The Cowboys’ issues are deeper than Dak Prescott’s damage

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The Cowboys’ devastating loss to Washington on Sunday was one other low level in what’s turning into a devastating season. Nothing has gone proper for Dallas throughout a 12 months that when held a lot promise. Now the crew is left in tatters.

The Cowboys have a simple excuse for all the pieces that’s gone improper within the type of Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle damage, however that’s a reductive solution to study the season. The fact is that whereas Prescott getting damage was undoubtedly a turning level, there are much more issues with the Cowboys than simply their franchise quarterback.

Now, critical questions loom over how they progress. Not simply in 2020, however past.

RJ Ochoa, from Running a blog The Boys on what’s gone improper in 2020:

This season was imagined to be one in every of promise for the Dallas Cowboys. Mike McCarthy was particularly chosen because the crew’s new head coach as a result of the roster was seen as one able to problem for a title instantly. Numerous challenges from a cosmopolitan perspective and an damage one have made the climb all of the extra steep, however they’ve additionally highlighted the true issues with the group. Dallas has a tradition problem the place they’re unable to deal with adversity effectively. It’s potential that McCarthy is the man to lastly deal with that illness, however that potential prognosis is one that’s going take some time to take maintain. Within the right here and now the Cowboys are a gaggle that’s one way or the other discovering locations to sink past their weekly all-time low, however the Dodgers received the World Collection so both the Cowboys or New York Knicks are up subsequent to finish their drought. Would you actually wager on the Knicks?

Comply with Ochoa’s day by day Cowboys protection at Running a blog the Boys.

How did the Cowboys attain this second?

In want of a change on the high, the Cowboys reshuffled their teaching employees behind Mike McCarthy, finest identified for returning the Packers to prominence and profitable a Tremendous Bowl. Regardless of being out of the league for 2 years, Jerry Jones elected to rent McCarthy within the hopes he might take a gifted roster to the following stage, moderately than electing to roll the cube on a younger, unproven coach.

It echoed the choice by the crew in 2003 to rent Invoice Parcells, which resulted in combined success. It didn’t assist that the Cowboys had a weird offseason, a lot of which centered on Dak Prescott. Dallas wasn’t 100 % offered on Prescott being the franchise quarterback the crew wanted, hesitant to present him a significant payday consequently, as an alternative putting him underneath the franchise tag.

From there the free company interval adopted the same mannequin of low danger, identified portions, signing confirmed gamers like Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe for the line of defense, and revamping the secondary with new faces as effectively. Curiously the crew elected to herald Andy Dalton, lately launched by the Bengals to be their backup quarterback. By way of expertise, Dalton was high-quality for a backup — however he had a wildly divergent skillset to that of Prescott, which means there wouldn’t be a lot offensive continuity if he wanted to step up.

Clearly the prevailing issue within the Cowboys’ unlucky downtick was shedding Prescott for the season, however the protection has been so abysmal that it’s unclear if even having a wholesome quarterback would make an impression. Dallas boasts one of many worst defenses within the league, giving up over 400 yards per recreation — and extra importantly a league-worst 34.7 factors. Groups can rating on Dallas at will, which naturally pulls the main target away from a run-based offense led by Ezekiel Elliot, who’s on tempo for 258 carries this season, his lowest since an injury-shortened 2017 the place he missed 5 video games.

Now the Cowboys need to throw to remain in video games as a result of the protection is unhealthy, taking touches away from probably the greatest offensive weapons, and essentially altering the offense in a nasty approach. Couple this with Elliot’s propensity for fumbles this season (4 to this point) and there’s nothing actually going proper for Dallas on both facet of the ball.

Most lately Dalton was injured in a helmet-to-helmet hit, placing him in concussion protocol and furthering the downward spiral of this group.

The place do the Cowboys go from right here?

Dallas is mathematically nonetheless alive within the limp NFC East, however actually this crew feels accomplished. A lame duck 6-10 end to win the division would possibly earn some brownie factors and good emotions, nevertheless it’s not useful for the crew long run.

The following 9 video games must be pure analysis for the Cowboys, not only for expertise on the sector, however at each stage of the group. It’s not like McCarthy and Co. have been burning the league up previous to Prescott’s damage, and Dallas can’t afford to waste its two younger offensive skills with one other poor teaching employees that don’t know how one can use them.

From there the largest choice might be for Dallas to place up or shut up on Prescott himself. The crew couldn’t resolve if he was price top-flight QB cash, but when he returns wholesome somebody goes to be prepared to pay it. If the Cowboys resolve to maneuver on they should hope they lose as many video games as potential, placing them within the combine for a high quarterback within the draft. The concept of going with confirmed veterans isn’t a transfer for this crew that may get them excessive within the NFC.

This isn’t a catastrophe. It’s extra needing to right a number of missteps, which may me harder than a full overhaul. Both approach, Dallas might be an elite crew — however the Cowboys must get out of their very own approach and never overthink this transferring ahead.

Dallas misplaced its id when their beginning quarterback went down, however the issue is much deeper. A cultural shift is required to maintain this crew collectively, however there are nonetheless looming questions on what’s price conserving. A lot is dependent upon how a lot rope Mike McCarthy is given to show this round, however there’s little doubt that Jerry Jones is getting annoyed. This was imagined to be a 12 months to recover from the hump, not ponder a rebuild — however right here we’re. Both approach, it’s going to be fascinating to observe, and for hundreds of thousands of Cowboys followers a scary time to assist the crew.

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