There has been talk among the Dallas Cowboys faithful that the team should now tank this season.
Look Dallas Cowboys fans, I get it. This season looks bleak right now. The defense is still a mess, Dak Prescott is done for the season, and this team keeps finding ways to put itself behind in games. But the talk to “tank lose on purpose)” is misguided.
I get the thought process, I just happen to not agree with it. There are plenty of reasons to not tank in the NFL that we can get to, but first, let’s look at the specific reasons the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t tank this season…
Losing because you are bad is one thing, intentionally losing to boost your draft stock is another. I am speaking to the later today and not the former. When I use the term tank, I am speaking about losing just to lose.
Usually, tanking teams have either bad quarterback play or just a huge lack of talent all over the field. The Dallas Cowboys have a really good offense and a capable backup. I am not saying I think Andy Dalton will take this team, especially with this defense, to a Super Bowl, but he is one of the better backups in the league. Even with the injuries on the offensive line, it looks like the team is slowly figuring out how to adjust for those.
The issues on defense are much deeper and while there have been plenty of questions, like why is Dontari Poe still starting, or why is Daryl Worley being relied upon so much, or even why Bradlee Anae can’t see the field more than a few snaps. However, their defensive health is about to get better and help is on the way. Leighton Vander Esch is coming back soon, Chidobe Awuzie should hit the field, and Randy Gregory is getting much closer to being allowed to play.
Should the Cowboys get healthy and get some of the more talented players on the field this defense could be “good enough” instead of the Achillies heel of this team every week. There is still the pass-rushing issues and scheme problems, but getting better players will help, even if it is a little.
Back to the tanking idea. First, the NFC East is certainly attainable, and with so many young players on this team the more experience the better in the long run. We have seen some crazy things happen once teams get into the playoffs and why not give yourself even the smallest of chances. It is still early enough that this team could do just enough to be dangerous with the offensive talent.
The second big question is this year’s draft could be odd. What we do not know right now is how teams will view players who did not play in college this year. Will they place a higher value on players who had film and developed another year over the guys who they might feel are a year behind? We honestly don’t know and there is a chance more than some years a really good player could drop due to this.
An example is Penei Sewell. A stellar offensive tackle from Oregon who many thought would go top 10. If teams would rather have a guy who had another year like, Alex Leatherwood, you could grab Sewell outside of the top 10.
Let’s, for argument sake, say the Cowboys were to tank. This team with this offense would at least win at least 2-3 more games. That would probably puts you in the 10-14 area. You certainly aren’t drafting a quarterback, so you might go offensive tackle, defensive tackle, corner, safety, guard, or maybe linebacker. The talent at that point in the draft isn’t a huge drop off from 19 (where the Cowboys would draft at the moment). You can still get great value there (CeeDee Lamb anyone at 17?).
Unless Dak can’t come back or you don’t intend to bring him back, then perhaps you try to get as high as you can, but that doesn’t look to be the case at this point. Tanking just isn’t the viable answer if a quarterback isn’t your issue. Forcing losses also creates other issues in the locker room and among players. Some players in free agency may not come if they think the team is not serious about trying to win a Super Bowl. It sounds silly, but a ring is always something players want.
I know, I know, but Dan this is a lost season and why not get the best player you can? I hear you, but this team needs more than a rookie player and with the right moves could turn this around in 2021. Hear me out. You are developing a corner, a defensive tackle (well two until Trysten Hill went down), a defensive end, a linebacker, safety, and linebacker all just on defense. On offense, you have a new center, a new wide receiver, and are working with new tackles, guard, and tight end.
Next season with the right moves at defensive tackle and safety on defense and potentially a tackle on offense, you head to the draft with an improved defense and a well-developed offense with your star quarterback returning. The defensive scheme could use a tweak but this team has some hope sooner rather than later. Of course, it all starts with Dak Prescott getting back next season.
It is not outside of the realm of possibility this team looks vastly different next year. It will take more than a high pick to fix the issues and getting the young guys experience will serve well, but making smarter moves in free agency is the smarter move than hoping you pick one guy in the top 10.
There is still a lot of season left. Andy Dalton isn’t perfect, but this team could be in a worse situation (Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassell come to mind). The NFC East is up for grabs and even a small accomplishment could mean a lot to this team and the players. Tanking shouldn’t be the option, smart moves and building experience should be.