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Are the Cowboys Ready to take the Next Step?

Ezekiel Elliott

Is this the year, after a few odd seasons, is this the year we finally find out who these Dallas Cowboys are? Start looking at early predictions of the Cowboys and the opinions are split about how good this team will be. Most believe there will be some type of regression after a surprising season in 2016.

So how good will this team be?

A few years ago it was a maddening trend of being an average team, going 8-8 for three straight years. Truth be told, those teams weren’t very good and were held together by the magic of Tony Romo. Being .500 during those three seasons was a minor miracle for a team rebuilding on the fly.

Then a 12-4 season came out of nowhere in 2014. Finally, the identity Jason Garrett had always wanted had come to fruition and the team won games. It was a team on the rise, but had an aging quarterback, while the Cowboys were beginning to get younger.

The putrid 4-12 that followed showed that Dallas needed to find a successor to Romo and, coincidentally, DeMarco Murray. The team was in many of the games they lost, but were missing the key element at quarterback to win games late.

Last year was another surprise as the Cowboys once again defied the odds and won 13 games with a rookie quarterback, who was drafted in the fourth round, and a rookie running back who fit the team that drafted him to a T. Dallas lost in the playoffs, but showed the future looks bright with a young signal caller and youth all over the team.

The current version of the Cowboys are built exactly how Garrett wants; they will try to bludgeon opponents in the running game and take advantage of mismatches in the passing game. They have the pieces to dominate on offense and have the quarterback to build around.

Defensively, this isn’t a special group, but they have remade almost the entire unit in the past three years. It’s a work in progress but may end up surprising us again because of their athleticism, versatility and affinity for rotating in fresh players. Sounds a little something like the early 1990’s defense (no, I’m not comparing, yet), doesn’t it? Young, fast, hungry and coming at you in waves.

It all leads us back to the question: are the Dallas Cowboys closer to a 12-13 win team they are proven to be when they get reliable quarterback play? Or are they closer to a 4-to-8 win team who found a quarterback, but aren’t good enough on defense to survive a brutal schedule? The never ending cycle of up and down seasons cannot continue in 2017, can it?

The NFL is a tough league, the playoff turnover each season is proof of that, but the Cowboys seem to be on their way up. Another 13-3 season appears to unlikely due to a much tougher schedule, but it’s time for Dallas to prove they are more than just a one-hit wonder every few years.

So what’s it going to be for these Dallas Cowboys? Are they ready to take the next step towards consistency? We’ll start to find out soon enough.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

Ben Grimaldi

Ben Grimaldi

Senior Analyst ProFootBallTalkLine.com at SportsTalkLine
Writer for ProFootBallTalkLine.Com. Associate sports producer. Lets talk sports! On Twitter @BenGrimaldi and Podcasting for STL!
Ben Grimaldi





  • Senovio Rodriguez

    Been listening to radio off and on and trying to read as much as possible about what Commish will do with Zeke, still haven’t really gotten a sense from rest of country what they think.

    Either a minor distraction… or the start of alot of things going bad from the beginning?

    How does this really compare to what the rest of NFL, players and non-players, do “quietly”?

    And, oops just curious:

    a. Owner behavior…Jerry and his pics from a while back. [and some things should be private, but…geeesh] : did Jerry ever get “punished”? Would a owner get the hammer?

    b. Steelers coach “arrested” at a bar and then …nada? Hell, what is the penalty for coach running onto the field during a game? And affecting/effecting the game?

    c. Gronk “acting” like a fool.. and ? [just good clean fun and the “optics” aren’t as bad?]

    d. And, didn’t Philly put some peep holes into their cheerleaders room?

    Then again, bad publicity is good publicity.

  • Senovio Rodriguez

    Way too early to say…but what the hey.

    Agree alot with Mensa…. The only thing that will really hurt this team will be injuries.

    Kellen Moore at QB2 is “not bueno”. QB3 okay.

    Backup TEs? Can they stay healthy and contribute. [And no, don’t wrap in bubble wrap. Okay, maybe not the best word usage. Just let them play. What TC and preseason should shake out]

    Maybe the time to keep Rod Smith and bye to Morris. While great to have that home run ability…just bludgeon. And the defense may need that help early and often.

    As for the defense: just let them play. And if they can’t then let the next guy geaux.

    The offense should be potent. I will accept a regression in the D… if it just can be a game changer/decider by season’s end, ie. sacks, pressures, FFs, interceptions, stops, forcing of will.

    Okay, had some time, but the only nitpick with 2017 draft is why got that last DL when team should have gotten a LB. Don’t know if I said/typed earlier in year but that was my biggest concern. Okay maybe not getting an OL but don’t have that many picks.

    Maybe by the end of TC the team will get ??? Or trade for ?

    PS: I guess team will wait with D Wilson and see how he does in TC. But does he get suspended early in season? If suspended early, then keep and get somebody to replace. If not suspended and then waiting, then cut.

    • Football Mensa

      If Dak got hurt in preseason and was out for the year and Moore started all the games. Dallas would be in the Sam Darnold sweepstakes.

      • Senovio Rodriguez

        yay?!?

        • Football Mensa

          Could you imagine Dak and Darnold in the Cowboys fold ? Dallas would have multiple first rounders for many years. Dak right now would almost get you a Herschel type trade.

  • Football Mensa

    Ben , I’ve enjoyed the break from football. Now though , that feeling is beginning to amp up inside. Questions abound. Can Dak improve ? Can JG quit with the bewildering play calling in the playoffs ? Can Taco be the missing ingredient at de ? Will the young db’s make an impact or will they more resemble Goodrich, Larrimore and Edwards from the 2000 draft ?

    In truth I have no faith in JG at all. It’s a case for me personally of the players overcoming the coach. IF Dak can have a strong sophomore campaign we will cruise to 10 wins. IF the defense shows a pulse 11-12 wins is doable. All eyes will be on Taco in camp but I think the second player the fans want to see is Switzer. He fits Daks game to a T. That said Ben , we need Dez to be dominant again. It will be interesting. I think the division got better. Dc’s have had an offseason to study Daks tendencies.

    It’s almost GEAUX time ! See what I did there ?

    • Ben Grimaldi

      Yes, defensive coords have a book on Dak, However, the Cowboys now have a full off-season to implement more offensive wrinkles to utilize his growth. That was done on the fly last year, had plenty of time to make all the pieces fit even better this off-season.

      • Football Mensa

        If we win the superbowl , we should show up at SVO’s house ready to party.

        • Yuma Cactus

          I 2nd that.

          • Ben Grimaldi

            And 3rd!

          • Senovio Rodriguez

            well, gonna be hard to show up anywhere…probably be drinking during game…and then celebrating all nite long. or passed out. sad but true 😛

          • Football Mensa

            LOLOL….Bro , I don’t ever get drunk. When I was 18 I was at a party and saw people puking on themselves and passed out. I vowed to myself that night , that won’t ever be me.

    • Michael

      Have you heard the latest Mike Lombardi podcast? On the July 12 episode of “‘GM Street’ — Offseason Excitement” at the ringer dot com, Lombardi makes all the points you and many of us have made about JG over the years. In a nutshell, JG’s teams have not been ready to play in big games. Lombardi calls him a 8-8 coach – Jeff Fisher territory. Lombardi wonders just what JG does, as Linehan runs the offense and Marinelli the defense, and asks if JG is just paid to clap on the sidelines. Well worth a listen.

      I want to think that JG turned a corner last season but the closer you look at the GB loss in the playoffs, the worse JG looks. In any case, it is time for the season to arrive.

      • Football Mensa

        JG’s coaching on that last drive made me shake my head. Again.