After their magical 2016 season, it appeared the Dallas Cowboys were on the road to greatness. They were 13-3, the best team in their division, and led by a young core of promising stars.
Just one year ago we discussed how the Cowboys could parlay their late first round pick into the War Daddy pass rusher they needed to take the next step in the postseason. How if they could land one of the many talented defensive ends in the draft class, they might be on to something in 2017.
But today we sit and wonder, how have the Cowboys fallen so far behind?
What a difference a year makes.
Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles acquired former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett. The nine year veteran is a 3 time Pro Bowler who tallied 8.5 sacks in 2017, and adds another dangerous rusher to an already ferocious Eagles’ front. And all it took to get him from Seattle was a fifth round pick and a practice squad wide receiver.
Those same Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champs. The team which traded for running back Jay Ajayi in the middle of their championship season, and made smart free agent moves after their average 2016 campaign. The team that went up and got quarterback Carson Wentz, and the team that employs a head coach who has no fear about being aggressive in big games or on big downs.
They trust their players. They trust their scouting. And they trust their analytics department. And all of that trust has led them to become the clear favorite in the NFC.
So where does this leave the Cowboys?
Well, Dallas is sort of the anti-Eagles. They have struggled evaluating their own talent, getting them into contract trouble with players like Tyrone Crawford. They have been cautious in free agency, and the signings they have made simply haven’t panned out. And, while they hang their hat on their ability to draft, the jury is still out on much of the talented 2016 draft class.
I don’t think the Cowboys are doomed. In fact, I think they are far from it. With a smart offseason and some development from now third-year quarterback Dak Prescott, the Cowboys can get right back into the mix in the NFC. But make no mistake about it, they have allowed themselves to fall well behind the Eagles in terms of team building, talent, and coaching.
2018 is a make-or-break year for much of the Dallas Cowboys roster and coaching staff, and the development of the Philadelphia Eagles has put even more pressure on the Cowboys’ shoulders.