The Dallas Cowboys might be in trouble.
After a promising 3-0 start in which they completely dismantled lesser opponents, the Cowboys have now lost two in a row to NFC elites. This time, it was the Green Bay Packers who came out and punched Dallas in the mouth, getting up as big as 31-3 before claiming a 34-24 victory.
The Cowboys now sit at 3-2 on the year, and will face the winless Jets next week. While they look to get back on track in New Jersey, let's review their loss to the Green Bay Packers.
- It was a roller-coaster of an afternoon for quarterback Dak Prescott. On the team's opening possession, Prescott and the offense looked to be in total rhythm until a ball bounced off Amari Cooper's hands and into the Packers secondary for an interception. Had Cooper come down with the ball, he likely would've walked in for six, but instead it set the Packers on a 17-0 run to close the first half. Prescott's second interception was arguably his ugliest throw of the day. He completely mis-read zone coverage, and lofted the ball for an easy pick. His third, yes third, interception of the night looks to have been on the referees, though it was still a bad decision on Dak's part to force the ball into coverage. Michael Gallup was abused at the top of his route, and Prescott even said after the game he was expecting a flag to be thrown when he threw the ball. Still, each pick proved more costly than the last during the Cowboys comeback effort. Prescott did throw for over 460 yards and 2 touchdowns, and delivered some of the perfectly placed deep balls we had seen over the first three weeks. He was better on Sunday than he was against the Saints, even if the interceptions were killers for an offense which felt like it could move the ball whenever they wanted to. He has to be better, no doubt, but I certainly still believe in Prescott moving forward.
- Cornerback Anthony Brown struggled again this week, being flagged multiple times for holding and pass interference and getting beat off the line in coverage as well. He, and the rest of the cornerbacks, had an awful day of tackling as Aaron Jones made them look silly play in and play out. Jourdan Lewis deserves a shot, whether in relief for Brown or the also-struggling Chidobe Awuzie. Lewis is too talented to waste away on the bench each week while this defense allows mass amounts of yardage.
- While hyped to be one of the best units in all of football during the preseason, the Cowboys linebackers were flat-out bad on Sunday. Leighton Vander Esch had his worst day as a pro, missing tackle after tackle in the open field. Jaylon Smith provided the defense with some big splash plays, but even he had some head-scratching plays at times. Honestly, Joe Thomas should be getting more of Sean Lee's snaps going forward, as he has out-performed the veteran over the last couple of weeks.
- This interior offensive line needs to be better. Plain and simple. Prescott has had to deal with pressure in his face a ton the last two weeks as the Cowboys offensive line has played some better pass rushing fronts. Travis Frederick is clearly still working his way back, and miscommunication issues on stunts and pass rush games have made this line look rough at times.
- Starting in Tyron Smith's place at left tackle, veteran swing tackle Cameron Fleming was okay, but Smith is very much missed. Fleming allowed multiple pressures, but considering he was tasked with blocking Za'Darius Smith for much of the afternoon, this was to be expected. Once La'el Collins went down the Cowboys needed to provide some sort of pass blocking help to each of their tackles, and that is just an awful place to be as an offense.
- With that being said, however, Brandon Knight was pretty good in Collins' place. Collins himself was struggling a bit before he went out due to injury, but Knight had himself a nice day in relief. He started slow, but once he was comfortable in the game we really saw him put together some nice pass blocking reps. Especially considering the Packers knew Dallas had to pass, and were just pinning their ears back and coming after the quarterback.