Moore: Why Cowboys’ D is on pace to allow most points in team history


Moore: Why Cowboys’ D is on pace to allow most points in team history
COLUMN By DAVID MOORE / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – With 17 days left in the calendar year, it’s time to look at some of the cold, hard truths that have unfolded in the worlds of entertainment and sports.

Q: Who has hurt their reputation most these past 12 months?

A. Singer Kanye West.

B. Actor Mel Gibson.

C. Former husband and chopper enthusiast Jesse James.

D. The Cowboys defense.

E. All of the above.

The correct answer is E. Our winners will receive an autographed photo of Taylor Swift and a blindfold to wear when the Cowboys defense takes the field over these final three games.

The defense is on pace to give up the most points in franchise history. The Cowboys have already allowed 116 more points than they did all of last season, when a strong finish persuaded some to draw comparisons to Doomsday of a bygone era.

The names and jersey numbers remain largely the same, but the result is vastly different. This group has lost its defensive identity. It doesn’t shut down the run, gets minimal pressure on the quarterback and gives up way too many big plays through the air.

A defense that allowed 30 or more points twice last season has done so six times in 2010. The Cowboys have given up 30 or more points in three consecutive games.

“I think they certainly need to improve,” interim head coach Jason Garrett said. “Our whole football team needs to improve. There is no question about that.”

The Cowboys had not allowed a back to rush for 100 yards against them in 21 consecutive games entering Week 3 this season.

They have allowed five since then, including 149 yards by Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy in Sunday night’s loss.

Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson knifed through the Cowboys secondary for 210 yards. That should come as no surprise. He is the seventh receiver to gain more than 100 yards in a game against the Cowboys this season.

It has been 24 years since the Cowboys defense allowed more.

How porous has the defense been? The Cowboys rank next to last in the NFL in points allowed and have yielded 43 touchdowns.

Green Bay’s defense leads the league having allowed just 18 touchdowns.

A run of games against New Orleans, Indianapolis and Philadelphia the last three weeks hasn’t helped.

“I thought our defense did a very good job [Sunday] night at different times slowing that offense down,” Garrett said. “Now, one of the things the Eagles do as good as anybody is they make big plays. As that game wore on, they were able to make big plays, both in the run game and the pass game. That made the difference.”

The Cowboys have lost two games since Garrett took over for Wade Phillips. Both were by the score of 30-27. When presented with an opportunity to close out those games or give the offense another chance, here is how the defense responded.

New Orleans – The Cowboys were up, 27-23, with just under six minutes to go and held the Saints to a three-and-out. But when New Orleans got the ball again, quarterback Drew Brees directed a five-play, 89-yard drive in 1:08. The key play was a 55-yard completion to Robert Meachem on third-and-10.

Philadelphia – The Eagles clung to a three-point lead when their offense got the ball with 4:22 left in Sunday’s game. McCoy ran for 6 yards. He ran for 12. He ran for 19. He ran for 13.

The clock expired without the Cowboys offense getting another crack to tie or win the game.

“It was a different player on every snap trying to do too much, not taking care of our responsibilities,” linebacker Keith Brooking said of the Cowboys defense on that possession.

“I think it’s just consistency. We don’t have that consistency week in and week out. We don’t have that consistency during the game. That has been our downfall this year.”

West. Gibson. James. The Cowboys. All have fallen for different reasons.

But all of their descents have been dramatic.

A time to give

This year’s defense is on pace to give up more points than any in Cowboys history. All it will take is 40 points over the final three games for this unit to own the record.

Season Points Average
2004 405 25.3
1962 402 28.7
1989 393 24.5
2010 366* 28.2

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