The Dallas Cowboys 2017 season is officially over. Kaput. It's not the way a lot of Cowboys Nation envisioned this year going, but we can't say it hasn't kept us on the edge of our seats. Now is the time to start looking toward the future and to start the evaluation process. Yes, the off-season is already underway for the Cowboys.
Honestly, I can't say I'm not looking forward to jumping into the off-season process. Yes, I would prefer the Dallas Cowboys still play and hopefully make a Super Bowl run, but I'm not the type of person who likes to cry over spilt milk.
It's time to move forward.
With that in mind, I thought I would share with you my five biggest concerns for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the off-season.
After a season with so many disappointments, from injuries to suspensions, it wasn't very difficult to narrow down my concerns. And as always, please let me know if you agree or disagree in the comment section located at the end of the article.
Tyron Smith's Health
I'm the type of person who believes in the trickle effect. I don't believe it was coincidence that when the Cowboys offense started to struggle was also the same time injuries started to hamper Tyron Smith's performance on the field.
For me, Smith's long-term health is the most concerning issue heading into the off-season.
Tyron Smith is regarded as one of the top left tackles in the NFL for a reason. He is equally dominant in the running and passing game due to his strength and athletic ability, but injuries are starting to affect his play. He had to miss a few games in 2016 due to reoccurring injuries and once again missed several games in 2017 for the same reason.
The biggest concern about Tyron Smith is his back injury. It'll will continue to be a problem throughout his career, but if it worsens it could end up putting his future in doubt. This has to be a huge concern for the Dallas Cowboys and their coaching staff.
In fact, it could cause them to look at a possible replacement through this year's draft.
Dak Prescott's Regression?
Dak Prescott had an outstanding start to his career, and ended up having arguably the best season for a rookie quarterback in the history of the NFL. He just seemed to have this magic touch in 2016 and could do no wrong, but it looks as if he lost that magic this season.
There are probably several reasons why Prescott regressed in 2017:
- Tyron Smith had to miss several games due to injuries, which created protection breakdowns.
- Ezekiel Elliott missed six games while serving his suspension, which hurt the production from the running game.
- Scott Linehan and his play calling became predictable, causing frustration from both Prescott and his wide receivers.
There has to be some concern about Prescott's play from within the Dallas Cowboys organization.
The Cowboys coaching staff will have to determine whether or not Prescott is a victim of things going bad or if he is the one most responsible. Unfortunately, that means year three is a prove it season for Prescott and could determine his long-term future with the organization.
Dan Bailey's Recent Inconsistency
The Dallas Cowboys have to be concerned with Dan Bailey after the way he finished the last few games of the 2017 season. There was a time when Bailey was pretty much an afterthought when he attempted a field-goal or extra point, but that wasn't the case the last few games.
I'm personally giving Bailey the benefit of the doubt for now because he has been so accurate throughout his career with the Cowboys.
He did suffer a groin injury early in the year that caused him to miss several games. Once he returned to the lineup though, he never looked quite the same.
I don't know if it was because he wasn't fully healthy or if the time away messed with his fundamentals. But, the Cowboys need to figure out what's going on.
DeMarcus Lawrence's Cowboys Future
DeMarcus Lawrence could have possibly played his last down with the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. He is set to become a free agent now, which puts his future with the Cowboys somewhat in doubt.
Lawrence without a doubt became one of the best defensive ends in the entire NFL in 2017. He finished the season with 58 tackles, 14.5 quarterback sacks (possibly 15 after review this week), and four forced fumbles.
He couldn't have chosen a better time to do all this than in a contract year either. Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys now have to figure out a way to keep Lawrence on the roster.
They can try to work out a long-term contract with him, but there are concerns about his health since he has had two back surgeries already in his NFL career. There is also the possibility that his season was just a flash in the pan. The most likely scenario is they designate him as their franchise player.
Regardless, the Cowboys need to figure out what Lawrence's future is with the organization.
Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan
Play calling became pretty predictable in 2017, and it might cost Scott Linehan his job.
The Dallas Cowboys definitely need to be concerned about the offensive coordinator position moving forward, whether Linehan is a part of the equation or not.
Dallas simply has too many weapons at their disposal to perform the way they did the second half of the season. Yes, Ezekiel Elliott would've helped during that time, but it's not like Alfred Morris and Rod Smith weren't able to find success in his absence.
No, the deficiencies mostly came in the passing game and the lack of production from the receivers.
Linehan failed to find ways to get Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley involved in the passing game. Opposing defenses shouldn't be able to take both of these players out of the game, but that's pretty much what happened.
Offensively, things need to change for next season. Whether or not that means Scott Linehan is out and a new coordinator is brought in is something that will have to be determined here shortly.