Stephen King couldn’t have written a horror novel more frightening than the 2020 edition of the Dallas Cowboys. From injuries, a first-year coaching staff, and free agents that didn’t pan out to their liking, the Cowboys have vastly underachieved considering the lofty expectations placed on them before the season started.
Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones made an appearance recently on 105.3 The Fan after the team’s embarrassing 41-16 loss to the Washington Football on Thanksgiving. Despite falling to last place in the NFC East with a 3-8 record, Jones had this to say when asked if tanking for a high draft pick or making the playoffs was the right direction going forward.
“I think coming off the playoff appearance unquestionably,” Jones said. “This is now. This is this year, and you wait that now. There’s really not a decision here on our team with tanking. Let me be real clear here, and I’m not offended by the conversation at all, and I understand what you’re talking about. That’s just not going to be the case. We’ve got players that we’re having to play, not because necessarily we have a choice. We have these players — they’re our best players to win the ballgame. It turns out they’re the players that ought to be playing. They’re young players that potentially have for the most part good futures. So, the only definition I know about tanking is to play people that can play people that can help you in the future more than someone that can help you now. We don’t have that situation.”
The offensive side of the ball has been decimated by injuries. Quarterback Dak Prescott (ankle) and starting tackles Tyron Smith (neck) and La’el Collins (hip) suffered season-ending injuries. Perennial All-Pro Zack Martin (calf) and Cam Erving (knee) will miss multiple weeks after getting banged up against Washington, putting an already suspect offensive line in even worse condition.
The Cowboys have had to patch together offensive line units weekly by playing undrafted free agents Terence Steele and Brandon Knight and recently Connor McGovern. Also, backup quarterbacks Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert have all taken snaps this season.
The team has been so inept offensively that it’s 1,738 yards gained in the last six games is 118 yards less than Prescott’s passing total alone in the first five games (1,856).
On the defensive side of the ball, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses either. Even though they showed improvement for weeks before their Thanksgiving loss, the Cowboys defense ranks 22nd in yards per game (382.0) and 32nd in rushing yards (156.4) and points (32.6) allowed per game.
Even with all that being said it’s understandable why Jones isn’t thinking about tanking when looking at the landscape of the NFC East. Washington is in first place but their record is a pathetic 4-7. The Philadelphia Eagles are 3-6-1 and the New York Giants are 3-7. Long story short, the Cowboys will only be a game back in the win column at worst once Week 12 concludes.
Only time will tell if the Cowboys can somehow pull off a miracle and make the playoffs for the first time since 2018.