Coming into this week, the Jets were considered one of the worst teams in football with a terrible 0-4 record. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, thought this would be an easy win for the Cowboys. The Cowboys probably thought this would be an easy win as well, but boy was everyone extremely wrong. The final score was 22-24, as the Cowboys failed to convert on a two-point conversion to tie the game, once again falling short with their fourth quarter heroics.
The injuries to the offensive line might be the biggest problem for the Cowboys, as throughout the whole game Dak was getting killed by the Jets in the backfield, with pressure in his face every play. With 8 QB hits (Versus 2 on Sam Darnold), Dak continued to have shorter time in the pocket or risk getting drilled by an incoming defensive lineman in order to get the pass off. The general consensus around star linemen La’el Collins and Tyron Smith getting hurt was that their replacements would be able to hold down the fort in their few game absence, but as of right now, that’s not the case. There seems to be miscommunication among the line, with blitzers coming in unblocked, best shown on the failed two point conversion.
There was a fair amount of success in the running game, with Zeke breaking 100 yards and snagging a touchdown, but 28 carries to get him there indicates the injured offensive tackles’ impact. It seems that Tyron Smith will be back next week, as he almost played this week, while Collins’ status remains up in the air.
While praised for his flashy long touchdown passes earlier in the season, it appears that for the moment Kellen Moore’s offensive playcalling has been somewhat figured out or at least stymied. No matter what play he called, it just didn’t seem to work. It wasn’t all his fault as there was not only the absence of star receiver Amari Cooper, but also several dropped passes, and, of course, the aforementioned offensive line problems. However, these injuries and issues won’t be going away next week, and Moore will need to show something new or at the very least demonstrate that the Cowboys offense does still have a pulse in the first half.
The playcalling in this game, for me, was defined by going for it on fourth and 2 early in the 1st half. I personally agreed with this decision to go for it; the Cowboys didn’t have much momentum, seemed uninspired, and getting a touchdown versus a chance at a field goal seemed like the right call due to the way the game was going. However, Garrett and Moore dialed up one of the worst playcalls of the game with a keeper for Dak Prescott on an extremely predictable draw to the left. I’ll say it would have been hard to run with Zeke on that play, as the Jets d-line had been pretty stifiling until that point, but a classic Prescott bootleg with the option of running for the chains OR passing would’ve seemed like the best option instead of a playcall that gave the Cowboys no chance whatsoever to get the first down.
The defense was no better than the offense, allowing a below average and young quarterback to slice their defense into shreds. Le’veon Bell was fairly dominant when he got his carries, but the run control wasn’t quite as out of control as last weekend. The pass defense seemed out of sync the whole game, allowing a 92 yard touchdown pass and numerous 15-20 yard pass plays. Pressure on the QB was again weak with very little to no blitzes, and little sign of the defensive except for Robert Quinn. The linebacker duo of LVE and Jaylon Smith, along with Sean Lee, looked equally out of sync as they missed tackles, reads, and allowed plays to extend much longer than they should’ve.
Everything I’ve heard, including a quote from Sam Darnold, is that the defense is predictable, and as an observer I might have to agree. Consistently there has been no pass rush despite a four man defensive front, very few unpredictable LB or safety blitzes, and no defensive play calls that deviate from the very basic defensive zone the Cowboys run. This needs to change, and hopefully this game served as the wakeup call to run some plays that might actually do something.
Is Garrett’s Head on the Line?
On a three game losing streak with some very lackluster performances, both offensively and defensively, eventually the blame has to stop with someone, which is of course Jason Garrett. The offense hasn’t looked the same since the Miami game, and when a team starts out that high and falls this low, people are going to notice. The team will be mentally effected, and the fans will go NUTS. I don’t think he’ll be fired. He has been coaching for almost ten years, and it seems like there have been many times where he’s been in this situation and managed to turn things around, because at the end of the day the players seem to really like and respect Garrett. However, this might be changing if you look deeply into the brief and potentially misleading GIF of players not high-fiving him, but as of his tenure here the players have always respected him.
This week will be a big one, for obvious reasons, but for Garrett as well. To lose the lead for the division after that strong of a start and seeming to have an utter collapse isn’t a good look, and with the talented roster the Cowboys have, anything less than a NFC championship game will seem somewhat disappointing. In addition, with the sudden lack of big play calling on the offensive side, it’s rumored that Garrett might have taken back playcalling control from Kellen Moore, as many of the predictable run and short pass plays seem to have made a sudden and intense recurrence.
The Eagles, after getting smacked by the Vikings, are already talking smack, with Doug Pederson proclaiming on the air that the Eagles will beat the Cowboys. This game might not mathematically decide the season for the Cowboys, but mentally it’s going to be a big one both for Garrett’s hopes of keeping his job and the morale of having either a winning or losing record heading into the bye week, which could have a lingering effect throughout the season.
Dak has traditionally played well in divisional games and Garrett’s fiery talks can motivate the team to win this game to briefly decide the division; it’s seeming that if they don’t win this game, the season is really going to take a turn for the worse.
Check back to The Roundup next week for Cowboys news after their victory over the Eagles and more sports news!