In their loss to the New York Jets on Sunday the Dallas Cowboys fell to 3-3 and are in the midst of the worst three-game stretch since the woeful 2017 season when they were without Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott. The game yesterday was another frustrating loss that while the score was close, the Cowboys realistically were out of that game at half-time. Another slow start in the 2019 season and several penalties got the Cowboys off on the wrong foot yet again.
Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys can contend for the playoffs in 2019 is very much in doubt. At 3-3 with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town next Sunday night, the Cowboys run the risk of falling under .500 at the seven-game mark just like in 2018. Unlike last year, where it was the offense that was struggling with consistency, the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 were marred by penalties and slow starts.
The Dallas Cowboys have failed to score an opening drive touchdown in any game in 2019. They find ways to move the ball early but aren't able to sustain drives in the first half and score touchdowns. Instead, they're forced to settle for field goals, which with Brett Maher as the placekicker, the Cowboys are getting inconsistent results. Even in the games they've won, they didn't really get going until the second half.
In the first half in 2019, the Dallas Cowboys have been outscored 67-54. During the three-game losing streak, the Cowboys have been outscored 47-9. That shows a team that has struggled to get going early on and in the last two weeks found themselves in holes that were too deep to climb out of. As much as we'd like to find some kind of moral victory in their ability to come back from these huge deficits, the Dallas Cowboys can't continue to put themselves in these huge deficits.
As much as the slow starts have absolutely killed this team, penalties have been another huge issue. Seeminly every game, the Dallas Cowboys find a way to take the wind out of their own sails on both offense and defense. Either it's a drive-killing hold, illegal formation, or offensive pass interference (like yesterday) against the offense or its defensive pass interference, offsides, or a roughing the passer penalty that extends drives for the opposing offense.
Though the Dallas Cowboys defense started strong early in the first quarter, they killed themselves with penalties on the Jets' touchdown drive to go up 7-0. Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones were called for pass interference, Maliek Collins was called for a horsecollar tackle on third down, and Antwuan Woods jumped offsides turning a 2nd and 8 into 2nd and 3, making it easier for the Jets to extend their drive.
Sloppy coverage by Chidobe Awuzie and Jeff Heath on the back end led to the Robby Anderson 92 yard touchdown reception and on the Jets' final drive of the first half, the Cowboys looked terrible as they were picked apart in Sam Darnold's first game back from mononucleosis.
As far as penalties go, the Dallas Cowboys have drawn the sixth most penalties in 2019. Their 48 penalties called have accounted for 470 yards penalized, which is the second-highest rate in the NFL in 2019 per nflpenalties.com.
If there's an indictment to be made against Head Coach Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, it's that this team has struggled out of the gate in pretty much every game of 2019. They're passive approach — especially on the road — and their inability to get anything going offensively early is a major issue facing this team. In each of the last three games, two against contending teams, the Cowboys haven't looked sharp out of the gate on either side of the football.
For some reason, the Cowboys don't show a level of sharpness to their game until late in the third and early fourth quarter. They have to start playing their best football much earlier in the game if they're going to have a shot this week against the Philadelphia Eagles or have any hopes of making the playoffs.
This team has become incredibly frustrating to watch early in games. Both the offensive and defensive sides of the football struggle to gain traction, leaving them in desperation mode in the second half. Over the last three games, desperation hasn't worked well for them as a strategy. In week seven, the Cowboys have to come out desperate from the opening kick. Because that's the reality of where they are as an organization. There aren't many must-win games in October, but against your division rival, who you're tied with, this week seven tilt is absolutely a must-win.