The Dallas Cowboys‘ season-opening performance raised more questions than answers about the state of the defense.
Supposedly upgraded from last year’s outfit, the Cowboys surrendered 422 total yards (269 passing, 153 rushing) in Sunday night’s 20-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. They allowed a 100-yard wide receiver and two rushing touchdowns while forcing just one turnover and creating three sacks.
All eyes were on the secondary, which lost cornerback Byron Jones and safety Jeff Heath in free agency, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix at final cuts, and starting nickelback Jourdan Lewis to an ankle injury. Minus a nice interception by CB Chidobe Awuzie, the play was … uninspiring. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, sitting relatively comfortable in the pocket, dinked-and-dunked Dallas to death and hit the deep passes he needed.
If only there was a free agent who could (theoretically) bring firepower to the nerfed unit. If only someone like seven-time Pro Bowler and Texas native Earl Thomas was available.
If only the Cowboys had interest in signing him.
“No, we’re trying to focus on our guys that we have right in the building right now,” club VP Stephen Jones said Monday on 105.3 The Fan, via Pro Football Talk. “We’re always looking for ways to improve. We don’t talk about players that aren’t on our team specifically, but I can assure you that with the injuries that we have — certainly looking at the game tape and where we are. We’re always looking to make our football team better.”
This response was nearly identical to what Jones stated about Thomas at the beginning of the month, before Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan seemingly slammed the door on the former Seahawks star’s potential arrival.
“I’ve not had any conversations with Jerry (Jones) or anyone about (Thomas),” Nolan told reporters on Sept. 7. “When it becomes serious then maybe there will be a conversation. But as far as including me thus far, I have not.”
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Status Quo to Stick?
The Cowboys have bigger fish to fry following tight end Blake Jarwin’s torn ACL and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch’s broken collarbone. They’re also going to be without swing tackle Cameron Erving (knee) for a few weeks — this, after losing starting right tackle La’el Collins (IR, hip).
It’s possible, if not probable, that Jones and Co. continue to deploy Xavier Woods and Darian Thompson at the safety spots, with Donovan Wilson and recently-promoted Brandon Carr as the backups. Woods and Thompson combined for 19 tackles (15 solo) against the Rams. Wilson was held off the stat sheet. Carr was active but did not see the field, by design.
Perhaps the club could activate healthy-scratched rookie DB Reggie Robinson for next Sunday’s home contest versus Atlanta. An alternative is promoting rookie Luther Kirk from the practice squad, though it’s likely Carr is sooner utilized.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL