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What we learned: Cowboys in need of big changes after latest loss

The Dallas Cowboys went to Washington and flopped in the nation’s capital for their fifth loss in seven games with a matchup against Philadelphia on the horizon.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Everson Griffen (97) tackles Washington Football Team quarterback Kyle Allen (8) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Al Drago)

The Dallas Cowboys make it difficult to just move on from a loss and think about how they will approach their next game. They lose in such spectacular fashion each week that it makes one want to put them under a microscope to examine just how things have gotten this bad.

And make no mistake, the team is bad. Week 7 featured another putrid performance, with Dallas falling 25-3 to division rival Washington. The game made it clear that the Cowboys hadn’t learned from the first six weeks of their season and now they sit at 2-5 with only the 1-6 New York Giants preventing them from being in the basement of the league’s worst division. 

It’s been a disastrous year for Dallas, but, since they have to play out the schedule, there’s still plenty of work to do and plenty of opportunities to find small successes from the rest of their slate. 

Here are four things we learned about the Cowboys in their Week 7 loss:

The team is certifiable

As the adage goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If that is true, then the Cowboys can officially be labeled insane. We are now seven weeks into the season and Dallas has been embarrassed on a near-weekly basis and it always seems to follow the same script.

In Week 7, just as the first six weeks, there were bad penalties, a lackluster effort, and blown assignments on defense. As is becoming commonplace, the Cowboys allowed one of the worst offenses in football to have their best day. This came, of course, after turnovers allowed Washington to take a big, early lead.

Week 7 also showcased another week of trotting out an offensive line that can’t get it done. The unit has been decimated by injuries, but there’s also some versatility and a touted amount of depth there. 

The Cowboys could be trying different combinations instead of forcing the same lineup. Guard Connor Williams has played tackle before, for example. Maybe it’s time to see if he can make it work at left tackle and swap someone – anyone! – in for undrafted free agent rookie Terence Steele at right tackle. 

It might not work, but at least they’d be evaluating a different possibility. You never know until you try.

Dallas swung and missed in free agency

None of the guys that the Cowboys brought in during the spring have worked out. Defensive end Everson Griffen, who many targeted in the offseason didn’t play well in Dallas, and as a result, he’s now a member of the Detroit Lions after the Cowboys shipped him out for a sixth-round draft pick.

Dontari Poe has been invisible at defensive tackle and cornerback Daryl Worley has played his way out of the rotation. Ironically, both players are now on the trading block and could be released, if the Cowboys can’t find them new homes. 

So, at the very least, the organization is moving on from those mistakes. That’s a positive for today, as the season drifts toward assessing the talent of the roster, but the impact of the poor offseason decisions have not only helped to potentially sink this season, but they have cast doubt on their future free agency endeavors.

The defense is worse than we thought

It’s no secret that Dallas’ defense has been one of the worst in the league. Indeed, at 34.7 points per game, they rank dead last in the NFL. Despite allowing their second-fewest points total of the season last Sunday, the ineptitude was on full display against the otherwise lifeless Washington offense. 

Washington’s rushing attack came into Sunday’s action 32nd in the NFL but they inexplicably gained 208 yards on the ground with an absurd 5.3 yards per attempt. To make matters worse, the secondary was once again exposed with poor efforts in particular from rookie corner Trevon Diggs and safety Xavier Woods, who are being counted on to be pillars in the backfield.

There isn’t enough fight

Despite the poor play and every other issue that the Cowboys have dealt with this season, the most disappointing thing has been the lack of effort. On Sunday, however, that ugly trait morphed into a team that appeared to have no energy, no fight, and no heart. 

The Cowboys sent shockwaves through the NFL with their lack of response to a cheap hit by Washington that left Andy Dalton concussed. With Dalton lying on the FedExField turf in pain after Washington linebacker Jon Bostic slammed into Dalton’s head as Dalton went into a slide on a third-down run, no Dallas player came to their quarterback’s defense. There was no anger, no pushing, no shoving, no signal to Washington that the hit was unacceptable. The team just stood there and took it. 

It was a vacant response from a team that appears to have already lost the will to fight after weeks and weeks of Groundhog Day for Dallas.

Do you think the Cowboys will find their fight before they take on the Eagles in Week 8? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.