After back-to-back crushing home losses, it’s time to re-evaluate the expectations for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys as they head into the bye week.
Here’s the hard truth. After five weeks, the 2017 Dallas Cowboys are not a good football team.
Spare me the talk of “they should be 4-1.”
No need to remind me that we are only five games into the season.
Facts are facts. The choice to believe them is up to you.
Good teams beat other good teams. The Cowboys are 2-0 with wins over Arizona (2-3) and the Giants (0-5). They are 0-3 with losses at Denver (3-1) and at home versus the Rams (3-2) and Packers (4-1). The math speaks for itself.
Good teams do not score 30+ points in back-to-back games and lose. In fact, there has been only one other team in NFL history to pull off that feat. The 2012 Detroit Lions. They finished with a record of 4-12.
Good teams to beat themselves with atrocious clock management. When you possess the ball for 8:43 of the last ten minutes of a game, you should win. When you see Aaron Rodgers on the opposite sideline, you should know better than to give him any time.
Yet, the Dallas Cowboys, with under five minutes left were disrespecting both the clock and the quarterback. Three times in the last five minutes, the Cowboys snapped the ball with 0:08 or more left on the play clock. While that seems inexcusable, somehow an even more egregious decision was made late in the game.
With 1:24 left and the clock running and the Cowboys facing 2nd and 2, they double down on stupidity. Not only does Dak Prescott snap the ball with 0:11 on the play clock, but he throws an incompletion, stopping the clock.
Let’s be clear here. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO THROW THE BALL. There is literally nothing good that comes from this decision. If you complete the pass, you leave 1:20-ish on the clock and a timeout for Rodgers. If you don’t complete the pass, you stop the clock. The decision to throw a pass is the ultimate lose-lose scenario.
Of course, that’s exactly what happens however. The clock stops. On the next play, Dallas scores which ends up giving Rodgers 1:13 to make a comeback. If you didn’t expect him to do so, you probably have not been watching football very long.
So, here are the Dallas Cowboys, heading into the break with a sub-.500 record and three of the next four on the road. Is there any reason to be optimistic?
While I would like to say yes, the unfortunate truth is that I don’t think so. There is just no reason to trust that this team can put together a long run, let alone a complete game.
Looking back on history does not reflect kindly on the chances for the Cowboys to make the playoffs either. Since 2007, only five teams in the NFC have won nine games and made the postseason.
Ten wins is almost a necessity with just eleven left to play which means Dallas needs to finish 8-3 or better.
That seems like a difficult task for a team that is not producing on first down. Last year, Ezekiel Elliott was gaining 5.5 yards on first down carries. This year, that number is down to 2.8.
That seems like an enormous task for an offense incapable of getting the ball to its playmakers. In five games, Dez Bryant has just 21 catches on 48 targets. Meanwhile, Cole Beasley does not have a game with 5 or more catches or 40+ yards receiving.
That seems like an impossible task for a defense that cannot stop anyone or help itself. Currently the Cowboys have allowed points on 14 of the last 18 times they have been on the field. They have not caused a turnover since DeMarcus Lawrence stripped Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian in Week 2.
It’s only five games, but it sure feels like this team does not have any answers. Maybe the break is coming at just the right time. Hopefully the Dallas Cowboys use this time to figure out all that ails them.
One thing is certain. The margin for error is extremely small for a team that seems hell bent on finding ways to lose.