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ESPN’s future power rankings predicts a mediocre status for Cowboys over next three years

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Predicting the future of an NFL franchise is hard, but people try anyway.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s a difficult thing to predict the future, it’s an even more difficult thing to toy with it. These were my primary takeaways from the Back to the Future trilogy (the greatest movies of all-time, this isn’t up for debate).

People want to tell you what the future will look like, though. They either look in a crystal ball, read your palm, or in the case of NFL teams, assess your roster and the those of the other 31 teams in order to tell you what will happen over the course of whatever period of time.

In the case of today’s discussion that period of time is three years. ESPN dropped their annual future power rankings on Tuesday and the Dallas Cowboys came in at 14th. These are the same Dallas Cowboys who over the last three years have won two division titles, never won less than nine games, and have appeared in the Divisional Round two times.

We’ve tracked the future power rankings over the recent past and there’s a pattern.

In 2014 (after an 8-8 season the previous year), the Cowboys ranked 28th.

In 2015 (coming off a 12-4 season), they jumped to 6th overall.

In 2016 (after a 4-12 season), they plummeted to 26th.

In 2017 (coming off a 13-3 season), the team rocketed up to 6th overall again.

Now, in 2018, coming off a 10-6 season they are ranked 14th.

The worldwide leader evaluated each team based on a few categories: each team’s roster (non-QB), quarterback, draft, front office and coaching. When you look at the Cowboys they have a superb non-quarterback roster, and their front office continues to replenish it. Those are hallmark traits of this organization and have been for almost a decade now.

Where the Cowboys appear to be the most vulnerable (potentially) is at the game’s most important position - quarterback. If Dak Prescott is the player that doubters believe he is, well, welcome to purgatory; however, if Dak is the ascending talent that those optimists know him as, you can make the argument that this is one of the best and most stable rosters of the next three years.

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2019 ESPN Future Power Rankings Cowboys Score NFL Rank
2019 ESPN Future Power Rankings Cowboys Score NFL Rank
Overall roster (minus quarterback) 84.7 4
Quarterback 80.3 15
Coaching 67.3 31
Draft 80.7 7
Front Office 80 8
Via ESPN

Jason Garrett isn’t as bad as this projection makes him out to be

It’s been a rough week for Jason Garrett as far as national rankings are concerned, but the idea that the Cowboys have 31st-ranked coaching in the NFL is insanity. Again, if we’re talking about three-year stretches, they’ve been fantastic over the last period. Better than most.

We’ve somehow reached a point nationally where Dak Prescott and Jason Garrett are perceived differently, but generally the same. They’re both looked at as mediocre and average, not deserving of what they seem to have, but in spite of each of them (really both of them) the team that they are part of is massively successful. How could the Cowboys have had so much success recently if their head coach and quarterback were trash? Those are the two most important people in the game of football!

Seriously. Think about this. We’re going to talk about it for one more paragraph because it’s that important. How could the Cowboys experience so much on-the-field dominance if their two most important people were as incompetent as these lists make them out to be? They’d have to be the world’s best at something else, a whole lot of things actually, for this to all be possible and even then it’s a stretch.

Nobody could have projected who the Cowboys would be in 2019 during July of 2016. Back then we were living in a world where Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were the team’s major source of offense with a hopeful boost from then-rookie Ezekiel Elliott. We now have Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and a whole lot of other pieces that have joined the party. If that trend continues, a historically accurate one, then there’s no denying that the Cowboys will be legitimate come 2022.