Over their last two games, the Dallas Cowboys have won by a combined 17 points, with a point differential ofGeoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsThe defense was superb, and it would be much more fun to solely form five takeaways around that aspect of the game. Unfortunately, the offense's ineptitude has become impossible to ignore, and this is obviously highlighted by Dak Prescott's poor performance lately.Even with a healthier overall offense and a decent run game, it seems to me like Dak Prescott is pressing.On the shot to Lamb near the end zone, it looked like he maybe had Gallup for a first down. Not sure what the balance is there, but again it just looks. off.This will be a difficult pill to swallow, but it needs to be said. Since the bye week, Dak Prescott ranks as the 27th quarterback by EPA per play. Over this stretch, he falls below quarterbacks such as Daniel Jones, Trevor Siemian, Justin Fields, Davis Mills and is only slightly better than Jared Goff.This is a significant reason for the offense's inability to put up points. Since week six Michael Gallup Jersey, Dallas' offensive ranking has fallen from four to 14 by EPA per play, from second to 18th by third-down success rate https://www.prodallasstore.com/Jalen_Tolbert_Jersey-154, and they've seen a five-point decline in their average points per game. The efficiency has similarly declined; while they used to average a score on 52% of their drives, that average is now at 41%.All of the stats listed above include the beginning of the season, and those first six games are inflating the statistics of this offense. Kellen Moore's squad has been well below average since the bye.This was only made worse by the constant throws behind the line of scrimmage on third and long; it was as if the Cowboys had essentially given up on their possessions. It is unclear if this was Dak checking down, Kellen Moore calling a conservative game, or a combination of the two. But it was infuriating to witness, and that never would have happened before the bye.This isn't a death march for Prescott and Moore, they still have the potential to recapture the magic they once had. But it is getting late in the season, and they need to figure it out before playoffs, or else the ceiling of this team is capped. We now need a complement to an elite defense.Micah Parsons is one of the best defenders in the NFLBrad Mills-USA TODAY SportsYou probably read this headline and think, "of course, he has been in the DPOY conversation for weeks now." But this takeaway is more significant than an award; consider the implications of crowning Parsons the Defensive Player of the Year. It is essentially naming a rookie player the best defender in the NFL after just 16 games.But here is the thing, Parsons might actually be the best defender in the NFL. And for a rookie with a presumably higher ceiling than what we are seeing, he might just be a generational talent. Just look at what he did on this play.RT if you love 3 in week 14Since week seven, the Cowboys were running a successful rushing play on 29% of their attempts, that number jumped to 41% in week 14Elliott's 45 rushing yards ties his highest yards in a single week since week nineThis is in no way a statement that Ezekiel Elliott looked back to form, because he still struggled at times. However, what we saw out of Elliott in week 14 was a consistent four yards on every touch https://www.prodallasstore.com/Michael_Irvin_Jersey-6, making Dak's life easier.Even more encouraging is how good Washington's rushing defense was; they are easily a top-five unit against the run. Again, it is not like Ezekiel Elliott set the world on fire in week fourteen, but there were signs of life again against a formattable rushing defense.This takeaway is not to be interpreted as "Ezekiel Elliott is back." But we should now be more encouraged that Zeke's injury is healing, and we might see him get back to what he was doing before the bye week. There are signs of life from Elliott, which is good news.This team has the potential to win it all Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsOnce again, it might be difficult to see now, but this team does have incredible promise. Granted, they need to improve the level they are playing at right now, but the ingredients for a deep playoff run are there. By EPA per play, the Cowboys currently have the fourth-best defense in the NFL, and they are barely behind the second and third-best defense. Dan Quinn's squad is elite and can carry this team if need be; we know that and can set it to the side for now.So how well does the offense need to play for a chance at the Lombardi?Here is another rude awakening that is tough to swallow; the pre-bye week offense was unsustainable. Scoring on 50% of their drives, punting at the second-lowest rate in the NFL was likely not going to continue.If the offense can play at just 75% of the level they were playing at before the bye https://www.prodallasstore.com/Jalen_Tolbert_Jersey-154, this team can beat anyone. Essentially, Dak just needs to play decent football, and the rushing game needs to provide him some support.This is great news. The Cowboys defense is playing to the point where Dak won't need to carry this team in January. He will just need to capitalize on the defense's success, lead a late-game drive in the situations that warrant it, and play mistake-free football. We are past the days where Dak needs to throw for 400 yards and five touchdowns for Dallas to have a chance in a game.The ingredients are there for a special season if the offense can gain consistency. Now we just sit back and hope Moore and Prescott can figure it out. But overall, we should be encouraged that the bar is lowered for what the offense needs to achieve for postseason success.No one is arguing that was a perfect game for the Cowboys. They dominated through three quarters and left FedEx Field with a win, which is enough to essentially lock the division. We need to see more before January, but they have four somewhat pressure-free games to figure it out.Disappointing, unnecessarily close at the end, a defensive masterpiece, or encouraging; however you want to classify the game, at least it is a win. The regular season ends in four weeks, and we will soon find out what this team is made of.
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