The Dallas Cowboys lost their first matchup against the talented New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but it’s not as bad as most think.
The Dallas Cowboys had a relatively easy start to the season. Sure, football is a competitive sport so in actuality, no game should be considered “easy” but in the first three weeks, Dallas played underwhelming opponents.
The New York Giants led by washed-up quarterback Eli Manning, the lost and winless Washington Redskins, and the laughable Miami Dolphins. The New Orleans Saints were the first competitive team and it showed. I don’t think Cowboys fans should hit the panic button though.
The Cowboys defense played well on Sunday. There isn’t all that much you could complain about defensively.
They were able to stop the Saints from scoring a touchdown all game. They held running back Alvin Kamara under 100 total yards and got an interception along with 5.0 sacks.
This was all after quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had an impressive performance against the Seattle Seahawks where he threw for two touchdowns. That same game, Kamara got 161 total yards and two touchdowns.
In total, the Saints were only able to score 12 points against the Cowboys. This was a result of four field goals. That is a very underwhelming number of points.
Teddy Bridgewater is someone who likes the short passing game, which we saw him use on Sunday. He ranks 31st in the league with 6.1 yards per pass attempt.
Again, the Cowboys defense played great. I originally questioned if they were going to be able to contain Kamara, but they did it. Defensive end Robert Quinn is proving to be the impact player he once was with the Los Angeles Rams.
If last week you told me the Saints would hold running back Ezekiel Elliott to 35 rushing yards, I would have a good laugh. Then if you told me he would average under two yards per carry, then I would be in tears. The fact that both happened this past Sunday is crazy.
With the offensive line that the Cowboys have, the value Zeke has to the team and how the Saints defense played prior to this game, you would figure Zeke would be eating up the defense. Well, there was one problem. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins returned for the Saints.
Even if Rankins was not making a play directly, it seemed as if his mere presence on the defensive line was the spark for the entire team to step up. This caused Zeke to have one of his worse games, along with quarterback Dak Prescott not throwing all that well.
Dak was forced to get the ball out of his hands quickly, resulting in shorter throws. He had 6.76 yards per pass attempt, which is the lowest so far this season.
The Cowboys had three turnovers during the game. One was an interception on the last play of the game which was a Hail Mary, and the other two were fumbles.
Zeke had his first fumble of the season, and tight end Jason Witten also had his first fumble in 14 games. They were both on great defensive plays where the Saints defenders were able to punch the ball out.
Offensively, the Cowboys left a lot to be desired. The 10 points scored is not something that I expected to happen. Sure this sucks, but there is something fans should realize.
The bigger picture
Yes, losing sucks. Especially to a backup quarterback (even though he could be a starter). There is a bigger picture to this loss to the Saints though.
The Dallas Cowboys had a relatively easy first three weeks. They were not yet prepared to play against a competitive team in the NFL. This loss is something that needed to happen.
A team that does not face adversity is a team unprepared. The Cowboys can build on this loss to ensure that they play better in the long run.
I’m a true believer in that, but I do wish it came closer to the playoffs. Either way, we as fans need to look at this as one step back for two steps forward.
The Cowboys will look to step up this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. This is going to be a tough, but very interesting game for Dallas.