The Cowboys 2020 season has been a complete, utter disaster. But for the next few minutes, please try and ignore the win-loss record. Yes, you heard that right - ignore the 3-8 record and let’s highlight the biggest issue surrounding the Cowboys, and the future of Mike McCarthy’s coaching staff.
-108. What is that number you may ask? -108 is the Cowboys point differential in 2020. If you’re unaware, that’s bad, like really bad. In fact, it’s the second-worst in all the NFL, only behind the New York Jets who sit in dead last at -170.
The biggest concern for the Cowboys and their coaching staff is they are struggling to even stay competitive in most of their football games. In their eight losses, the Cowboys have lost five of them by multiple possessions, whereas in their three wins, they won one game by one point, and two games by three points. By no means are we knocking them for winning football games, but normally there is a fair-share of big wins and losses.
While we ignored the overall record, it’s tough to ignore the amount of injuries the Cowboys have suffered in 2020, but that still shouldn’t be an excuse to look this bad in ESPN’s Point Differential statistic. There are multiple other teams around the league who have dealt with brutal injuries, or in some cases practically are openly tanking, who have still had more success staying competitive than the 2020 Dallas Cowboys.
The San Fransisco 49ers come to mind first who have seen; Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman, Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jeff Wilson, Deebo Samuel, Dee Ford, Weston Richburg, Solomon Thomas, Ezekiel Ansah, and many more missing time, or the entire season. Their point differential? +7 along with a 5-6 record.
But with a new coach it’s got to be different right? Well yeah, it probably does make it tougher, but Matt Rhule with the Carolina Panthers has dealt with his fair share of injuries, is a first-year coach, with a new quarterback, and has stayed competitive throughout the entire year with a -20 point differential and a 4-7 record.
The Cincinnati Bengals just a week after losing their franchise quarterback, played a tight game against a Giants football team, that is currently in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. Along with the Joe Burrow injury, the Bengals traded away star defensive end at the trade deadline, have been without starting running back Joe Mixon for most of the season, and have one of the worst offensive lines and defenses in the NFL. Even with all of that, the Bengals point differential is significantly better than the Cowboys at -59.
The Jacksonville Jaguars? They have traded away most of their roster, started multiple quarterbacks throughout the season, has one of the worst coaching staffs in the league, seen a few of their core players go to injured reserve, or miss multiple weeks due to injury, and have still posted a point differential of -98. Is that good? Not at all, but it’s not as bad as the Dallas Cowboys -108.
By no means are we here to say the Cowboys should be dominating the league, looking to make the playoffs, or even win their division, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask for this team to stay at least somewhat competitive, especially against teams like the Football Team, Eagles, Browns, and Cardinals. We know they have the competitive drive in them, we saw it in the Minnesota win and the Steelers loss, but for some reason it isn’t consistent, and the fingers are starting to get pointed at Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff. The Cowboys are not the only team to deal with absurd injuries in 2020, the 49ers have shown us that you can still be competitive and even beat some quality teams with a stripped down roster. The Cowboys are not the only team with a first-year head coach in this crazy, COVID year, the Browns, Panthers, and Football Team have proven you can still stay competitive, and have success with a new structure in place.
So what is the issue? Is it McCarthy? Or the injuries? Or the roster? It’s tough to tell in this crazy year, but there’s plenty of evidence available to say that even with all of the issues the Cowboys have had to deal with in 2020, playing this poorly week-in and week-out is by no means okay, and it’s up to the Cowboys coaching staff to be better to keep these games closer in all three phases of the game.