The Dallas Cowboys offense was horrid in their Sunday Night Football opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, failing to get in the end zone in a 19-3 loss at home. Anytime you average less than one point per quarter there’s much room for improvement. The one thing Jerry Jones’ team couldn’t afford to have happen, actually did in the fourth quarter when Dak Dak Prescott slammed his throwing hand into Bucs linebacker Shaq Barrett’s hand with about six minutes left in regulation.
Prescott’s late-game accident added injury to insult. His thumb injury will require surgery and keep him out for six to eight weeks. The way this once explosive Cowboys offense performed was embarrassing. Cowboys fans booed the offense coming off the field at one point, following another three-and-out. The offense never got anything going, and Dak completed less than 50 percent of his passes, threw for just 134 yards, and one interception. There was nothing good to take away from Dallas’ offense Sunday night.
Although, not all is lost, as there is a possibility that Prescott could return sooner from this latest injury. Fox Sports injury analyst Dr. Matt Provencher described Dak’s injury as a ‘Bennett’s fracture’ and compared it to Jared Goff’s in 2020. The latter had a similar thumb injury and returned much quicker than expected. So, Prescott may not be lost for as long as reported, but
Dallas probably shouldn’t rush the process either.
On the other side of the ball, the defense looked pretty good. Leonard Fourette ran all over them for 127 yards (6.0 ypg), but the Boys didn’t let Brady beat them. Ultimately because of the offense’s ineptitude, the defense was on the field for long stretches, although they did a good job of keeping Tampa out of the end zone.
Where Dallas continuously shot themselves in both feet were all the offensive penalties. They were holding, and false starting like it was a clearance sale at the boot barn. Dallas led the NFL in penalties a year ago, and it looks like they’re ready to repeat in that category. Last night the Cowboys were flagged 10 times for 73 yards. Four flags were claimed by right tackle Terence Steele with three false starts and one holding call.
The running game looked decent before offensive coordinator Kellen Moore panicked and decided to go away from it. The Cowboys ran the ball 18 times for 71 yards as a team. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for the bulk of that, totaling 52 yards on 10 attempts. That wasn’t a bad output, but they’ll need much more than that now that Prescott is out for presumably two months.
If you thought the Sean Payton to Dallas rumors were absurd in the offseason, just wait until the Cowboys are 0-6 to start the season. Their schedule isn’t the toughest, but without Prescott, there won’t be a lot of winning in Big D with backup Cooper Rush under center. The Bengals are in town next Sunday, and after their Week 1 loss to the Steelers, Cincinnati will be ready to take that frustration out on the wounded Cowboys. After Cincy, the Boys face the Giants (1-0), Commanders (1-0), Rams (0-1), and Eagles (1-0) in that order. This next couple of months should be fun for Cowboys haters.
Payton in Dallas is a pipe dream for now and probably won’t happen anyway. McCarthy might need to take control of this offense and reel Moore in just a bit. Although they were down, they didn’t have to completely stop running the ball since the defense was holding the Bucs to field goals aside from one Brady touchdown pass to Mike Evans.
Even if Elliot isn’t what he was three years ago, he can still be a significant part of this offense. Get him more involved in the passing game as he once was. Zeke caught 77 balls out of the backfield one year under Jason Garrett. Each season since, he’s hovered somewhere around 50 catches. So what if he doesn’t have that burst he did when he first entered the league. Who does, seven years into their NFL career? Dallas needs to get creative with their lack of depth at wide receiver.
Minus Dak for such a long stretch, the season looks rather bleak in Dallas. This is the second serious injury Dak’s suffered as Cowboys QB. In 2020 it was the ankle injury in Week 5. Now, a thumb injury to start the ‘2022 campaign.
Some pundits had Dallas falling off compared to last year, but now we’re probably looking at a five- or six-win team. Rush has been around for a while and knows the offense, but if he leads Dallas to two wins, that would be an accomplishment.