The Dallas Cowboys opened the season 3-0, but then they suffered their first loss of the season in Week 4 on the road against the Saints. They then followed that up with another loss, this one at home against the Packers.
Their three wins came against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins, while their losses were against possible playoff teams. Did the losses to good teams tell us more about the Cowboys than the wins against three bad teams? Let’s explore the loss against the Saints to see if the Cowboys may have gotten exposed.
An inexperienced offensive coordinator
Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is in his first season holding the position in the NFL, and he was outcoached against veteran Saints head coach Sean Payton. The Cowboys only had 257 total yards on offense because the Saints had a good defensive plan against them.
Gaining that few yards on offense won’t win you many games, especially against an offensive-minded coach like Payton. Even with Drew Brees injured and Teddy Bridgewater starting at quarterback, the Saints have a good offense and Moore wasn’t didn’t have a good enough game plan to keep up with the Saints’ offensive attack.
Are the Cowboys too conservative on offense?
The Cowboys were on the road, in the Superdome, where the Saints’ fans can get loud. In the hostile environment, the Cowboys stuck with a conservative game plan offensively.
They started all of their drives but one inside their own 25-yard-line, but despite facing such a long field, they stuck with a run-on-first-down mentality. QB Dak Prescott repeatedly handed the ball off to RB Ezekiel Elliott, who was consistently getting stopped for little or no gain as the offensive line had trouble giving him protection throughout the game, which wasn’t helped by the conservative play-calling.
Struggles in the passing game
The Cowboys didn’t have a single pass-catcher with more than 50 receiving yards. TE Jason Witten reached that total on four receptions, and WR Amari Cooper had five catches but just 48 yards to show for it.
Elliott caught six passes out of the backfield, but only gained 30 yards on those receptions. Witten and WR Randall Cobb also had key mistakes that ended important drives. Cobb had a big third-down drop when he had open field ahead of him for a potential explosive play. Witten, meanwhile, fumbled the ball in what was a huge play that may have given the Saints the game.
How good are the Cowboys?
The Cowboys’ three wins came against teams that are a combined 2-12 through Week 5, with both of those wins on the Giants’ ledger as both the Redskins and Dolphins remain winless.
When the Cowboys played the Giants in Week 1, Eli Manning was still the starting quarterback. The team had not yet moved on to rookie QB Daniel Jones, who is responsible for both of the Giants’ wins this season.
The Dolphins have not even looked competitive at all so far this season, and they look like they have the inside track on the league’s worst record and the overall No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. If any team will give the Dolphins competition for that “honor,” it will be the Redskins, who remain possibly the worst-run franchise in the league and the first team to fire their head coach this season.
We probably won’t learn much about how good the Cowboys are this week since they’re playing the Jets, another bad team, but then they take on the Eagles in Week 7.
That game, which leads up to the Cowboys’ Week 8 bye, may give us an idea of whether the Cowboys really are good and if they can compete with some of the better teams in the league.