Why the Cowboys struggled against the Chiefs defense

Liz Loza and Matt Harmon take a deep dive into the Week 11 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs in which Clyde Edwards-Helaire made his triumphant return to play.

Hear the full conversation on the Yahoo Fantasy Football Forecast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

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LIZ LOZA: If Miles Sanders was one of the best stories of a running back returning, then I think Clyde Edwards-Helaire has to be also part of the conversation. He returned for the Chiefs this week, 12 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. I'm mentioning the touchdown because for so long we were complaining that CEH hadn't gotten his share of the goal line and it was in fact Williams, who was always getting those goal line looks.

So nice to see him in the mix. He also caught both of his targets for 13 additional yards. I'm happy with this. Obviously, game script. I mean, game script was quite unexpected. The over/under on this game between the Cowboys and the Chiefs, by the way, 55 and 1/2. I hope you took the under times seven. Because 9 to 19 was the final score.

MATT HARMON: Yeah, Dallas was out of sorts from the jump. The Chiefs still maintained like a pass first approach. We know that's gonna be the case here. But still, you're right to bring up CEH, 12 carries to just 5 for Darrel Williams. Patrick Mahomes gets in there for 7. Kelce and Hill also had rush attempts as well.

But, yeah. I mean, there is no split. I did the-- and our buddy Chris Harris when I was on a show this week-- called it exactly this. And he's like, I don't know if you're just hedging by putting Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire right by your rankings. I'm like, yeah, buddy. That's exactly what I'm doing.

I think that is what we call a hedge. I'm not sure. I didn't know, but now I know. Yeah, it looks like Clyde Edwards-Helaire is gonna maintain that lead dog role.

LIZ LOZA: At least it is affirming. So if you saved him, congratulations. We at least have a bit of a clue moving forward. Now, let's talk about Dallas because, I mean, the clues have evaporated. I don't know.

I think the biggest clue actually is the absence of Tyron Smith and clearly what a glue piece he is to not just the offensive line but like, making the whole thing work. And I am wondering-- and this is purely speculation, but it was based on a podcast that Charles Robinson and Frank Schwab recorded on "You Pod to Win The Game" a couple of weeks ago about Dak's calf injury and how there was some whispers about how it was maybe related to the ankle injury that obviously held him out all of last year, and could this be a compensation issue. And so that is swirling around in the back of my head. Although, the Cowboys are expected to get their left tackle back in week 12.

MATT HARMON: Yeah, I think they needed that. And, you know, I know we're talking Cowboys but still kind of a Chiefs take. Like, I think the Chiefs have-- you know, the trade for Melvin Ingram was huge. You know, that was probably a signing they should have just made in the offseason.

But that has really been a game changer for them because it's taken their pass rush to up to like high degree levels. Steve Spagnuolo is still a defensive coordinator that I have a lot of respect for, and they've managed to scheme around and pressure around their problems. They've moved Chris Jones back to more of a natural interior rusher position.

Their defense is not a joke anymore. I think that was the thing about this game and the high over/under that you mentioned was that's like thinking about it as the old Chiefs defense. But, you know, this defense was able to give an offensive line that's banged up a lot of problems.

LIZ LOZA: And Chris Jones is getting healthy. I mean, it's not just that he's being moved around, but I think that, you know, he's-- and frankly, like, a lot of the defense is just getting healthier. And so there is a coalescing. And, I mean, I suppose that Vegas didn't believe its own team's worth last week. And so that's probably why we saw such an inflated over/under.

But when we talk about the rest of the Cowboys, we have to mention that CeeDee Lamb-- well, there was no Amari Cooper. We already knew that, right? CeeDee Lamb left this one banged up. Ezekiel Elliott got banged up, rolled his ankle. It looked like it might have been a sprain, but he returned. So keep an eye on that because who knows if it was an adrenaline rush.

If he is gonna miss any time or be significantly hobbled, then, my goodness, I think Tony Pollard looks really good against the Raiders. We know that you can definitely run on the Raiders next week. So keep an eye on that. But obviously game script prevented either Pollard or Elliott from doing much on the ground because Dak was ineffectively chasing points for much of this. He was sacked five times. Again, the absence of Smith so evident here.

MATT HARMON: Right. Yeah, I was watching this game pretty closely. And, you know, Troy Aikman in the third quarter's like, you know, they can't pass protect Dak. Like, they really need to just like turn to some smash mouth football here. I'm like, you're down 16 to 6. It's a little late to start like establishing the run.

But to your point though, next week, I think that will probably be the game plan. And that's one credit I'll give to Kellen Moore is like-- he's done a great job this year. I'm not trying to say anything otherwise. But like, he's been great about like-- this offense can be many different things, but it did struggle to kind of get off the map and never established itself as like a pass rushing unit.

You know, I thought it was disappointing. Obviously, CeeDee Lamb gets hurt in this game. And to be fair, like, we're probably not gonna get CeeDee Lamb on Thanksgiving either. Like, four days is not a lot to clear the concussion protocol.

We know Amari Cooper's not vaccinated, so he's not coming back for this game either. So it's gonna be like Michael Gallup.

LIZ LOZA: Get ready for Cedrick Wilson, baby. It's going to be the Cedrick Wilson Show.

MATT HARMON: And that was like-- Cedrick Wilson had a horrible game. Noah Brown dropped a couple of passes as well. Like, it's gonna be 10 targets to Michael Gallup. And like, Dalton Schultz will also get in the mix too, but I feel like we'll see a game with maybe 30 pass attempts for Dak or something like that. Nothing like 43 of what we got this week.

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