The 2019 season for the Dallas Cowboys ended with a mediocre 8-8 record. The coaches will be blamed for the failure but that might be short-sighted.
The 2019 season is finally over. The Dallas Cowboys players are clearing out their lockers. The coaches are doing their end of season evaluations. The front office is deciding when to announce coaching changes.
The stars were aligned for this team. Heading into the 2019 season, the Cowboys were destined for the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys had a 7-1 finish to the 2018 season as the core of the team was figuring out what it takes to win in the NFL. The Cowboys finally had former quarterback Tony Romo‘s dead money off the salary cap ledger.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was on the last season of his rookie contract and he was far outplaying his $2 million salary. Center Travis Frederick was returning and second year guard Connor Williams was stronger and ready to take the next step to solidify the Cowboys offensive line.
Rookie running back Tony Pollard surprised everyone in training camp with an Alvin Kamara impersonation when Ezekiel Elliott was sunning himself in Cabo during training camp. Elliott would sign before the season started giving Dallas a two deep backfield that was posed to lead the NFL in rushing.
There was so much depth on the defensive line that the team could make former first round pick defensive lineman Taco Charlton inactive through the first two weeks and cut him before their Week Three game against Miami. Defensive end Robert Quinn was finally going to complement DeMarcus Lawrence to give the Cowboys two bonafide pass rushers on the edge.
The result was an 8-8 team that found new ways to disappoint on a weekly basis. Cowboys Nation is left wondering how this team wasted their golden opportunity.
The offense led the league with 431.7 yards per game. The defense was in the top ten in yards allowed per game.
It is crazy that the NFL ranks team performance on yards per game. When you dig deeper, you start to see some of the cracks in the Cowboys armor.
The Cowboys finished sixth overall in points scored. Despite the NFL’s best offense at moving the ball, they didn’t find enough ways to score touchdowns.
In the pivotal Week Sixteen game against Philadelphia, both teams scored three times. The Eagles scored two touchdowns and one field goal. The Cowboys managed only three Kai Forbath field goals.
For the season, the Cowboys started twelve drives inside the opponent’s territory. Two of those drives occurred in Week Seventeen against Washington which the offense converted into two field goals.
The defense was putrid at forcing turnovers finishing with the seventh least. Special teams were not much better. As a result, the Cowboys had the second worst starting field position through Week Sixteen in the NFL.
The coaching staff received much of the blame for these issues. The Cowboys defensive scheme was thought to be the reason the team could not force turnovers. Funny that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who had the same position in 2012 with the Chicago Bears, coordinated a defense that led the league with 24 interceptions and 44 takeaways that season.
Brian Baldinger from NFL.com highlighted three plays from the Cowboys Week Sixteen loss to the Eagles that clearly showed execution issues. One was a Michael Gallup dropped pass and two were inaccurate Dak Prescott throws.
The offensive scheme had players open. The quarterback and receivers were simply not able to connect.
These issues plagued the Cowboys throughout the season. Despite coming up one yard short for the Cowboys single season passing record, Dak Prescott’s accuracy and decision-making remain as issues holding the team back.
In the four point loss to the Vikings on the fatal second to last series of the game, Prescott’s inaccurate throw on first down to Amari Cooper setup a second and two and not a first and goal or even a touchdown. On the fourth down, a wide open Randall Cobb would have scored a touchdown but Prescott tried to force the ball the Ezekiel Elliott.
It is too easy to simply blame the coaching staff for the disappointing season. The players should be held to account as well.