Dallas Cowboys can’t lose sight of what really caused 6-10 debacle

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

One item stands out above all the others as the main reason the Dallas Cowboys underachieved

The Dallas Cowboys 2020 season was an unmitigated disaster by all accounts. The Cowboys were built to compete for a title. Instead, the only thing they competed for in December was a top-10 draft pick.

While many things contributed to the Dallas Cowboys 6-10 season, one item stands out above all others: the injuries.

This isn’t to excuse-make or even say the Dallas Cowboys would be playing right now if they hadn’t have had so many injuries. It’s just to apply weight to the things that went wrong for the franchise in 2020.

Team 40-burger (the moniker given to Dallas’ offense-first strategy this season and the number of points expected per week) was built on scoring truck loads of points with their deadly passing attack and preserving wins with their ground game. And the backbone of that strategy was the offensive line.

But because of injury, that backbone became a legit weakness before the season even kicked off. Starting RT and last season’s best O-lineman, La’el Collins, was lost for season and never even made it to Week 1.

Tyron Smith, Dallas’ All-Pro left tackle would soon follow, only playing in two of Dallas’ 16 games. To make matters worse, the Cowboys swing tackle, Cameron Erving, was out most of the season, leaving tackle duties to an undrafted rookie and an inexperienced undrafted second year player.

The dominos would continue to fall on the O-line with only one starter making it through the season unscathed.

Making matters worse were injuries to the Dallas Cowboys top defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy (never played a game), a Week 1 injury to LB Leighton Vander Esch, and early injuries to CBs Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie. The defense, which was never expected to be good, was suddenly a massive liability and historically bad. And the offense, ravaged by injury, now needed “40-burgers” to just keep up, let alone win games.

The loss of the team’s most important player, Dak Prescott, provided the nail in the coffin to Dallas’ 40-burger strategy. The team couldn’t afford their offense to slip into “good” territory. It needed to be nothing short of great. Injures on defense made it so. Sadly the injuries on offense made that impossible to achieve.

What’s the point? What’s the takeaway?

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That this Dallas Cowboys team is far from your usual 6-10 football club. The offensive line was a disaster but it doesn’t require a rebuild. All it needs is to get healthy. If that’s not possible, then further investment will be needed, but that remains to be seen and only the Dallas Cowboys medical staff knows the odds.

Simply being healthy catapults the Cowboys back into the playoff picture again. They still need to address the DT position, they still need to make sure their defensive scheme is compatible with their defensive personnel. They still need to improve ball security and still need to work on their red zone offense.

In other words, there’s plenty to work on before this team can reach it’s full potential in 2021. But the No. 1 thing that hurt them last year was some major injuries to the team’s most important players..

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The COVID-19 pandemic, a new coaching staff, and a cancelled preseason all impacted the Dallas Cowboys this season, but not as much as the injuries. The Dallas Cowboys aren’t as far from their goal as their record indicates.

  • Published on 01/11/2021 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 01/11/2021 at 10:00 AM