One of the Bill Parcells quotes I’ll always remember is “You are what your record says.”
A 5–4 record for the Dallas Cowboys sums that up pretty well. It’s not hard to see just past the midway point of the season that this bunch is inconsistent.
Similar to the trend of the first half of last year when they couldn’t win road games, the 2019 Cowboys can’t put together consecutive good outings excluding the first three games of this season where they played three of the bottom six teams in the league.
Since my last post, they won a crucial, divisional, winner-take-lead game against the Philadelphia Eagles at home in dominant fashion, 37–10, saving Jason Garrett’s job like they always do. The biggest reason why it wasn’t close was because Dallas got all their important players who were questionable back from injury and the Eagles didn’t.
The Cowboys forced fumbles on Philly’s first two drives, turning them into touchdowns to go up 14–0, starting fast unlike all their other games before going up 27–7 at halftime. Dak Prescott had a nice game, going 21-of-27 for 239 yards and a touchdown with another one coming on the ground. Ezekiel Elliott had 111 rushing yards and a touchdown. The defense in total had four takeaways, including an interception by Xavier Woods.
The next week, they returned to MetLife Stadium, facing the New York Giants three weeks after that embarrassing loss to the New York Jets. Dallas got off to another slow start with Prescott throwing a pick on the first play from scrimmage.
With the Giants driving, up 9–3, a bizarre occurrence happened when a black cat appeared on the other end of the field, causing a brief delay. Fortunately, the poor kitty went up the tunnel and play resumed. Being four days after Halloween, some thought it was an omen against the Cowboys when it turned out to be against the G-Men as the game turned around.
Dallas held them to a field goal before getting ten quick points before the half to go up, 13–12. With a 16–15 leading going into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys blew open the lead, winning 37–18. Prescott threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns, continuing his dominance against the Giants as he’s beat them six straight times and has a 17–1 TD-INT ratio. Elliott had 139 yards rushing. The defense forced three turnovers.
For a third straight week, America’s Team was in primetime. This time at home on Sunday night against a good Minnesota Vikings team, the Cowboys did what they do best — get off to a slow start as Kirk Cousins went right down the field with two touchdown passes to Kyle Rudolph for an early 14–0 lead. Prescott, as he’s done all season battled back, tying the game at 14 before former Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey made it 17–14 at the half.
Being down 28–24 with 4 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter in a game where having the ball last mattered, Prescott drove his team down the field. Facing a 2nd-and-2 at the Minnesota 11 with 1:33 on a night where they couldn’t run the ball, the Cowboys did what they do best — they called a run as Zeke got no gain. Then Zeke did it again, losing three yards, making it 4th-and-5. And needless to say, it was an incomplete pass to Zeke.
After a three-and-out, Tavon Austin was told to fair catch a punt in order to save time at the Dallas 46 with 17 seconds left when he had room. Prescott threw a pick on a Hail Mary, the only turnover of the game and the Cowboys lost, dropping to 5–4 in a tie for the division lead with Philly.
Prescott threw for 397 yards and three touchdowns. Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb each hit triple digits in receiving yards with touchdowns, the former getting a toe-tap I didn’t believe. But Zeke had 20 rushes for just 47 yards. They let Dalvin Cook rush for 97 yards and get 86 receiving yards, struggling in tackling him. They couldn’t beat a quarterback in Cousins, who had a 1–6 record against them and was 6–13 in primetime, as he was 23-of-32 for 220 passing yards with those two TDs.
Dallas has started a game from behind in seven of their nine games and continues to be one of the slowest-starting teams in the NFL. Something is wrong there and coaching has to play a factor.
How this team moves the ball in the early-going but makes mistakes when they should be the ones up 14–0 says something isn’t right. Jason Garrett keeps on showing time and time again why he needs to be fired. Good coaches show good preparation going into a game. There’s been too many times where either his players look uninspired or out of place. And you can see how tired he looks on the sideline of these games.
And there’s a reason NBC showed Garrett instead of Kellen Moore after running it twice when needing a touchdown. Sure, Moore is a rookie at being an offensive coordinator, but Garrett, a ninth-year head coach, has the power to overrule plays he doesn’t like, which he decided not to, instead just stating that Moore calls the plays. Typical Garrett clock management not taking the blame.
I understand that they didn’t want to score too soon as they’ve seen too many instances of that happening against good offenses, but there were 22 and 19 seconds left on the play clock on those two runs before the Vikings called a timeout on fourth down. You have to get the first down. You’re not setting up for a field goal. And by gosh, put the ball in Prescott’s hands with the amazing night he was having, not a dormant running game.
The defense might rank №7 overall, but playing soft offenses help while showing lapses of inconsistency, poor tackling and dumb penalties. Robert Quinn is the only guy who has impressed on the defensive line. The young linebacker duo of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch has been disappointing. The secondary has taken a step down.
With both teams being 5–4 and most likely needing to win the division in order to make the playoffs, it’s the Eagles with the easier schedule. Philly has four of their final seven coming against bottom-of-the-league teams. As for the Cowboys, four of their final seven are against winning teams and only one of those seven is at the bottom.
If there’s any hope on winning the division, it’s that they have the tie-breaker over Philly and Prescott is 18–4 against the NFC East, which may or may not make a difference in the end.
Having a loss against a 2–7 Jets team and only one win against a team with a current winning record that was banged-up and a mess shows sings of a mediocre Cowboys team. And no, it’s not that fun as those 8–8 seasons where you didn’t know what was going to happen because us Cowboys fans have had enough of those.
I keep seeing upside in this team with the talent, youth and explosive offense, but coaching matters. I feared the 2019 Cowboys looking like the 2008 squad: talented with Super Bowl expectations but having intangibles holding them back. For that team, it was drama and lackluster coaching. For this team, it’s coaching. They ended 9–7 without a playoff trip. Is this team going to have a similar result?
And this shouldn’t be a big highlight, but don’t the people deciding what jerseys the Cowboys will wear know the curse of the blue jerseys, which they’re wearing a ridiculous eight times this year? They’re 2–3 so far with them.
Dak is easily having his best year as a pro, being second in the league in passing with a 18–9 TD-INT ratio. This along with Moore’s play-calling is helping them become the best offense in the league, but as I’ve said before, something has to go wrong with this bunch. It’s the hard life of a Cowboys fan base that hasn’t seen a trophy in 24 years, which I have no memory of since I was just 4.
The good news, at least from what most people see, is that unless the Cowboys go on a deep playoff run, probably the NFC Championship Game, Garrett will be fired. So hang in there, Cowboy Nation. With foundation players, this team has a future. It’s a matter of getting the right coaching staff and not having anything else screw up, which unfortunately is what Cowboys fans fear.