The Dallas Cowboys are still reeling from Sunday’s loss, even a few days later.
“They started out hot and we weren’t able to stop them, especially on the defensive side,” said cornerback Stephon Gilmore. “We weren’t able to get in a rhythm. I think they only punted one time. So, that’s ultimately what it came down to.”
They punted a total of three times, but two were when head coach Matt LaFleur began to ease off of the accelerator with the game well in-hand. At one point late in the second quarter, the Packers owned a 27-0 lead, before quarterback Dak Prescott was able to finally get points on the board by way of a touchdown from tight end Jake Ferguson.
For the majority of the contest, the Packers owned time of possession, conversion rate, yards per play, number of explosive plays, etc. etc., and the Cowboys defense registered zero sacks and zero takeaways for the first time all season.
“I don’t know,” said Gilmore, still searching for words. “I’ll have to watch the tape to really see, but they were running the ball and then they got into short yardage and were able to pass the ball here and there, and we just couldn’t get in a rhythm, and we didn’t force any turnovers. …
“I’m surprised. I didn’t see this coming.”
In a locker room atmosphere that was as solemn and mournful as it’s ever been, cornerback Jourdan Lewis also weighed in on what happened against the Packers — echoing Gilmore.
‘Texas’ Team!’ Texans Troll Dallas Cowboys With Two-Word Tweet – Geoff Magliochetti, Cowboys Country
The Houston Texans were dumping salt on the open wound.
Mere minutes after the clock officially ran out on the Cowboys’ season in the form of a 48-32 shellacking at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, the Houston Texans assured any Lone Star State fans looking for a football fix need not worry.
The team’s social media channels posted an image of celebratory Texans during their own, far more successful Wild Card endeavor, along with a caption that will no doubt anger Cowboys fans despite no realistic retort available at this time.
“Texas’ team,” the post read, its brevity no doubt chilling for Cowboys seeking answers after this weekend’s debacle. While the post didn’t reference any potential competition, its timing was clearly meant to be a jab at Dallas’ elimination.
Houston unexpectedly won the AFC South and is taking full advantage of a relatively consequence-free playoff trip with its CJ Stroud-led rebuild ahead of schedule. Unlike the Cowboys, the Texans took full advantage of hosting privileges in their own postseason opener, which saw them crush the Cleveland Browns 45-14 in the AFC Wild Card opener on Saturday afternoon.
It almost seems ironic the Eagles and Cowboys have similar questions to answer.
1) Dallas needs sweeping changes
The backdrop is important for this take, as that’s not an easy thing for me to write. I am a huge Mike McCarthy fan, as I’ve repeatedly exhibited in this space. After McCarthy moved on from offensive coordinator Kellen Moore last January and assumed the play-calling duties himself, I predicted big things for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense in the 2023 campaign. And during the regular season, that’s exactly what we saw, as Prescott became an MVP candidate in his best season yet, and Dallas led the NFL in scoring. The Cowboys went 8-0 at home in dominant fashion, won the NFC East and earned the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Everything was set up for “America’s Team” to finally break through again in the postseason.
And then the upstart Packers came into town and completely flipped the script.
Forget the final score: 48-32 doesn’t do Green Bay’s throttling justice. This was sheer domination by the visiting team. It was 14-0 in the blink of an eye, 27-0 in the second quarter. Dallas got punked by the youngest playoff team in memory. Dan Quinn’s defense was horrendous in every phase, with Packers receivers galloping down the field wide open on seemingly every other play. That was the biggest issue, but Prescott came up small in a big spot. CeeDee Lamb, whom I recently lauded as “the most consistently excellent and dominant receiver in the league this year,” was nowhere to be found when the game was being decided in the first half. Just an all-around, inexcusable clunker from the Cowboys.
Dallas just became the first team in NFL history to win 12 games in three straight seasons and fail to reach a single conference championship game. And Sunday was so dreadful, changes need to be made, starting at head coach. I love McCarthy, but obviously, it’s just not working for the ‘Boys come tournament time.
Jerry Jones isn’t getting younger. And he was clearly devastated after the Cowboys’ season came to an abrupt conclusion.
“This seems like the most painful (playoff loss) because we all had such great expectations and had hope for this team,” Jones said Sunday in the postgame. “I’m floored. This is beyond my comprehension.”
3 Biggest Free Agent Decisions for Cowboys’ Jerry Jones in 2024 NFL Offseason – Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
Now that the season is over, it’s time to focus on how Dallas can get better.
Do the Cowboys Keep Brandin Cooks?
Cooks isn’t scheduled to be a free agent, but Jones needs to decide if the 30-year-old receiver should become one.
While Cooks was serviceable as Dallas’ No. 2 receiver behind CeeDee Lamb, He only had the occasional big game. He finished the regular season with 657 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Against the Packers, he had six catches for 47 yards but couldn’t elevate the passing attack when Dak Prescott’s connection with Lamb fell flat.
The potential problem with keeping Cooks is his $10 million cap hit. The Cowboys are projected to be $11.1 million over the cap, and releasing Cooks with a post-June 1 designation would save $8 million in cap space.
Do the Cowboys Re-Sign Tyron Smith?
Left tackle Tyron Smith is scheduled to be a free agent, and re-signing him won’t be an easy choice.
Smith has spent 13 seasons in Dallas and is still capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level when healthy. However, he’s also 33 years old and has been limited by injuries in recent years. Over the past four seasons, he’s only started 30 games.
Even with his age and injury history considered, Smith is likely to command a sizeable contract if he hits the open market. Given Dallas’ cap situation, that presents a big problem.
Jones has a tendency to keep his players, but he will have to consider alternatives to retaining Smith. These could include moving Tyler Smith from guard to tackle again and/or targeting a lineman early in the draft.
The Cowboys are bringing Martavis Bryant back on a reserves/futures contract.
WR Martavis Bryant made a lasting impression on the Cowboys: He is expected to sign a Reserve/Future contract Wednesday, a person familiar with situation said. Bryant spent several weeks on practice squad before team released him Jan. 4 in a numbers crunch.
Bryant back for 2024.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 17, 2024
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