Let’s start with the positives. The Dallas Cowboys are now 10-4 on the season thanks to their 21-6 victory over the New York Giants. With a shocking Arizona Cardinals loss to the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys are now sitting pretty at No. 3 in the NFC. The Cowboys currently hold the best conference win record in the NFL, going 8-1 so far this season.
But, let’s be honest. The Cowboys play in a pretty dismal NFC East. There aren’t a lot of positive things to say about the Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles, or New York Giants. And although you may be taking the side that the Cowboys were playing conservatively to “keep the playbook hidden” or “conserve energy” for more difficult matchups in the future, the Cowboys should have dominated this Giants team.
The Giants are, now, 4-10. With major increases in COVID-19 cases (8 Giants missed the game with COVID) and several players on the injury report, the Cowboys made this team look much better than they were. The defense was all but depleted, causing the Giants to make some last-minute practice squad signings and roster changes. This was a game the Cowboys were supposed to dominate before all of these new injuries/COVID cases were revealed. It could have/should have been a blowout.
Thank goodness for the defense. For the second week in a row, this dominant defensive squad showed that they alone can keep the Cowboys in games. Week 15’s win marked the third game in a row that the defense had four turnovers, thanks to standout performances from guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and Trevon Diggs.
On the other side of the ball, the offense left Cowboys fans continually looking for more. Luckily, the offense looked better than they did last week. But that seemed mostly in part due to guys who are playing through injury: Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. The run game actually had some steam vs the Giants. Quarterback Dak Prescott did have some flashes of brilliance, but he was often slow to throw or hesitant with the ball.
Overall, Cowboys fans should really hope that this offensive slump is due to conservative play-calling from Kellen Moore rather than issues with key players. A win is a win. But there are still concerns. Let’s take a look at the three most disappointing performances from Week 15.
3 Cowboys players who had disappointing performances in the Week 15 matchup vs the Giants
3. Dak Prescott, QB
*cue the hate mail*
Yes. Dak Prescott does own the Giants. He has now led the Cowboys to nine straight victories against the NFC East foe. I will also say that Kellen Moore’s vanilla playcalling isn’t helping him either. But, whether you think he is in a slump or you think he can be this franchise’s best player, there is no denying he isn’t the quarterback we saw in the first couple weeks of the season.
The expectations for Prescott may be very high, but they aren’t unreasonable. He was playing at a high level just a couple of months ago. Every time the QB or anyone else is asked, they continue to say he is 100% healthy. So, what is the problem?
The quarterback completed just 28 of 37 throws, was sacked three times, gave up a fumble recovery, and had just one throwing touchdown… from one yard out.
Prescott has thrown for less than 300 yards in five of his last six games. In this game, he had just 217 yards, his fourth-lowest total of the season. Perhaps more concerning than the meager stat lines is Prescott’s inability to lead his team to score points in the red zone. The Cowboys were 2-5 in the red zone against a hurt and struggling Giants defense. The offense only scored nine points in the second quarter (despite dominating in yards) because they had to settle for three consecutive field goals.
When you look at the big picture, the Cowboys have scored only one touchdown in their last 21 offensive possessions, which dates back to halftime of last week’s game vs WFT. It isn’t all because of Prescott, but he simply hasn’t been what the Cowboys need him to be.
He just seems to have a “deer in headlights” look at times. On this strip-sack play, Prescott appears to have no idea that the defender is behind him. He has to have the awareness to know how much time he has when scrambling.
There is no denying that the quarterback looked improved at times, but there is also no getting around the fact that he isn’t playing at the caliber he needs to be. We expected to see more from him, especially with a depleted Giants defense. To be fair, his receivers (aside from tight end Dalton Schultz) needed to be better, too…