The Dallas Cowboys must now put behind them their disgusting performance against Denver Broncos. The Atlanta Falcons will be their opponent. They come into the game with a 4-4 record just like the Broncos. Atlanta is quite the opposite to Denver. They have won three of their four previous games, including the win over the New Orleans Saints. At&T Stadium was home to the Broncos after they went 1-3. Dallas must clean up everything from the game that went wrong. These are the most important things we should see from Dallas individually and collectively.
It’s hard to say what made Dak Prescott look so different from the one he played in the first esven game of the season. He may have needed to work harder to get over the calf injury. This could explain why he was kept in the game after it was over. He was dealing with the loss of his grandmother and the anniversary of his mother’s death in a very stressful time. He made many mistakes in execution and mental health that were uncharacteristic of him.
Prescott may have started to feel the pressure after his controversial decision to keep him on field. Despite the Broncos’ desire to just run out the clock, knowing full well that the Cowboys would not be able to return the favor, we were able to see things begin to click on the two last drives. This is the hope that it will continue for the week of practice and into Sunday’s game against Falcons.
If it doesn’t, questions will continue to grow about the quarterback. He should rebound from his Dallas history. He will hopefully return with avengeance, as he did in the past after poor performances. It is now a dogfight for the NFC seeding. The Cowboys are currently in the fourth seed. They would be facing the Los Angeles Rams if the playoffs began today. This is not a desirable outcome. There are still nine weeks in the extended season for things to change. We are still far from Dallas securing the NFC East. It is important to win, one game at time. Prescott is the Cowboys’ most important player. He must be his old self. Right now.
Dan Quinn’s team was eating turnovers for six of the first six games. This often obscured some of the problems. They have had to rely on their fundamentals and get their assignments right after a sudden lack of takeaways in the last two games. They did a great job against the Minnesota Vikings. However, there were some plays Kirk Cousins missed on receivers. Despite no interceptions or recovered football fumbles, the Dallas defense held strong.
They fell on their faces against the Broncos. Sixteen of their tackles were broken, which is six more than any other game this season. Bob Sturm at The Athletic noted that a lot of this was due to players going for the strip instead of the tackle. Too many other people seemed to be waiting to get the ball carrier down. This was the most detrimental to the run. It was also a problem to not seal off the edges. DeMarcus Lawrence’s absence continues to be a problem as he is an excellent defensive end in setting the edge and making tackles during the run game. It would have been even worse if Micah Parsons hadn’t made another argument to win the award for defensive rookie of year. He had ten tackles as well as 2.5 sacks.
Leighton VanderEsch, a fellow linebacker, was also almost the only defensive player to have a winning game. Trevon Diggs, on the other hand, had one of his worst games. He was flagged twice, and he was out of position on at most a few more plays. Sturm also highlighted one of his big wins after contact, where he appeared completely disinterested to make a tackle.
Quinn should make this a week in which he hammers his team about getting the ball carrier down. They must stop playing for the strip and interception and concentrate on stopping the play as much as possible. They will be rewarded with the best results if they do this.
The Cowboys were faced with a serious problem when Tyron Smith was unable to play. They decided to move Terence Steele from LT to RT and to bring back La’el Collins from RT. The decision was widely criticised as Steele surrendered nine pressures that day. There is logic in what the coaching staff did, considering that Collins has not taken any snaps at LT since joining Dallas. Steele is hoped the primary swing tackle with both position experience will be Collins.
Smith is expected to be out for at least one week while he treats what is called a bone spur. This is one condition that I know from personal experience. If it is the same, you can use a walking boot to rest your ankle as best as you can. Although Smith’s expected rehab is encouraging, it also means that the offense will need to find a way to improve matters this week.
Steele can be given more pass protection help, and Prescott’s return from his poor day may help. The line was also affected by Steele’s inability to effectively run the ball. This is where the opponent might matter. The Broncos are better against the run than their Falcons counterparts. Atlanta has allowed the most ground yards, but Denver has surrendered the eighth-lowest. This alone could make the running game more productive. This should make it more difficult for Falcons to chase down passers, especially when Kellen Moon dials in some play-action.
The offensive line is still a key component of the team’s success. The chances of winning this match will depend on how successful they are.
Prescott was clearly not able to make correct decisions and throws off-target, but he was also affected by poor performances elsewhere. Jayron Kearse and Diggs have been mentioned before, but it was the offense that hurt Prescott the most. Tony Pollard and Amari Cooper, who were two of the league’s most confident receivers over the first seven games, had huge drops that could have at least extended drives and, in Cooper’s instance, might have resulted in a crucial touchdown.
This directly relates to how the Cowboys, as a whole, seemed to lose focus during the game. The Broncos’ sudden scoring of two points in the first half took some of Dallas’ fire. After Malik Turner had blocked the play, a technically missed punt on what should’ve been a huge play ended any chance of getting back in the game at halftime. It also wasted one of the few solid defenses. The Cowboys’ players were almost deflated. The most devastating run of the half came two plays later when Javonte Wilkins, once more freed from any potential tacklers, gained a 30-yard gain which led to a field goal that further extended the lead.
Dallas must rekindle the flame that lit the six-game winning streak and get another one going. This is the responsibility of the players, especially the best.
This one is more complicated. The Cowboys are flat when they have a 1PM ET kickoff. It could be due to the fact that there are so many prime-time or late games. This is not a reason to ignore the fact that there will be six early games each season. They have already won one against the Carolina Panthers so they know how to do it. Dallas cannot be as flat as they were in the Falcons game.
They did indeed show some firepower against the Broncos early on, with possibly their best defensive series of all time the first time Denver got the ball. The offense could not do anything, with four consecutive fourth-down fails bracketing that stand.
This is a mystery. However, the problem may lie in the fact that there is no way to explain it. Cowboys fans often sell tickets to opponents’ fans, which can lead to embarrassing games such as last Sunday where the visitors have an extremely vocal and effective support group.
This is something that coaches and players cannot control. They can only take responsibility for their own preparations and focus. Last game was a poor example of this. If they want to be in the NFC’s thick of it, they have to change that.