The Cowboys are now 3-2 on the season after losing to the Green Bay Packers. It is still early in the season, but Dallas will need to start winning games again soon. Here are five things learned from week 5.
1. The Run Defense is Overhyped
Dallas’ defense was rightfully hyped up before the season, but against the Packers, did not play well. Aaron Jones rushed for 107 yards and four touchdowns with tackling seeming optional for the Cowboys’ defense. He averaged over five yards a carry and was the star of the game.
For the Cowboys to be the great team they have the potential to be, they’ll have to stop the run better. The defensive line has to get better push to start the play, while the linebackers need to play to their potential in getting to the ball carrier. Defensive backs on the team have to show a willingness to tackle on the outside or on the second and third levels of the defense.
2. Slow Starts Will Result in a lot of Losses
Slow starts are not good for any team, but specifically for the Cowboys. In this game, they trailed 17-0 at halftime and things looked bleak heading into the second half. Things got worse before they got better in the second half. Dallas made a great effort at a comeback, but it was too little too late.
The Cowboys win games because they run the ball well and control the clock. If they are not able to do that, it usually results in losses. This game put them out of their comfort zone and despite the good fight, they came up short. In the future, they need to score within their first few drives to at least keep up with their opponent.
3. Dak’s Play is Hurting His Contract Talks
To start the year, Dak Prescott played well and his value for a new contract rose significantly. The Cowboys didn’t play great teams in the first few weeks, which helped Prescott produce. After playing two good teams, Prescott hasn’t played well. In the future, these games may hold him back from getting the contract he really desires.
Against the Packers, Prescott looked sloppy. He threw three interceptions in the game. One was off of his receiver’s hands, while another happened after Michael Gallup was absolutely mauled at the top of his route, but there was no call. The other one was on him. He still has the rest of the year to improve his value, but he needs to play better than he currently is right now.
4. Amari Cooper has a lot of Good, Some Bad
Amari Cooper’s day started off rough. He dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass in the first half, which seemed to set the tone for the rest of the opening two periods. A touchdown in that instance could have changed the game completely. Luckily for the Cowboys, Cooper was able to turn his day around.
He finished the game with 11 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown. Cooper shocked viewers as he caught a pass on the sideline, got past one defender, then spun past another for a touchdown while the Cowboys were trying to come back. Cooper has had shaky hands in the past, but his playmaking ability is so good. The Cowboys will take the good with the bad for Cooper.
5. The Defense Has to Work on Forcing Turnovers
While the run defense was poor, the Cowboys need to find ways to get off of the field. The best way to do that is to force turnovers. They have had trouble doing so all season and struggled again in this game. The Cowboys forced no turnovers, when that could have made all the difference in the world.
So far this season, Dallas has just one interception and three fumble recoveries through five games. Those numbers have to improve. Forcing less than a turnover a game will not give a team a positive turnover margin at the end of the season. To win big games, taking the ball away is imperative. The Cowboys’ defense should be more aggressive in that regard.