Will the Dallas Cowboys regress and miss the playoffs in 2022?

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Since the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl-winning dynasty of the 1990’s, this once proud franchise has found little-to-no postseason success. In fact, they’ve only won seven times in the playoffs since 1995 and half of those seven victories came on the backs of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith.

The other three playoff wins came in ’09, ’14, and in ’18 with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott playing under center. There are several reasons why the Dallas Cowboys haven’t played beyond the second round of the playoffs since the 90’s, but what’s even sadder is the inconsistency of the Cowboys even making the playoffs. Of course, there’s a legitimate reason for it.

After winning the NFC East and making the playoffs one year, the Dallas Cowboys have established a pattern of regression the following year.

As I stated in the aforementioned paragraph, the Dallas Cowboys are inconsistent at making the playoffs in consecutive years. The last time Dallas went to the playoffs in consecutive years was way back in ’06 and ’07. That was with Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips and then with Phillips winning the NFC East with a roster full of Parcells drafted players.

And remember Michael Gallup is expected to miss the first two or three games next season because of a torn ACL.

For instance, Dallas made the playoffs in ’14, ’16, ’18, and in ’21, but missed the playoffs in each of the following seasons.  Why Dallas regresses the next season like a toddler learning to be potty trained is a conundrum all in itself.

This upcoming season feels no different.

One reason for a regression to be expected is because the Dallas Cowboys no longer have offensive threats like Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson, Jr Blake Jarwin, offensive lineman La’el Collins and defensive stud Randy Gregory-not to mention they have yet to bring back nose tackle Brent Urban.

Unless Dallas can bring in a few more offensive weapons to replace Coop and Wilson, last season’s high-powered offense will not be as explosive. The same can be said about Dallas’ defense and pass rush without Gregory’s presence. Regardless of how you feel about Gregory and what he “supposedly owes” the Jones’s for standing by him, his impact on the defensive side of the ball will be missed.

A combination of Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler, Jr doesn’t have the same feel as the more athletic Gregory.

But let’s go back to Dallas’ strong point: its offense and how it’s taken a step backwards and how its regression alone hurts the entire team. Even though Dallas’ defense led the league in takeaways and improved drastically from the previous season, it was the offense that opposing teams feared and the reason why Dallas could simply out score teams when it mattered the most.

In games against inferior teams like the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, Dallas leaned heavily on its offense to eventually put those teams away after struggling with them for a few quarters or so.

But next season, the firepower won’t be there to put teams away with ease because of a lack of explosive offensive weapons. And remember Michael Gallup is expected to miss the first two or three games next season because of a torn ACL.

The main positive for Dallas’ offense is Pro Bowl wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Hopefully, Lamb can put this offense on his back and become its dominant WR1.

Yes, Dallas’ offense still features breakout tight end Dalton Schultz (franchised tagged), recently signed wide receiver James Washington, and wide receivers Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko. Then there is Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, and franchise quarterback Dak Prescott, but Dak needs weapons and protection (Terrence Steele) for this offense to succeed.

Besides Lamb and Schultz, there’s a lot of unknowns with the supporting cast of receivers. And when an NFL defense does not fear your receivers, they stack the box and dare you to beat them.

Its downhill from there.  We saw how Dallas’ offense struggled way back in 2018 before trading for Coop.

Dallas’ defense recorded 41 sacks on the season, and rookie sensation Micah Parsons tallied 13 sacks to receive his first Pro Bowl nod and make All Pro. Even with Parsons and fellow pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence back, will that be enough to offset the loss of Gregory. What about Dallas’ weaknesses at stopping the run? These are legitimate questions that needs answers.

As much as Dallas’ defense improved, we all witnessed its flaws like giving up the big pass play, the inability to consistently stop the run, and basically depending on a takeaway to gain momentum. A sound defense doesn’t lose to Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers, and that sentiment goes for Dallas’ offense, too. That 49ers loss was totally unacceptable.

There are only two things that can stop the Dallas Cowboys from regressing and having a disappointing season:

  1. Dallas’ offensive coaching staff has to do a better job of game playing, making in game adjustments, exploiting defenses weaknesses, and finding creative ways to keep the ball in its play makers hands (Lamb, Zeke, and Pollard).
  2. Allow Dak to be a dual threat running the ball because this will keep defenses honest.

Sidenote: Not worried about Dallas’ defense as much because defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has proven he knows how to use his defensive players to the best of their ability, and I believe Dallas will fix its current issues.

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Secondly, Dallas must take advantage and win a mediocre NFC East division. Carson Wentz is a better version of the Washington Commanders quarterback, Taylor Heinicke, but Dallas has beaten Wentz throughout his NFL career with ease. The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants might be better from the previous season, but not formidable by any stretch.

Based off of those teams’ rosters alone, Dallas should still win the NFC East and be the first repeat division winner since the Eagles of 2003/04. If not, then the pattern of regression continues.