Marc and Ben are here to take you through the transition from regular season to postseason with in-depth breakdowns of every Wild Card game. Also, they hit on various topics around the league, including why the Dolphins and Giants deserve no sympathy for missing the playoffs, a foolproof plan for the Cowboys to go undefeated next year, and if Derrick Henry is worthy of the Madden 99 Club.
Schedule: @LAR, ATL, @SEA, CLE, NYG, ARI, @WAS, @PHI, PIT, BYE, @MIN, WAS, @BAL, @CIN, SF, PHI, @NYG
Additions: EDGE Everson Griffen (FA), S HaHa Clinton-Dix (FA),
DL Gerald McCoy (FA), DB Daryl Worley (FA), OL Cam Erving (FA), K Greg Zuerlein (FA), TE Blake Bell (FA), DL Dontari Poe (FA), WR CeeDee Lamb (Draft), CB Trevon Diggs (Draft), DL Neville Gallimore (Draft)
Losses: OL Travis Frederick (Retired), DL Michael Bennett (Retired), CB Byron Jones (FA), EDGE Robert Quinn (FA), DL Maliek Collins (FA), WR Randall Cobb (FA), OL Xavier Su’a-Filo (FA), S Jeff Heath (FA), TE Jason Witten (FA), OL Cameron Fleming (FA), EDGE Kerry Hyder (FA), FB Jamize Olawale (Opt-out), DL Gerald McCoy (Injury)
Maybe hiring Mike McCarthy will unlock a Super Bowl contender. Maybe Jason Garrett really was holding the Cowboys back from greatness. Maybe not, though. If Dallas flops again, they’re going to have to find a new scapegoat. For a team boasting one of the highest-paid players at seemingly every position, there will be plenty of candidates.
At the top of that list is Dak Prescott. Contrary to popular belief, I actually think he’s a good quarterback. Everyone just loves to hate the Cowboys and put all the blame on the quarterback. It really is a perfect storm of vilifying. Despite his public perception, Prescott is one of the premier playmakers at the position and far from the only on the offense.
Ezekiel Elliott just keeps feasting and begging to be fed behind one of the top offensive lines in the league. Even with Travis Frederick retiring, this is still a great line. Tony Pollard is an excellent change-of-pace back as well, so all signs point to the Cowboys’ years-long dominance on the ground continuing.
Dallas is far from a one-dimensional offense, though. The fifth-ranked rushing attack was fortified by the league’s second-best passing game. Drafting CeeDee Lamb more than makes up for the uninspiring options at tight end. Good luck finding a better receiver trio than Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup. Defenses are going to have to pick their poison once again next year.
Contrary to what their record would suggest, the Cowboys’ potent offense wasn’t paired with a porous defense. Nope. The defense wasn’t up to the offense’s level, but they more than held their own.
Linebacker is the crown jewel of a unit full of talent. Sean Lee would be start at linebacker for any team in the league. Except Dallas. Well, kind of. While Lee technically starts, playing time was hard to come by for the 11-year vet when Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith were healthy. In fact, there’s even murmurs that Lee could be a surprise roster cut this Saturday.
Everson Griffen was unsigned until mid-August, but that’s no knock on his talent. Dallas was lucky to get him for just a $3 million base contract. His presence could reinvigorate DeMarcus Lawrence after the star’s down year.
Those two studs are going to have to make up for the uncertainty on the interior. Maliek Collins left for the Raiders and Gerald McCoy was lost for the season before he even played a down. That leaves the unspectacular Antwaun Woods, newcomer Dontari Poe, Tyrone Crawford (fresh off surgery on both hips), and youngsters Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore at defensive tackle. There’s teams in the league who would kill for this rotation, but for a team with hopes of a deep playoff run, it’s less than ideal.
The secondary is a similar story. Outside corner is a bit of a weakness with Byron Jones departing. Someone needs to step up opposite Chidobe Awuzie. Whether it’s Darryl Worley or rookie Trevon Diggs, they’ll have big shoes to fill. On the inside, Dallas is has two good options in Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown. Some of these corners will need to take reps at safety, too. There’s likely going to be a piecemeal approach to filling the spot next to Xavier Woods.
Dallas’ mediocre record wasn’t because of the offense or defense. It can only be explained by a remarkable ability to blow games. Whether it was missed kicks, untimely turnovers, or the failure to get a stop, they just found ways to lose. That’s not a habit I see breaking in 2020. Given the tough schedule, I only have the Garrett-McCarthy swap resulting in one extra win.
What’s your record prediction for the Cowboys? What did I get right or wrong? Sound off in the comments.