After yet another so so start to a season, the Dallas Cowboys are at a crossroads early in 2019. Today, we’ll try to figure out their biggest problem.
Here we are, in mid-October, and we are once again discussing what seems like an annual topic. What’s wrong with the Dallas Cowboys.
Unfortunately, this year’s uninspiring start is just many others this decade. For the last three seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have started 3-3 after six games. They did so in 2011-2013 as well.
Winning just three games in your first six does not eliminate you from playoff contention but it certainly makes things difficult. It is especially maddening when a team boasts the sort of talent that the Cowboys possess.
Are the players overrated? Is the coaching incapable of getting the best from the players? Does this team only function well when things are at their most uncomfortable?
In all honesty, it is probably a mixture of all of the above. Still, the question begs to be asked. What, specifically, is the Dallas Cowboys biggest problem this season?
Is it the special teams? They are definitely not helping.
Kicker Brett Maher has missed four field goals in six games. As a result, the Dallas Cowboys field goal percentage is amongst the five worst teams in the NFL. One moment, Maher is drilling a 62-yard bomb. The next, he’s missing a kick less than 35 yards away.
The punting hasn’t been great either. Chris Jones is amongst the three worst punters in net punting yards, posting under 40 yards per punt.
What about the defense? Coming into the season, there were high hopes for a young, talented group. Edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence earned his long-term deal. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were looking to build off a stellar 2018. Defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods were supposed to take the next step.
Instead, it has been a mixed bag. Statistically, the Dallas Cowboys defense is actually faring pretty well. They are seventh overall in points per game allowed and ninth in yards per game allowed.
The problem, however, is the lack of turnovers. With just five total takeaways in six games, Dallas is in the bottom five of the league. The Cowboys have only two interceptions which also puts them in the bottom five of the NFL. Lastly, the amount of pressure Dallas is getting on opposing quarterbacks is middling at best. With just 14 sacks, the Cowboys pass rush is just average.
The underwhelming special teams and defense are unnecessarily taxing the Dallas Cowboys offense. Dallas is the only team in the league to not start a drive in their opponent’s territory.
Sadly, that’s not the only hurdle this offense has to face. As if opposing defenses were not enough of a challenge, the play-calling has regressed back to being stagnant and unimaginative.
The play-action passing rate has gone drastically south. In weeks 1-3, the Dallas Cowboys used play-action on 39.4% of their passes. In the last three weeks, all losses, by the way, that number has dropped to just 15.6%.
It’s not like the team has decided to abandon the run though. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Last week against the Jets, Dallas ran the ball 17 times on first down alone.
All of this points to the biggest problem that the Dallas Cowboys have, which is coaching.
The head coach made the decision to get rid of one of the most accurate kickers in the history of the NFL in favor of a guy who is random at best. The defensive coordinator continues to run basic, boring schemes and does not put his players in positions to make plays.
We see the new offensive coordinator come in and bring the Cowboys offense up-to-date in three weeks, only for it to regress backward forty years over the next three.
Most of all, it is just time for a change. Only four head coaches have had their jobs longer than Jason Garrett.
All four have won at least one Super Bowl. Garrett has never been to the Super Bowl as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. All four have played in multiple Conference Championship games. Garrett has never got Dallas past round two.
All four have led their team to the playoffs seven or more times. Dallas has only been to the playoffs three times under Garrett. There is no legitimate reason why Jason Garrett should still have this job.
Maybe the Dallas Cowboys turn the season around like they did last year. Maybe they get extremely fortunate and win a playoff game. Ultimately, there is a ceiling for this team and that ceiling is its head coach.