Disappointment and the Dallas Cowboys have gone hand in hand since 1996.
Seemingly every season the Cowboys are considered Super Bowl favorites nationally, and yet they've failed to reach the NFC championship game year after year.
So, will 2020 be different? That same national media doesn't seem convinced.
Chris Roling of Bleacher Report named the Cowboys as one of the five team's destined to disappoint in 2020, citing both their history over the last couple of decades and their current contract situations as major reasons why.
Failing to meet expectations has been a staple of Dallas football, as captured by ESPN's Bill Barnwell: “They were 34-29 in games decided by seven points or fewer under Garrett before 2018, so expecting to win 80 percent of their close games moving forward would have been naive.”
Of course the biggest difference between those Cowboys and these new Cowboys is their head coach. No longer is Jason Garrett in charge, as former Packers head coach and Super Bowl champion Mike McCarthy has been hired for the job.
McCarthy's message seemed to run stale towards the end of his time in Green Bay, and whether or not his “I'm a changed man” tour is legit is yet to be seen. But there's certainly reason for optimism around the team.
Despite finishing just 8-8 in 2019, the Cowboys point differential was one of a double digit win team. This would indicate that they are a positive regression candidate in 2020, as some of those close losses become wins. But what about the pathetic losses to teams led by Josh Allen, Mitch Trubisky, and Sam Darnold?
Yeah, those were rough. And eventually cost the team a home playoff game.
The Cowboys have a ton of question marks this offseason. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Robert Quinn, and other key players from last year's team are all free agents. They'll likely lose Byron Jones in free agency, and will have to add talent to an already questionable secondary – specifically at safety.
Their defensive tackle situation needs to improve, and their linebackers need to bounce back to their 2018 form.
Oh, and they need a starting quarterback. Not sure if you've heard, but Dak Prescott is set to be a free agent this Spring.
And yet, if the team is healthy and put together by July, this is a roster which should compete with the top teams in the NFC. One that should possess arguably the league's top offense, which could propel them to their first NFC title game in over 20 years.
Or they could be the same old Cowboys. Time will only tell.