After last nights loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Dallas Cowboys wrapped up an up and down season that saw them finish 11-7. After a slow start, they won seven of their last eight to end the season including five straight. Milestones were also broken as their wildcard win over the Seattle Seahawks marked just their third playoff win since 1996. Below are our four key takeaways from the Cowboys 2018 season.
First Down: The Defense
It’s no secret that the biggest key to the Cowboys success this season was the play of the defense. New Defensive backs coach and Pass Game Coordinator Kris Richard did a masterful job in his first season helping a defensive unit finish sixth in total defense, seventh in total yards, 13th in pass yards and fifth in rushing. The unit also allowed just 24 combined first-quarter points heading into yesterdays game. He made cornerback Byron Jones a first-time Pro Bowler and helped turn rookie Leighton Vander Esch into a sensation. As long as Richard stays on board the defense should be solid for years to come.
Second Down: The Offense
Scott Linehan has to go. Just like the defense, it’s no secret that the offense held the team back from more wins. Sure you could blame on the offensive line injuries or the fact that there wasn’t a clear No. 1 receiver until Amari Cooper arrived. Both valid points. The offensive line excuse, however, holds little water. If the line was truly that bad the Cowboys wouldn’t have won five straight. Ezekiel Elliott wouldn’t have reached 1,000 yards. They wouldn’t have ranked tenth in rushing. The No. 1 receiver argument is valid as Cooper did give the Cowboys a go-to option that they lacked without Dez Bryant. However, the playcalling was average at best and at times downright awful. Outside of rushing the numbers speak for themselves. 22nd in points, 22nd in total yards and 23rd in passing yards. Scott Linehan has to go.
Third Down: Amari Cooper
We can’t talk about the Cowboys second-half of season success without mentioning Cooper. Many thought the Oakland Raiders had fleeced the Cowboys out of their first-round pick but I always thought otherwise. Cooper flourished almost from the minute he arrived. Despite finishing third on the team in receptions he led in both yards and touchdowns with 725 and six. Cooper’s prescience also helped rookie Michael Gallup who coincidently saw a jump in production the same time Cooper arrived finishing with 33 catches for 507 yards and two touchdowns. With Cooper in the fold, the Cowboys receiving core is solid for years to come.
Fourth Down: Dak Prescott
Now we’ve reached the conclusion; the curious case of Dak Prescott. Is he a franchise quarterback or not? Can he win a championship? Can he limit turnovers? All valid questions. All have yet to be answered. Sure if you were to look at Prescott stat line it looks pretty good. 3,885 yards, 22 touchdowns to eight interceptions, 67 percent completion percentage and another 305 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. Solid right? But the stats don’t show the whole story. Doesn’t so the countless dropped interceptions by defenders. Doesn’t show the indecisiveness or the lack of pocket presence that led to him being sacked 56 times. Doesn’t show the missed reads that drove Cowboys legend Troy Aikman crazy. I know Owner Jerry Jones has said numerous times that Prescott is the quarterback and will be paid accordingly. Has he really proved it? Was he really just a one year wonder? Is he even starting quarterback material? The crazy part? The answers seemingly change every week if not every play. To fully answer this question, at least in my eyes, is constancy.