The Cowboys Still Have a Ton of Work To Do
Writer: Jameson White
Sunday the 16th, the Dallas Cowboys were trounced by the Indianapolis Colts in a final score of 23-0, marking the first time that Dallas has been shutout in a game since 2003. Coming into this game, Dallas was the hottest team in the NFL, reeling off five-straight wins and sky-rocketing up the NFC East standings at a time when many thought their season was already lost. However, for the first time in a month, the Cowboys were forced to play a real NFL defense; the results were less than stellar.
Included in the Dallas Cowboys winning streak was a win against Atlanta, Washington, New Orleans, and two victories over Philadelphia. In terms of total defense, the Saints were by far the highest ranked, currently ranked 11th in the total defensive standings; the Redskins are 18th, the Falcons are 24th, and the Eagles are 27th. One would think an offense featuring a former Rookie of the Year quarterback in Dak Prescott, a premier running back in Ezekiel Elliott, and a former top-five draft pick in Amari Cooper would be able to absolutely demolish these defenses. However, even though Dallas themselves have a top-five overall defense, they were winning these games by an average of 5.4 points, with the largest victory being an 8-point victory over the quarterback-less Redskins on Thanksgiving.
Dallas’ offense is staying on the field longer than any other offense in the league, as their play is predicated on running the ball continuously to melt the clock and grind out low-scoring games. However, they are not ending their drives in touchdowns that are necessary to win with this style of play; the Cowboys are currently 31st in redzone offense, as they only score a touchdown in this area of the field 44.19% of the time. When they are not getting in the end-zone, they are forced to give the ball to kicker Brett Maher, who has been wildly inconsistent for over a month. As a team that is in the thick of the playoff race and trying to make a deep run in the postseason, the number of failed scoring opportunities is simply not going to cut it when they have to compete with the Saints and the Rams.
While Dallas certainly has a young, tough, and energetic defense that is among the best in the league, the offense is what is and will continue to hold this team back from winning meaningful games as the playoffs approach within the next month. The Cowboys seemed to re-ignite a fanbase that has annual Super Bowl aspirations every year that never pan out. If the Dallas offense can start getting in the endzone on their long, methodical drives, they have the level of elite defense that can win them close games. However, this team goes only as far as the offense goes, meaning they could be in for another disappointing close to a season.