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Eatman: When Really Good Isn't Good Enough


HOUSTON – Yeah, I saw the pass in over time that went for 50 yards. And yeah, I know the Texans put up close to 500 yards. Didn't forget about the penalties and a few missed tackles here and there.

But if you actually sat and watched the whole thing – from start to finish – there's no way you can say those guys on that Dallas Cowboys defense didn't play their asses off.

That defense played a really, really good game Sunday night in Houston. We saw guys flying around to the ball, making huge hits, saving touchdowns and even field goals. They got turnovers, forced a lot of pressure and gave the team a fighting chance to win.

There was just one problem from the defense … they weren't great.

And for this football team, the defense simply has to be great, if not elite, or the Cowboys just can't win, especially on the road.

This has basically turned into a one-dimensional team right before our eyes. The Cowboys' offense never drove the ball for a touchdown Sunday night, despite having four-plus quarters.

Yeah, the Texans have some good defensive players, but this wasn't a good defense. Yeah, they were on the road, but anyone could've heard that it was pretty close to a 50-50 split in the stands.

There just aren't any excuses anymore for the offense. And don't talk about Travis Frederick, because he's certainly not walking through that door – at least for another eight weeks. And to be honest, I really don't think Joe Looney has been a problem for this team. He's not Frederick, but I seriously doubt he'd rank fifth on the Cowboys' O-line grades this year.

But this offense isn't like a car with a flat tire. You can't just jack it up, replace it with another one, and you're good to go.

We've got engine trouble, radiator issues, interior damage, bad wheels. Definitely some alignment trouble and on top of that, don't forget driver errors. And the thing is, the car works pretty well in its own driveway and neighborhood. But get it out "on the road" and it's like a different car.

Lots of problems that your regular trip to the garage just won't fix in about 30 minutes.

And that's why the Cowboys are sitting here at 2-3 after five games –five games that probably won't be considered the toughest part of the schedule when it's all said and done.

But for this offense, everything is tough. Getting a yard or two is like a mile, especially when everyone knows where the ball is going.

I'm sorry, who said this team doesn't need a No. 1 receiver? Really? Like that's a really statement?

Ok, maybe other teams don't need a go-to guy, but that's because their go-to guy is the freakin' quarterback.

THIS team needs a No. 1 wide receiver. I think Deshaun Watson is pretty good, especially for a young guy who hasn't played 16 games yet. But he's got flaws. He wasn't perfect. But when he needed a big play he found his GO-TO receiver, who bailed him out time and time again.

Meanwhile, Tavon Austin dropped two key passes, one led to a punt and the other was intercepted. Deonte Thompson dropped a crucial third-down pass and also didn't win another contested ball that was "intercepted" by the Texans. I'm sorry but that call by the officials and then the replay booth was ridiculous to me. Yeah, I know the ball can hit the ground, but not if it goes through two hands and then hits. That was one of the worst calls I've seen but at least I can still say that after all these years, I still have no clue what a catch is.

But I can promise you this, I definitely know what a drop is – saw more than I needed to Sunday night.

Was Dak perfect? Of course, not. But how many times did we see him get out of a sack by J.J. Watt or Clowney and stay on his feet to scramble around. He's just getting absolutely no help from the receivers.

And he's really not getting much help from that O-line, especially since it was seemingly built for a quarterback like this.

So what gives? How does this thing get back on track?

Obviously there are a lot of fans out there who think the last guy to wear No. 88 could help? I'm sure he could, but there might have been a bridge or three burned at training camp.

But there has to be changes made. It won't be at quarterback. It won't be at running back. And if they're not bringing Dez back, I doubt there will be a change at receiver.

Maybe it's time to switch up the play-calling, or maybe the instillation of the game plan can be altered.

One way or another, the Cowboys have to figure out how to get better on offense.

And try to do it in about six days. That's when the Jaguars will be here.