After a successful (somewhat) 2016 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys cannot sit back and coast to a Super Bowl.
After watching the Super Bowl, a few things became clearer about the Dallas Cowboys:
- First, the Dallas Cowboys would have probably fared better than the Falcons.
- Second, the Cowboys need to upgrade their pass rush.
- Lastly, the Dallas Cowboys need Jason Garrett and the coaching staff to be better.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Cowboys have some work, but a good foundation.
First the good news. The Dallas Cowboys would have been better than the Falcons. I don’t think the defense would have had as much pressure on Brady, but I do think the Cowboys offense could have sustained itself for all four quarters. The offense has a running game that can take over a game and wear down teams. The Falcons went away from the run for some reason and should have utilized it earlier in the second half.
The passing game would have taken advantage of the gaps the Patriots defense was giving, and outside of Julio Jones, the Cowboys are a far more talented offense. It was clear the Patriots were daring the Falcons all game to beat them with anyone but Jones. The Cowboys, I believe, had much better weapons.
However, it is apparent the Cowboys may need a different number two receiver on the outside. Terrance Williams is serviceable, but if the Cowboys are going to make teams pay, they need someone who can get down the field quickly. Williams doesn’t quite have the moves or speed to beat a lot of corners, and if he does, he tends to be a body catcher. An upgrade in either speed or route running is a must, even if they don’t upgrade in speed.
Where the Cowboys need to become better is on defense. This isn’t to say they had a terrible defense this year, but a consistent pass rush is extremely valuable come playoffs and in the Super Bowl.
The Falcons couldn’t keep the same pressure on Brady throughout the game and Brady made them pay late. With potentially some turnover in the secondary, a better pass rush will make up for the new personnel. It is vital the Cowboys find a way to get more pressure without blitzing next season.
The other part of defense the Cowboys must improve on is physicality. Too often this season the Cowboys would allow extra yards going for a strip rather than punishing the ball carrier. While trying to get a fumble is a good thing, sometimes making a team pay physically can help wear them down and make them more prone to turnovers later. The technique is still key, but watching the Falcons tackle showed a huge difference between the Cowboys and the NFC representative.
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The largest part the Cowboys must focus on improving is the coaching staff. It has repeatedly been said, but Jason Garrett isn’t what many would call masterful when it comes to in-game adjustments. Part of this is his history with Jimmy Johnson as his philosophy was to line up and have better players. In this day and age of free agency and salary caps, there needs to be more on the coaching staff. Garrett must learn to be an elite coach –adjustments are fluid and necessity.
Garrett must also learn that not all situations call for a by-the-book answer. Sometimes Garrett will go to running the clock out early and allow teams to creep back in. One knock has been his killer instinct and inability to work the clock. While it is seemingly far-fetched Garrett will change at this point; it is something that must be addressed if we are going to be honest.
The Cowboys must not rest on a successful 2016. There is work to do, but with the right moves in the offseason and a decent draft, there is hope. While there is a long way to go before the next season starts, the time is now to start evaluating. If the Super Bowl showed us anything, it is the Cowboys are close, but may not quite be there just yet.