The loss to the Falcons had zero, less than zero, percent to do with Ezekiel Elliott. It's mind boggling to hear anyone even mentioning that. The running backs tallied 81 yards from scrimmage on 20 touches, certainly not great, but not the issue. Alfred Morris and Rod Smith averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Zeke is averaging 4.1 on the year.
Also don't want to hear about Dak Prescott not being the same quarterback without Zeke, and him not really being elite. That's beyond absurd. I'm not sure there's a QB in the league who wouldn't have taken double-digit sacks with the protection Dak was given. If the first read wasn't there on about half his drop backs, that was it. Either time to take off and run or he was already going down.
Didn't think the defense was that bad, either. Yeah, Sean Lee means as much to this team as any player, and there's a significant, noticeable difference when he's not on the field, but I think we already knew that. Anchored by strong performances from Anthony Hitchens and David "Dino" Irving, the defense held the Falcons to less than four yards per rushing carry, registered nine tackles for loss and forced a turnover.
The 215 passing yards for Matt Ryan were his fewest since Week 15 of 2013, a stretch of 58 games, so again, this wasn't on the defense.
The reason the Cowboys lost this game wasn't even so much Tyron Smith's groin injury. Well, it was in part, sure. Smith is an All-Pro and even if he's not quite playing at that level this season, likely because of his back, he's still one of the five best left tackles in the game.
I just don't understand why the coaching staff put Chaz Green on an island time and again, and never made any adjustments. Of all the numbers from this game, the one that jumps out for me is this: James Hanna played 10 of the 63 offensive snaps. He's on this roster because he's a strong blocking tight end. How is he on the sideline for 84 percent of the plays when literally the outcome of the game was decided based on a one-on-one pass rush matchup?
While changes should have been made before halftime, as Green allowed a sack on the first and third drives, let's just say the staff waited until the intermission. On the final drive before halftime, Green was called for a holding penalty and allowed a third sack. I'm not saying Byron Bell was the answer, he didn't look any better than Green, so there needed to be tweaks to the blocking schemes.
Take a wide receiver off the field and have Hanna stationed next to the left tackle. Maybe move La'el Collins to left tackle. I'm honestly not sure what the best solution was, and frankly, that's not my job. Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan and Frank Pollack should have entered the game with a plan if Green was unable to handle the responsibility.
The main reason Garrett gave up play-calling duties a few years back was so he could manage the game better, focus more on the ebb and flow. We just didn't see that with this situation. Green allowed a sack on five of the first seven drives. Garrett can be stubborn, which can be a positive or a negative characteristic. In this instance, it was the latter.
If Smith is again sidelined this week, and that's certainly possible, the Cowboys need a plan to protect Prescott. I don't want to hear about the roster not being strong enough. There isn't an NFL team with a capable starting left tackle chilling on the sideline. Green is also a guard, and has been solid there this season. I also want to give him a lot of credit for talking to reporters after the game, a lot of guys would have been in the trainer's room or the showers.
This wasn't so much about Green as the situation his coaching staff put him in. It was obvious from the get-go he wasn't capable of succeeding in that position/matchup. Honestly, after the first three drives, how could anyone think the situation would just solve itself? I don't understand.
As for those asking me on Twitter, yes, I'm still a Garrett guy. I still think he's a heck of a football coach, a superb leader of men, and I think he's going to be here long term.
It's going to be a battle down the stretch. They might have to win the last week of the regular season at Philadelphia to earn a wild-card berth. There are eight NFC teams at 6-3, 5-4 or 4-5, including the Cowboys, who are hoping to land one of the two postseason bids. That's not to say the Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Rams have secured playoff berths with two or fewer defeats right now, but it's looking pretty good.
Next up are those first-place Eagles, Sunday night at AT&T Stadium. Like this past week, Dallas is an underdog and Philly is also coming off its bye week. We're all going to learn a lot about this football team and the coaching staff's ability to make adjustments in the next few weeks with three home games over the last 12 days of November.
No matter what the injury report looks like the remainder of the season, this is not a .500 football team. Time to prove that, and it's time for the coaching staff to put their players in position to do just that.
Follow Jeff Sullivan on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.