LANDOVER, Md. – When you cover this team for a while, you think you've seen it all.
Trust me, I've seen bad losses like the Cowboys had on Monday night before, followed by some "sourced" stories with so-called finger pointing that leads to a dramatic week that has everyone questioning themselves.
That happens, and it's not really uncommon.
What is unusual is to follow up a game like that and a week like that ... with a performance like that.
What we saw Sunday in Washington was easily one of the worst performances I can remember from the last two decades.
So I have to admit that I was dead wrong about this game. Yes, I thought the Cowboys would bounce back, and because of the opponent, I picked them to win by a point. Couldn't have been more wrong about this game and this team. To the fans that count on us to provide some perspective, I totally missed on this one.
Again, I've seen bad losses like this before – just usually not two weeks in a row.
But it wasn't just losing to a really bad Washington team. It wasn't just letting quarterback Kyle Allen look like someone who actually should be starting in the NFL. It wasn't just the fact the defense couldn't tackle. It wasn't just the fact the offensive line looked like the JV going up against the Varsity.
And it wasn't just the fact that Washington dominated this game, 25-3.
Honestly, the worst part of it all was the fact that the Cowboys really didn't even put up a fight – literally. They were pushed around from the very start to the very end. And I'm not only talking about the fact that no player really stepped up when their quarterback took a cheap shot in the third quarter. That stuff was going on all game long.
Washington took it straight to the Cowboys from the jump.
And the sad part of it was that this team should've known it was coming.
It's not like the Cowboys weren't already backed into a corner going into this game. They lost by FOUR touchdowns on Monday Night Football to the Cardinals – a team that is decent with a few superstars but probably won't make the playoffs. Arizona is a finesse team by design and still ran over the Cowboys.
So coming into this week, you would think pride and grit might factor into the mix, especially in a division game with a chance to regain first place, if not a little dignity.
Instead, to come out and play like that was even more embarrassing.
You could open up a canned soft drink, sit it outside for two days and then pour it into a glass – and it wouldn't be flatter than the Cowboys on this day.
They couldn't tackle on defense. The couldn't get a steady pass-rush. They couldn't block at all with a patched-up offensive line. The receivers couldn't catch the wet football consistently, although Washington didn't seem to have those issues.
Blame this on the players. Blame it on the coaches. Blame it on the injuries. Blame it on the other injuries since there are so many.
Blame it on the year 2020 as so many people like to do, too.
But at some point, we have to realize – myself included – that this team just doesn't have it. Doesn't have the talent we thought. Doesn't have the depth we thought, and apparently doesn't have the right chemistry between the coaches and players to be prepared, especially at the start of games.
Every single week they come out flat. Saw a stat where the Cowboys are the first team in NFL history to allow an opponent to score 20-plus points in the first half in six straight games.
Hey, I'm all for consistency, but not like that. That shows me the Cowboys are consistently getting out-schemed and/or out-played in the first half.
With Dak Prescott and some healthier offensive linemen, the offense had the firepower to come back and sometimes even win – although it took borderline miracles to do so.
But with Andy Dalton and the string of backup linemen, the Cowboys really have no shot at coming back.
Dalton left the game with a concussion on a vicious hit that knocked him out of the game and put Ben DiNucci into the lineup for the first time in his career. But by then, it was certainly already over.
I really have a hard time evaluating Dalton or any quarterback behind this line. If you can't block for more than a second or two, you've got no shot.
Yes, we all knew how many first-round picks were on that defensive line for Washington. And considering the Cowboys had a total of 77 career starts between the five linemen up front, it wasn't going to be pretty.
But I didn't see it being this bad. I really thought the offensive line could piece it together long enough to make a few plays.
The rain didn't help things because these receivers couldn't make plays, or couldn't keep their footing when they did.
You know it's a problem when you can't run inside because you're not strong enough. And you can't run outside because you're not fast enough.
Seems like the kind of game where you only score a field goal – and needed a long kick return just to get into position.
So here we are, the Cowboys are now 2-5 with two bad losses in a row and the division-leading Eagles standing in line next.
I just can't help but go back to two weeks ago when Prescott was lost for the season. The entire team made sure to go over and support their fallen leader. Then a few days later, many of them gave inspiring messages, suggesting the team would "Do it 4 Dak."
Man, I hope not. I hope this isn't doing it for Dak Prescott. The heart and soul of the team deserves better than that.
And it sounds like the head coach agrees, at least in terms of the fight. He wanted the team to respond differently after Dalton went down.
Again, it doesn't make a difference in the final outcome or the standings or anything.
But this team was backed into the corner last week. I know I expected them to come out fighting this week.
Right now, they're still in there with even better opponents now waiting to take their swings.