The Cowboys are now 6-5 on the season after losing to the Patriots. Dallas is still in control of the NFC East. Here are five things learned from week 12.
1. Special Teams Needs Work
As noted on the broadcast and by Jerry Jones after the game, the special teams were woeful. Brett Maher missed a 46-year-old field goal. The Patriots blocked a punt, giving them great field position. Tony Pollard fumbled a return, but was able to fall on it. It looked really bad and is something that could’ve turned the tide of the game.
Jones said after the game that the poor special teams play reflects on coaching. That is definitely true, but they’ll have to try to correct their mistakes moving forward. Maher has been inconsistent and that may not be able to be corrected, but protecting the punter and not fumbling should be fixed by next week.
2. Sloppy Weather = Sloppy Play
The rain was coming down hard at different points during the game, which made things tough. Dak Prescott started off the game slowly, as he missed receivers by a lot. When Prescott was on target, receivers were dropping passes. Blake Jarwin and Randall Cobb both fumbled, but both were able to recover the ball.
On top of that, the running game wasn’t dominant, even though they did go over the 100-yard mark. Prescott did throw a pick too, making matters worse. This might be a team that needs to play in good weather, as they didn’t protect the ball and made miscues.
3. Dak Prescott Needs to Wear a Glove in the Rain
Prescott has not played well in the rain in his career, which includes the start of this game. As mentioned, he was missing receivers and looked like a shell of himself. Then he put on a glove and actually played a lot better. For future games in bad weather, Prescott has to wear a glove to be successful.
The Cowboys still were unable to score touchdowns, but Prescott played better with the glove on. Dak may be a quarterback who struggles with bad weather. That isn’t the worst thing considering other great players struggled in the bad weather, including Troy Aikman.
4. Robert Quinn was a Steal
This offseason the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick for Robert Quinn. He has been well worth the deal. In the game against the Patriots, Dallas registered just two sacks. Maliek Collins had one and Quinn had the other. Quinn had four quarterback hits in the game too. That brought his season sack total to 9.5 on the year.
There are plenty of players that struggle to get that many sacks in a year. Jadeveon Clowney’s best season resulted in just 9.5 sacks. When teams double team DeMarcus Lawrence, Quinn makes them pay. His play down the stretch could lead the Cowboys to great things.
5. Amari Cooper Needs to Produce
Amari Cooper had a rough game against the Patriots. He had no catches on the day and only had two targets. This is mainly a testament to how good of a corner Stephon Gilmore is. Cooper did look to have a clutch catch for a first down on a fourth-down late in the game, but the ball hit the ground first.
It wasn’t all Cooper’s fault. The weather and Prescott’s play definitely played a part. For this team to be successful though, they need their number one receiver to step up and make plays. That hasn’t been an issue for most of the season, but against good defenses late in the season they need Cooper.