How the Cowboys’ Offseason Affects the Immediate Future
As a Cowboys fan myself, I know all too well the experience of the fanbase. Always having high expectations just for a crash and burn ending. Time and time again since the 90’s this have been the case in the regular season, playoffs, and even the offseason at times. The problem was no matter how much of a failure the season was, things never changed. When the 2020 offseason began with the firing of Jason Garret, there was a sense that real change could finally be on the way. The last 5 months have been a rollercoaster for the Cowboys organization, I’m here to recap this crazy offseason and talk about how these massive changes will impact the coming season for Dallas.
The change Cowboys fans have been begging for finally came this year with a massive overhaul in coaching. OC Kellen Moore is essentially the only major coach who kept his job after an explosive year on offense in 2019 that had Dallas finish 1st in the NFL in total offensive yards, 2nd in passing yards, and 5th in rushing yards. Of course, the most notable change in coaching came with former Packers HC and Super Bowl XLV champ, Mike McCarthy replacing Jason Garrett.
McCarthy brings much-needed change to the Cowboys in a range of areas. He started getting more involved in analytics during his time without a coaching job this past year, that is something Dallas has desperately needed recently. McCarthy also brought a grade A staff on board with him, consisting of coaching heavyweights like OL Coach Joe Philbin, ST coordinator John Fassel, DC Mike Nolan, DL coach Jim Tomsula, and WR coach Adam Henry. New DB coach and former NFL corner Al Harris has brought a lot of excitement after Kris Richard’s departure. The new coaching staff brings a major shift in philosophy and culture.
Free Agent Additions
We finally saw the Cowboys bring in some notable talent in free agency this year. In recent years Dallas has been nonexistent in the FA market. There was almost a party in the fanbase when they signed Allen Hurns, that’s how desperate we were for some new additions. This year didn’t bring any massive stars to the team but instead some really good veterans at positions of need.
The Cowboys have lacked interior defensive line talent for years and have consistently failed to draft or sign impact players at DT, they seemed to not value defensive tackle at all. That seems to have changed this year with Dallas signing DT Dontari Poe to a 2-year $9 Million deal as well as DT Gerald McCoy on a 3-year deal worth $18 Million. Both guys are likely past their prime. However they can still be major upgrades to the defensive line. I strongly believe these two have a lot left in the tank.
Veteran Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was also brought in and reunited with his former HC in Green Bay. Clinton-Dix will cost Dallas about $4 Million on his only year on contract, this is great value in my eyes for a guy who has consistently forced turnovers over his career. Other notable signings include former Rams Kicker Greg Zuerlein, EDGE Aldon Smith (who could be reinstated soon), QB Andy Dalton, and veteran CB Darryl Worley. Dallas really stepped outside their comfort zone in free agency this offseason.
Departed and Retained
There is only so much money to go around, the Cowboys have had to learn that the hard way. Over the past three years, they’ve lost a plethora of talent because of money problems. This is usually a good problem to have, as it means you’ve got a lot of talent and simply can’t afford to pay it all. This is true when you win games, but Dallas doesn’t win.
Winning teams have this issue and it doesn’t sting that bad because they’ve already had success with those guys. The Cowboys are losing good players without taking advantage of their time on contract. This offseason was another case of this, Dallas had to pay Amari Cooper and they did, it cost them $100 Million but they did. Dak Prescott was franchise tagged after they failed to get a long-term deal done, that tag will cost them a healthy $33 Million this year. TE Blake Jarwin was brought back on a 3-year deal costing a little over $24 Million, he is expected to play a bigger role after Jason Witten headed west to Las Vegas.
Like I mentioned earlier they lost CB Byron Jones to a massive contract in Miami, they lost EDGE Robert Quinn to Chicago, the biggest departure may not have been free agency but a retirement instead: Center Travis Fredrick hung up the cleats at just 29 years old due to his battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome, an Autoimmune disease he was diagnosed with in 2018. Fredrick doesn’t just leave a major hole on the inside of the offensive line but his presence in the locker room is also a massive loss for the Cowboys.
A+ Draft Performance
Recently, the Dallas Cowboys have had a very consistent philosophy in the draft: high draft picks have to fill a need and have to fit the scheme. Another common thread through recent Cowboys’ drafts is the fact that it was open knowledge who they wanted. Trysten Hill, Leighton Vander Esch, Taco Charlton, everybody knew those were the targets. Two of those three picks have blown up in Dallas’s face and both were picked over superior talent because they fit the scheme and need: Taco over Watt, Hill over Thornhill. Heading into the first draft with a new coaching staff it was unclear if the draft philosophy would remain the same, I think we can all agree it has not.
Stud WR CeeDee Lamb somehow fell into the Cowboys lap and despite K’Lavon Chaisson being on the board they pulled the trigger with Lamb; a move I doubt they would have made just a year ago. Lamb was just the start of an incredible draft for Dallas, they went on to take CB Trevon Diggs at 51, DT Neville Gallimore at 82, and yet another CB at 123 with Reggie Robinson II. The first three picks all landed in the top 60 on my big board, essentially, the first three picks were phenomenal value. Reggie Robinson III brings a similar skillset to Diggs with his ball skills, athleticism, height, and length.The Cowboys clearly have a type of corner they are seeking, and they got two really talented guys that fit that exact build.
4th and 5th round picks Tyler Biadasz and Bradlee Anae are also great value picks. Biadasz may not play a ton this year with Joe Looney and 2019 3rd round pick Connor McGovern ahead of him on the depth chart, however, he looks like a guy who could seriously compete for the starting center job in 2021 and could provide some much-needed depth on the o-line now. Bradlee Anae is a special pass rusher for a 5th round pick. Anae could end up getting real playing time in 2020 if Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith aren’t eligible to play. QB Ben DiNucci was the 7th round pick. He’s now in line to be the QB3 after waiving Cooper Rush. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that every Cowboys draft pick makes the 53-man roster.
Impact on the Season
Things in Dallas are drastically different from 2019 and years prior. It’s hard to say how this year will end up after all these huge changes. If the names on this coaching staff and the talent on the roster give us any indication of the 2020 result, it should be a good year. When you look at the problems for last year’s Cowboys team, I see a lot of issues have cleared up.
The complacency of the coaching staff played a huge role in killing the season. In my opinion, that issue is gone. It took a lot for Jerry Jones to finally pull the trigger on firing Jason Garrett and you can bet he won’t put up with anything less than success after he made all these changes. The roster should be hungry and realize that the entire 2019 coaching staff is gone because of the performance last year. Perhaps the coaches won’t be the ones out the door if winning doesn’t return to Dallas again this year.
The bottom line is this team should be out to prove something. They have the talent to do so. There are no more excuses for the Cowboys, no more “Garrett’s fault”. The front office has built a Cowboys team that is more stacked than any in recent years. It’s time to win and the actions taken by the top dogs in the organization this offseason make that very clear.