DALLAS - Well, that went about as bad as one could expect. The Dallas Cowboys playoff hopes took a bad turn after a 37-9 blowout at the hands of their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the changing of the guards from last year’s division champ to this year’s eventual winner. Here are this week’s winners and losers:
It was hard to tell what the Ezekiel Elliott-less running attack looked like last week against the Atlanta Falcons as the offense was forced to abandon the run. From what we did see, it didn’t look too promising. And to turn around and face the top-ranked run defense in the NFL, it had all the makings for a disaster for the running game.
It wasn’t though. The running game was solid. Alfred Morris grinded out a handful of nice runs and finished the game with 91 yards on 17 carries. That’s a respectable 5.4 yards per carry. Rod Smith got nine carries, but only was able to get 11 yards. The love for this pet cat will slowly fade as people start to recognize that Morris is the clear #2 RB for this offense.
Darren McFadden wasn’t even active. I’m not even sure what value he has to this team at this point, except solely for insurance.
Cowboys defense in the first half
When the Eagles offense waltzed down the field on their opening drive, things did not look good. Philadelphia would get six first downs on only eight plays and never saw a third down. They were having their way out there.
But then the defense settled down. Suddenly, the Eagles offense couldn’t move the ball. They would go three-and-out on their last four drives in the first half. Despite two early turnovers, the Cowboys took a 9-7 lead into halftime and they had the great play of their defense to thank for that.
Last week the Cowboys punter made this list. That’s never a good thing. So when you see the kicker on here now, you can’t be too thrilled about that as well. Mike Nugent accounted for all nine of the Cowboys points on Sunday. He was a perfect 3 for 3 in field goals. While the return of Dan Bailey is right around the corner, it was nice to see the veteran step in and do his job.
In a game where the Cowboys offense couldn’t find the end zone or the defense couldn’t stop the run, the play of the special teams was one of the few bright spots. Even Ryan Switzer had the best kick returning games in his career as he had a 61-yard return to open the game.
This was a game where the Cowboys really needed their young quarterback to step up. With two other All-Pro offensive stars unavailable, this was Dak Prescott’s time to shine.
He didn’t shine.
Prescott had the worst game of his career. He would only have 147 passing yards and for the first time ever – he would throw three interceptions in a game. After last week’s pass protection breakdown, you could sense that the once poised Prescott was now feeling the pressure around him and his performance suffered. He would misfire on several passes. He would sail passes over the head of Cole Beasley and consistently throw low to Dez Bryant.
I have no idea what this is. pic.twitter.com/cG7x3r9YBY— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) November 20, 2017
And while he wasn’t making the plays with his arm, it was even more out of character to watch him keep making poor decisions.
I mean, what are you seeing here that says throw it 25 yards down the middle? pic.twitter.com/uAsfgxDQz4— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) November 20, 2017
Cowboys run defense
There is this old wise tale that suggest the Cowboys run defense is pure garbage without Sean Lee on the field. Legend has become a cold dose of reality as once again the Cowboys ability to stop the running game was just ghastly without their All-Pro linebacker on the field.
The Eagles would rack up 215 rushing yards and would constantly attack the Cowboys interior line. They would trap defensive tackle, David Irving and make great second level blocks to seal off a clean running lane right up the middle. These are things that a player like Lee wouldn’t let happen, but with him on the sideline, the run defense looked helpless.
Imagine if I'd told you before the game that Carson Wentz's stat line would be 14/27 for 168 yards and 2 TDs. You'd hardly have been impressed.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) November 20, 2017
Welp. They dropped 37.
Second half collapse
All of a sudden, the Cowboys are being outplayed in the second half of games. Over the last two contests, the offense has been completely shut out in the second half. No points. Zilch. Against the Eagles, the defense joined the second half collapse party as the Cowboys were outscored 30-0.
People talk about the coaching staff not making second half adjustments because it’s an easy excuse to latch on to. But this isn’t a Disney movie where the coaches go into halftime and draw up the magical “oop dee oop” play that will be difference maker. The reality of it is that they are constantly making in-game adjustments throughout each series.
As the game goes on, the Cowboys become outmatched. At times, the coaching staff have been outsmarted as the players were way out of position. But then at other times, a great play was called and it looked like it was going to be a big play for Dallas, only the player failed to execute.
Whiffed sacks, bad throws, and a dropped floating duck interception are costly errors. The coaching staff isn’t doing enough to help the players succeed and the players aren’t executing.
The Eagles are a great football team in all areas and you certainly have to give them their due credit, but this Cowboys team is not as bad as they’ve been playing.
After this disappointing loss, do you think the Cowboys are in trouble? Or can they shake it off and still make a playoff run? Share your answer with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.
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