Why the Cowboys run defense woes could linger into Weeks 16 and 17

Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills
Dallas Cowboys v Buffalo Bills / Rich Barnes/GettyImages

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high off of a five game win-streak. They were starting to believe that this 2023 unit was different and while they might be right, they still are not perfect. Dallas was exposed on Sunday by the hands of the fiesty-Buffalo Bills and they were somewhat hit with a "must-regroup" type of loss, especially defending the run-game.

Dallas gave up 225 total scrimmage yards to James Cook. Yes, you read that right: 225. On 25 carries and while catches three passes, Cook was able to torch the Cowboys defense. It seemed like every time Cook touched the ball, fans watching the game had to cover their eyes in disbelief seeing how easily he picked up yards.

Cook reached the end-zone twice and he made it look effortless in the process, en route to a 31-10 thumping by the Bills. It was a tough day all around for Dallas, and not to mention seeing Zack Martin hurt had every. Luckily it was not as serious as some had thought and if you believe in silver linings, that was the only one from Sunday.

In a game where Dallas had already been playing their worst since a 2010 loss to Green Bay (offensively), they allowed themselves to be given a reality check so to speak. They were not able to move the ball effectively from the first whistle and costly penalties reigned supreme as the most-penalized team in the NFL, proved why they carry such a title.

In the midst of possibly worsening his chances at capturing an MVP trophy, Dak Prescott seemed to be playing against dominating at a level the Dallas defense once had. Prescott was unable to maintain the Cowboys high-octane offense but he did not get much support because of again, the poor defensive effort made it harder for the offense because they had to play from behind all game, swaying their at times-conservative game-plan.

It was an all-around poor performance with not defending the run being the hardest pill to swallow. But that is not the worse part.

Weeks 16 and 17 are not going to be any easier for the Cowboys run defense

The worst part is that, in the next couple of weeks, Dallas will be hit with a similar problem. They have the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Eve who possess one of the most dynamic offenses in recent memory. Having to defend the pass is already going to be hard (will have to depend on getting pressure on Tua and getting a timely turnover), but defending the run will present a bigger problem. Dolphins running back Raheem Mostert is one of the leagues leading rushers, and has been having a career year for himself and is primed for a James Cook-esque performance against the Cowboys .

Mostert has big-play potential anytime he touches the football. A dual-threat back who can damage Dallas between the tackles, Mostert can be a good bet to put together over 100 yards rushing. Fellow Dolphins-back and rookie phenom Devon Achane will also be in the mix to hurt Dallas as he has to many during his record breaking season. However, seemingly Raheem Mostert is the lead back and a touchdown machine for this team. Week 16 could get ugly.

The Cowboys will need to be able to score a lot of points and almost play in a shoot-out fashion to win or at least stay in this game. Luckily for them, the Dolphins are explosible themselves at times.

Hold your horses, that is just the start. The very next week Dallas faces one of the leagues best duos at running back yet again in David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs. The Lions backfield is fierce and the "thunder-and-lighting" combo might give the Dallas defense one of their toughest challenges yet. It will be tough because Mongomery will be able to beat the Dallas defense in a ground-and-pound fashion and when he gets subbed out, the former Alabama running back in Gibbs can hurt Dallas on the outside.

Gibbs was compared to Saints star Alvin Kamara during the draft process for a reason. His ability to catch out of the backfield and breakaway for a score is second-to-none. Detroit Coach Dan Campbell has used Gibbs effectively this year and has made his shocking draft day gamble to reach for Gibbs at No.12, look like the right move after-all.

The Lions are very well at implementing a conservative offense. They are okay picking at you nice and slowly and executing at their own pace. That can cause frustration to the Cowboys defense and they can get tired out easily.

Montgomery's and Gibbs's skillsets' in particular balance each other out perfectly.

Dallas will not get any plays off as either of the two backs will hurt them, they will just have to limit the hurt in any way possible.

All great defenses get exposed at times. That is the game of football, you are not always perfect but you try and regroup and get back to the drawing board. That is what Dallas must do to prepare as the next couple of weeks can have similar outcomes if they are not careful. Raheem Mostert, Devon Achane, David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs... in the span of two weeks. Talk about the toughest task a defense can face. However, this might be the Cowboys biggest chance to prove their worth (they seemingly always have to) and show if their team is legit or just another, regular season juggernaut turned playoff letdown type of team.

Only time will tell, as for now you just have to hope that all week, Dan Quinn and his unit are polishing up on their defensive scheme and really studying how to stop the herd of talent that is coming their way.

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