The bye week for the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t have possibly come at a better time. This is the perfect opportunity to sit back and reflect on what has worked in the past and what isn’t working in the present. That is exactly what I’ve been doing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest strength of the 2016 Cowboys team has now become their weakness.
I’m a huge believer that we can learn things from the past and help better prepare ourselves for the future. That is why I think as a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, we should all take a much closer look at how they were so successful a season ago and what has changed in a short amount of time.
To put the 2016 season for the Dallas Cowboys in perspective, we have to remember the 2015 season nearly all of us would rather forget. After a disastrous season, the Cowboys finished with a 4-12 record and were dead last in the NFC East division. Because of this, not many of us had very high expectations heading into 2016.
Well, despite not expecting very much from the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, they still managed to exceed anything anyone could have possibly predicted. They finished first in the NFC East division with a 13-3 record and were able to accomplish that impressive feat led by a rookie quarterback who wasn’t drafted until the fourth round.
Everything was just able to fall in place for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, which is why they ended up having one of the best seasons in the history of the organization. But, if someone were to ask you why they were so successful that season, what would you say?
I know everyone’s answers will vary, but what if I were to tell you that you are all likely wrong?
I know some of you would say that the offense was simply outstanding and were able to outscore their opponents. Others of course would say that the defense was the bigger reason they were successful. The rest of you would likely say it was a combination of the two. But, I think it’s none of the above.
I think the sole reason the Dallas Cowboys were so successful in 2016 was because of their ability to win close games. Yes, it’s as simple as that and something that this 2017 team has yet to accomplish.
In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys had a total of 10 games decided by a touchdown or less, including the playoffs. Unfortunately, three of those games were losses. They lost both games to the New York Giants in the regular season and once to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs. But, all of those losses were decided by a field goal or less.
If you’re keeping up and are doing the math, then you already know the Dallas Cowboys won seven of those games that were decided by a touchdown or less. Fortunately, the Cowboys came out on top in all of these contests, but it could’ve gone the other way in any one.
Being able to win those seven games was huge for the Dallas Cowboys last year. They could’ve easily been right back where they were in 2015 and only won a handful of games. I think that’s important to remember as the season progresses.
Unfortunately, this 2017 Dallas Cowboys team hasn’t been able to come out on the winning side of these close games. The Cowboys lost both of their last two games to the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers by less than a touchdown. These losses hurt still, but probably wouldn’t have happened a year ago.
As you can see now, I think the biggest strength that made the 2016 Dallas Cowboys so successful has now become their weakness. Luckily, this year’s team can still turn things around, but they’re going to have to do a much better job across the board.
The best way to to get back on track is to be the team that comes out on top in these close games. That was what they were able to do in 2016, and what they must do so once again as the season progresses this year.