Cowboys defensive success against lowly Eagles a poor barometer

Dallas Cowboys defense (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys defense (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys’ defensive effort against the Eagles isn’t a good barometer

After losing to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, the 2-6 Dallas Cowboys are hanging their hats on their positive defensive performance. But should they be?

Let’s face it. Having lost five of their last six games, including two divisional matchups, finding anything to help build some positive momentum on is difficult. And with the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers on tap to visit AT&T Stadium this weekend, it’s only going to get worse.

And while the Cowboys did have a seventh-round rookie starting under center in quarterback Ben DiNucci leading an offense who could only generate nine total points, the Dallas defense did limit Philly to a single touchdown in the first half. And the game was a winnable 15-9 until the 5:33 mark in the fourth quarter.

Plus, some of the defensive numbers were outstanding. Cowboys’ rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs recorded his first two interceptions of his career. Those picks were made even more special considering the entire Dallas defense had only posted a single interception as a unit through the first seven games of this season. Diggs also had seven total tackles and four pass deflections.

Four different Cowboy defenders registered sacks against the Birds as well. Those players were defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence, Aldon Smith, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, and safety Donovan Wilson with one sack apiece. That resulted in helping Dallas rack up three forced fumbles.

Dallas Cowboys’ defense should thank Carson Wentz

Still, all of this defensive success came despite losing 23-9 and against a struggling Eagles’ offense. And more specifically, quarterback Carson Wentz. The second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft has posted a career-low 58.4 completion percentage this season. Wentz’s 12 interceptions are his most since his rookie year … and we’re only eight games in.

Wentz would complete just 15 of his 27 passes for 123 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions against the suspect Cowboys’ secondary. His 61.2 quarterback rating was his second-worst performance of the season.

But let’s not forget. This is the same Dallas defense that allowed Washington quarterback Kyle Allen to post an incredible 111.1 QB rating and throw for 194 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 25-3 blowout the previous week.

This is also an Eagles’ offense that averages 330.0 total yards per game and 211.4 passing yards through the air, both ranking them 26th in the NFL. And somehow they are atop an atrocious NFC East division.

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At the end of the day, you can only play the team in front of you. And the Dallas Cowboys put in a good defensive effort against at 3-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles squad. Yet, that’s a poor barometer for measuring team improvement and doesn’t excuse the poor play and lack of fundamentals we’ve seen demonstrated from this unit all season long.