This had almost nothing to do with missing Ezekiel Elliott, but everything to do with not having Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, who exited early in the game, and Dan Bailey. Without them, the Dallas Cowboys got flat out embarrassed by the Atlanta Falcons. If anything became apparent today, it was the Cowboys need a healthy offensive line and a healthy Lee to be successful. Without them, they don’t have a prayer.
We all wanted to see how the Cowboys would react to not having Zeke in the backfield, but the issues went much deeper on the day. The offensive line was eaten alive by Atlanta’s defense, giving up eight sacks after allowing just 10 coming into the season, including six to Adrian Clayborn. In the NFL, if you can’t protect the quarterback, you have no shot, Dallas’ offensive line got punked.
It was downright embarrassing.
They were hardly the only unit that got smoked on the day, however. The Cowboys were pathetic on defense after Lee left the game and allowed the Falcons to be above 50% on third downs. At one point in the game, Atlanta converted on five consecutive third down tries and all but one had at least five yards to go.
If your defense cannot get off the field on third down in the NFL, you have no shot, Dallas’ defense got punked.
This was easily the worst performance from the Cowboys on the season. They played with no urgency, no toughness and no heart. Where was the fight and the resiliency we have been watching from this team in the past few weeks? It was a gutless effort.
We all understand it’s difficult to win without Elliott, and we knew not having the best left tackle in the game was going to cause problems. However, the coaches cannot allow Smith’s replacements to get beaten that badly and not adjust to the situation. It’s very difficult to figure out why the coaches had a game plan that included so many one-on-one match-ups for their left tackle, it ruined any chance of winning the game. Where was the help for Chaz Green and Byron Bell?
It’s easy to push the narrative that without Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott couldn’t lead his team. It’s easy to blame the injuries, but that isn’t telling the whole story. To a man, the Dallas Cowboys were beaten soundly by the Falcons. Byron Jones wasn’t good, Anthony Brown was worse, Zack Martin struggled, and there were a host of others who didn’t get the job done today.
Your team cannot crumble when you are missing players in the NFL. The season is too long, and it’s just too physical of a sport. The Cowboys have five irreplaceable players and four of them didn’t play today (including when Lee left the game). Losing happens, but not competing because you are missing players, albeit key guys, is ridiculous. The results speak for themselves today; we saw a team fall apart without some of their best players.
The Dallas Cowboys were embarrassed in Atlanta. Blame the injuries, blame the suspension, blame the coaches; there’s enough blame to go around this Sunday. It was a game that might slam the door on any playoff hopes for the Cowboys.
In a big game, the Cowboys wilted and the season may have wilted away with it.
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