On 2nd Thought: Inconsistency Plagues Cowboys

On-2nd-Thought--Inconsistency-Plagues-Cowboys-hero

They knew it going in on Sunday: the Jacksonville Jaguars are a dangerous offense who can light up a scoreboard if given the chance. The problem was, as you saw with your own eyes, that the Dallas Cowboys did indeed give them chances, only to pay for their mistakes time and again. So as they try to turn the page to the upcoming battle against the Eagles, there are [more] lessons to be learned before the playoffs ultimately arrive in January.

The Verdikt — Will the real Dallas Cowboys please stand up? One version of the team has shown it can flat-out humiliate a playoff-caliber team on the road, but there's another version that either nearly succumbs to self-inflicted wounds or does so entirely. The latter is who took the field against the Jaguars on Sunday, and the 40-34 overtime loss brings forth the prevailing concern as the Cowboys try to fix their issues before the playoffs: when will consistency show up and stick around in Dallas?

Having now clinched a playoff spot thanks to the Giants win over the Commanders, the Cowboys have only three regular season games remaining to pull it all together with the hopes of avoiding another postseason disappointment; but it will not be easy, and especially as they deal with a growing list of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. And so it goes, as they prepare for the biggest game of the season thus far against the visiting Eagles, that their resiliency will be tested for the hundredth time in 2022.

They didn't win 10 games by accident, especially without their franchise quarterback for four of them, and that tells you they can overcome and prevail. They just need to minimize what they have to overcome before, sooner or later, they stop prevailing.

Unsung Hero — On a day that saw the offense unable to save the day (if you score 34 points, you should win the game) for a struggling defense that eventually found their way, albeit too late, I have to give roses to CeeDee Lamb for having another impact game; and despite sometimes seeing double or triple coverage.

He racked up 126 receiving yards and caught all seven of his targets, again proving he is indeed the WR1 in Dallas. He also crossed the 1,000-yard mark in doing so, and for the second year in a row, doing his best to will the Cowboys to a win in being responsible for 49% of Prescott's passing production in Jacksonville.

Milestone Moment — This streak seems rather unnoticed because he isn't exactly the most productive runner on the team, but Ezekiel Elliott has produced a rushing touchdown for seven straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL this year. Zeke joined Emmitt Smith as the only two players in Cowboys history with a rushing TD in seven straight games.

Stat of the Game — The goal for any defense is to get off the field – one way or another. The Cowboys did get three turnovers, but too many times on third down they couldn't force the Jaguars to punt. Jacksonville converted 8-of-12 third-downs for a 66.7 percent clip, including two on the final drive of regulation to force overtime. The 66.7 percent rate is by far the highest for the Cowboys defense this year.

Kustodian's Kloset — It was a season-low in penalties (2) for the Cowboys and one of them was intentional, so that issue appears to be well under control, at this point. So I'll breeze right past that (gleefully) and focus on the bigger concern: the defensive secondary. The loss of Anthony Brown is already showing in the struggles of Kelvin Joseph, and I believe it should now be an open competition outside of Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland. That means, for me, unleashing Kendall Sheffield, Mackensie Alexander and Trayvon Mullen to lock horns with Nahshon Wright and Joseph; and possibly toss Israel Mukuamu in that mix as well to finally get a handle on that situation before time runs out and an opponent with a similar number of horses as Jacksonville at wide receiver (e.g., Eagles) continually tears at the wound.

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