Dallas Cowboys Defensive Issues
It feels like not too long ago that we were looking at this Cowboys defense and saying they have a chance to be one of the best defensive units to ever take the field. Now look at us, we all have egg on our faces after that showing against the Cardinals, and the achilles heel of the defensive unit reared its ugly head once again. The Dallas defense couldn't stop the Cardinals' running game if their life depended on it giving up 222 yards on the ground to a team that you knew was going to come out looking to run the football in order to win this game. If you know a team's looking to run the football then you have to make sure your players are gap-sound in their assignments to close running lanes and defensive ends need to know to keep containment and force the play back inside.
None of that happened in this game, the linebackers were consistently out of position and the Cowboys edge rushers outside of DeMarcus Lawrence seemed to be more focused on hitting the quarterback instead of playing within their coaching assignments. Allowing Joshua Dobbs to take off on a few plays and let the Cardinals' running backs bounce runs to the outside and keep the chains moving.
Main Culprit: Cowboys Defenders
As a unit in this game the defense looked deflated and really didn't seem to want this game from the start. After the Dobbs 44-yard run they seemed demoralized early in the game and never recovered. That led to miscommunication in the secondary that left receivers wide open, and running backs to bounce plays outside and pick up easy first downs as well. Out of the entire group though the play of the linebackers was the worst of this group and something that you know defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. The loss of Trevon Diggs in the secondary did have an effect on this group but it seems like more of a mental one than a physical one as both DaRon Bland and Jourdan Lewis both were able to make plays.
If you want to try and blame the Cowboys' defensive tackles in this game you really can't, the Cardinals did a nice job of adjusting their play calling once they saw how Mazi Smith and Johnathan Hankins were able to affect the running game in the middle early in the game. Using more read options and outside run plays to take them out of the game. This was a sloppy game from start to finish and one that the Cowboys had no business winning.