With several games under their belt, the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the rest of the season with a 1-2 record, Dallas once again started the season under .500. The previous year, the Dallas Cowboys boasted the No. 3 offense in the league in passing yards only to finish the season with an 8-8 record, according to statistics website Pro Football Reference.
The Cowboys lost the 2019 season to the Philadelphia Eagles, who despite having an injury-riddled roster managed to squeeze out a 9-7 record to take the NFC East, according to the NFL website. However, with the offseason in the past and regular season now approaching the first quarter, the question is whether the Cowboys have done enough to improve on last year’s performance.
NEW COACH, NEW STAFF
Mike McCarthy, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, was picked to replace former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on Jan. 7, according to Dallas Cowboys website. McCarthy coached the Packers from 2006 to 2018, when he was fired after week 13 of the season, according to Pro Football Reference. McCarthy led the Packers to nine playoff appearances, eight of them consecutive, from 2009 to 2016. He made four NFC conference championships, along with a Superbowl win in 2010.
“The Cowboys became the first team in NFL history in Week 2 to beat a team that scored 39 points and didn’t turn the ball over,” David Moore, a sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, said in an email to The Courier.
“It’s hard to say that Garrett and his staff could have pulled it off,” Moore added, referring to the Week 2 game against the Falcons.
With McCarthy in, there were major changes to the coaching staff, which included hiring seven new coaches, introducing Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator, according to Cowboys website. Kellen Moore and Markus Paul stayed as offensive coordinator and conditioning coach, respectively.
In the first round, the Cowboys drafted a receiver to bolster their already potent offense. “The offensive weapons are among the best in the league, with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb,” Richie Whitt, a sportswriter for the Dallas Observer and Sports Illustrated, said in an email to The Courier.
According to Pro Football Reference, receivers Gallup and Cooper had a combined total of 2,296 receiving yards in the 2019 season, while running back Elliott rushed for 1,357 yards, and quarterback Prescott threw for 4,902 yards.
The Cowboys also took defensive backs, drafting Trevon Diggs in the second round and Reggie Robinson II in the fourth round, according to the Cowboys website. In the fourth round, Dallas picked up Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz.
Whitt said defense was a main concern going further into the season. “Without Travis Frederick (retired), La’el Collins and Tyron Smith … the line is average at best.”
The Cowboys have decided to stick with former center replacement Joe Looney, who was called upon in 2018 to take over the center position after Fredrick’s autoimmune diagnosis.
Coach Kevin Hurst, Dallas College Brookhaven Campus athletics director, said, “As it’s played out with the injury scenario, Biadasz had to come into the game on [Week 3] and [he] was way more effective than Steele, who’s the guy that they thought would be able to give them serious backup minutes.” Biadasz makes for good depth, as he can be dropped in the line and hold his own.
Dallas has some notable injuries heading into the rest of the season, according to Pro Football Reference. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch suffered a broken collarbone in the season opener against the Rams, and tight end Blake Jarwin suffered a knee injury in the same game.
Linebacker Sean Lee is out after recent hernia surgery, while defensive back Anthony Brown is out with a rib injury. Prescott is out for the rest of the season after a compound fracture in his right ankle obtained during their Week 5 game.
Whitt said “With so many injuries, getting to 10 wins looks unlikely. … Any team that loses 30% of its starters is going to struggle.”
As of Week 5, Dallas is first in the NFC East with a 2-3 record. The winner of the division may be the first to reach 10 wins this season.
During Week 3 Hurst said, “Even at one and two, I still feel like they’re going to end the season with 10 wins.” With 12 weeks left to play in the season as of Week 5, there is still plenty Dallas must do to show they have improved as a team from the 2019 season.
Dallas still has four playoff-contending teams to play this season, facing the Philadelphia Eagles twice along with a serious threat in Pittsburgh Steelers. With Prescott out, winning some of these six critical games will play a big factor in whether Dallas will be able to secure 10 wins this season — losing them will have the team finish the season with an 8-8 record again.