, the Cowboys' average defense gets exposed.
Sure it's only October and sure there are 12 games left in the regular season, but Dallas' road to defending its NFC East title isn't an easy one.
Unless the Cowboys find their footing quickly, Dallas could be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
How would you rate the season for the Cowboys one quarter of the way through? Share your thoughts on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.
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