Dallas Cowboys 2016 Season Review

2015 is a year that most Cowboys fans will be happy to forget. A year where they went from being a whisker away from the 2014 NFC Championship game, to being, in the worst possible way, the second most QB-centric team in the league. A team that went from having a world beating offense to finishing 31st in offensive turnovers with 33 in total. 31st in points scored, 22nd in total yards gained 27th in passing yards and 29th in passing TD’s. The reason? Easy. No Tony Romo.

I Wanna Be Sedated

Any other franchise in the league would have given their right arm for a decade of Tony Romo under center. But it seems that some teams only know what they have when it’s gone. Especially when for the last 4 seasons the attitude to QB2 has been so lackadaisical, with Romo essentially held together by magic and prayer.

That attitude can really bite you on the arse. It bit Dallas like a pissed off Piranha. The loss of Dez Bryant was also a huge blow early on, however it was a blow that a Romo led offense could probably have dealt with. Dez seemed to be lost without Romo, averaging just 44 yards per game all year ( a career low ). The 3 stooges of the Dallas apocalypse Kellen Moore, Matt Cassel and Brandon “best arm Jerry’s ever seen” Weeden all underwhelmed so emphatically that they appeared doomed all year long. Defensively they recorded a tiny 11 turnovers (Dead Last) in spite of a top 10 performance against the pass. So last year’s performance for me boils down to this. A lack of credible depth at QB and a similar lack of credible depth at wide receiver sealed their fate, put simply, with the greatest offensive line in football at your disposal finishing in the Bottom 2 for offensive yards, points, and turnovers is a crime. A crime that puts your “D” in jail every week and gets you 4-12.

Hey-Ho let’s go!

In free Agency this year they did two notable things. Kicked Greg Hardy to the kerb and yelled “good riddance” as they did. Next they snagged Alfred Morris from Washington, which made everyone assume that a Running back was the last thing Jerry would draft. We also assumed he had a massive dose of the hots for DE Joey Bosa. Silly us…..
Dallas’ first two picks in the draft were about as good a pair of picks as they could possibly have made. In Ezekiel Elliott they have probably most complete RB prospect to come out of college in years. A player who, behind “that line” is in the perfect position to turn heads. If Elliott performs to expectation then the sky is the limit for the Cowboys. (It also future-proofs the offense for Romo’s eventual successor.)
With Pick number 2 Jerry took a flyer on injured LB Jaylon Smith. A “flyer” that has the potential (recovery permitting) to provide Dallas With one of the most versatile and athletic prospects at Line-backer there has ever been. With a ceiling so high that picking him up in round 2 felt like a good gamble. In his shoes, I wouldn’t have passed either. The fact that he may not see a return on the investment this year is moot when you think of the potential. With the exception of Pick 4 ( QB Dak Prescott) they seemed to ace their head firmly in the sand regarding depth at the skills position. However they did thankfully invest in defensive depth later (more on that to come).

Gimme Shock Treatment

At the time of writing there are 19 Dallas players on the injury report, and 3 players suspended for a minimum of 10 games. The laundry list of injuries includes such hilarious non-football injuries as LB Damien Wilson’s “Shot in face with a Paintball”.
The result of these injuries is that with 6 defensive linemen and 3 line backers Currently either limited, or completely unable to practice and suspensions of Pro-bowl calibre starters Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence and wait for it…..Rolando Mclain (again), the future for the defence in 16′ is anything from “due a rocky start” to “dung-filled flaming dumpster fire” Whatever happens, I couldn’t imagine a more infuriating set of circumstances for Rod Marinelli to begin camp with.
Equally bothersome for the franchise is that QB2 Kellen Moore has broken his ankle. Given Tony Romo’s recent cavalcade of serious, life changing back and collarbone injuries, the search is finally on for a credible number two (Finally). As we speak its McCown or bust for Dallas. My assessment of this year for Big D is this. Romo and Dez need to stay healthy and the key to that will be Ezekiel Elliott. If he puts 1300 yards and 7-10 TD’s on the board then it eases the pressure on the passing game,( especially with McFadden and Morris as change of pace backs!) it also decreases the amount of time a rusty and undermanned defence spends on the field. Dallas may have to score at least 28 points a game this year. The problem is that if Romo goes down I can see a very low “floor” in Dallas. With Romo, I think 10-6 or even 11-5 is a sensible shout, even with the defensive suspensions and injuries. Without? Well let’s just say 3 or 4 wins would be about right.

I just hope this is the year that they finally carry Tony, not the other way around. He has more than earned that privilege. I am excited, but also terrified for Dallas in 2016.