ARLINGTON, Texas – Man, that escalated, quickly.
One minute, you've got crazy reporters picking the Cowboys to win by 17 points, the next minute we're all wondering how a game could look so bad, and then get worse.
OK, first things first, yeah I picked Dallas to dominate this game because of its defense. I really thought they'd finally get the Tom Brady monkey off their back because their defense would be too fast and too good.
In reality, the Cowboys' defense was just good. Not great, but pretty dang good and Micah Parsons was awesome once again.
Think about it, holding Tom Brady and this group to 19 points – one touchdown and four field goals. That's rather encouraging moving forward, because we know they won't be facing a lot of GOATS on the schedule, especially one with seven rings.
But here's the problem, as good as the defense was Sunday night, it doesn't look like we've got an '85 Bears or 2000 Ravens situation on our hands.
And with this offense, especially now with Dak Prescott out a few games, if not a month, and maybe even two months, that's what it will take to carry this team.
In my wildest dreams, I couldn't have imagined the offense, led by Dak Prescott, to play this poorly, against any defense.
I couldn't help but think back to the 2018 opener in Carolina when the Cowboys were rolling out their "receiver by committee" lineup and they were dominated by the Panthers, 16-8. Even that game, they scored a touchdown.
But this one was way worse because the Cowboys managed just a field goal and if you think about it, they needed like 6-7 plays deep in Kellen Moore's playbook just to trick the Bucs enough for them to manage a very long field goal.
I've learned this a long time ago – when a team comes out with trickery, it's usually a sign they know they can't really win.
Well, give the Cowboys' coaches credit for that at least. Because this game wasn't really close at all, even though they technically lost by two scores.
But the problems we wondered about all offseason – seemed to surface in a big way here Sunday night.
It starts with the wide receivers. CeeDee Lamb was out to show everyone that he's ready to be the No. 1 receiver. Well, we're still waiting on that. Lamb couldn't separate from coverage at all, and ended up with just two catches, on 11 targets. Let's say that again – 11 targets but just two catches. Now, I certainly wouldn't say there were nine legit chances for CeeDee to catch the ball. Dak certainly wasn't on target – long before his fourth-quarter thumb injury.
But even behind Lamb, the rest of the crew didn't help much. Noah Brown had a few plays, Dennis Houston, too. But no one that scares anyone.
Let's look to the offensive line. Connor McGovern went down on the first drive of the game and while Matt Farniok played admirably, as did Tyler Smith at left tackle, the offensive line had the quarterbacks running for their lives. The running backs had little to no room to run with Dak's option play of 12 yards serving as the longest run.
All the Tony Pollard love that I've heard this offseason, I think that can be cooled off considerably. Not only did he rush for eight yards on six carries and catch two balls for 14 yards, but his struggles as a pass-blocker were evident to the point that the Cowboys might have to think how they utilize these two backs.
At this point, a lot of things are going to change with Cooper Rush now entering the equation. All the tricks we saw Kellen Moore use are probably going to be dialed down considerably.
Ok, so the Cowboys were blown out at home and lost their quarterback for a month. They were the only team in the NFC East not to win.
And so why isn't the sky falling? Well it's pretty low right now, but there are a couple of things the Cowboys can at least hang their hat on.
- For starters, it's only Week 1. There are 16 more of these games and we all should know how the roller coaster works. There will be ups and downs and flips and turns.
- Secondly, Jason Peters needs to get ready to play – NOW. He said a couple of weeks. Nope, sorry he needs to be ready next week. I would move Tyler Smith back to left guard and let him play at left tackle.
- Also, Michael Gallup is very close to returning. He's looked good in the routes we've seen. Maybe the target all along is Week 3, but I think there's a chance he could get back in the mix, maybe even in this week.
- The best reason to stay somewhat encouraged is this defense. They're not going to face Tom Brady again. And with Micah rushing from the outside, the Cowboys were tough to block. Now, we'll see about the injury to Jayron Kearse but they've got enough depth to carry this offense for a while. And at this point, they're going to have to.
All in all, it was a terrible start to Week 1 with an injury to insult to follow.
But it's a long season with plenty of football to play. Then again, I might hold off on picking them to be blowing out any opponent anytime soon, especially teams that were in the Super Bowl just last year.