What’s next for the Cowboys after hitting rock bottom?

What’s next for the Cowboys after hitting rock bottom?

by October 29, 2020 0 comments

After a 2-5 start to the 2020 campaign, the Dallas Cowboys are on the verge of turning in the most disheartening season in team history despite while playing in one of the most underwhelming divisions in league history. If the loss on Monday night in Week 6 against Arizona was a wake-up call, then the team’s performance the following week was rock bottom.

Dak Prescott’s fifth season was supposed to be the one where he finally forced the Jones’ hand in the pending contract negotiations that would have followed the conclusion of the year. Based on Prescott’s performance under center through the first four weeks, it was inevitable that the native of Sulphur, Louisiana was going to be Cowboy long-term, and never play under the franchise tag again. In the NFL, more than any other league, things change fast.

Prescott looked like an MVP candidate through the first four weeks of the season. The surprising free-agent acquisition of Aldon Smith looked genius. Both Trevon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb appeared poised to be rookies on their way to contribute to a playoff team. Three weeks later, Dallas’ franchise quarterback is out for the year, Andy Dalton has been diagnosed with a concussion, and the defense has never looked worse. Playing in any other division in any other year would surely constitute the idea that this season is done. However, the Cowboys play in 2020’s edition of the NFC East and don’t have the roster or cap flexibility that a typical “seller” at the trade deadline would. 

Dallas has invested heavily in its currently injured offensive line and would only be able to unload pieces from its deep wide receiving core. Michael Gallup is a player that would draw interest around the league, but there would be no incentive to cut ties with the 24-year-old who is signed on a rookie deal through the 2021 campaign. In 2018 the Cowboys started the year 3-5 and were without a first-round pick after trading for Amari Cooper.

Fast-forwarding to this year, Mike McCarthy’s squad has a first-round pick in 2021. Furthermore, they should receive some compensatory picks after not re-signing a number of free agents last spring. The Cowboys are expected to be owed picks for not re-signing Randall Cobb, Robert Quinn, Maliek Collins, and Byron Jones. The cupboard is not bare, but due to the injury-plagued season thus far, the current roster is as bare as ever.

Despite the clear deficiencies that Dallas has at the safety position, it is evident through the performance of the Cowboys’ NFC East foes that they will somehow be in the mix. What does that mean? It means the story of the NFC East in 2020 will be told in similar fashion to how it was in 2019. The division winner, the 9-7 Philadelphia Eagles, was ousted quickly in the Wild Card round vs. Seattle. After the first seven weeks of this year’s action, all signs would point to the same fate occurring for whoever is the one to take the division crown.

For the Cowboys, it will be about exercising a smooth transition from disaster to normalcy by season’s end. The situation that the Jones’ have to work with is much different compared to 2015 when Tony Romo suffered a left broken collarbone. Now, it’s a 27-year old Prescott who was expected to get a long-term deal from the Cowboys. The uncertainties moving forward in Dallas are at an all-time high.

It starts with McCarthy and new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Playing the blame game in North Texas is not a new phenomenon when it comes to looking at the coaching staff. One year ago, the main subjects were Jason Garrett, Kris Richard, and Rod Marinelli. As Week 8 approaches, the McCarthy era in Dallas is in question. Prior to the Cowboys Week 7 disaster in Washington, Dallas’ defense had allowed just as many touchdowns as they had forced punts. By mid-December, don’t be surprised if the Jones’ start to face external pressure regarding not only the Prescott contract situation but whether McCarthy and Nolan should be on the sidelines once in 2021. What better way to start the journey of uncertainty than with a Sunday Night Football appearance in Week 8 at Philadelphia?

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