Cowboys Midseason Report

It’s hard to grade the Cowboys over the last 5 games.  The only real competition they have played is the Philadelphia Eagles.  Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they lost in Philadelphia.  However, they won the games they were supposed to win…almost.  Chicago, Detroit and the Rams all have losing records and the Cowboys won against all of them, as they should have.  Given the Packers record of 3 and 6, this afternoon’s game should have been a walk in the park.   So, what are their weaknesses? Where do they need to improve?  Perhaps a look at the game against Green Bay is a reminder of where the Cowboys are actually at.

The Packers Cowboys game is a game full of story lines.  Coach Mike McCarthy traveling back to Lambeau is admittedly emotional for him.  He led this team to a Super Bowl.  Then, years later he was let go.  Still, he has a lot of love for this team.  Aaron Rodgers has spent much of the season playing as if he didn’t care if they won or lost.  The Packers lost five games in a row coming into this game.  They have severely underperformed this season.  How would they perform when their old ball coach returned to Lambeau?

I think it can be said that tonight’s game was easily the Packers best game of the season.  Backup safety Rudy Ford picked Dak Prescott off twice in the second quarter on back-to-back possessions.  Those interceptions set up two touchdown drives by the Packers.   The first drive was a 58-yard bomb from Rodgers to Christian Watson.  Still, Dak wasn’t to be deterred.  With 1:37 left on the clock he led his Cowboys back to the endzone in 1 minute and 25 seconds for a tying touchdown.  His two interceptions let the Packers back in the game, but Dak also kept the game a zero-sum equation.


Defense Needs Improvement

Overall, the Cowboy’s pass defense suffered.  Packers’ rookie receiver Christian Watson burned up the Cowboy corners for over 100 yards and three touchdowns.  When everyone thought Aaron Rodgers was washed up and headed to retirement, he comes out and lets everyone know why he is a multiyear MVP.  Though Demarcus Lawrence led the defensive line in putting a lot of pressure on Rodgers, he worked thru it.  Micah Parsons collected a lot of tackles but didn’t affect the Packers passing attack.  The Packers picked their spots well and their air game complimented their tremendous ground game.  The Packers rushing attack ate the Cowboys alive for almost 200 yards.  It’s midseason and their defense still has significant problems to address.

The Cowboys need to make a decision on how to use Micah Parsons.  Stand him up or put him on the line.  Pick one.  He was not prolific tonight because they rarely played him on the line of scrimmage.  Parsons usually jumps off the screen.  He didn’t against Green Bay.  He should have been chasing Rodgers all over the field.  He didn’t.  Parsons didn’t even collect a sack today.


Could the offense be better?

So, where else do the Cowboys need to improve?  First, receivers need to be on the same page as Dak.  They also need to get more diverse in their passing attack.  CeeDee Lamb caught 10 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns in regulation.  Five other receivers shared 13 receptions before overtime.  Second, the defense needs to find a way to stop the run.  Allowing a team to rush effectively against you gives the opposing offense more options on their play calling menu.  The Packers featured two great running backs.  Their great play allowed Aaron Rodgers to pick his spots carefully.  Of course, it helps to have the fastest player on the field as well.  Christian Watson had no problem running by Cowboys defensive backs.  Kelvin Joseph tried tripping Watson out of the game and that didn’t work.   Lastly the Cowboys need to improve on their 3rd down efficiency.  In regulation, they only converted five out of fourteen third downs.  That is a very poor conversion rate and does not lead to consistent wins in the NFL.

All in all, the Cowboys need to continue to lean on their rushing attack.  CeeDee Lamb needs to stay healthy because he is their constant consistent play maker in the passing attack.  Finally, they have to be clutch if they intend to win tight close games.  They had that opportunity in overtime.


Overtime Woes

The Cowboys offense won the toss and started a nice promising drive collecting multiple first downs.  Then, a holding call put the Cowboys in the negative.  They could not convert the 3rd and 4 so they went for it on 4th down. The play call wasn’t the greatest and the execution was worse.  They ended up failing to convert giving the ball to the Packers in great field position.  Aaron Rodgers proceeded to lead his team down the field hitting Allen Lazard on a RPO and he ran it into the redzone.  Then the Cowboys commit another personal foul putting the Packers on the Cowboys ten-yard line wherein they promptly kicked the field goal for the win.  Rodgers was clutch.  The Cowboys weren’t.

The Cowboys next two games are against much better competition then the Bears, Rams and Detroit.  They will need to better than they were today to win the next two games against the Vikings and the Giants.


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