We should’ve seen this coming.
The 2020 Dallas Cowboys will be remembered for a few things, but you have to start with injuries when telling their story. Beginning with La’el Collins before the team even played a meaningful snap, and continuing on through Tyron Smith, Blake Jarwin, Zack Martin, and Dak Prescott, this season will be forever tainted by what may have been. If not for catastrophic injury, of course.
This team has faced a few critical moments this season, beginning with when Prescott went down against the Giants. That night, they found a way to rally behind Andy Dalton and steal their second victory of the season. They gave fans a small glimmer of hope that maybe, surrounded by high caliber skill talent, Dalton could play well enough to keep the team afloat.
Their next critical moment came in Philadelphia. Though the season already felt over, a loss to the division leading Eagles should’ve put a nail in the Cowboys’ coffin. They started undrafted rookie Ben DiNucci, and despite the Eagles’ best efforts, they lost by multiple possessions.
It should have been over there. But because of the ineptitude of their division mates, Thursday marked yet another season defining game.
And, once again, the Cowboys failed this test.
Three point home favorites, the Cowboys suddenly had an energy about them after going to Minnesota and upsetting the streaking Vikings. Any sane person knew that this wasn’t a true contender in the NFC, but given their strength of schedule it felt like the Cowboys could legitimately steal the division at 7-9.
It had to start against Washington, though. It had to happen at home, in front of the entire country watching on Thanksgiving Day. Instead this Cowboys team looked completely overmatched for much of the afternoon, inept on offense and broken down on defense in the fourth quarter.
41-16. A now 3-8 record. Unacceptable.
I’m not going to go hard on the coaches, though of course their aggressiveness failed them against Washington. Mike McCarthy and his staff know what they’re working with both at quarterback and on the offensive line. They know they have to manufacture some juice to keep possessions going. It worked against the Vikings, but it didn’t work yesterday. And that’s the story.
This team should look a whole lot different next season. In a perfect world their three stud offensive linemen would return, Dak Prescott would sign a lengthy extension, and they’d be right back in the driver’s seat in the NFC East.
But there’s a lot of questions to be answered over the next few months before we can begin to feel confident about 2021. Because 2020…was about as bad as it could get.