The Dallas Cowboys managed to pull out a much needed win after dropping three straight, but can we expect similar results going forward?
Many would have said Thursday’s game against the Washington Redskins was a must win and, in all reality, it most likely was if the Cowboys want to have any chance of making the postseason. The Cowboys were struggling mightily and looking like a team on the brink of disaster. How would they come out after a week of constant scrutiny and many questioning the future of head coach Jason Garrett?
Fortunately for Garrett, the Cowboys finally resembled a team that many thought they could be when entering this season. There were some good things to take away from the victory against the Redskins, but problems still linger.
One of the biggest highlights in this game was the emergence of rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. The level of play he put on display Thursday is what the Cowboys were expecting when they selected him in the second round of this year’s draft.
Reports on Awuzie coming out of the draft were ones of a physical corner with a nose for the ball and one that can high point the ball at point of attack. Those attributes were on display with three pass deflections and physicality displayed in the run game.
Another bright spot for the Cowboys was the re-emergence of the offensive line. A performance like this with 182 rushing yards being rattled off, is what we have come to expect from an offensive line with this much talent and money invested. And since the suspension of star running back Ezekiel Elliott, this type of performance from the running game has been one of the missing pieces in a struggling Cowboys offense.
If the Cowboys have any chance still remaining to make the playoffs, this offensive line and the running game will have to carry the offense as Thursday night showed us the difference in this offense when the running game is clicking vs. when it is not.
It was also very encouraging to see the defensive line get back into form and get pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins was under duress most of the night with fumbles and pressure seemingly coming at will at points in the game, especially early on.
Much like the offensive line on the other side of the ball, the defensive line will have a very large part in any success of the Cowboys defense due to lack of depth and injuries at linebacker and youth, inexperience, and injuries in the secondary.
One thing that is still a little discouraging is the sudden struggling play of quarterback Dak Prescott. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to Prescott’s recent struggles such as losing Elliott and the struggles of the offensive line but his numbers cannot be ignored over the last four games.
He has not eclipsed more than 200 yards passing in the past four games and before Thursday, did not record a single touchdown pass since losing Elliott. Prescott has also amassed five interceptions and three fumbles lost in that same span.
While Thursday night’s performance was better than his previous three, he only managed 102 passing yards and still looks to be lacking accuracy on some intermediate pass routes. I do not believe Prescott will continue to have these struggles all year and, to be honest, I think we were all spoiled by the immediate success he had last year. Prescott is finally having some growing pains which is completely normal for a second year quarterback.
This was a huge win for the Dallas Cowboys, who are grasping with every breath to stay alive in the NFC playoff race and may need to win out to make the playoffs. If they are to have any chance of winning out, they are going to need this type of performance every single week the rest of the way; a task that could seem monumental after seeing some of the dreadful performances put on display by the Cowboys at some points this year.