Many believed the Dallas Cowboys possessed Super Bowl-worthy talent going into this season. But now they are a below .500 team. Why?
On paper, the Dallas Cowboys have a plethora of talent at nearly every position. They have current and former Pro Bowlers at every single position outside of safety and fullback.
The Cowboys also play in the softest division in the NFL this season, the NFC East. The 3-12 Washington Redskins and the 4-11 New York Giants are both in-line for top-five draft selections in 2020. While the Philadelphia Eagles can secure the division title with a 9-7 record.
Despite all their talent and a suspect division, Dallas has posted a 7-8 record with one game left to be played in the regular season. Why? It’s the question that everyone is trying to answer.
Most seem to blame head coach Jason Garrett. And it’s more than understandable as to why. During his nine-year tenure at the helm of America’s Team, the Cowboys have failed to make it past the divisional round of the playoffs. And they have a total of two playoff victories under Garrett’s watch.
There is a legitimate argument to be made that Garrett should have been dismissed years ago. Still, the underlining problem has always been owner and general manager Jerry Jones. His affinity towards Garrett has kept his career alive in Dallas. And now it finally appears that Jones has had his full.
There is little doubt change needs to be made as this team is certainly underperforming in the win/loss column. Long-time Cowboys executive and recent Hall of Fame inductee Gil Brandt, posted this amazing stat on Twitter showing just how good and how bad the Cowboys have been this season.
"“The Cowboys have the best point differential (+82) and yardage differential (+1,426) of any sub-.500 team in the Super Bowl era. Last year when they won the NFC East with a 10-6 record, they had a point differential of +15 and a yardage differential of +233.”"
Obviously, some of these numbers are inflated due to garbage time stats, meaningless yards racked up by the Cowboys’ offense when the game’s outcome had already been decided.
For instance, Dallas was down 24-7 going into the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears in Week 14. The Cowboys would end up scoring 17 points in the final frame, but still losing the contest, 31-24. Similar fourth quarter splashes took place in defeats at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, the Buffalo Bills, and the New York Jets this season.
Half of the Cowboys’ defeats have been contested until the end. The Cowboys lost to both the New England Patriots (13-9) and New Orleans Saints (12-10) in very low scoring affairs.
In a Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys were down just 28-21 going into the fourth quarter and were only able to score a single field goal by the final whistle. And, of course, this past Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles was competitive in the fourth quarter with the Birds only up 17-6.
So inflated garbage time stats surely played their part in this huge disparity in point and yardage differential. But so did the Cowboys’ wins. Five of their seven victories were blowouts.
Dallas beat Giants twice, 35-17 in Week One and 37-18 eight weeks later. The Cowboys also posted 31-6 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week Three, a 37-10 win over the Eagles in Week Seven, and a 44-21 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15.
In the end, when the Cowboys have actually won a game, they’ve often done so in blowout fashion. And at other times, when they’ve lost, Dallas has found themselves posting meaningless inflated stats at the end of already decided ballgames. This is a team clearly capable of being competitive, just not consistently.
At the end of the day, I believe this amazing statistic from the legend that is Gil Brandt only confirms what most of us already knew. The Dallas Cowboys have the talent and ability to be better than their 7-8 record. Yet, for whatever the reasons, the Cowboys find themselves in this disappointing position. And we will all spend the offseason trying to figure out exactly how it all went so wrong.