If you woke up this morning thinking what you saw last night on Monday Night Football was a bad dream then you are in for a rude awakening. The Dallas Cowboys suffered their first loss at AT&T Stadium this season after a 28-14 loss against the Tennessee Titans. For the majority of the first quarter the Cowboys looked as if they had left their offensive woes in Washington D.C. and were on track to salvage a disappointing season. With 3:30 remaining in the first, Quarterback Dak Prescott forced it into double coverage to newly-acquired receiver Amari Cooper. The Titans would not only march down the field to tie it up 7-7 but it seemingly took the electricity out of the Cowboys offense. Let’s take a look at five takeaways from the Monday night debacle in Arlington, Texas.
The Cowboys miss Jason Witten
The night started off with a touching tribute to former great Cowboys Tight End Jason Witten. The video took us through a journey of what Witten provided to this organization both on and off the field. Witten numbers had begun to decrease his last few years with the team, but what this team continues to lack is a reliable option on third down. Dallas has the league’s fifth-worst third-down conversion percentage this season (33%). They hovered around 42% in both 2016 and 2017, which sat them inside the top 5 last year and number 10 in 2016.
Demarcus Lawrence will get paid
Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence has 6.5 sacks through eight games this season. Though many would like to see him eclipse his 15 total sacks from last season, the defense has not been afforded the luxury of playing with many leads this season. The Cowboys had an early opportunity to put some pressure on the Titans offense but instead they allowed Tennessee to remain balanced throughout the game. It’s not a coincidence the only players in the NFL with double digit sacks are Danielle Hunter, of the Vikings, and Aaron Donald, of the Rams. Both who have been given opportunities from the offense to attack the opposing quarterback.
Jaylon Smith, Vander Esch calms frustrations with another Lee injury
Jaylon Smith has been nothing short of amazing this season. His athleticism and physicality allows the Cowboys to match up favorably to many of the formations offenses try to throw against this defensive unit. Smith was tied with fellow Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with nine total tackles in the game. His ability to rush the passer and execute in pass coverage, along with LVE, presents a bright future for a Cowboys organization who are in the midst of transitioning from the Sean Lee era.
Amari Cooper is worth the first-round pick
No one wants to be reminded the Cowboys are without a first-round pick after the performance they showcased Monday night. However, Cooper displayed an ability to consistently beat 1-on-1 coverage. Defenses will continue to force Prescott to beat them down the field, which means the opportunities will continue to present themselves for these receivers if Prescott can get them the ball. The interception in the end zone to Cooper was a result of Prescott trying to get Cooper too involved, but the attention he got on that play is why the Cowboys traded for him. A safety having to travel with him only means that is one less player watching Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield.
Dion Lewis, Derrick Henry combo is what Tavon Austin could’ve been here
Ezekiel Elliott finished the night with only 61 rushing yards. Elliott has been subject to 8-man fronts all season much like teams have done with Derrick Henry. Though Elliott is a much more dynamic runner than the tank that is Henry, the Titans having someone who has a speed element to their game opened lanes for both Henry and Marcus Mariota to operate.
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