Cowlishaw: We stumbled onto a greater truth after Cowboys loss to Titans

bbgun

Administrator



By Tim Cowlishaw

Just when we thought the only significant Cowboys trend was their ability to be perfect at home this season while losing everything on the road, we stumbled onto a greater truth in Monday's 28-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans. It isn't good for Jason Garrett.

Not so wonderful for Dak Prescott, either, even with a radio endorsement from Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Tuesday morning.

The trend that matters most is this one. Since the magical season of 2016 -- one that recedes from memory with each passing defeat -- the Cowboys have played three half-seasons. They went 5-3 to start 2017. They wrapped it up with a 4-4 record (thanks, at the finish line, by the Eagles laying down on their way to a Super Bowl). They just landed with a thud at the 2018 mid-season point, Titans dancing on their 50-yard-line star, with a 3-5 record.

From 5-3 to 4-4 to 3-5 is a trend. It explodes the myth, still maintained by a steadfast few, that only Ezekiel Elliott's suspension derailed this train a year ago when, in reality, the team was 5-4 with Elliott (pointless win over Philadelphia not included) and 3-3 without him.

The next most alarming trend deals with Dak Prescott's protection. The overrated offensive line in front of him has gone from invincible to invisible in two years. As a Rookie of the Year, Prescott was sacked 23 times in 16 games. He hit the midseason mark Monday with 28 sacks. Only two quarterbacks have more, and they play behind lines that have been criticized and ridiculed from the season's start.

New York's Eli Manning and Houston's Deshaun Watson are slightly ahead of Prescott in sacks. But the Cowboys quarterback actually gets sacked with greater frequency, given his fewer pass attempts.

And yet the arrogance of the Cowboys front office and head coach Jason Garrett allowed them to portray offensive line coach Paul Alexander as the only bad guy around here. Marc Colombo talked boldly about how this unit would "bring the nasty" against the Titans. It looked more like a unit calling for someone to bring the oxygen.

Prescott got smothered in the second half by a Tennessee pass rush that ranked in the bottom 10 before enjoying a five-sack feast Monday night.

What the Cowboys have needed to do for some time is bench rookie Connor Williams, who played tackle sparingly at Texas a year ago and clearly isn't ready to hold down the guard spot between Tyron Smith and Joe Looney. They can move La'el Collins to his old guard position and start Cameron Fleming, a former part-time Patriots starter, at right tackle, and if Fleming can't play, they can go find someone else.

The sack total is a joke, and, by the way, against two solid defensive fronts the last two games, Ezekiel Elliott has gained 94 yards on 32 carries. He can thank both an offensive line that gets blown up as games wear on and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan who loves those first-down run calls so dearly for his declining importance.

But none of this is meant to imply that Prescott isn't partially responsible for the team's downfall and his exploding sack total. His indecision and slow reactions in the pocket, particularly on that ugly final non-scoring drive, are the kinds of things we might have expected in a rookie but not a third-year player.

Still, Jones is determined to be proved correct at the end of the fourth round of the 2016 draft, so much so that on his radio show Tuesday morning he simply stated, "Dak will get extended.''

I suppose the good news for Cowboys fans is he didn't say for how much or in what role.

Keeping in mind that Jones is known to blurt out opinions and backtrack later, he's eight games away from making a decision on Garrett, and it's not going well for I suspect the most unpopular head coach in Cowboys history. Jerry can't even trot out his tired "he's learning" or "he's getting better'' lines in Season Eight.

The decision on Prescott is more difficult, and the Cowboys have another full season to examine it. The only way to make that fair to the quarterback is with a new head coach and coordinator to search for ways to rediscover the 2016 potion that led this team to 13-3.

As long as the players and coaches around him aren't good enough, then Prescott really can't show us more than how limited he is in trying to lead an average team. His 10 touchdown passes and nine turnovers at midseason tell us where this thing is headed.
 

dbair1967

Administrator
I do agree with him that the only chance Prescott has is with a new HC, new OC and QB developer and new system.

It's 100% clear he is an utter failure at this point with what we have in place today. He regresses more and more every week that goes by it seems.
 

bbgun

Administrator
I utterly reject the notion that Dak is the victim of his surroundings or bad coaching. He simply isn't good enough. Period. He can carve out a nice career for himself as a career backup, ala Jon Kitna.
 

icup

Super Moderator
What the Cowboys have needed to do for some time is bench rookie Connor Williams, who played tackle sparingly at Texas a year ago and clearly isn't ready to hold down the guard spot between Tyron Smith and Joe Looney. They can move La'el Collins to his old guard position and start Cameron Fleming, a former part-time Patriots starter, at right tackle, and if Fleming can't play, they can go find someone else.
never thought i would say this but ...


this o-line has been on the decline since doug free retired and ron leary left
 
I utterly reject the notion that Dak is the victim of his surroundings or bad coaching. He simply isn't good enough. Period. He can carve out a nice career for himself as a career backup, ala Jon Kitna.
I pick option C) All of the above. It's bad coaching along with Quincy Carter reborn at QB. Oddly enough, Quincy is beginning to seem decent in comparison to Dak now that the culture of this franchise and coaching staff has fully assimilated him.
 

theoneandonly

Draft Pick
never thought i would say this but ...


this o-line has been on the decline since doug free retired and ron leary left
And Bill Callahan left. Terrific O Line coach but that is his ceiling, anything beyond that diminishing returns
 

dbair1967

Administrator
Free was a better RT than Collins and Leary was far better at LG than Collins was, or Williams today.

And the Fred loss is certainly huge. Not only was he incredibly smart, he was probably our most physical OL and really helped get those interior run lanes open. Looney has been adequate but he is nowhere near the player Fred is.
 

ThoughtExperiment

Quality Starter
I utterly reject the notion that Dak is the victim of his surroundings or bad coaching. He simply isn't good enough. Period. He can carve out a nice career for himself as a career backup, ala Jon Kitna.
Not only is Dak not that good a passer, but now he's seeing ghosts in the pass rush, bailing out of perfectly good pockets, and just overall losing his mind. He's not going to cut it long term.
 

bbgun

Administrator
Not only is Dak not that good a passer, but now he's seeing ghosts in the pass rush, bailing out of perfectly good pockets, and just overall losing his mind. He's not going to cut it long term.
When he spun out of that clean pocket on 4th down the other night and then couldn't throw the ball anywhere in the end zone was the derpiest thing I ever witnessed.
 

dbair1967

Administrator
but now he's seeing ghosts in the pass rush, bailing out of perfectly good pockets, and just overall losing his mind. He's not going to cut it long term.
Yep, his confidence (which seemed incredibly high as a rookie) is completely shot.

Total byproduct of this lousy HC and OC. He looks more like a rookie TODAY than he did in late September or October of his rookie year 2 years ago.
 

ThoughtExperiment

Quality Starter
Yep, his confidence (which seemed incredibly high as a rookie) is completely shot.

Total byproduct of this lousy HC and OC. He looks more like a rookie TODAY than he did in late September or October of his rookie year 2 years ago.
He looks worse than in that very first preseason game against the Rams in August.
 

Ragnar

Practice Squad
He did get a monster contract at the time, we had to let him walk.
Four years 36 Mil with 24 guaranteed? After two years he could be cut with very little cap hit. He's not a bargain bin item, but I don't see that as being a monster contract for a good player. Collins signed a 2 year deal for 15.4M. Not even 3 million less over the same time period.
 

dbair1967

Administrator
Four years 36 Mil with 24 guaranteed? After two years he could be cut with very little cap hit. He's not a bargain bin item, but I don't see that as being a monster contract for a good player. Collins signed a 2 year deal for 15.4M. Not even 3 million less over the same time period.
Notice I said "at the time".

We didn't have the cap room we have today, plus they knew they had to find money for numerous other guys needing contract extensions, including Zach Martin.

Leary also has the issue with the knee.

Hindsight being 20/20, sure I'd rather have him (Leary) at LG and Connor Williams now at RT instead of Lael Collins. Collins is the worst starting OL on the team and another player that continues to regress on almost a weekly basis.
 

Ragnar

Practice Squad
Hindsight being 20/20, sure I'd rather have him (Leary) at LG and Connor Williams now at RT instead of Lael Collins. Collins is the worst starting OL on the team and another player that continues to regress on almost a weekly basis.
I agree with this. Collins needs to be moved back to guard. I know Doug Free can have an occasional burp now and then, but he played RT better than Collins.
 

dbair1967

Administrator
I agree with this. Collins needs to be moved back to guard. I know Doug Free can have an occasional burp now and then, but he played RT better than Collins.
Collins wasn't any good at LG either though. When he got hurt and was replaced by Leary, the OL improved by leaps and bounds over night.

Collins appears to be very gifted physically, but might have a ten cent head and certainly appears to me to be someone that would benefit from HARD coaching, not coach soft ball Garrett.
 

MrB

Draft Pick
Next season when Fredrick is back what are the chances that Looney gets a chance to start at LG and Williams and Collins battle it out for RT? Collins seems like he might be best suited as the backup G/T and Looney has earned a chance to start.
 

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