The Dallas Cowboys went winless in the Preseason (0-4) and have started the regular season winless as well (0-1). They lost Sunday afternoon by the score of 16-8 to the Carolina Panthers and even though it was only a one score deficit, the game wasn’t that close.
The main issue with the team was poor offensive line play. The O-line gave up six sacks and couldn’t open running lanes for Pro Bowl Running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Dallas offense didn’t cross midfield until the third quarter and were held to 232 yards. Quarterback Dak Prescott never had any time to get the ball to his pass catchers. Prescott went 19 of 29 for 170 yards, no touchdowns, and a 2 point conversion. He was sacked on the Cowboys 15 yard line with about 1:30 left in the fourth quarter and was stripped of the ball which Carolina recovered and sealed the game. Elliott was held to 86 total yards (69 rushing) but did get into the end zone for the Cowboys lone touchdown.
Another glaring concern was the lack of playmakers. With the defense locked in on Elliott, none of the pass catchers stepped up. Slot receiver Cole Beasley led the team with 7 catches for 73 yards, while $12 million dollar man Allen Hurns was basically a no show and ended with only one catch for 20 yards. A big portion of this problem is there doesn’t seem to be any production that will come from the Tight End position with departure of Cowboy great Jason Witten. Starting Tight End Geoff Swaim had three catches for 18 yards on mostly a short throws.
The lone bright spot for the Cowboys is their defense was solid. They sacked former NFL MVP Cam Newton three times and limited him to 161 yards passing. In total, the defense held the Panthers to 293 yards and they went 4 of 12 on third down conversions. The one glitch was they had a hard time containing Newton when he would scramble. He was the Panthers leading rusher with 58 yards which included a 4-yard touchdown.
As terrible as the offense was, the defense kept the Cowboys in the game and if new kicker Brett Maher would not have missed his lone field goal attempt (47 yards) they might have been able to squeak out a win in a game they had no business winning. Maybe Head Coach Jason Garrett is starting to rethink the decision to cut the NFL’s second most accurate kicker, Dan Bailey.
3 Players to Watch
The entire secondary (safetys/cornerbacks). Playing against one of the best receivers in the league this upcoming Sunday (Odell Beckham Jr.) the entire defensive backfield will be interesting to see how they cover him. Jeff Heath, Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown are going to have to bring their best games to the field.
Cole Beasley (Wide Receiver). In the absence of former Cowboy great Dez Bryant, Beasley seems to be the only receiver willing to pick up the slack. The 5’ 8 slot man looks like he is the only pass catcher on the same page as Dak and is always right where he needs to be.
Brett Maher (rookie kicker). Has started the season 0 for 1 on field goal attempts and has some big shoes to fill. It is curious to see how he deals with the pressure of kicking in the NFL.
Sunday Night the Cowboys will play their home opener versus the New York “Football” Giants. Kickoff is set for 7:20 pm central time at AT & T Stadium (AKA: Jerry’s World). They will be going up against two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning, his All Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and rookie running back sensation Saquon Barkley.
The Cowboys are going to need improved offensive line play to make things happen for Prescott and Elliott. If they can open up some holes for Elliott to run through the defense will have to back off a bit and Prescott will have some time to find some receivers down field. The Giants gave up 137 yards on the ground last week. Hopefully the Cowboys can exploit that.
For you gamblers out there, the current line is Dallas -3. If you are going to bet on the Cowboys, bet them late this week because the line will probably go below 3.