I fell into the trap. I looked at the shiny toy and bought it without doing my research. I wanted instant gratification and didn’t do my due diligence. I didn’t wait. Now my toy is defective, and I can’t return it.
I, and maybe you, had high hopes for the Cowboys this season. They returned tons of talent, made the change needed at offensive coordinator, and added a few pieces in free agency. The NFC East got worse, and it felt like this was the Cowboys time to make a Super Bowl. I even picked them to win the NFC and face off against the New England Patriots to end the season. That isn’t happening now.
How things have fallen apart for the Cowboys
The Cowboys started the season on fire, even though their first three opponents were awful (Giants, Washington, and Dolphins). The Cowboys outscored those three teams by 53 points, and their offense looked amazing. I wanted to be excited about Dallas because of its preseason hype.
I wrote about the offense and how impressive it was. It looked like a brand-new offense under Kellen Moore, with RPOs, play-action pass, and improved confidence from Dak Prescott, especially on third down. People said to me, “Well, look at their schedule.” I choose to ignore that. I wanted to believe.
Since that 3-0 start, the Cowboys are 3-6 and don’t have a single win against a team that currently has a winning record. When they’ve played teams who are near their level or better, they are 1-5, with only their such win coming over the Eagles at home. Against the others, they haven’t gotten things done, especially on offense.
They lost 12-10 to the Saints. They were down 31-3 to the Packers before falling 34-24. They came up short in a 13-9 loss to the Patriots and just got dominated by the Buffalo Bills, 26-15. The Cowboys are not a good team right now.
What makes the Cowboys losing all these games even worse is the team has above-average advanced stats. I love Football Outsiders’ DVOA, which is adjusted for schedule. Dallas is fifth overall as a team, and that number is so high because of it second-ranked offense.
The issue is the offense, especially Prescott, isn’t producing when it needs to against the best teams the Cowboys have played.
Dak in Cowboys’ losses:
NO: 0 TDs, INT, 73 rating
GB: 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 84 rating
NYJ: 0 TDs, 89 rating
NE: 0 TDs, INT, 64 rating
BUF: 2 TDs, 2 INTs
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) November 29, 2019
On defense, this Cowboys team has underachieved. They finished last season in the top 10 of defensive DVOA and now sit at No. 19. They’ve had no significant departures and haven’t had many injures. They just haven’t played well, even though they are talented. In fact, I’d argue in most games the Cowboys are more talented team.
Which game this season did the Cowboys have the worse quarterback? Maybe against the Packers, but Prescott has played much better overall than Aaron Rodgers this season. Same for Tom Brady. Carson Wentz hasn’t been better than Prescott this season, either.
So, they have the best QB in every game. They have the best offensive line in the league, an elite running back and receiver, and capable tight ends. The defense is also loaded, with Pro Bowl pass rushers and an awesome linebacking unit. Heck, Sean Lee is a backup! Their secondary has good players, too.
None of that has mattered, though, because of coaching.
The Cowboys need to move on from Jason Garrett
The Cowboys are severely mismatched in most games in the coaching department, and it’s my fault for not believing what I knew. Jason Garrett is just an average coach. He’s won the division before with great players, but he rarely elevates the team. They never play better than expected. When have they won a game they shouldn’t have? Almost never.
But I didn’t take this into account when I hyped them up. I talked about coaching all offseason, especially with the Browns, but then totally forgot about it when discussing the Cowboys. Again, I was fooled.
Even now, the Cowboys remain atop the NFC East because the Eagles are disaster and just lost to the Dolphins. However, the Eagles have the easier remaining schedule left the season, while the Cowboys still have quality opponents on their schedule and have to go on the road to play the Eagles again.
If the Cowboys win the division, they still need to dump Garrett and hire someone who will push their talent to new heights A coach who’s progressive and can motivate his team in new ways. Dallas has the right pieces to be a Super Bowl contender. The Cowboys just haven’t been able to put it all together like they were supposed to, and they won’t as long as Garrett is in charge.