Dallas has quickly fallen into a pit of quicksand after starting the year off on a high note, and they’ll have to think quick in order to resurrect their season.
After three straight losses (Saints, Packers, Jets) the Cowboys still find themselves tied for 1st in the NFC East. However, that title will be in play once again next week when the Eagles travel to Dallas in a battle for 1st place.
Dallas went into the game missing both of their starting tackles and their slot receiver Randall Cobb. To add on to their misfortune, Amari Cooper was also knocked out of the game before half time. These 4 players are crucial to the offensive operation, and it showed on the field with the Cowboys only being able to put up 9 points in three-quarters of play.
The Jets made sure to take advantage of the missing pieces on the offensive line by gunning to Dak Prescott throughout the game. Dak faced massive pressure all game long and was forced to absorb more hits than he anticipated. Even with all the pressure, Dak only took 1 sack the whole game. Dak also was able to run in a touchdown of his own to go along with his 277 passing yards.
For the first time in 5 weeks, Dak went without throwing an interception. That’s one trend everyone hopes he continues next week against their division rivals.
Over the past 3 games, Zeke has averaged under 3.5 yards on a total of 58 carries. However, Elliott did his best to keep the offense moving along against the Jets with his 152 yards and touchdown on 33 touches. It proved to be just enough to keep them relevant in the game towards the end, but not enough to get the win.
Ezekiel Elliott averaged 3.8 yards per carry, which was a product of the defense being locked in on him. Although he had 28 attempts on the ground, it never seemed that Zeke truly found his rhythm. Heading into next week getting Zeke rolling will be a priority in order to open up the passing game. Getting back a healthy Tyron Smith and La’el Collins will be an enormous help. His ability to be involved in the passing game will also be a much-needed factor if the receiving core doesn’t heal up before their next game.
The defense has been completely all over the place this year, after showing great potential the previous year. The secondary got outplayed the majority of this game as they allowed Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson to combine for over 220 yards through the air. Le’Veon Bell was also able to find the endzone for the first time this season. Although it wasn’t all bad, Robert Quinn continues to show the world that he still has plenty left in the tank. Quinn racked up 2 sacks this game, bringing his total up to 5 sacks in 4 games. Jourdan Lewis was also a great part of giving this team a much-needed spark with an interception of his own inside the Cowboys’ RedZone. That interception is only 1 of 2 picks the Cowboys have forced this season, the other caused by Chidobe Awuzie against the Saints.
Forcing turnovers against the Eagles won’t be an easy task, as Wentz has only thrown 3 interceptions all year long. The Eagles have a better receiving core than the Jets, which ultimately leaves Kris Richard to install a better game plan going into next week.
Special teams played a bigger role than most expected in this game as well. Brett Maher made 3 of 4 kicks, with 1 tying the Cowboys’ record of 62 yards. While Maher kicked at a 75% rate, coaching had much to do with his outcome by making one crucial decision in the first half. The play that became the turning point was not giving Maher a shot at making a field goal inside the Jets RedZone.
Dallas was at a 4th and 2 at the Jets 7 yard line and chose to run an option play with Dak rather than give Maher a chance to put up more points. After the failed conversion, the next play was a 92-yard pass to Robby Anderson to put the Jets up 14-3. Had Dallas taken the field goal, the score could’ve potentially been 7-6 with less than 4 minutes in the 2nd quarter. While Dallas would still be down, the score would be much closer than what it ended up being.
The Future of Jason Garrett
The biggest question Dallas will have to answer the remainder of the season will be if Jason Garrett stays or gets terminated. The coaching has seemed to be the main cause of this team’s lack of success. If Garrett is terminated, who replaces him for the remainder of the season? With an interim head coach, will this team still be looking to making the playoffs or will they be looking to grab a better pick in next year’s draft? The talent put together by Dallas has proven to be able to be successful.
Regardless of their decision moving forward will be a roller-coaster of a ride due to the schedule looking tougher down the road.
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