After ridding themselves of Jason Garrett, hiring Mike McCarthy and gifting Dak Prescott with a shiny new toy in world-beater CeeDee Lamb, expectations were high in Cowboys country. But after Dak went down with a gruesome ankle injury in Week 5, reality is settling in and the Cowboys’ new normal is brimming with anything but hope.
With Andy Dalton at the helm of McCarthy’s offense on Monday, fans at home were treated to a porous offensive line, Ezekial Elliot serving up fumbles like a cafeteria lady, and Dalton padding his numbers in garbage time in a feeble attempt to conceal the stench of his putrid play during the rest of the game.
By the time the dust settled, the Cardinals were circling over the Cowboys’ corpse like a vulture, and the final score—38-10—doesn’t even begin to tell the tale of how disastrous Dallas looked.
“I can’t really—even—um—I don’t know why,” Elliott muttered to reporters, struggling to explain the back-to-back fumbles he committed early in the game. “I want to say I’m sorry. This one’s on me. I need to be better for this team.”
With a career-high four fumbles in six games so far this season, I think it’s safe to call that an understatement.
“We’re the worst in the league taking care of the football,” McCarthy fumed. “It’s frustrating.”
Yes, the Cowboys still somehow sit atop the atrocious NFC East with a 2-4 record. But both of those wins, against the Giants and Falcons, were against teams with a combined 2-10 record. And it’s not like Dak had the Cowboys firing on all cylinders prior to his injury—thanks, in part, to a defense that’s coughing up 36.3 points per game—but if Dalton and his two interceptions Monday night are the answer, then the question must be: “Who’s the worst team in the league right now?”
The Cowboys are off to their worst start since their dreadful 2015 campaign that featured a rotating cast of quarterbacks that included everyone from Matt Cassell to Corey Feldman and if McCarthy’s contract comes with a rebate, I’m sure Jerry Jones spent his morning mailing off the receipt.
There’s also this ominous stat courtesy of ESPN:
The Cowboys are 6-19 in their past 25 games started by a backup quarterback, dating to 2010. McCarthy has a 6-12-1 record with his backup quarterback. These aren’t good things with 10 games to play.
That sound you hear is another season in Dallas going down in flames.
“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse,” Elliott said of Dak’s absence. “I’m just going to keep saying it over and over. I started the game out with two fumbles, gave the ball away and gave them all the momentum they need to go take off.”
If anything, this just provides Dak with more leverage at the bargaining table this offseason after he’s fully recovered from a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle. But in the interval, you might want to cover your eyes, because it’s only gonna get uglier from here.