NFL Analysis

It’s Getting Late Very Early for the Dallas Cowboys

First, the good news: Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said on Tuesday that quarterback Dak Prescott, who had surgery on his throwing thumb Monday, won’t be going on injured reserve, and the team expects him to return to the starting lineup for Dallas sometime in the next four games.

 

 

That’s the good news. No, seriously, that’s it.

There’s nothing else good about what’s happened to Dallas in 2022, and quite frankly, there are not a lot of signs to suggest that’s going to change anytime soon.

It actually started before the season began when All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith went down with an injury that will sideline him until December at the earliest. So, for the moment, rookie first-round pick Tyler Smith will try and hold down the fort.

(Sidenote: Smith is wearing No. 73 for Dallas – a crime to begin with. That was the number worn by Hall of Fame lineman Larry Allen in Dallas. Allen was arguably the most athletic person in NFL history to play OL. That number should never be worn in Dallas again.)

 

 

Smith is there until 40-year-old Jason Peters is ready to play after being signed to Dallas’s practice squad last week. Let that sink in for a second: The Cowboys’ current plan at LT is to have a rookie play until a 40-year-old street-free agent is ready to play. This is bad enough when Prescott is your QB, let alone Cooper Rush, who’ll be holding down the fort until Prescott returns, whenever that is.

But the line issues alone are just part of the problems in Big D. There are some serious roster construction issues Dallas had coming into this season. The Cowboys jettisoned wide receiver Amari Cooper to avoid having to pay his $20 million salary. They had to do this in part because of the six-year, $90 million contract they handed out to running back Ezekiel Elliott in 2019.

The chemistry and connection Prescott had with Cooper was real and spectacular. Their production together proved that point. But because of a weighted contract for the most replaceable position in football, that chemistry went to Cleveland for a song (fifth-round draft pick and swap of sixth-rounders).

Dallas further compounded the issue by signing wide receiver Michael Gallup to a five-year, $63 million contract extension in March despite the receiver tearing his ACL in January. Gallup didn’t play in the Sunday night loss to Tampa Bay and appears unlikely to play against Cincinnati in Week 2. Dallas then put the franchise tag on tight end Dalton Schultz, a fine player who had a breakout year in 2021 but is now playing on a one-year deal worth almost $11 and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

 

 

In Week 1 against the Buccaneers, CeeDee Lamb had just two catches for 29 yards with Prescott targeting him 11 times. The entire receiving corps didn’t produce with Prescott, and it’s hard to imagine that changing much in Week 2 against Cincinnati with Rush.

Here are Dallas’ next four games:
● vs. Cincinnati
● at the Giants
● vs. Washington
● at the Rams

You can’t win the Super Bowl in September, but you can lose an opportunity to compete for it. Decisions Dallas made in the offseason and the injury to Prescott are trending Dallas in the latter direction. Add that to the fact that Dallas hasn’t had back-to-back 10-win seasons since the 1990s and that no team has repeated as NFC East champs in 17 years, and it’s getting late extremely early in Big D.

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