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.
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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.
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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!
Brett Maher’s 62-yard FG Gives Cowboys 6-0 Halftime Lead over Eagles
Brett Maher drilled a 62-yard field goal, a new Dallas Cowboys record, to give his team a 6-0 lead over the Philadelphia Eagles at halftime.
A holding penalty by Tyron Smith seemingly took the team out of field goal range, but Maher bailed him out with the monster kick.
The lead could be bigger it not for some Dallas mistakes. Dak Prescott threw an interception on an otherwise strong drive, and Maher ended another drive with a missed field goal.
However, the Eagles have also struggled. A strip sack by Tyrone Crawford ended their last drive of the half. Randy Gregory also got a sack on Carson Wentz earlier in the game.
Overall, though, Philadelphia just isn't converting downs and being stifled by this exceptional Cowboys defense. They only have 70 total offensive yards at the half.
Ezekiel Elliott is putting together a big day, already with 72 rushing yards and another 20 yards receiving. Rod Smith also has 24 yards of offense, adding to the major production from the RB position.
Speaking of position production, the Cowboys tight ends have already accounted for six catches for 37 yards. Blake Jarwin has four of those receptions, which is a new career high.
The Eagles will get the ball to start the second half.
Cowboys Vs Eagles Leads NFL in Playoff Leverage for Week 14
The Dallas Cowboys are certainly playing like a playoff team as of late, but aren't in the clear yet when it comes to holding off Sunday's opponent -- nor the Washington Redskins -- in the NFC East. At 7-5, the Eagles and Redskins sit a game behind the Cowboys with identical 6-6 records.
The Cowboys going 5-0 from their first win at the Eagles in week 10 to their third divisional game of this stretch would go a very long way in cementing the Cowboys mid-season turnaround. As has always seemingly been the case in this division though, the same is said of the defending Super Bowl champs.
With a loss, the Cowboys stand just over a 50% chance at the postseason. A win would add 42 percentage points to this figure, setting up the Cowboys favorably through a December schedule that features the Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants.
NFL playoff leverage week 14
The only team with more at stake today is the visitors of AT&T Stadium. The Eagles gain 47 percentage points on their playoff hopes with a win, though even this marginally moves the needle over 50% for them. An Eagles loss all but ends their chances of repeating as NFC East winners.
Though the Redskins are reduced to their third quarterback in Mark Sanchez, their early kickoff at the 4-8 Giants provides hope that they'll remain in contention through the regular season. In a division that will be dictated by the moves made at the trade deadline, it sure feels like the Cowboys and Eagles are pulling away however - with Dallas in prime position to lap the competition starting Sunday.
If the Cowboys and the Giants win today, Dallas would have to lose out, and the Redskins or Eagles would have to win out in order for the Cowboys to lose the division. In other words, Dallas and NYG winning today would mean one more victory and the Cowboys clinch the NFC East.
Wide Receiver Amari Cooper has made a bigger difference than Dallas could have ever hoped for. With the Eagles secondary banged up again for their meeting with the Cowboys, a home team with sights set on playoff football could begin to fine tune their offense to match a defense that set the tone against Philadelphia last time out.
National pundits may be forecasting a "classic" late season collapse for the Cowboys, but fans know better than this. It was in fact early season losses that dug the hole the Cowboys are viciously fighting out of. Asking for this opportunity against the Eagles is as good as it gets for Jason Garrett's young team, once 3-5 after eight weeks that feel like ages ago.
So does any dominant stretch of football from the Eagles, though the Cowboys shouldn't be quick to find out just how much Philly wants to play spoiler.
Cowboys Wishlist: Dak Prescott Exploits Eagles’ Secondary
It's rivalry weekend for the Dallas Cowboys as they get ready to host the Philadelphia Eagles. It will undoubtedly be a special game since the Eagles are practically playing to save their season this time around. Tables have turned for these two teams with now the Cowboys as home favorites for this fun matchup.
As always, here's this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist. Enjoy!
Wish #1: Get Jourdan Lewis Playing Time
Cornerback Jourdan Lewis did a fantastic job versus the New Orleans Saints last week and I'm intrigued to see if the Cowboys will continue to find a job for him and get him on the field. Lewis had an interception and some other key plays in just eight snaps. Lewis has been an interesting narrative this year.
He's a good player and getting him more involved could result in good things for this team. We'll see if the Cowboys use him in this important divisional game.
Wish #2: Get The Early Big Lead, Rest Elliott
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has done an amazing job for the Cowboys over the past four weeks. Both in the passing and running game, Zeke has been able to consistently move the chains as he's received a huge workload to carry the offense and control the time of possession. He currently leads the league in touches per game.
If the Cowboys are able to get a big lead early, I wish we get to see a lot of backup RB Rod Smith. As much as we all love to watch Zeke be fed, this time Cowboys Nation should appreciate seeing him on the sideline a bit more than usual. For that to happen, though, an early considerable lead is required.
Wish #3: Improve on Red Zone
So far, the Dallas Cowboys have been able to efficiently move the ball and get first downs. What they have struggled with though, is the red zone. Many times, we've seen the offense settle for three instead of getting seven.
This Saturday I argued why, if the Cowboys are able to improve on red zone, this could be a playoff caliber unit. This team shouldn't struggle as much in this area. With Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, Amari Cooper lined up and a mobile QB, Scott Linehan's squad simply needs to do better.
Wish #4: Dak Prescott Gets 300 Yards
The Philadelphia Eagles have placed CB Jalen Mills on IR. With Ronald Darby out already, the Cowboys are about to face a very injured secondary. Philadelphia ranks 26th in passing defense. Dak Prescott's stats have greatly improved since week 7.
However, a big 300-yard performance has yet to occur. I wish he gets just that against the Eagles. For this, he'll certainly need help from his receivers, including Amari Cooper, who has been outstanding with a Star on his helmet.
What are your wishes for this week's matchup versus the Eagles?
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