2. Benched Dontari Poe sooner
Highlighting the failure of the Cowboys’ free agency class of 2020 is the depressing seven-game career of defensive tackle Dontari Poe in Dallas. While fellow free-agent signees in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix didn’t even make it to the regular season, the fact the Cowboys tolerated seven games of lackluster play from Poe is the larger tragedy.
Poe’s inability to secure the middle of the Dallas defense is arguably why the Cowboys were historically horrible during his short stint with America’s Team. The defense allowed an embarrassing 34.7 points to opposing offenses per game while Poe was a starter. Against the run, Dallas allowed 166.7 yards on the ground per contest.
Since ditching Poe just before Halloween, the Cowboys’ defense has experienced a resurgence. The points allowed to opposing offenses per game average has dropped to 25.0 without him in the lineup. And the run defense has significantly improved, allowing just 96.6 rushing yards through their last three games.
Not only did Poe’s presence hindered the overall performance of the defense, but he was also a progress stopper for younger players. Rookie defensive tackle Neville Gallimore along with Antwaun Woods and Justin Hamilton have all done a far better job in Poe’s absence and should have seen more opportunities earlier.
Yet, despite how much blame Dontari Poe’s poor play deserves, It’s outdone by a coaching staff that was slow to recognize his negative impact on the defense and the fact they should have benched him far sooner.