After three straight losses, the Dallas Cowboys finally won a game without Ezekiel Elliott, blowing out Washington, 38-14, on Thursday Night Football. Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes, Alfred Morris ran for 127 yards and a score, the defense forced four turnovers, and Ryan Switzer returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. It was a team effort.
But at 6-6, the Cowboys remain outside of the NFC playoff picture. If the Cowboys miss the playoffs – one year after going 13-3 – would this season be a disappointment?
“If they go 8-8 and don’t make the playoffs, yeah, I think it’s a big disappointment,” WFAN and Compass Media Network’s Jerry Recco said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think it is tempered a little bit if they’re a 10-win team that just doesn’t make the playoffs because the two Wild Card teams go 12-4 and 11-5. That would suck, but you could kind of live with that a little bit more. If they go 8-8, yeah, it’s a big disappointment. There were big expectations on this team. The Cowboys, I thought, would struggle defensively. I really did. I didn’t know how good they’d be offensively Year Two with Dak, but I also didn’t think they’d be a seven- or an eight-win team.”
The Cowboys were lost in their first three games without Elliott, scoring just 22 points in 12 quarters against the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers. Dallas lost each game by at least 20 points.
“It’s the way they just folded in the second half of games,” Recco said. “If you look at the last three (losses) in particular, yeah, I think it’d be a disappointment if the go 8-8.”
If Dallas wants to make the playoffs, both sides of the ball must improve, especially the secondary. The Cowboys rank 12th in the league in rush defense (107.8 yards allowed per game) but are 21st against the pass (234.8). They also have just seven interceptions on the season, which ranks 23rd in football.
“The big question mark for them is – and has been – the secondary,” Recco said. “Anthony Brown has shown flashes, but he, last year when he kind of got some playing time, was good. This year, he’s been good in spots. Jourdan Lewis has been good in spots. Orlando Scandrick, I think I expect more from him than what I get. They lost Barry Church, who is a good player, not a great player. I’m not even kidding: I would have taken a flier on Darrelle Revis before the season even started – for no other reason to see if the guy who at on point was this lockdown, greatest cornerback I had ever seen. He’s not 45. Does he have anything? You’re talking about a secondary that’s going to struggle. I would have tried something like that. They didn’t. That’s an issue.”
So is keeping Sean Lee on the field. Lee, who is battling a nagging hamstring injury, has played in just seven games this season.
“They’ve added some pieces, but at the same time, when Sean Lee is not on the field, it is amazing,” Recco said. “People compare him to Luke Kuechly, and that’s fine. It’s just never going to happen, but he’s got to stay on the field. The pass rush, you look at (David) Irving and DeMarcus Lawrence – love it. Absolutely love it. The secondary, to me, is the big thing.”
The Cowboys close the season on the road in three of their last four games. They will face the Giants (2-9) in East Rutherford on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. ET.