STRENGTHS (Not necessarily in order of importance)
- The Cowboys have been good at home as evidenced by an 11 game home winning streak. During the Garrett years, the Cowboys were barely above .500 so this team has gained a home field advantage for a change.
- The Cowboys beat the teams they are supposed to (other than Ariz). The Cowboys usually destroy lower rungs teams on their schedule.
- Pass rush. When this team has a two score lead, the pass rush led by Parsons is brutal on opponents.
- Dak has protected the ball well with 5 INTs so far. Only Joe Burrow (4) has less among starting QBs. Whatever anyone thinks about Dak, he’s been good, just not top 5 great. I still think he’s good enough to win playoff games with the right team around him.
- Cedee Lamb. Has emerged into a top 10 NFL receiver and completely reliable weapon for the offense. In fact the MOST reliable weapon.
- Pass defense. Despite the loss of Travon Diggs, the Cowboys secondary has held up well overall. They have 9 INTs, two for TDs and are ranked 3rd against the pass in yardage surrendered.
- The defense has generated 12 TOs in 8 games which is outstanding.
- STs have been excellent. Brandon Aubrey is probably THE most reliable player on the team, and the Cowboys have blocked 2 punts and a FG, creating 2 TDs and a safety.
- Running game. The Cowboys only average 3.9 yards per rush and only avg about 110 yards a game. By having a weak running game, it forces Dak to have to do more which does not help this team. Pollard doesn’t look like a “bell cow” type back when receiving the majority of touches.
- Penalties. Dallas is tied w/ four other teams for most penalties with 60, and have THE most pre-snap penalties with 22. If they don’t fix the pre-snap penalty problems, they will have a short stint in the playoffs.
- OLine has been inconsistent. They have surrendered 23 sacks (11th most in the league so far) and the running game has been anemic. Tyron Smith has actually played well…when he‘s not hurt. This group needed help in the off-season and IMO the FO didn’t do enough to address it.
- Not enough Receivers getting involved. Cedee Lamb has been great and TE Jake Ferguson has emerged but Cooks, Gallup and other TEs have not been getting enough targets for whatever reason.
- Lack of depth at some key positions. RB, OL, LB are probably an injury away from trouble. This is true for most NFL teams but not the ones at the very top. We could all see a need at RB depth this off-season as well as OL but the FO has been reluctant to address it.
NEEDS GOING FORWARD TO COMPETE IN THE PLAYOFFS
- Address the pre-snap penalties! Leading the league in pre-snap penalties will spell doom in the playoffs. We have 11 penalties for lining up off-sides! Just sloppy and lack of attention to detail.
- Get more receivers involved to take pressure off Lamb. Cooks and Gallup have underperformed but occasionally they’ve been open and Dak hasn’t thrown to them. These guys must get more involved or DCs are going to shut down just Cedee to beat us.
- Get Rico Dowdle more involved in the run game. I love Tony Pollard but he’s more effective in the 15-20 touches per game rather than 20-25. Dowdle has more power- we must use him more!
- Faster starts for the offense. We cannot afford to continue with the opening 3 and out, especially against good teams. Poor offensive starts spell disaster in the playoffs.
- Need someone to make a play in clutch moments. Thats often the difference between good and great. Great teams make clutch plays when the game is on the line.
BOTTOM LINE AT MID-SEASON
Bill Parcells’ old quote “You are what your record says you are” has never been more true with this team. This is a good, not great team so far this season and the record reflects that. If we want to at least reach a conference championship game for the first time in nearly 3 decades, the team must improve. Good but not great is a repeat of too many recent seasons. Let’s hope they can up their game.