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Cowboys collapse ends season, the offense might be in need of an overhaul

Time to turn our attention to next year, as the Cowboys stumble out of the playoff chase.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys finally got some help from other teams in their effort to reach the playoffs, but they couldn’t help themselves. The Cowboys handed a game to the Seattle Seahawks by turning the ball over and not taking advantage of scoring opportunities. It’s bitter pill to swallow after it finally looked like the season might get back on track with the return of Ezekiel Elliott. This team, in the end, just isn’t good enough for playoff football. Now, they must start evaluating for next year. And surprisingly, it’s the offense that has the most issues.

  1. What’s the deal with Scott Linehan? His penchant for throwing the ball near the goal line, or giving the quarterback the option of passing, is one of the on-going critical failures for this offense. It happened again in the Seattle loss when they didn’t hand the ball to Zeke on first-and-goal from the three-yard line. Then they failed again to do it on second-and-goal from the two-yard line. Linehan has done some good things for this offense, but a new offensive coordinator just might be the breath of fresh air this team needs.
  2. Dak Prescott is not the same quarterback as the one we saw in 2016. There is no denying this, even with the suspension to Ezekiel Elliott and the changes/injuries on the offensive line. It’s not time to give up on Dak, but he has to play better going forward or the Cowboys are in a bad spot. Dallas has to determine what was working so well in 2016 for Dak, and try to recreate that. Make no mistake, 2018 will be a crucial year for Dak Prescott. If he wants to lead the Cowboys to the promised land, he has to get close to being the player he was in 2016.
  3. Dez Bryant’s game is collapsing. It’s not just the drops, even though they are the most noticeable part of the problem. He just can’t shake loose from defenders, and Prescott can’t throw him open like Tony Romo used to do. It’s a bad situation that looks to have no easy solution. The Cowboys need a #1 receiver who can dominate games, but Bryant has been reduced to a “once-a-game he makes a big play” type of receiver.
  4. Is Jonathan Cooper the answer at left guard? He filled in pretty well, but the Cowboys offense is built around a dominant offensive line. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin are locks. La’el Collins looks like he’s got a pretty bright future. So is Cooper good enough?
  5. The rest of the receiving corps is not producing. We discussed Bryant’s issues above, but what about Cole Beasley? He’s been reduced to a non-factor. Jason Witten is as good of a player as any that have ever suited up, but he mostly just catches a few short passes a game with no run after catch. Terrance Williams’ consistency issues are as present as ever. Can Ryan Switzer or Noah Brown get this unit moving? Do the Cowboys need to invest draft choices or free agent money into the problem?

The defense has some issues, too. Like can they create depth behind Sean Lee? Will DeMarcus Lawrence follow up his incredible year if they re-sign him? And is the young secondary going to be the answer going forward? But surprisingly, it was the offense that let the Cowboys down this year. It’s something they have to fix.

What are your priorities for the offseason?

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