Its very cliché to say, but “what a rollercoaster of a season” the Dallas Cowboys just had. It finally derailed and came to an end at the LA Coliseum against the Rams in the Divisional round of playoffs, and much like the other 3 teams in the NFC East is was a tale of two halves.
In true Dallas Cowboy fashion the season had drama, twists, turns and news that wasn’t always good. There was the Dez Bryant and Jason Witten news before the team had even started pre-season training; on the back foot from the start the Cowboys lacked leadership numbers in the locker room and a 0 – 4 start in the pre-season didn’t inspire fans with much hope.
It was clear that offensively things were going to be difficult this season and excluding the Jacksonville game, which was clearly an outlier in which they scored 40 points, the most in any game this season, they only averaged 14 points per game. New wide receiver Allen Hurns and Rookie Michael Gallup were not connecting with Dak Prescott and offensive line injuries and illnesses caused huge problems which made the offense extremely unbalanced. The focus was so heavily on what the offense wasn’t doing that some of the good that the young defense was doing went unnoticed, through 8 games they had only allowed 13 points per game and headed in to the BYE week with a losing 3 – 5 record.
Change was needed and it came out of the blue during the BYE when it was announced that the Cowboys had agreed to trade next year’s 1st Round Draft pick for wideout Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders.
This trade would shape the rest of the seasons for the Dallas Cowboys.
Dak Prescott had an 87.4 passer rating without Cooper, but it increased to 105.7 with him. His ability to be a real threat opened everything else up in the offense and made the team far more balanced, the defense continued their good work and soon become noticed as a top defense in the league with Rookie Leighton Vander Esch often stealing the limelight.
The Cowboys ended the regular season with a 10 – 6 record and clinched the NFC East division and headed in to the playoffs.
With the self-named “Hot ‘Boys” playing extremely well on defense and the offense ticking over there was optimism all around but besides getting a crucial wildcard win versus the Seahawks they were unable to make it passed the well-coached and fully loaded talent roster of the LA Rams.
The off season will not be a peaceful break for the front office as a number of issues need to be addressed, big player contracts are coming to an end and free agency is looming.
Without a 1st round pick the Cowboys will not be in action in the draft until pick 59, but first and foremost the play calling has been an issue all season long and we await to hear what Jerry Jones will do about Scott Linehan. Prescott needs consistency to continue his development but he has an inexperienced QB coach and, in my opinion a play caller that doesn’t suit his style.
When all is said and done, the season can only be considered a success when you look where they started, but Cowboys fans really felt like something special was happening. One thing is for sure, with this being a very young roster the Dallas Cowboys are trending upwards.
Authored by guest writer Colin McDonnell
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman (USA Today)