The Dallas Cowboys seem to have a strange, odd-year curse in recent history. The 2015 Cowboys started hot with former All-Pro quarterback Tony Romo at 2-0. The curse kicked in, and Romo began to suffer injuries that year that resulted in a mostly quarterback-by-committee situation. As a result, the Cowboys finished the 2015 season 4-12.
In 2017, the Cowboys were favored to make it to the Super Bowl. Quarterback Dak Prescott was ahead of the leading MVP candidate, Carson Wentz, in passing rating and total touchdowns, plus fewer interceptions. The odd-year curse kicked in, and the Dallas Cowboys’ offense fell off a cliff during the Week 9 Atlanta game.
If any game was the picture of said curse, it was the 2017 Atlanta game. In that one game, Dallas was missing impact players all at once. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, Pro Bowl kicker Dan Bailey, All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliot, and All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee were all missing versus Atlanta. All the wheels just came off a moving vehicle for the Cowboys’ 2017 season come Week 9.
What is going on to cause the Dallas Cowboys to have the unlucky swings on odd years? Is it a curse?
The answer is no.
The odd-year curses are really when the Cowboys suffer unforeseen personnel crisis that exposes the team.
The even years just so happen to be the years Vice President of Player Personnel, Will McClay, made the personnel adjustments to correct the exposure from the odd year. 2015 exposed the need for an extra dependable backup quarterback. In 2016, Prescott was drafted to be the reliable backup in case Romo went down.
In 2017, Tyron Smith was the missing piece that crippled the entire offense. Prescott’s passing rating, without Smith at left tackle, in 2017 was a 62.25; when Smith protected Prescott’s blindside, Prescott’s passing rating was 97.78.
Both Lee and Smith had the expected injuries in 2018, yet the odd-year insurance policy lessons kicked in and saved the season. In 2018, the Cowboys front office acquired swing tackle Cameron Fleming, and Prescott’s passing rating went up to 119.33 when Smith didn’t play. The front office also drafted Second Team All-Pro Leighton Vander Esch for Lee insurance in 2018; that worked out great as well.
Do the Dallas Cowboys have the insurances in place to cover the odd-year curse of 2019? Only time will tell if the Cowboys’ front office planned for the odd year of 2019. More importantly, the lessons learned from recent odd years will hold value for some time.