As I sat at home watching the playoffs over the weekend, I couldn’t help but reflect on the Dallas Cowboys’ 2017 season and how disappointing things turned out. It was as if anything and everything that could possibly go wrong did, but that’s just the way things sometimes go unfortunately.
Things sometimes just don’t go our way in life, but we have to continue pushing forward regardless.
I think that’s the best way we can summarize the Cowboys’ 2017 season. But, for fun, let’s take a look back at some of the biggest disappointments and how they helped shape Dallas’ season, one way or another.
Losing Back-to-Back Home Games After Leading at Halftime
I think the first real disappointment for the Cowboys in the 2017 season was the back-to-back losing performances at home against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers in weeks four and five. Both of these games had a huge impact on the end of the season and the Cowboys’ playoff chances.
If they would’ve been able to win one or both of these contests, they probably would still be playing.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way things turned out.
After leading both of these games going into halftime, second-half meltdowns resulted in two losses heading into their bye week. The Cowboys had both of these games in their grasp, but couldn’t hold on long enough to secure the victory. Both games were decided by last-minute touchdowns, which made it even more heartbreaking.
To me, this was the first big disappointment of the 2017 season.
Injuries to Key Players
Arguably the most disappointing thing to happen to the Dallas Cowboys in 2017 were the injuries sustained to some of their key players.
Both Sean Lee and Tyron Smith missed several games due to injuries, and not having them on the field directly correlated to a few losses for the Cowboys.
It’s hard to win games in the NFL when two of your best players keep getting injured.
The Cowboys likely wouldn’t have lost both of those back-to-back home games against the Rams and Packers with Sean Lee in the lineup. It’s doubtful Todd Gurley puts up 215 total yards and scores the winning touchdown with #50 on the field.
The same can be said about Tyron Smith against the Atlanta Falcons.
I don’t know if the Cowboys win that game, but it definitely would have made it a closer contest. The injuries to both of these players likely kept the Dallas Cowboys out of the playoffs.
2017, the Year of the Suspension
As time goes by, the 2017 season might end up being referred to as the “year of suspension” for the Dallas Cowboys. If the injuries to several key players weren’t the most disappointing thing that happened to the Cowboys, then the Ezekiel Elliott suspension is.
A suspension, by the way, that probably shouldn’t have happened if we are being honest with ourselves. But, the NFL/Roger Goodell thought otherwise, which made Elliott miss six games.
Unfortunately, without Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup, the offense for the Cowboys struggled to find any kind of success or develop an identity.
It all started against the Atlanta Falcons, the first game Tyron Smith missed as well, and continued throughout the rest the season. Dak Prescott no longer had the running game to lean on and struggled to find his receivers in the passing game.
I don’t know if having Zeke for those six games he missed would have gotten the Cowboys in the playoffs, but it certainly would’ve helped.
Scott Linehan and His Play Calling
It’s no secret that I haven’t been a big fan of Scott Linehan or his play calling since he arrived in Dallas. But, I think he really took a step back in 2017, evidenced by all the Cowboys’ wide receivers putting up some of the worst numbers in their careers.
He was predictable and didn’t do anything to put his players in a position to succeed for the majority of the season.
What really bothered me most about Scott Linehan in 2017 was the fact he didn’t make adjustments to the offense when Ezekiel Elliott was finally suspended. He continued to lean on the run game — I guess — thinking Alfred Morris and Rod Smith could do what Zeke does, but it didn’t work.
Opposing defenses no longer had any respect for the running game and dropped extra defenders into coverage instead. Those extra defenders ended up taking Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley out of the passing game, which made things extremely difficult for Dak Prescott.
The entire Dallas Cowboys offense suffered as a result.