State Of Cowboys: Good, Bad & Ugly

The Dallas Cowboys fell to 3-9 on Tuesday night, following an yet another embarrassing outing in their 34-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens
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The Dallas Cowboys are a complete mess right now. 

After dropping an embarrassing 34-17 blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Tuesday night, Mike McCarthy's team is running out of excuses.

Said McCarthy on Wednesday: "We clearly understand the state of our football team as far as our record and so forth.''

The "state of the Cowboys''? That's a good framework for "the Good, the Bad and the Ugly''

It is true, that this team has faced some nearly unprecedented injury issues on both sides of the ball. And yes, the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it shortened the offseason and preparation for the almost entirely new staff cannot be overlooked.  

Unfortunately for that staff, and those players on the field, we are now through 13 weeks of the season, and the same old excuses, deflecting, and pandering are simply not going to work anymore. 

Tuesday's loss, in many ways, was a microcosm of all of those mistakes, and everything that has gone wrong for Dallas so far in 2020. Mistakes, bad defense, drama, poor coaching decisions ... you name it, the Cowboys did it wrong. Again. 

The 'Good' 

Let's be clear here, there was nothing 'good' about what the Cowboys did on Tuesday night. About the best we can come up with here is that Andy Dalton and the offensive line were serviceable against a pretty good Baltimore defense. 

Dalton was sacked just one time, and completed 31 of 48 passes for 285 yards and two scores, with his one interception coming off of a tipped pass at the line and a miraculous catch from linebacker Patrick Queen.

READ MORE: Dez' Ravens 34, Cowboys 17: 'Joy And Pain'

Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper also did their parts, each catching a touchdown, while Gallup led the team with seven catches for 86 yards and a score. 

The line also paved the way for Ezekiel Elliott to have his third-highest rushing output since Week 2 with 77 yards on 18 carries. Though in the grand scheme of things, that is not wholly impressive when facing a team that is average at best against the run.

That is about where it stops, however, because the rest of the night was an utter disaster.

The 'Bad'

There are varying levels of 'Bad', so for the sake of sticking to the format, we're going to break these up into two separate categories, even though all of these things could be considered either 'Bad' or "Ugly'. 

Let's begin with the kicking game, where first-year Cowboy Greg Zuerlein missed three attempts on the night -  albeit two of them came from 50-plus yards. 

The problem here is that Zuerlein was brought to Dallas to do this exact thing, as he is known for his powerful leg and long-distance accuracy. Zuerlein hits about 56 percent of his kicks from 50 yards or more for his career, but in 2020, he has hit just one of six attempts, marking a career-worst (by a good margin) 16 percent from that distance. 

READ MORE: Ravens 34, Cowboys 17: 10 'Whitty' Observations When All Goes Wrong

“I wouldn’t say it was anything, at all,” Zuerlein said after the game. “I think the conditions were fine, even if there was wind. I’m good enough to make the kicks, I just didn’t do it.”

Throw a delay of game on one attempt that pushed the distance back of the first missed attempt of the game from 35 to 40 yards, and you can see where we are going with this. 

The Cowboys can't make the easy plays to keep themselves alive in games, even when they are being given opportunities to do so. It's almost impressive at this point. 

It is a problem that has plagued them all season long in all phases of the game, but on Tuesday, it was the kicking game's turn to carry the stick, and in that sense, they didn't disappoint. 

The 'Ugly'

It was hard to pick just one thing to focus on here, but the thing for Dallas that sticks out the most as 'ugly' was without a doubt their run defense. 

Dallas was already the worst run defense in the league. They are the team that, if you have even a backup running back playing against them in fantasy football, you start that guy without hesitation, because he will more than likely give you a solid fantasy return.

On Tuesday, however, it was just downright embarrassing for Dallas.  

As a team, the Ravens ran 37 times for 294 yards and two scores, had nearly two 100-plus yard rushers, and had three guys run for more than 70 yards. 

READ MORE: Lamar Runs Away from the Cowboys

Gus Edwards led the way with seven carries for 101 yards, averaging a ridiculous 14.4 yards (!) per carry, while Lamar Jackson ran for 94 yards with a score on 13 carries. Rookie J.K. Dobbins added 11 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown, while veteran Mark Ingram rounded things out with six carries for 28 yards, giving Baltimore four different players that averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry in the game. 

That is ugly.

The problems all start up front for the Cowboys, who's interior defensive line is an absolute disaster at this point. They lack talent, experience, and depth, stemming from bad drafting, bad free-agent decisions, and yes injuries. 

As a result of the bad interior defensive line play, the linebackers are also suffering. Though their play cannot be totally excused either, as both Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have been sub-par in their own right's on multiple occasions throughout the season. 

READ MORE: Evaluating Cowboys Draft Class - And Picking LB Micah Parsons in 2021

But shockingly, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones, still ... somehow ... thinks that they have the right personnel to be good on defense. 

“I think we’ve got good football players, it’s just right now, we’re just not executing," Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Wednesday. "There’s a similar group of guys out on that field who last year weren’t that inefficient against the run. I’m convinced we can get the job done.”

Even as bad as 2020 has been for Dallas, the Joneses continue to pander, continue to deny, and continue to make fools of themselves. 

But honestly, it kind of fits the motif. It's central to "the state of the Cowboys'' right now.