FRISCO, Texas —
The Cowboys defense once again showed its fundamental flaw while getting blown out by the Ravens 34-17 Sunday. When you fail to do the most basic thing the game of football asks you — stop the run — it's no wonder this season will be historically bad from a defensive standpoint.
From his perch above the field, former Cowboys great-turned-broadcaster Troy Aikman made the call early after the Ravens ripped off a long ground gain in the first quarter. "You start getting gains like that and this game can get away from you,” said the Hall of Famer. And was he ever right.
The Ravens racked up 294 rushing yards on 37 carries. That's a staggering eight yards per rush.
"Just not being disciplined,” said linebacker Leighton Vander Esch after the game Tuesday. "I mean, I don’t think we played very good team defense as a whole tonight."
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy did not mince words. He placed the blame squarely on his defensive players.
"You know, we're pretty far down the road to blame this on scheme. Our execution clearly wasn’t where it needed to be,” said McCarthy. “That’s reflective of the big plays that come out. We knew that was part of the dynamic coming into the game and we didn’t get it done."
It’s another nosedive in a historically bad year. In the Cowboys' first 60 seasons, they gave up more than 290 rushing yards in a single game just one time. The Ravens debacle made it twice this year for the Cowboys after surrendering a franchise-worst 307 rushing yards to the Browns in October.
"I think we’ve got good football players, it’s just right now we’re not executing. I’m convinced we can get the job done,” said Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones.
While we play the blame game, the points are piling up. This Cowboys defense is on pace to give up 524 points, shattering the team record of 436.
All this will serve to make this final month of the season barely watchable. Unless, of course, you’re a Cowboys player or coach.
Cowboys players taking the blame may be OK in the immediate aftermath of their latest loss, but ultimately Jerry Jones and the Dallas brain trust will be forced to make hard decisions about the long-term viability of their defensive scheme and those who teach it.
In the NFL, when you play as badly as that Cowboys defense has, accountability will be soon to follow. So, in the coming weeks, jobs will be on the line.