NEW YORK, NY
Is it me, or did this loss leave this team with more questions than answers? Doesn't it make you scratch your head as to how they could play poorly enough to lose to Kansas City & San Diego?
Nick: I think we're going to see that those two teams are probably pretty good. I bet one of them beats Denver at home. Still, I look at that the other way around. I have more answers than questions. I can see now that Terrance Williams has big-time potential. I can see how Cole Beasley can contribute. I can see some fight in Morris Claiborne's game. I mean, what we see from the defense is hard to evaluate because they won't face the best of all-time each week. This isn't a moral victory at all. But I saw some good things to build off of.
Rowan: Well, Kansas City is undefeated, but I get the point. I think that's what you get with this group, which is what makes the Cowboys so frustrating at times. They can beat or compete with any team in the league, but they can also make any week interesting. The rhythm the passing offense got into against Denver was unlike anything in previous weeks. I don't know if that's an aberration or not, but I do know there are much more questions defensively than offensively right now, which is something no one would have said two weeks ago. We did learn that the Cowboys can play with any team in the league, the offensive line play of late may not be a fluke, Terrance Williams can be a factor and Cole Beasley should get the ball on third and short. If they played that way offensively in San Diego, I'd think it's a rout.
David: This game answered my question of whether the Cowboys could move the ball up and down the field, and whether they could find big plays. They can. It also further answered my question of whether the Dallas defense can contain a top-flight quarterback. They can't. I think this team is good enough to be "in it" with every team they play. But due to shortcomings on both sides of the ball, they aren't going to be able to pull those types of games out. Does that sound familiar?
FT WORTH, TX
What's going on with this secondary? I mean, why can't they stop the aerial attacks? Is it because a lack of playmakers or what?
Nick: We can sit here and say "Peyton Manning" all day but that's not what anyone wants to hear. I really don't think these corners are as comfortable with this scheme. They say they are. But that 9-yard touchdown to Julius Thomas was odd because Brandon Carr was so far off the ball from the 9. I mean, where is Thomas going to go? Deep? It doesn't make sense why Carr would play so off and we saw a few plays like that where you're scratching your head. And I know this wasn't just this week – they had some similar plays against San Diego. But I wouldn't simply blame the secondary. I think the linebackers are struggling in coverage, too.
Rowan: It has a lot to do with the lack of pass rush in recent weeks, along with the system and the quarterbacks they've played. This style of defense gives up the short route and leaves the flats open often. The problem is the gains of more than 20 yards shouldn't be happening. Eli Manning was forced to throw after getting down quickly, and Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning are playing the position better than anyone in the league. If this happens against next week against the Redskins, serious changes need to be looked into. The struggle in the transition for the linebackers in pass coverage also hasn't helped.
David: A lot of it has to do with the names Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, that excuse isn't going to get them very far, because Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler and another meeting with Eli are still ahead of them. I think a lot of it has to do with confidence – which, hopefully Morris Claiborne will be able to recover some with an interception against Denver. But Barry Church is essentially a first-year starter, and J.J. Wilcox is a first-year starter. That's going to lead to some breakdowns, and they'll have to do what they can to shore it up quickly.