The simple truth is, in the third year of a comprehensive roster rebuild, this team wasn’t deep enough to overcome the ridiculous number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball. If the defense falls victim to just an average number of injuries, Bill Callahan’s offense leads this team to the playoffs.
The Cowboys scored 30 points or more six times this season. The eight division winners scored 30 or more 54 times, or an average of 6.7 each, so the Cowboys were right in line with the best teams in the league.
But the eight division winners went a combined 48-6 when scoring 30-plus – an .889 winning percentage. The Cowboys went 3-3. So, what, fire the OC for not scoring 40?
Now’s not the time to clean house. The talent has been getting deeper year by year, and should be deeper still in 2014. The voracious injury bug that destroyed the past two seasons is unlikely to strike as hard a third straight year, but even if it does, the Cowboys may have by then cobbled together a roster deep enough to overcome it.
The Dallas OC had a pretty good year overall. Did he make some mistakes? Sure. Can he recognize there are times where an offense doesn’t have to score to win a game, and improve at recognizing those instances of situational football? Of course. So can every coach on every team. But Bill Callahan is a smart, experienced, well-respected coach in this league – exactly the kind of guy who gets better his second season in the saddle. That’s cause for optimism, given how well his unit performed this year.
The best franchises are the most stable franchises – they hire good people and give them some room when they stumble. The Steelers and Ravens both went 8-8 and barely missed the playoffs this year. Sound familiar? There won’t be a panicked housecleaning in either of those cities.
Keep a guy like Callahan around, and odds are before long he’ll make you look good.