The Dallas Cowboys can walk away from this season with a few things which will help them moving forward and help them build the 2021 team.
The 2020 Dallas Cowboys have finally been eliminated putting to bed a rollercoaster of a season that ended the same way it almost always ends which is utter and complete heartbreak. Either way, most Dallas Cowboys fans have to be relieved that they did not have to endure what the New York Giants endured when the Philadelphia Eagles quit live on primetime television.
My initial reaction like many to the season-ending loss was shock followed by a depressing feeling. After the Depression went away, my reaction turned to anger before realizing taking away the good things helped me get over this disappointing season.
The Dallas Cowboys have many decisions to make before the start of free agency and the draft but what went well for them this season? The answer is surprising as this team has is starting to change its identity.
First, this coaching staff has found the ability to overcome injuries. Does anyone else recall the game where then Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn just about single-handedly beat the Dallas Cowboys? I sure do and I’m sure quarterback Dak Prescott does as well.
I used to fear injuries to the point where that’s all I focused on during the game because the Jason Garrett era convinced me that every element of the game has to be perfect in order for the Cowboys to win. That no longer is the case as these Cowboys somehow won games with role players.
How about moving forward with a roster that now has a fair amount of young players with a lot of playing experience. This should help with offseason preparations as players who normally wouldn’t play as much now have NFL film to study this offseason as opposed to imagining what they can do against other players.
This will help with internal competition next training camp and hopefully raise the play of others around them. Depth is always important on a roster so having a few players that can contribute in a pinch makes all the difference in the world.
In-game adjustments are also something that was rarely changed during the game as the previous regime waited till halftime to make any adjustments. I find it refreshing that this coaching staff can change their approach before the half shows the ability to admit their plan isn’t working.
This is important as there are more than a few coaches who fancy themselves as geniuses and don’t want to admit they were wrong. Losing is a better option than bruising their ego so the game plan stays to prove a point.
Does the team’s identity change only pertain to the coaching staff?
Speaking of egos, releasing a player because he doesn’t fit is something this front office has shown they will do if necessary. Sure it took a few weeks longer than it should have with regards to a few players on this team but now the players know if they don’t produce, they could be without a job.
The front office was also linked to a few bigger names and actually pulled the trigger on a couple. It almost feels like there was a power struggle with regards to free agency but actually bringing in bigger names, even if they are past their prime, shows the team could be interested in big names moving forward.
Could the Jerry Jones of old return with his penchant for making a splash on the first day of free agency? Probably not this year as the free agency class and salary cap could make signings an issue but they could be more involved.
It feels like the Cowboys front office were always making moves for the benefit of the salary cap but the salary cap is only worth the players you invest in it. I hope that is a valuable lesson next time the Cowboys decide to check the scrap heap to fill the obvious major holes this team is currently dealing with.
Lastly, nepotism has played a huge part in constructing the Dallas Cowboys. That feeling has spilled over into hiring friends to fill important coaching roles. Whatever happened to hiring the most qualified person for a job no matter who he knew?
The Mike Nolan saga which has still not yet reached a conclusion serves as a reminder that paying back favors is not a great idea when it comes to sports in the DFW area. The spotlight shines greater here in Dallas than in other places and coaches realizing that are almost always too late.
The season is over, but the hard work of making sure the 2021 season doesn’t have similar results is only beginning. The first part of this process is determining who stays and who goes before any other questions can be answered. I just hope the decisions are based on performance and not storylines.