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It's understandable that everyone in Dallas Cowboys nation was upset after their 42-10 debacle of a loss against the San Francisco 49ers on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 5. They committed four turnovers to the 49ers' one, only mustered eight first downs to the 49ers' 25, were outgained 421 to 197 in total yards and lost the time of possession battle by just under 15 minutes. The 49ers limited Cowboys to an alarming eight total yards on their first four drives, forcing three three-and-outs and a fumble. That allowed San Francisco to race out to a 14-0 lead before Dallas even recorded a first down. 

"We were pissed," quarterback Dak Prescott said Friday. "We went out there and put a performance out there like that, something I'm not proud of and something you didn't see coming with the way that we prepared and our confidence level. The last thing that we need to do is allow that thing to linger into the week. Especially having the extra day to put it behind us, watch the film and then come in and close the book on that and move forward toward the Chargers, who are a really good team. You don't have time in this league to have a hangover." 

Week 5 marked the Cowboys' second embarrassing defeat of the season to go along with a 28-16 upset loss at the previously winless Arizona Cardinals back in Week 3. With the rollercoaster-like nature of the Cowboys' "Texas Coast" offense in head coach Mike McCarthy's first season as Dallas' offensive play-caller, frustrations are beginning to show.

When you remove non-offensive scores, of which the Cowboys have four this season, and take the temperature of the Dallas offense, it's averaging 21.2 offensive points per game this season, down 5.2 points per game from last season. One of McCarthy's big philosophical assertions about his offense versus Kellan Moore's was that he "wanted to run the damn ball." That was said in the context of maintaining possession and not wearing out his defense. So far, the Cowboys are running the football at essentially the same rate as they did in Moore's offense. Meanwhile, the Chargers, Moore's new home where is also the offensive coordinator and play-caller, are averaging five more points per game with him (27. 5 in 2023 vs. 22.5 in 2022) while quarterback Justin Herbert has increased his average pass length to 8.8 in 2023, the fifth-longest in the NFL, after averaging 6.4 last season, the third-shortest in the NFL.

"We got to be complete," Lamb said postgame . "We can't go out there one week and look like a super team and then the following week shit the bed."

When asked what the Cowboys' offensive identity is this season, he provided a damning answer. 

"I don't know," Lamb said.

Cowboys offense last two seasons


Offensive PPG



Total YPG


Red Zone TD Pct71.4%36.8%*
Run Pct37.1%36.9%
Time of Possession29:20*32:16

*Ranks 16th or worse in NFL

After having nearly a week to think about everything, Lamb admitted Friday that after Week 5 was the most frustrated he has ever been after a game in the NFL. The 2022 second-team All-Pro wide receiver finished with a team-high four catches for a team-high 49 yards on five targets in the Cowboys' stunning defeat.

"Obviously I had time to self-reflect," Lamb said Friday. "I mean, I didn't go the best route to get my end result. But at the end of the day, I do have a job to do. I want to contribute to this team, so I do everything in my power week in and week out to do that. Going forward, there's a better way to go about it. Right after the game, your mind is racing about the game. Your adrenaline is running."  

"I wouldn't say natural," Lamb said when asked if the initial offensive issues are "natural" or expected growing pains when in the first year of a new offense. "It happens. Every team isn't going to be great off the rip for 17 games straight. We plan for that. Some things hit the fan, and it's all about how you bounce back. We have preached resilience throughout my time here and now we have to prove that we're still that team."

CeeDee Lamb
DAL • WR • #88
REC YDs358
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Lamb has been targeted 35 times through the first five games of the Cowboys' 2023 season, the fewest through his first five games of a season in his career. Despite that slight downtick in targets, McCarthy reiterated that Lamb is still very much viewed as the team's top pass-catcher.

"I don't have an opinion on wide receiver one, two, three, four," McCarthy said Wednesday. "That's not how I view it. That's more of a personnel evaluation category. If you're asking me if CeeDee is clearly a wide receiver one category, I would say absolutely. I think you have to watch yourself. I think you have to be very careful when you the build the passing game, you're getting profile tapes for your personnel and how you classify categories because there's no absolution. You can take players away. Defenses can double two players on your offense every snap. I believe that the training of positions and utilizing their skillsets. His skillset is definitely the label of a wide receiver one for his personnel category personally."

CeeDee Lamb first 5 games (season by season)












Receiving Yards










Receiving Touchdowns2221

"Obviously, I didn't get the start that I wanted," Lamb said. "I have high expectations for myself. Every week after a game, I have time to self-reflect and 'think about what's going on and what I am doing to help the team'. 'Have I done anything to contribute to a win?' When I have no as the answer, that's when think of ways to myself of being better for my team, being a better player and being a better teammate... When things go bad, I have to reflect on what's going on. Me as a competitor, I like to win first and foremost. I don't care how that looks. I am an ultimate competitor. I will do anything in my power for my team, for my guys and my boys, they know this. It's never anything personal. It's all for the better. I want to win and I want to contribute.... I promise I'm fine. I can't wait to play on Monday." 

Lamb said he was approached by Prescott early in the Week 6 preparations to chat about how the duo can perform better. Lamb said they reached the same page prior to diving deep into their game plan for the Los Angeles Chargers.

"If you have a problem with anything, just come up to me and we'll talk about it," Prescott told Lamb, according to Lamb.

"We just spoke about communication," Prescott said. "We were all frustrated. ... We can't be upset about it. We have to get an answer for it [offensive struggles]. The way to get answers is communicating. That's my point with him. 'Hey, come up to me. Come find me. I will come find you.' It's healthy if it gets passionate. If the media makes it out to be something that it's not, so be it. Who cares? They're going to do that anyways. Let's get passionate and find an answer on the sideline. The last thing we are going to do it is not speak about and allow that to linger."

Despite the disconnect in Week 5, Prescott preached that he will never turn away from Lamb in any situation. He also encouraged him to learn from how the 24-year-old has handled the recent disappointment. 

"CeeDee is a guy that I'll never lose confidence in and trust who he is and understand why he's frustrated," Prescott said Friday. "But at the end of the day, he's a leader. It's about him leading other guys and picking other guys up and him just trying to make sure we're all pushing our best. That's where the frustration, we have to remove that. And he will. He's a young player that's growing by the day, and he'll only get better. He'll be better because of those frustrating times."

Lamb is entering the final two years of his rookie deal, including a fifth-year option just south of $18 million in 2024. Prescott preached remaining steady in the wake of their Week 5 disappointment against the 49ers. 

"You can't be shaken by [the 49ers loss]," Prescott said Friday. "You can't change your preparation. You can't change anything you've done because that happened. Bad night, bad timing for some turnovers. We just couldn't do anything on offense. At the end of the day, it goes into the third downs. And third downs that were really manageable, and things that we've done, been the best at in the league, we weren't able to do that. Credit to them, that's why the score looks like that, and that's why the game looks like it does.

"They had a hell of a plan. They challenged us. We didn't respond the right way. And that's why it got ugly. Not going to just say, 'Oh, that was all us.' That was a hell of a team we played, and we're going to give them credit. But not going to allow that to shake our confidence in who we are. As I said after the game, maybe at this point, in Week 5, they're further along than us. But there's a lot of football left, and we've got to make sure that we're continuing to get better. And that's been the attitude this week coming in, practicing, the preparation and we're going to continue to do that."  

Their next chance to get better comes in a reunion game against Moore, now in the same role with the Chargers. The spot Dallas is in now, coming off a loss, has been a comfortable one: the Cowboys have won 10 of their last 11 games coming off a loss while averaging nearly 18 more points per game than their opponents in that span (33.3), while allowing 15.4 per game. 

"I'm confident as hell," Prescott said about the Cowboys offense going forward. "I feel great. … What we've put together, the plan, everything we've worked on going back to the spring, I'd be crazy to lose confidence in that. … Shit's hard. And it got hard Sunday. The last thing we're gonna do is give up and quit or say let's start from scratch and start over. Absolutely not."