It’s football season, ladies and gentlemen. Sweet satisfaction comes along with the fact that there will now not be a week without football until February 2020. Along with that fact, comes a perhaps even more euphoric realization: Dallas Cowboys football is back. Dallas is coming off a 2018-2019 NFL season which saw a less than favorable start, opening the season 3-5, but perhaps one of the greatest turnarounds seen in seasons by any team. Dallas however, later went on to win seven of their last eight games and go from less than a 30% chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN, to a divisional title. Ultimately, this improbable turnaround was thanks to a very impactful trade for wideout Amari Cooper along with the emergence of one of the league’s premier defenses. However, there was still much work to be done this off-season.
Throughout the season, Dallas had a defense that imposed its will any given week while holding Drew Brees and the Saints to just ten points in a week thirteen upset. Nonetheless, safety remained a gaping hole for Dallas as Jeff Heath missed over twenty tackle attempts during the season (worst in the league). Additionally, takeaways remained scarce for Dallas as ball hawks were non-existent in the back-end of their secondary. Furthermore, Dallas got eliminated from the NFL Playoffs as they gave up two 100 yard runners in one game to the LA Rams, illuminating a worrying hole in the interior defensive line following the abrupt retirement of David Irving. The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball needing work however, as the tight end position was routinely mediocre. Going into the off-season, there was absolutely no doubt that safety, defensive tackle, and tight end remained dire needs if Dallas wants to return to Super Bowl glory.
Ultimately, Dallas was fortunate this off-season, not losing many impact players at all. One loss that did have fans concerned, however, was the departure of quarterback Dak Prescott’s slot receiver and chain mover Cole Beasley. Additionally, defensive end Demarcus Lawrence lost the Robin to his Batman when edge rusher Randy Gregory (had six sacks in just fourteen games coming off an indefinite suspension) was once again suspended indefinitely for substance abuse. Overall, that was about it in terms of impactful off-season player departures for the Dallas Cowboys. Roster turnover wasn’t the only place losses occurred however as Dallas also fired their offensive coordinator Scott Lineman after much scrutiny regarding the play calling throughout the season.
Once again, Dallas opted to be budget shoppers in Free Agency despite screams and cries for a blockbuster signing like All-Pro safety Earl Thomas. Nonetheless, Dallas bought solid veterans on low-value deals and executed it with perfection. To address the new hole at slot receiver, Dallas signed the ex-Packer Randall Cobb. Meanwhile, Dallas also traded for previous All-Pro edge rusher Robert Quinn. What this all adds up to is Dallas replacing their two biggest departures with an explosive receiver who was once the unanimous best slot in the game, along with an electric and consistent edge rusher who hasn’t posted under six sacks in the last two seasons. In short, Dallas did an immaculate job of maintaining talent at positions where impact players were lost, perhaps even upgrading with Quinn over Gregory. In the draft, Dallas also covered the interior defensive line by utilizing their first pick on an energizer bunny in defensive tackle Trysten Hill.
On top of replacing their two biggest off-season losses, Dallas found amazing depth on cheap deals with veteran safety George Iloka, big body, run-stuffing defensive tackle Chris Covington, and edge rusher Kerry Hyder. Also, Dallas covered up their need at the tight end position when future Hall of Famer Jason Witten unexpectedly came out of retirement. Travis Frederick returning to the lineup at center after missing last season due to Guillain-Bare syndrome will boost their offensive line back into the top five.
An Off-season Overview
In short, great veteran signings at positions with departures, along with solid depth pieces added where needed, a future Hall of Famer being added to a mediocre position group, and the return of an All-Pro center all combine into amazing off-season additions for the Dallas Cowboys. Kellen Moore being added as the offensive coordinator also will do wonders to enhance the play call in Dallas. This front office should be heralded as heroes for their work this off-season. In conclusion, Dallas did not get worse at all roster wise due to player departures being covered up, depth being added to protect against injuries, and should improve at positions of weakness due to Witten and Frederick coming back. To be concise, there is no reason at all, whatsoever, to believe Dallas will regress from last season, and should only improve due to a wealth of youth in their superstar players (Jaylon Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Vander Esch, Prescott, Xavier Woods, and Chidobe Awuzie all are 25 and under) and the addition of Frederick, Hill, and Witten. Don’t count on regression at all in Dallas next season barring major injuries.
Overview of the Schedule
Although this article paints an optimistic picture of the season to come for Dallas, their schedule isn’t as promising. Dallas, this season, will have to play each divisional rival two times, play the entirety of the NFC North and AFC East, and also play the Rams and Saints. In a season where Dallas has home games versus the Rams, Packers, and Vikings along with road games versus the Bears, Patriots, and Saints, Dallas couldn’t have a much harder route to the playoffs. Nonetheless, the elite defense and increasingly balanced offense thanks to the emergence of Dak Prescott with Amari Cooper allows promise for upsets (the Saints would know all about that and so would Demarcus Lawrence).
Must Win Games
Week 5: Cowboys vs Packers
Week 7: Cowboys vs Eagles
Week 15: Cowboys vs Rams
Week 16: Cowboys @ Eagles
Rationale: The Cowboys will likely be in two-team race with the Eagles for the NFC East crown due to minuscule expectations for the Giants and Redskins this season. Ultimately, this makes both matches they have versus Philly monumentally vital. The match versus the Packers at home week five will simply be a statement win as the Dallas has notoriously had issues versus Green Bay and beating them will be a morale booster early in the season. Lastly, the home match versus the Rams will be a magnificent confidence booster and momentum setter going into the playoffs, while also showing they can beat the NFC’s best if they play in January.
Week by Week Record Breakdown
Week 1: Cowboys vs Giants (W)
Week 2: Cowboys @ Redskins (W)
Week 3: Cowboys vs Dolphins (W)
Week 4: Cowboys @ Saints (L)
- Rationale: Grudge match in NOLA? Good luck.
Week 5: Cowboys vs Packers (L)
- Rationale: Rodgers shines against the Cowboys; Green Bay did wonders to bolster the defense this off-season.
Week 6: Cowboys @ Jets (W)
Week 7: Cowboys vs Eagles (W)
Week 9: Cowboys @ Giants (W)
Week 10: Cowboys vs Vikings (W)
Week 11: Cowboys @ Lions (L)
- Rationale: This has trap game written all over it with young stars Kenny Golladay, TJ Hockensen, and Kerryon Johnson shining while Trey Flowers makes the difference on defense.
Week 12: Cowboys @ Patriots (W)
- Rationale: Dallas matches up well versus New England with their balanced offense and tenacious pass rush to effect Brady. Upset alert.
Week 13: Cowboys vs Bills (W)
Week 14: Cowboys @ Bears (L)
- Dallas loses a close game in the battle of the defenses. Mack forces Dak to make mistakes and turn it over.
Week 15: Cowboys vs Rams (W)
- Dallas has a grudge against the Rams from the divisional round and run it down their throat, taking advantage of a limited workload for Gurley.
Week 16: Cowboys @ Eagles (L)
Week 17: Cowboys vs Redskins (W)
Playoff standing: #2 seed and a first round bye
With a very impressive off-season, there is no reason to believe Dallas should regress at all next season. Meanwhile, additions such as Frederick and Witten along with simple development among stars promises improvement upon their 10-6 record last season. Leave your thoughts in the comments down below, what record you have Dallas obtaining this season?