Running back Ezekiel Elliott has been gone from the Cowboys’ offense for a month, and it has been messed up since he left.
Coach Jason Garrett and play-caller Scott Linehan must get it fixed right now because Elliott isn’t walking into that locker room for another two weeks.
And if Garrett and Linehan can’t figure out a way to manufacture a decent passing game and help the players on this offense maximize their abilities then any sliver of a chance this team has to get to the playoffs will be over before Elliott returns.
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The 2-10 Giants are a bad team these days, but their defense was built to stop the Cowboys with the free-agent additions of defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive tackle Damon Harrison.
Jenkins is out, but the Giants are more than capable of shutting down the Cowboys’ offense we’ve seen the past month.
So don’t be fooled by the 38 points they Cowboys scored in their blowout win over Washington.
We all know that was a mirage.
Ryan Switzer returned a punt for a touchdown, and the defense forced four turnovers.
If the offense had been any good, the game would’ve been over by halftime.
Dallas managed just 275 yards of offense, the fourth straight game of less than 300 yards of total offense.
Just so you know, the Cowboys have won just seven games since 2011 when gaining fewer than 300 yards and three of those occurred in 2012, when Dallas went 8-8.
The best coaches provide solutions to problems. Thus far, Garrett and Linehan haven’t done it.
They’re stubborn about the Cowboys’ timing-based passing offense. It’s a scheme designed to take advantage of weaknesses in the defense by having quarterback Dak Prescott exploit the best individual matchup.
When the Cowboys’ offensive players win their individual battles, the offense works perfectly.
In 2014, the year Linehan joined Garrett, the Cowboys finished seventh in the NFL in yards (383.6) and fifth in points (29.2), whiling winning 12 games. The next year, the tried to run the same offense with Brandon Weedon and Matt Cassel and it was a disaster as the Cowboys averaged just 17.2 points per game, while winning just four games.
With Prescott last year, the Cowboys finished fifth in the NFL in total offense (376.7) and fifth in points (26.3). And with Elliott this season, the Cowboys averaged 370.5 yards and 28.3 points per game.
The problem, of course, is the offense has been an embarrassment without him. Blame it on a lack of creativity.
The running game has been more than adequate with Alfred Morris, but the passing game has been abject.
Prescott has just four completions of more than 20 yards in 110 pass attempts over the last four games.
It’s hard to win without gains of 20 yards or more because it’s difficult to consistently drive the ball the length of the field against NFL defenses without a penalty, negative play or dropped pass wrecking the drive.
Then there’s the disappearance of Cole Beasley, who led the Cowboys in catches (75) and yards (833) last season. He has 30 catches for 228 yards this season.
“Teams have been playing a corner with hard outside leverage against me and putting someone inside,” Beasley said. “I have no room to run inside. There’s nowhere to go.
“The space for me is down the field, but that’s not what we do. I’m a receiver. Every receiver wants the ball, but coaches don’t change. I understand it because they believe in what they’re doing.