The Dallas Cowboys' red zone offense got off to a predictably slow start against the New England Patriots, culminating in a miscommunication between Dak Prescott and Tony Pollard on 3rd and 1 on the goal line that saw the quarterback and running back collide before Pollard was stuffed short.
The offense has since rebounded in the form of a CeeDee Lamb touchdown, but fans are annoyed with Mike McCarthy yet again following a brutal sequence in the second quarter that involved fan favorite Deuce Vaughn.
First, McCarthy dialed up a short pass to Vaughn that produced zero yardage. It seemed needless given the Patriots are down their top three cornerbacks after star rookie Christian Gonzalez left early with an apparent shoulder injury.
Vaughn remained in the game on third down and was absolutely lost on a Patriots stunt that resulted in a sack of Dak Prescott followed by a Cowboys punt.
In a surprise nobody saw coming given Vaughn's popularity among the fan base, Cowboys Nation quietly has seen enough of No. 42.
Cowboys fans want less of Deuce Vaughn after RB's rough sequence vs Patriots
Pass-blocking obviously isn't Vaughn's strong suit, but the young back got crossed up and Prescott took a massive hit from Josh Uche as a result. Getting your QB hit is a surefire way to lose playing time, however, and Cowboys fans wouldn't hate to see less of the 2023 sixth-round pick after this tough sequence.
You can't fault Vaughn at all for the failed screen pass, but he should've at least got a body on a Patriots pass-rusher on third down. McCarthy should shoulder most of the blame for that. The head coach has gotten too cute on a number of occasions this season, but this was simply a lapse in concentration.
Vaughn should only ever be on the field on third down if he's getting the ball or used as a decoy to deter would-be pass rushers. Having him line up in pass protection was a boneheaded call by McCarthy given Bill Belichick's history of blitzing on third down. Thankfully, Prescott wasn't dinged up by the hit.
It'll be interesting to see Vaughn's role moving forward. His touches haven't resulted in much success this season -- his eight carries went for nine yards and his lone reception produced two yards -- let alone Sunday, and his limitations in pass protection are a real hindrance to the offense.