By, Faux John Madden (Special to OddsUSA.com)
They say that the surest things in life are death and taxes, but for the last quarter-century, you could also throw “the Dallas Cowboys massively underachieving after lofty preseason expectations” into that categorization.
Jerry Jones and “America’s Team” are about to embark on yet another new coaching era with hopes that they can finally end a 24-year drought and get back to the Super Bowl, of which their fans would sure appreciate as it is incredibly cumbersome to need to keep a VCR around the house just so you can re-live the last time this franchise was synonymous with winning.
Once again, Dallas enters a new season with big expectations that this will be the year they finally figure it all out and return to the top of the NFL pantheon. The Cowboys roster is littered with talent, and on paper arguably only the Kansas City Chiefs have the offensive weapons the Cowboys do.
The division again seems very weak, and all the stars in Big D are aligning to make this dream a reality. Will Jerryworld finally be able to raise a “World Champions” banner into the rafters that wasn’t manufactured around the same time as the internet itself?
Cowboys 2019 Season Review
It wouldn’t quite be an NFL season without the Dallas Cowboys entering the year being whispered as the possible “sleeping giant” in the NFC, only to see the team constantly trip over their own feet and hilariously stumble their way to a middling 8-8 season.
That’s pretty much how the Cowboys 2019 campaign went.
After a successful 2018 season that saw the Cowboys win a playoff game for only the third time since their last Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXX, expectations for the 2019 season were at a fever pitch.
Dallas was still riding on the short-lived legacy of having a dominant offensive line that could impose its will on any defense and had just added the explosive Amari Cooper to the offense after Jon Gruden’s mass sell-off when he came back to Oakland. The team gave Ezekiel Elliott a big contract extension and lured Jason Witten back after one-year of impeccable analysis on Monday Night Football.
Defensively, the Cowboys were also poised to break out. Robert Quinn joined the team and paired with Demarcus Lawrence to create a strong defensive line. The depth was thought to also be very sound, with the likes of Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton as their disposal. The linebacking corps and secondary both looked like Top 10 units on paper.
And while some of their assumptions for how the 2019 season would play out did ring true, the Cowboys would become one of the biggest disappointments in the league and vastly play under their potential throughout the season.
It was the same thing that had plagued Jason Garrett throughout his entire Cowboys tenure. The former career backup to Troy Aikman was thought to be the next great coach in Cowboys’ history when Jerry Jones had finally found his man way back in 2010.
Instead, Garrett produced more clips of him clapping than playoff wins, and after nine-plus seasons of treading water, the Cowboys finally had enough when all Garrett could muster in 2019 was an 8-8 finish, this despite the Giants and Washington combining to go 7-25 while the Eagles were one injury away from having Mark Wahlberg log extensive playing time at wide receiver.
Now Dallas begins to see their window of opportunity get smaller by the week, with a massive contract extension to their quarterback Dak Prescott waiting in the wings. The Cowboys turned to former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to right the ship, but McCarthy has had his share of having his teams play well under expectations as well.
Once again, the pieces are in place for the Dallas Cowboys to become one of the NFC’s elite, will they finally be able to get out of their own way?
Really Excited About Jerry Jones’ “No January Work” Company Policy
DT Gerald McCoy (Panthers)
DE Everson Griffen (Vikings)
S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Bears)
DE/LB Aldon Smith (Free Agent)
QB Andy Dalton (Bengals)
CB Daryl Worley (Raiders)
K Greg Zuerlein (Rams)
T Cameron Erving (Chiefs)
DT Dontari Poe (Panthers)
This Guy Really Wants $40 Million a Season
QB Dak Prescott (Franchise Tender Signed)
The Cowboys Couldn’t Pay Them Because They’re Saving Half of Jerry Jones’ Estate to Pay Dak
C Travis Frederick (Retired)
CB Byron Jones (Dolphins)
DE Robert Quinn (Bears)
WR Randall Cobb (Texans)
TE Jason Witten (Raiders)
DT Maliek Collins (Raiders)
WR Tavon Austin (49ers)
TE Cameron Fleming (Giants)
G Xavier Su’a-Filo (Bengals)
DT Gerald McCoy (Cut by Cowboys 8/18 after injury in camp)
Cowboys 2020 Offensive Preview
If the Cowboys are to finally break through in 2020, the offense will almost certainly be the driving catalyst behind it.
Dallas enters the 2020 season with an absurd amount of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and on paper, they may have the best offense in the entire NFC.
Dak Prescott will play out the 2020 season on the franchise tag, paying the young QB just over $31 million this season. Prescott is hoping to land a contract that will make him the top-paid quarterback at the position, a contract that became much less likely when Patrick Mahomes inked a deal that could pay him as much as a half-billion dollars during the lifetime of the contract.
While Dak is likely not going to get a contract topping Mahomes’ deal, if he wishes to top the second-highest-paid deal of Russell Wilson, he will need to take full advantage of a Cowboys’ offense that features the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and 1000-yard wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. To add to the depth of the offense, Jerry Jones couldn’t resist selecting the explosive CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma with the team’s 17th overall pick.
After realizing bringing back the corpse of Jason Witten was a big mistake, the team let Witten walk in free agency and locked up Blake Jarwin with a new contract that will make him the new #1 tight end in Big D.
While the Cowboys offensive line is nowhere near the formidable unit it once was, it should still be a strength of the time thanks to mainstays Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins. The team will need to replace the massive gap left by the retirement of center Travis Frederick and will turn to veteran Joe Looney to try to fill the hole. Looney was quite average in 2019 in relief of Frederick, so don’t be surprised if 2020 4th round pick Tyler Biadasz (ironically enough also from Wisconsin just like Frederick) replaces him in the lineup at some point during the season.
New head coach Mike McCarthy comes to Dallas as his first coaching stop since the Packers fired McCarthy during the 2018 NFL Season. McCarthy is known for his ability to have an explosive offense, but he’s also grown a reputation for getting conservative with his play-calling at the worst times, and for being a coach that does not get the most out of the talent on the roster.
(In other words, he sounds like the perfect Cowboys coach!)
For McCarthy to escape the label of a coach that wilts under pressure and constantly underachieves, he and the Cowboys alike will need to exercise a lot of demons for the team to really take that next step.
McCarthy has boasted that he used the year away from football to get up to speed on the new offensive concepts that are sweeping the league, it remains to be seen if this will indeed be the case, but McCarthy hasn’t had this type of offensive personnel to work with since the Packers were annual Super Bowl contenders in their own right. If he really has turned a new leaf and grown as a head coach, the Cowboys offense can be among the league’s best in 2020.
Cowboys 2020 Defensive Preview
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that a team that has tried to milk the success of the mid-90s for the past 30 years would have a hard time moving away from history, but the Dallas Cowboys defensive approach seems to also be stuck in a time warp on paper.
After Jason Garrett and company were let go, Mike McCarthy elected to move on from the coaching tandem of Kris Richard and Rod Marinelli and hired Mike Nolan to run the Dallas defense. Nolan hasn’t been a defensive coordinator since 2014 but will be tasked with trying to keep the Cowboys defense in the upper half of the league (9th overall, 2019) despite a lot of turnover heading into the 2020 season.
The Dallas defense suffered some major losses when Bryon Jones and Robert Quinn both left the team in free agency. To remedy those losses, the Cowboys selected Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs (brother of Bills WR Stefon Diggs) in the second round of the draft and signed a bunch of veteran pieces to both try to bolster depth and make up for some of their offseason losses on the defensive line.
The veteran pieces look like a “who’s who?” of the early 2010 All-Stars, with the likes of Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen, and Aldon Smith all coming to Big D. The team also anticipates that Randy Gregory will be reinstated at some point during the season, giving Dallas a phenomenal opportunity to ensure that one of their defensive linemen will continue the tradition of getting suspended due to player misconduct.
Former perennial Tampa Bay Buccaneer Pro Bowler (and Carolina Panther in 2019) defensive tackle Gerald McCoy also inked a contract with the team in the offseason but suffered a gruesome-looking injury to his quadriceps that ultimately led to the team releasing him with an injury waiver.
The injury to McCoy could not have come at a worse time for the Cowboys, as the injury happened just three weeks before their season opener against the Rams. 2020 3rd round pick Neville Gallimore will be greatly depended on for depth at that position, as suddenly what appeared to be a position of strength has become a position of need.
While the Cowboys defensive line has had a lot of changes since last season, the Cowboys linebacking corps remains entirely intact from a season ago. Ten-year veteran Sean Lee returns to start alongside Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, giving the ‘Boys one of the best LB trios in football. Former Packers LB Joe Thomas, who once played under new coach Mike McCarthy, is the team’s most important depth piece in the linebacking unit, especially considering Sean Lee’s tendency to miss time with injury.
The most important unit on the Cowboys defense will be that of their secondary, and we already mentioned the need to fill the sizable hole left by Byron Jones’s departure to Miami in free agency. Anthony Brown will begin the season starting in the hole Jones left vacant, with Trevon Diggs and former Raider CB Daryl Worley also in the mix to replace him. Chidobe Awuzie has the right cornerback spot locked down and has improved in each season with the team.
Former long-time Packer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix joins the Cowboys defense to start at safety alongside Xavier Woods. Behind this duo, there is not a lot of depth, as undrafted free agent rookie Luther Kirk figures to be the teams primary backup.
Cowboys 2020 Outlook & Prediction
Few franchises in all of pro sports are the lightning rod for criticism like the Dallas Cowboys are. Once again, the team embarks on a new season with raised expectations for how good the team can actually be, and once again the Cowboys have one of the best rosters on paper in the entire NFL.
Dallas again has all the pieces in place to finally make a run in the playoffs. The division outside of Philadelphia is still rebuilding. The schedule is very favorable, with only six games coming against 2019 teams and two of those games are against the Eagles. The team no longer has a clapping mascot as its head coach and has entrusted the keys of the offense to a coach that is known for his explosive offenses.
The biggest questions for Dallas come on the defensive side of the football where the team is counting on a defensive coordinator that hasn’t run a defense in 6 years and is hoping to stay in the Top 10 of the league rankings behind an aging group of players.
Once again, we see Dallas doing what they love to do: winning games against Super Bowl contenders and losing games against teams contending for the top pick in the draft.
They’re going to get Cowboys fans hopes up as quickly as they crush their spirits, and it wouldn’t be a Dallas Cowboys season any other way.
Cowboys 2020 Projection: 9-7, 2nd NFC East
Cowboys 2020 Betting Preview
When it comes to “America’s Team,” we are keen on the following futures involving the 2020 Dallas Cowboys.
- Dallas Cowboys UNDER 9.5 Wins — (+123) at DraftKings Sportsbook
This is admittedly a bet with a great deal of a risk factor, as the Cowboys certainly have the talent to win 10 games or more this season. We’re still going to fade the Cowboys achieving that feat in 2020 however, as we have a lot of questions about their holes on defense and are not as bullish on the Mike McCarthy hire as others. Dallas will be in the race for a playoff spot all season, whether that’s through winning the NFC East or the Wild Card route, but we think they settle right at 9 wins in 2020, so we will gladly take the plus-money here.
- Dak Prescott OVER 4275.5 Passing Yards — (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
This might be our favorite player prop bet to enter the 2020 NFL Season. Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line are not what they once were, as highlighted by Zeke only having four carries all season of 20 yards or more. This offense is now the Dak Prescott show, and if you think Mike McCarthy isn’t going to want to get into those playcalling spells of dialing up pass after pass after pass, you just haven’t watched Mike McCarthy. In our opinion, Dak will clear this number with relative ease provided he stays healthy all season.
- CeeDee Lamb to win Offensive Rookie of the Year — (+2000) at DraftKings Sportsbook
While Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin may all chew into Lamb’s end production, Lamb has incredible value at 20-to-1 playing on a team everyone will be watching, while being featured in an explosive offense where Lamb will likely not see a team’s top corner as long as Cooper and Gallup are on the field. There’s just a lot of potential here and at 20-to-1, we would love to take a crack at that.