It wasn't easy to watch. The Falcons beat the Dallas Cowboys by 20 points, handing America's Team its fourth loss of the season. Without a doubt, this is probably the worst loss of the year for this football team.
You could argue the blowout at Denver felt worse at the moment, but last Sunday's defeat could've killed the hopes we all had on the 2017 Cowboys.
Now at 5-4, with a few NFC teams rising and competing for the Wildcard spots, Dallas has almost no room for error. In a season where they need to win just about every single game left on their schedule, the Cowboys will miss Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Dan Bailey for a few weeks.
After the Falcons game, a huge part of Cowboys Nation was left with a lot of questions. Just like in every loss and every victory, it's important to learn from experience.
Here is this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday.
Without Sean Lee, Winning is Impossible
We were all concerned about not counting on Ezekiel Elliott to be on the field for a long time and now, it seems like the least of the concerns in the heads of Cowboys fans… and rightfully so.
Once again, the Cowboys will have to play without the guy who is arguably their most valuable player after Dak Prescott.
Without Lee, this defense crumbles completely and with reports stating that the team expects their LB to miss the next three games, things are not even close to being “promising.” We've seen what happens when Lee isn't healthy.
Jaylon Smith has proven many times now that he isn't ready to be playing starter snaps in the NFL yet, but the Cowboys may not have a choice. Probably, LB should be a top need for this team in 2018.
Tyron Smith Is Even More Valuable Than What We Thought
Well, let me start off by apologizing. Before Sunday's game, I wrote about how Chaz Green would do fine for the Cowboys in Atlanta. Clearly, I was more than wrong.
In 2016, Chaz Green filled in for Tyron Smith in two games. One versus the Bears, the other against the 49ers. Green proved capable of doing a decent job covering the LT position and naturally, I thought he could pull it off.
I'm sure I wasn't the only fan who thought of this, which is why not many fans were that preoccupied with 77's injury.
But, you know the story. Dak Prescott ended up being sacked eight times in total, and six times by Adrian Clayborn. To add perspective, Clayborn is only the fourth player in NFL history to record at least six sacks in a single game.
If Smith isn't ready to go next Sunday, it will be a long day for Dak Prescott, for Byron Bell didn't do a good job either.
Coaching Must Improve
I always hesitate to blame coaching after a team loses. And I won't put the blame exlcusively on them, because that would be wrong. At the end of the day, they were missing their All-Pro left tackle, their defense centerpiece, their super kicker and their star running back.
However, there're things this coaching staff could've done to change things up.
For starters, Chaz Green should've left that field way before he did.
But why didn't they at least lend him a hand by sending the RB or a TE to block with him every passing play? Why not change your personnel groups when you're not working offensively? Why not try to roll Dak out a few times? Why keep giving the Falcons' receivers the amount of cushion this defensive backs did?
I'm not a Jason Garrett hater. But sometimes it feels like this coaching staff is too stubborn to change things up in a game to try to turn things around.
Dak Prescott Is Still Playing Great Football
On a positive takeaway, I wanted to mention Dak Prescott.
Every time a football team loses, most of the people will blame the coaches and the quarterback. Surely, that was the case this Sunday for Prescott even though he was sacked eight times and pressured just about… every play of the game.
But, man, is Dak Prescott impressive. In more than a couple of plays, Dak did some impressive plays.
It's difficult to compliment a QB when he was only able to lead his offense to a TD in a 21-yard drive. However, this loss falls on Green's shoulders.
When he wasn't pressured, and even in moments in which he was, Dak shined and had a lot of amazing plays. Unfortunately, his performance wasn't reflected on the scoreboard or on his team's performance.
Cowboys Woes Are Bigger Than We Realized
Let's take a look at some facts…
- The Cowboys started the season 2-3.
- The Philadelphia Eagles have only lost one game all season.
- The Cowboys lost Dan Bailey, Sean Lee (twice) and Tyron Smith to injuries.
- Ezekiel Elliott is currently serving a six game suspension.
As Cowboys fans, we always have hope on this Cowboys football team. And after winning three in a row, things were looking good. We overlooked the fact that Ezekiel Elliott was suspended and that Tyron Smith would miss a game to a lingering injury.
We thought “We'll be fine, this team is awesome.” I think we were right to feel that way.
Now, things have changed. Little by little, we're realizing that we were underrating the issues surrounding the Cowboys. To be honest, I would be impressed if this team makes it to the playoffs if Sean Lee and Tyron Smith continue to miss games.
Once again, the adversity that the Cowboys are facing is huge. They're sitting at 5-4, in the hunt for a Wildcard spot. No Zeke, no Lee, no Bailey and possibly no Smith. As they get ready to host the Eagles next Sunday Night, things are not what Cowboys Nation wanted.
Having said that, the Dallas Cowboys are my biggest passion, and I won't ever stop rooting for them. Win, lose, or tie, Dallas Cowboys for life!