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NFL Draft

Cowboys Have Plenty Of Work To Do To Truly Be Contenders

  • The Draft Network
  • September 28, 2020
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Do you want the good news or the bad news first, Dallas Cowboys fans?

Hey, you know what, it’s Monday. We’re spreading positivity here at the beginning of the week. Let’s start with the good news.

The good news for the now 1-2 Cowboys is that, first and foremost, the MVP-caliber season quarterback Dak Prescott had in 2019 was no fluke. 

Prescott is off to an incredible start this season. After a 2019 campaign in which he threw for more than 4,900 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just 11 interceptions with an 8.2 yards-per-attempt average (very good), Prescott is proving he’s just as efficient and nearly unstoppable in 2020.

Three games in and Prescott’s 1,188 passing yards are the most in the NFL. His 8.3 yards-per-attempt average is even better than his previous number in 2019, and his 67.1% completion percentage is near a career high. He’s also added three rushing touchdowns already this year, which matches his total from last year, and means he’s well on his way to a career high in that category, too.

As for some more good news, despite the 1-2 start, the NFC East is so bad this season that the Cowboys are still in prime position to both make the playoffs and win their division.

Even at 1-2, the Cowboys currently have the fourth-highest odds to make the playoffs in the NFC at 73% and have the best odds in the conference, as well as the second-best odds in the entire league, to win their division at an astonishing 70%, all according to FiveThirtyEight.

The biggest strength of their team is at the position that carries the most importance, and the rest of their division (combined record of 1-7-1) is so bad they’re still in the driver’s seat.

That’s the good news.

The bad news might be everything else.

Let’s start with their record.

While there’s no shame in losing to teams like the Los Angeles Rams, who are proving to be a tougher out than many expected them to be this season, and the Seattle Seahawks, who have what very well may be the future MVP of this league in Russell Wilson playing absolutely out of his mind, those two games still count as two losses. And the worst part of their record actually might be their only win. 

The only reason Dallas has a win on their record is due to a truly historic collapse by the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2. With less than five minutes to go in their Week 2 matchup against Atlanta, the Falcons had a 99.9% chance of winning. They lost. Yay Dallas, right? In the short-term, sure, but taking a step back a week later should make any positive feelings go away.

This brings up an even more worrisome point of discussion for the Cowboys: even if Dallas makes the playoffs and wins the division, as it seems the odds are in their favor to do so, are they anything more than just an early exit team, no matter their matchup?

Prescott gives the Cowboys a chance to come away with a victory any week, no matter who the opponent is. But the fact is that the issues around the roster, especially on the defensive side, are becoming too much for him to regularly overcome.

The biggest issue for Dallas appears to be their secondary. The Cowboys have given up the fifth-most yards through the air and the most passing touchdowns in the league so far in 2020. But there are plenty of defenses around the NFL who struggle to not give up big chunks of yards. However, the ones that allow their offenses to survive through that get turnovers. Per Marcus Mosher, the Cowboys have only recorded six turnovers in their last 11 games. Whether it’s Darian Thompson or Trevon Diggs or Jourdan Lewis, this group just isn’t good enough, and that is a major problem moving forward.

Yes, the Cowboys played some good passing offenses in the Rams and the Seahawks for their two losses. But who do you think they’re going to be playing in the playoffs if/once they make it there? They’re going to be playing Wilson and Jared Goff and Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

There are also issues on the offensive line. Dallas has long been known as one of the top offensive lines in the NFL, but the injuries they’ve had to try to overcome, specifically with La’el Collins (recovering from a hip injury), have proven to be detrimental. Against the Seahawks, they had to make some adjustments mid-game. Right tackle Terence Steele was benched and Zack Martin slid over and took over for him, which forced Joe Looney to move to right guard from center. That meant rookie Tyler Biadasz became the center. It worked against a pedestrian Seahawks defensive line, but is it sustainable?

The numbers to make the postseason are well within Dallas’ favor. So, in theory, they have a lot of time to figure their issues out. Plus, they have some time to get healthier, too. But if what we have seen early on is any indication of the type of team they might be come playoff time, don’t count on the Cowboys to be serious contenders. 

A lot must change for that to be the case.

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