The 2019 season for the Dallas Cowboys has been filled with unanswered questions instead of any positive or encouraging momentum. They have become increasingly frustrating to watch with every passing week. The lack of execution and discipline seems to get worse every time they put on their cleats, shoulder pads, and helmets. For 10 weeks now, this has been a continuing trend that has the fan base of this team in an uproar of confusion at the product they see on the field and it doesn’t seem like it will get better anytime soon.
The Cowboys started the season 3-0 after beating the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately, those victories created a false sense of reality as those teams currently have a combined record of 8-28. Simply put, they beat up on bad football teams.
Starting in Week 4 vs the New Orleans Saints, however, the Cowboys began going down a road of not being unable to play good football against quality opponents. Even without an injured Drew Brees, the Cowboys wasted a great defensive performance due to an equally sub-par offensive effort. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott was held to just 35 yards on 18 carries and Dak Prescott, who had thrown nine touchdown passes the first three weeks, failed to reach the end zone and the Cowboys suffered a tough 12-10 loss.
Week 5 vs the Green Bay Packers was a complete eyesore from a defensive standpoint. Running Back Aaron Jones dominated with 182 all-purpose yards and four rushing touchdowns (record by a Cowboys opponent). Offensively, the numbers look like the Cowboys should have run away with the game as Prescott threw for a career-high 463 yards and the team racked up 563 yards total. If you watched the game, though, it was apparent that wasn’t the case. Three interceptions from Prescott lead to 17 points for the Packers as they handed the Cowboys their second consecutive loss 34-24.
A week later vs the then 0-4 New York Jets was an absolute disaster. Quarterback Sam Darnold had been out for five weeks with mononucleosis but you couldn’t tell by his performance. He threw for a career-high 338 yards and tossed two touchdowns as the Jets shocked the Cowboys 24-22.
The next two games the Cowboys gained a little momentum behind the legs of Elliott. He had back to back 100-yard games in dominant victories over the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. However, this again was fools gold as currently, the Eagles are a lackluster 5-7 and the Giants are 2-10 which is the second-worst record in the league. Not exactly the kind of measuring sticks you want to judge a team by.
The Cowboys were brought back down to earth a week later vs the Minnesota Vikings, a current playoff team in the NFC. Prescott shined throwing for 397 yards and three touchdowns. Also, Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb each went over 100 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Elliott was held to just 47 yards rushing thanks to his offensive line being dominated all night. The Cowboys defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed as Running Back Dalvin Cook had 183 all-purpose yards and Tight End Kyle Rudolph caught two touchdowns as the Vikings squeaked out a 28-24 victory.
The Cowboys then went into the Motor City to play the Detroit Lions. On paper, this looked like a mismatch seeing as the Lions were 3-5-1 at the time, but as we all know games aren’t played on stat sheets. Backup Quarterback Jeff Driskel was effective using his arm and legs producing three total touchdowns. Fortunately for the Cowboys, Prescott was lights out throwing for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Also, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb each went over the century mark in receiving and the Cowboys survived 35-27.
The last three games the Cowboys have shown a pattern of getting Ezekiel Elliott going early but not sticking to that formula for four quarters. In the first half vs the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills, Elliott had 61 yards and 56 yards respectively. However, he only had six carries for 25 yards and two carries for 15 yards in each second half. In Thursday nights showdown with the Chicago Bears, the Cowboys started the game with a 17 play drive that was led by Elliott’s eight carries as he capped it off with a touchdown giving the team an early 7-0 lead. You would think they’d ride the hot hand right? In this case, they didn’t as Elliott would only get 11 carries in the final 51 minutes the game. The Cowboys dropped all three games and are now under .500 at 6-7.
What does this tell us? The Cowboys are exactly what their record says they are, an average to a below-average team. It would different if they were deprived of talent but with several All-Pro/Pro Bowl level players on each side of the ball, it just leaves you scratching your head.
So what’s next for the 2019 version of the Dallas Cowboys? Yes, they are still in first place in the NFC East and will be after this weekend no matter what happens with the Eagles who are a half-game back. However, if they do back into the playoffs they will more than likely play either the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers who are both 10-2 and have been two of the most consistent teams all season in the Wild Card round. How can there be any confidence that they could even compete with those teams? We’ll find out in the next three weeks but if they don’t figure things out and fast they’ll be going home for the new year and let another season of high expectations end in disappointment.