Cowboys’ defense never stood a chance against Matt LaFleur, Jordan Love, and Aaron Jones

We’re sure that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will want to investigate how and why his high-priced, Mike McCarthy-led offense made the Green Bay Packers’ defense, led by embattled defensive coordinator Joe Barry, look like the ’85 Chicago Bears when it mattered in Dallas’ humiliating 48-32 wild-card loss. But the real issue causing Dallas’ early exit from the postseason was that the Cowboys’ defense, led by highly-regarded coordinator Dan Quinn, never had a puncher’s chance against Packers head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense.

Coming into this game, the Cowboys had played the third-highest rate of man coverage (39.4%), behind only the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. And against man coverage in the regular season, Packers quarterback Jordan Love had completed 61 of 128 attempts for 788 yards, 581 air yards, a league-high 12 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a passer rating of 92.2. Also, the Cowboys played the second-highest rate of single-high coverage in the regular season (64.9%), behind only the Cleveland Browns (65.4%). And against single-high coverage this season, Love has completed 100 of 155 passes for 1,253 yards, 776 air yards, eight touchdowns, one interception, and a passer rating of 104.0.

So, the Cowboys tried to play a bit more zone against the Packers, to little avail, but this was a clear case of a miserable matchup in which Dallas’ opposing quarterback was ready to demolish everything the Cowboys threw at him. And at that point, it mattered little that the Cowboys came into this game with the fifth-best Defensive DVOA.

The absolute nadir of Dallas’ defensive approach in this beatdown was Love’s 38-yard touchdown with 1:27 left in the third quarter. The game was already 34-16 in Green Bay’s favor, and though the Cowboys did their best to come back against the Packers’ backups, that was pretty much it.

As we always like to say here at Touchdown Wire, don’t play man if you can’t play man.

The second part of Dallas’ defensive breakdown was what running back Aaron Jones was able to do to them, and this was even more predictable. The Cowboys under Quinn feature a ton of big nickel and dime defense, which means that the guys up front, generally in four-man fronts, had best be able to hold up. That hasn’t happened with consistency since defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Hankins was back on the field for this game, but it didn’t matter, and it didn’t matter because Jones had been among the NFL’s best running backs in the last few weeks of the regular season.

Well, Jones finished this game with 119 carries and three touchdowns on 21 carries.

Similarly to the Browns’ inability to adjust to the things about their defense that C.J. Stroud was obviously set up to tear apart, the Cowboys had no answers for the Packers, because the Packers were designed as if to specifically demolish everything Dan Quinn loves.

At a certain point, you just have to tip your hat and move on to next season.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire