The Dallas Cowboys find themselves heading home with a loss to the Carolina Panthers, 16-8. The Cowboys had a game that will lead to eyebrows this week being raised. Ezekiel Elliott was only give 15 rushes for 69 yards in the loss. Elliott averaged a fair 4.6 yards per rush in the those attempts. That however doesn’t tell the real story of the Cowboys absent running attack.
Early in the game, as expected, Dallas attempted to remove doubts of their running game and injury filled offensive line. They raised more questions than doubts. Elliott was fortunate to find a few yards, much less sizable gains. Racking up his 69 yards really came on just a handful of plays while most of his rushes lead to purging into an offensive line being pushed off the ball. Elliott did find the endzone for the Cowboys lone score.
Dak Prescott had a pretty pedestrian game as well. Prescott finished 19 of 29 with 170 yards and a fumble. Struggling to find any sort of a deep threat and forced to focus on short routes and check downs. Prescott completed 7 passes to Cole Beasley for 73 yards and really seemed to be the only receiver that Prescott could trust. Beasley lacks explosion and speed to really make the defense of the Carolina Panthers pay the price in the open field. Instead, the Cowboys were forced to try and dink and dunk their way down the field, without much luck.
The clear glaring hole after week 1 is the lack of skill and talent really anywhere on the offense outside of Ezekiel Elliott. That statement may or may not include Dak Prescott. Prescott has really been a bright spot for Dallas after his rookie year day debut. The franchise really believed they had found their long term replacement. However after a down year last season, the questions might start arising around Dak now.
His problems and issues became glaring on what could of been the game tying drive with 2:39 left in the 4th quarter down by 8. Prescott was sacked twice, received a delay of game, and finished 4 of 8 (1 out of 4 to finish the game) on the drive for 31 yards. Prescott didn’t have protection but also was wildly inaccurate. Prescott to this point in his career has only really shown consistant success when given the perfect situation. These past two season have been far from that, it shows in his play. It might be more clear now than ever that Prescott is not a quarterback who raises the level of your team, just maintains it.
Retroactively; this loss seems to prove the doubters were right in some regard. The Cowboy’s choice to cut Dez Bryant before the season made fincial sense based off production but the Cowboys recieving core is a stack of no name guys. The story line that Dallas didn’t need a true number one option to be successful in the passing game is clearly not the case. Jason Witten’s retirement was unplanned for on any level by this front office, and it shows. Finally cutting Dan Bailey and retaining a cheaper unproven option is still puzzling.
These points all alone don’t mean much but collectively might ulitmately tell the tale of this season. If you remove talent but don’t replace it your team gets worse. That may seem obvious but the Cowboys truely believed that Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett, and Ezekiell Elliott could raise the rest of the team up. However Dak is not Tom Brady, Garrett is not Bill Belichick, and Ezekiell Elliott isn’t enough behind a bad offensive line to sustain an offense. The Dallas Cowboys are not greater than the sum of their parts. They are a clunky roster missing depth, youth, and a gameplan.
The Dallas Cowboys have recently recieved some hatrid to their head coach about his offensive philosophy. When Jason Garrett was hired to be the offensive coordinator it was because he was seen as an offensive genius. That is as tough sell at the moment. Former Cowboy Dez Bryant took to twitter to highlight Garrett’s poor offensive scheme this summer, labeling it all vanilla. Dez seems to be right. There was no spark to the Dallas offensive game and really no creativity. The Cowboys seem to be validating concerns instead of removing them.
After week 1 the buzz around the Cowboys locker room had been removed. Jerry Jones left without answering questions, the offensive coordinator Scott Linehan refused to comment in the post game, and reports are that it was extremely quiet when the doors opened for the press.
The Panthers sustained multiple injuries to key positions but Dallas was unable to capitalize in the week 1 road game. Dallas looks to bounce back against their inter division rivals the New York Giants. The game is at 7:20pm for the Sunday Night game on NBC. The Giants come in at 0-1 falling to the Jackson Jaguars in week 1, 20-15.
That will be the next chance for the Cowboys to answer the questions about their skill positions, quarterback, offensive line, and coaching staff.