Published: Mon, November 28, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

The Achilles Heel of the Dallas Cowboys that Might Cost Them a Championship

The Achilles Heel of the Dallas Cowboys that Might Cost Them a Championship

The current conversation revolving around the Dallas Cowboys and their Thanksgiving match-up against the Washington Redskins at a National Football League best mark of 9 – 1 has been more about which among the candidates of the teams deserves to be honored with the most valuable player award. It was never about which of the two has what it takes to lift the championship trophy. Click here to view updated Super Bowl lines if you want to be on top of things.

Should the MVP go to Dak Prescott who is the 4th round rookie quarterback and Ezekiel Elliot who is the 4th overall draft pick and is ranked top in the NFL for rushing yards? Alternatively, should the voters for once just become creative by awarding the entire offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys who have been exemplary in the league with the MVP award?

While it is perfectly justified to focus on the strength of the team, it is equally important to acknowledge that the Dallas Cowboys have weaknesses that have been obscured in a single vital area. A weakness that might be quite costly in the near future. Who knows we might just get a taste of its destructive potential on Thursday during their matchup with the Redskins. The Dallas Cowboys need to urgently address the lack of pass rush.

Each and every player in the National Football League is graded on the basis of each snap by the Pro Football Focus. Further, when separating only players’ pass-rush it grades the ability of players to get past blocks and disrupt a quarterback’s dropback. This equally incorporates the length of time that a quarterback can hold a ball and how fast a defender can exert pressure. The Dallas Cowboys are second last in the entire league in this respect.

Dallas is also second last in the league when it comes to pass-rush pressure percentage. This affects opposing quarterbacks with a hit, hurry or sack on a mere 24.3% of dropbacks. This is substandard in the NFL. The only team that is below the Dallas Cowboys in all of the categories is the Colts.

There is no insignificant concern in a NFL that is heavily oriented towards the passing game as the current one is. It even fails to fully capture the extent of the struggles that the teams are facing in their front 7. The Cowboys matchup with the Redskins on Thursday will reveal much more.

The fans of the Dallas Cowboys might argue that it does not matter if their front seven have a poor performance if the team has managed to win nearly 90% of their games to the present.

The appropriate response to that is that the 2 closest losses Dallas has had of the year has been in the hands of the Redskins in week 2 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 10. The quarterbacks directly responsible for these victories against the Cowboys have been outstanding when throwing from a clean pocket this current season.

Thursday will present the Cowboys with an opponent that is of the playoff caliber and a corresponding QB who has achieved his 5 highest grades of his year in just five of his last games. Regardless of how exemplary the offense and secondary of the Cowboys has been, there is bound to be trouble with match-ups who have potential to make to the playoffs such as Seattle, Atlanta and Washington. This is because of the defense issues that Dallas is experiencing.

Seattle pose the greatest challenge to the Cowboys with regard to the NFC. Despite the fact that the Seahawks have a major weakness in their offense, the Dallas Cowboys are somewhat ill-suited to properly exploit that opportunity due to challenges with their front 7.

The Seahawks are top five in the league with regard to pass-coverage grades and run-defense, a grave threat to the defense of the Cowboys.

This is not to rule out the extraordinary performance of rookie QB Prescott. However, it is highly unlikely that he can take charge of a game and successfully make challenging throws that are required to penetrate the defense of Seattle. This is an issue that will be highlighted when Russell Wilson, the second QB in terms of PFF grades is on the opposing team and has a match-up with a defense that can’t successfully apply pressure with consistency.

Cousins is nothing like Wilson, but can play like one of the best QBs currently in the league. This is the main reason why everyone will keep an eye on the performance of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense.

The fans of the Dallas Cowboys have a lot to be grateful for as they head into this holiday match-up. The team has a promising future thanks to the arrival of Elliot and Prescott this year. Nonetheless, the front-seven is still an issue to be urgently addressed as it may be a bottleneck in their championship run.

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