The Cowboys got off to a 3-0 start that had fans in Dallas dreaming of a Super Bowl victory. The reality is Dallas got fat playing against bad teams.
After three weeks of the NFL season, the Cowboys looked like they could be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Unfortunately for fans in Dallas, their favorite team can’t play against the dregs of the league every Sunday. Back-to-back losses at New Orleans and at home to the Packers have proven that Jason Garrett’s team is closer to a fringe playoff contender than a threat to win the Super Bowl.
The good news for the Cowboys is that they have plenty of time to turn things around. Sitting at 3-2 in the NFC East still has Dallas squarely in the mix to earn a playoff berth. The Cowboys and Eagles will finish Week 6 in a tie atop the division standings a game ahead of both the Redskins and Giants. There’s a clear delineation between the top and bottom half of this division.
The question now becomes whether the Cowboys deserve to be considered as legitimate challengers to the Eagles. That question would have been answered with an emphatic yes just two weeks ago. After getting drilled at home by the Packers, there are serious doubts about whether or not Garret and his coaching staff are getting the most out of their talented roster.
It has to be pointed out that the Cowboys haven’t registered a victory against an opponent resembling anything close to a playoff team yet this season. Wins over the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins are a nice way to pad your record, but they aren’t the sort of victories that announce a team as Super Bowl contenders. Instead, they are the sort of wins who keep flawed teams inside the playoff hunt.
Next week’s game at the Jets isn’t likely to shed more light on the Cowboys’ playoff qualifications. Even if Sam Darnold recovers in time to play, Dallas still should overwhelm New York. It’s the following week where the Cowboys will need to show up. Hosting the Eagles on Sunday Night Football will be a massive opportunity for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to show the world they’re for real. It’s also another opportunity for the team to lay an egg against a quality opponent.
In the end, the 2019 season is going to serve as a referendum for the Cowboys’ coaching staff. Stars like Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper give this team enough talent to operate at a high level. If they can’t compete with upper-echelon teams it’s going to be blamed on Garrett and his staff. If they want to remain employed by Jerry Jones, orchestrating a good showing against the Eagles in two weeks would be a very wise career investment.