Five Cowboys who need to step it up on Thursday

There wasn’t much to be thankful for after the Los Angeles Chargers imposed their will on the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday afternoon. The Cowboys dropped to 5-6 with their third straight loss by 20 or more points and second in five days. The Cowboys will shift focus to their third game in 12 days when Washington comes to town. 

Even given all that has transpired, the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff hopes aren’t lost yet. Although, when looking at the last three games, holding out hope might be an overly optimistic outlook. The Cowboys have been outscored by the opposition 92-22 during their losing streak and in the second halves of games that margin has been 72-6. The Cowboys have all but flatlined as offense without Ezekiel Elliott. 

The Cowboys will need five big time performances from these players when they take on their division rivals on Thursday night.

Dak Prescott

  • The Cowboys quarterback has been anything but stellar over the last three games, his first three (actual) starts without Zeke. During that stretch, Prescott has thrown zero touchdown passes and turned the ball over eight times. 
  • In three career games against Washington, Dak has three career touchdowns in three wins. The Cowboys will need Prescott to show he can shoulder more of the offense in this game. 

Alfred Morris

  • Alfred Morris has seen significantly more snaps in the absence of Zeke, but he doesn’t have the ability to replace what they lost. Morris needs to deliver when his number is called. Against his former mates from Washington during his career, Morris has nine carries for 22 yards.
  • Over the last three contests, the man known as Alf has 37 carries for 180 yards. That is 4.9 yards per carry, which is fine, but it hasn't come in the bulk effort that Zeke brings and so defenses haven't keyed in on Morris. With that said, the Cowboys need to stick to the running game as that is what this offense is built on. 

 Dez Bryant

  • Bryant has been paid to be the go-to receiver for this Cowboys offense and honestly, he has been far from it. Little to no separation and dropping big passes when the quarterback gives him the opportunity. Bryant hasn’t sniffed the end zone since their dismantling of San Francisco on October 22nd. That was five games ago.
  • Bryant hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards since November of last season after the passing of his father. The Cowboys need that Dez Bryant to return. In order for him to be that man again, it falls on Scott Linehan’s play calling and Dak Prescott to be more accurate. 

DeMarcus Lawrence

  • Lawrence came out with a purpose this season, of course it is a contract year, but he hasn’t been the same force over the past few weeks. Sean Lee’s absence is having the same effect on the defense that Zeke's suspension has had on the offense. Following posting a sack in seven straight games, Lawrence has one in the four games since. 
  • Lawrence has one sack over the last couple seasons against Washington. The offensive line of the Redskins is beat up and unless they get healthy quick, Lawrence needs to get back on his path to wrecking offensive gameplans. 

David Irving

  • Irving came off his suspension like a man possessed. Much like Lawrence, Irving has cooled off considerably with no sacks in three games. Unless Sean Lee is ready to go in one week, the team will need both of these pass rushers to make a big difference.
  • In their last meeting, Irving sacked Kirk Cousins twice in his third game following the suspension. 

If the Cowboys don’t bounce back with a win against Washington, they will likely be in third place in the division and needing a lot of help to make the postseason. This game has it all on the table, now it is a wait and see approach as to how they respond. 

 

Which Cowboys player do you most want to see improve on Thursday night? Share your take with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.

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