As I sit here just minutes removed from arguably the most devastating loss in this franchise’s history, it’s hard to put the raw emotions aside and look at the bigger picture. I don’t have to tell you what happened tonight, if you’re reading this you know all too well how the Divisional Playoff game went down.
3rd and 20, Aaron Rodgers in his own territory. And somehow, someway, he found a way to rip out the hearts of thousands of Cowboys fans. The 2016 Cowboys season is now over, and as dejected we all feel right now, it’s important to recognize what is happening at The Star in Frisco.
The Dallas Cowboys are building something special. Sure, that’s been said a hundred times about this team and others before them, but it is truly the case of these Cowboys.
They have found their future at quarterback.
Dak Prescott was a rookie tonight. A rookie. But there was no way to tell it by watching him play. Over 300 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, two fourth quarter game-tying drives, and an 18 point comeback against one of the NFC’s best.
Our rookie stood toe-to-toe with the best quarterback in all of football, and did not blink. Down 21-3 and with hope fading in the stadium, he dropped an absolute dime to Dez Bryant for a touchdown, to get his team right back into the game. After Micah Hyde intercepted him, Prescott answered back with 18 fourth quarter points.
Dak Prescott is special, there is just no way around that, and he is going to be here for a long time.
The rest of the offense is pretty great, too.
Ezekiel Elliott was damn near unstoppable tonight. The numbers look great, 22 carries for 125 yards, but not even they can tell the whole story.
Zeke ran with an attitude, and when the team fell behind big, he only ran harder. Zeke doesn’t just want, he needs, to put the team on his back and bring them to victory. He, like Dak Prescott, is going to be around a while, and is going to be a problem for the rest of the league.
Dez Bryant is still an elite receiver. When given the targets, he has nights like he did tonight: 9 catches, 132 yards, and 2 huge touchdowns. There is no wide-out in the league better at 50/50 balls, and like the Cowboys other two triplets, Dez rises to the biggest occasion.
Oh yeah, and this offensive line will be intact next year as well. Ronald Leary will likely be gone, but in his place will be La’el Collins. Not much of a drop-off at all.
Help is on the way for this defense.
Okay, I get it. This defense gave up 34 points tonight, and allowed the Packers to walk over them for much of the first half. But don’t let one bad game take away from what this unit did all year.
Rod Marinelli had this group playing way above their heads every week, finishing as the number one defense against the run in the NFL. Sure, the ability of the offense to put up yards and points early has to do with this, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
Potential stars on this defense emerged. David Irving is not a fluke, and has a chance to develop into a very good defensive end when given a full offseason to work at it. When healthy, Morris Claiborne proved he is one of the better corners in all of football. Yes, I said it.
Byron Jones continues to improve every week, and Sean Lee is still a certified beast. And with all of that being said, the Cowboys get Jaylon Smith back next year and a chance to draft pass rush and secondary help. Plus, this draft is super deep with pass rushers like Charles Harris out of Missouri (pictured below).
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They are going to be okay, trust me.
Tonight stings, I know it does. I am angry, upset, and dejected, but some perspective is necessary. The Dallas Cowboys are building something special at The Star, and with another year for these football minds to draft and work the free agent market, they will be back and better than ever in 2017.
So courtesy of Dak Prescott, QB1 in Dallas for 10-15 more years: we’ll see you in the playoffs next year, NFL.