Nothing went right for the Cowboys on Sunday against the Colts.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time everything went so poorly in a Cowboys game. Plain and simple, it was their worst performance of the season and reminded all of us of what this team looked like in September (Not that we needed that horrifying reminder).
But should we really read too much into this one?
Let’s keep this short and direct as we’re already onto Tampa Bay. Here’s your takeaways:
Bad on Both Sides
Both the Dallas offense and defense had a day to forget. In terms of the offense, sure, it’s been hit and miss all season, but considering the roll they had been on as a group — this was a bit of an uncharacteristic performance. Especially sporting the hottest receiver in the league and that guy Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott said it himself even that it was the first time in his football life he’d been shutout. He was brutal on himself going 24 of 39 for 206 yards, one interception and a 64.7 passer rating. There were some big plays in the running game early, but the deficit got to be too much to continue to hand the ball off and stick to the preferred game plan. The execution was horrible too. Fullback Jamize Olawale dropped a sure TD at one point and Zeke collectively got stuffed on 4th and 1 on that same drive. Getting shut out dropped the Cowboys scoring average by almost two full points. They’re averaging 19.7 points per game this season. Yikes.
Ezekiel Elliott: “We can’t go out there and do that. We cannot. That is not us, at all. It’s embarrassing. We’ve got to be better than that, way better. We can’t let stuff like that happen.”
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 17, 2018
The defense had their worst day of 2018, too. Even if the stats don’t say so. Just using the eye test, they were awful. Uncharacteristic missed tackles everywhere and little to no pressure on Andrew Luck in the pocket. It looked like the ‘Hot Boyz’ stayed in Dallas as the Colts offensive front beat the brakes off of them. For the first time since Week 7 in Washington, the Cowboys defense allowed points in the first quarter. Marlon Mack looked like an All-Pro, rushing for a career-high 139 yards and two touchdowns. He was the first player to rush for over 100 yards against the Cowboys since Week 3.
The Matter of Urgency
I’ve been preaching the situation heading into this game all week regarding the matter of urgency. The Cowboys were coming off three straight weeks of highly emotional, meaningful match ups in which they played with insane intensity. A 1:00 game against a non-conference Colts team, I knew the real possibility of being a trap game for this young group, and it was. Predictably, Dallas came out extremely flat and the Colts came out with that urgency we’d been seeing from Dallas the last month or so. The Colts needed and wanted the win more and it showed as they beat down on Dallas. Not that this is a valid excuse for a humiliating loss like this, but it sure does make sense and provides a feel that maybe we shouldn’t take too much away from this given Sunday. Hopefully this works as a reality check for the Cowboys and sort of brings them back down to earth after a fun 5-game winning streak. Maybe it’s just what they needed to get that urgency and intensity back to lock up the division for good and look towards the playoffs.
Ezekiel Elliott: "That was just a very embarrassing performance by us. …We got beat in all aspects of the game. I think a loss like this was very much needed. Its better for us in the grand scheme of the season. I think we needed to get put in check. We needed a reality check."
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 16, 2018
The Red-Zone Mess Continues
Week after week, Scott Linehan just cannot dial up the right recipe for his red zone offense. Where the easy way out is to just blame Linehan alone and call for his job, everyone needs to be better in that area of the field. That being Dak, Zeke, the offensive line, the receivers and the coaches. It’s a matter of putting it all together at once. When the protection is good, there can’t be bad route running or dropped passes. And the holding penalties need to be diagnosed. They’re drive killers. Despite this glaring issue, Dallas is still very likely to win the NFC East and make the playoffs, but if they’re hoping to make a deep run it’ll have to be TD’s rather than field goals so close to the goal line.
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