The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East last season, only to fall in an upset to the San Francisco 49ers. Can they improve this offseason?
It’s been a long time since the Dallas Cowboys have made a deep run in the playoffs. Like 26 years and counting.
Last year, it appeared the Cowboys had a chance to do exactly that. They won the horrific NFC East, earning the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and a home date with Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers. Dallas proceeded to lose, 23-17, taking 14 penalties in a slop-fest of a football game.
For the Cowboys, that loss represented everything wrong throughout the year. Bad clock management. A litany of penalties (they led the NFL in penalties during the regular season). Poor coaching in important moments.
Going into the offseason, Dallas isn’t making any changes to the coaching staff. Mike McCarthy is returning for his third season, and both coordinators are still in place. The Cowboys, though, are going to look somewhat different.
Few teams are in a tighter cap crunch and with more important players hitting free agency. Among them are tight end Dalton Schultz, edge rusher Randy Gregory and receiver Michael Gallup, all of whom figure to generate interest on the open market. Dallas has to balance losing a few of them while trying to still upgrade overall, as it needs to close the gap with NFC contenders such as the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers.
The good news? The NFC is the weaker conference and the East is a disaster. The New York Giants are still rolling with quarterback Daniel Jones, while the Washington Commanders have no true quarterback to speak of. The Philadelphia Eagles are the biggest threat after winning nine games last year, as they’re armed with three first-round picks. Philly could decide to build around Jalen Hurts, or trade a few of those selections for someone like Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson.
If the Cowboys are going to reach their first NFC Championship Game in more than a quarter-century, it starts in the next few weeks with retaining talented then building upon it. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones must figure it out, using free agency and the NFL Draft to supplement a team long on possibilities but short on accomplishments.