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What we think: Lions game is crucial to a couple of
15-11-2018 03:13 AM
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What we think: Lions game is crucial to a couple of


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Cowboys coaches It’s only the fourth week of the NFL season. That is way to early for us to be talking about coaches losing their jobs. Right?Uh Dallas Cowboys T-Shirt , maybe not. The Dallas Cowboys are stuck in a rut offensively. They are only one game behind the co-leaders in the NFC East, but faith in the team has plummeted. A crucial part of this is how we have been told since the end of last season how the team was making some big changes to the offensive side of things to return to the productivity we saw just a couple of years ago. So far, those promises have not just been empty, the level of failure has dropped Dallas to the bottom of the NFL stats. And belief is growing that the reason for that failure was that the changes did not reach high enough. While a lot of new faces were brought in on the coaching staff, head coach Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan retained their jobs, and it seems obvious that they must have had a lot of input to the changes in the roster as well. Now the Cowboys are scrambling to try and eke out another win to stop the bleeding. But a narrow win in a low scoring game is not likely to change things much. The big issue on a team where the defense is clearly playing better overall is the paltry offensive production, particularly on the scoreboard. So what will it take to start changing things?It is going to take points. Points off touchdowns, to be specific. Dallas has only scored four of those in the first three games, two each throwing and running. One of those “passing” scores came off a shovel pass, which is really just a running play where the handoff cannot be ruled a fumble. And total yardage is just as bad. When you are in the bottom five in almost every offensive category, well, you wind up looking to place blame. And the crosshairs are on Garrett and Linehan, especially the offensive coordinator. What will it take in the game against the Detroit Lions to turn down the heat a few degrees? That is really all they can do in one game, because Detroit is 26th in the NFL in points allowed, giving up 29.3 per game. Whatever they do this week will not have a large impact unless they both score near or over that average and then show it was not an aberration by repeating it. So the benchmark looks pretty clear. The Cowboys need to score at least three TDs with some field goals tacked on, or get to four. This appears to be a tall order. Sure, Linehan and Dak Prescott are both talking about taking more shots and having some more “wrinkles”, but you know the various sayings about talk and backing it up. Further complicating things is the way the Lions defense is performing so far this year. They are the best in the league at limiting passing attacks - and dead last in stopping the run. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have shown themselves to be very vulnerable so far to stacked boxes Dallas Cowboys Hats , with a glaring inability to hurt the opponent through the air. The loss to the Seattle Seahawks showed some signs of the running game coming around, but there still was precious little evidence that they could go over the top or convert on third down. Ezekiel Elliott may be hitting his stride as a runner. The obvious problem is that a one-dimensional team is easy to stop by even poor defenses when there is virtually no support form the aerial game.Both teams have a blueprint for how to attack the other, with Detroit looking to have an advantage. Just disregard the pass until Dallas does something there and go all-in on bottling up the ground game. So it comes back to Prescott and the passing game. Having Dak use his legs at times can also help, but the risks involved there make that something that can only be used in spots, not a viable approach from opening kickoff to final whistle. While the question of whether coaching or player execution is the biggest culprit remains open, the current mood of the media and fanbase alike is to put the blame on Linehan. Both his game plan and play calls have been heavily criticized.Linehan simply has to find a way to move the ball through the air. That is for both his sake and Garrett’s. It also means he has to figure out how to help Prescott and the so-far lackluster receiving corps succeed. The evidence from around the league is that it can be done. The Thursday night game showcased how the Los Angeles Rams are doing it. The Kansas City Chiefs certainly have figured it out so far. And those are just the most obvious examples. It’s not like there are any secret plays or something that lead to success offensively. All you have to do is look at the video of the successful passing offenses and see what they run. Those kinds of plays are in the Dallas playbook, because every now and then we see them run one, as they did early in the game against the New York Giants when they scored on their single long play of the season. They have also put together a handful of long drives with multiple first downs. The issue is that they do those things with no regularity. Quarterback performance has certainly been a problem so far, but even there, the onus is at least partly, if not mostly, on the OC. He has to grasp what his passer is doing, and find ways to help him. Just doing the same thing over and over without change is by definition a bit insane. Again, we are hearing promises, but now we have to see delivery. Even if the Cowboys manage a narrow win in a low scoring game, the pressure is not going to lessen appreciably. That is simply not a sustainable formula in the NFL where there are so many high-scoring offenses out there. The defense can help, but it is increasingly hard for it to carry a team in a league that keeps tweaking the rules to favor the offense. Just look at how the latest changes to roughing the passer calls has punished pass rushers for plays that just last season would have been highlights. This isn’t just one writer’s view, either. Our Michael Sisemore had his own take on this, which comes to a very similar conclusion:If the Cowboys don’t get a win against the Lions with a solid offensive performance Dallas Cowboys Womens Hoodie , the doubts and calls for new blood at the top of the coaching staff are just going to grow. Garrett is very involved in coming up with the game plan and scripting the first part of the game, so he is handcuffed to Linehan. This is an opportunity to show that they can figure things out. They have to take advantage of it, or pay the price. It’s pretty much just that simple.Point/counterpoint: Can the Cowboys win the NFC East? Despite the dismal performance last week - every other week so far the season, really - the Dallas Cowboys are only one game out of the lead for the NFC East going into Sunday. And a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars would ensure they were not worse than a half game out. From a purely mathematical stance, Dallas has a legitimate shot at the division title.But we are not talking about math, we are talking about football games. Winning those has been a difficult task so far, and it doesn’t get any easier in the next few games. Still, they have not been blown out yet, and if they can just get something clicking on offense, they could be in the thick of things all the way to the end of the season. Tom Ryle and Michael Strawn take sides in their weekly debate on Cowboys things.Tom: Can the Cowboys win the NFCE? Well, of course they can. The division is in something of a state of disarray this season. Just getting to .500 is turning into a difficult task for all four teams in the conference. And they already have one conference win over the New York Giants in the bank. The problem right now is the malaise on offense, and while the challenges there are certainly real, they still have Ezekiel Elliott. Just a little more out of the passing game, plus some continued good play on defense, and they can get some more games in the win column. In a division where everyone is currently on pace to be .500 or worse, you simply can’t count them out.Michael: Yes, everything you say is true. But it’s safe to assume that some team from the East will get their act together and win 10-11 games. The Eagles are the most likely but there’s other candidates as well. It’s just hard for me to envision the Cowboys being that team. The offensive woes are persistent, systemic and well-documented. And recently the defense hasn’t looked any better than the mediocre unit we’ve become accustomed to under the entire Garrett regime. I just don’t see Dallas being the team that puts the pieces together.Tom: There isn’t a lot of faith in the team right now, but is that really justified? They did seem to put things together a bit against the Detroit Lions. And something that has been largely unnoticed is that they are playing better at home than on the road for a change. That should give us some hope against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stepping back a bit Womens Customized Dallas Cowboys Jerseys , we are seeing a lot of panic over another disappointing performance, but a win will restore at least some of that. A lot of it depends on whether you believe Dak Prescott can play better, and I am one who think he is capable of doing so. As far as another team getting it together, the Dallas fan base is a bit unusual in that we seem to see just about every other team being better at, well, everything than our own. It may be just an optimism that will be shattered soon, but I think this team can gut things out and start getting more right and be in contention with the other teams in the division, who are all also having some up and down swings.Michael: The word that springs to mind is “faith”. The Cowboys definitely could be the team that’s figured it out. The OL could stop forgetting to block the MLB. The WRs could start catching the relatively few balls that hit them in the hands. Dak Prescott could remember his fundamentals and start throwing an accurate ball.Any one of those things happening isn’t far-fetched. But all or nearly all of them happening requires, well, a whole lot of faith that I just don’t have.Tom: That is one way I see things differently, because if one of those things happen, it will help the others. The team needs to improve a lot of things, but just one or two would improve the chances of winning. I think they will find a solution to one of those problems, and that will lead to another a bit afterwards. And in a division where everyone is having issues, that could be enough. This is just one year where you can’t count anyone out until they are eliminated - and that includes the Cowboys.Michael: As always, very valid points. I’m just not sure even that’s enough. The offense needs to improve significantly just to become a top 20 offense . . . and that’s not very good. So even if the team can improve on the offensive side of the ball it doesn’t mean they’re “good”, just that they’re not “terrible”. Add the fact the defense has been revealed as more like past mediocre units than the allegedly “top five” unit some believed it was earlier in the year and I feel the obstacles are simply too great to overcome.There are our takes. You probably have your own.
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