Thursday marked an anniversary of sorts for the Dallas Cowboys, it was the 25-year birthday of their Super Bowl XXX title. This means that it has now officially been a quarter century since Dallas has tasted football’s ultimate glory. We have said time and time again how we hope that this changes in the near future, and a lot of the hopes for that rest on the decisions that are going to be made in the next few months.
Rewinding just one year though, there are things that were set in place in early 2020 that we all either had the utmost level of confidence in or a huge problem with.
Today we’ll be discussing things that we have changed our minds on when it comes to the Cowboys. These can be things we fell flat on our faces with in terms of disappointment, or points where we were proven wrong in a happy sort of way.
Ezekiel Elliott is the straw that stirs the drink for the Cowboys offense
Stephen Jones once referred to the Cowboys running back as the primary engine that drives the offense. This line about a straw stirring the drink became a talking point in the talks leading up to Elliott’s contract extension in 2019, but ever since then the running back hasn’t exactly been the same.
There was definitely a strong contingent of Cowboys fans that thought along a similar wave as Stephen Jones. While the first year after Elliott’s new deal was disappointing, there’s no question that this most recent season was the least impressive of his overall career. If he truly was the straw that stirs the drink then he should have theoretically been able to have success without Dak Prescott in the fold.
Unfortunately that was not the case, and what’s more is that Tony Pollard caught attention throughout the season and opened the question as to how much of a timeshare the Cowboys backfield should be in the future.
Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith are one of the league’s better linebacking duos
Recently our own Danny Phantom compared LVE and Jaylon to one another, but as a pair we all thought very highly of them recently.
Following the 2018 season we were all wondering if the linebackers had surpassed the offensive line as the unit with the most talent on the team (the offensive line has regressed since then which is why the conversation was fair). While that thought took a hit after the 2019 season, hope was still high that the two could return to form under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in 2020.
It is possible that the Cowboys will spend the 10th overall pick on a linebacker (Micah Parsons is certainly a candidate for that hypothetical). This idea seemed unthinkable at the beginning of last season which really shows just how rapidly the group has fallen off.
Connor Williams isn’t an NFL-level offensive guard
At this point a year ago, there is no doubt that Connor Williams was perceived to be the worst offensive lineman on the Cowboys. He hadn’t finished the season and was coming back from a torn ACL so the thought was not too high in terms of his potential for 2020.
Williams not only was the lone offensive lineman to last throughout the entire season, but he played admirably. PFF had him as the 16th-best guard in the NFL which was a surprise that nobody saw coming.
When you put context around Williams’ 2020 season (losing Tyron Smith on his left, playing without Travis Frederick for the second time in three years, seeing several people come in both on his right and left side) it is all the more impressive.
It remains to be seen what Williams’ full future is in Dallas, but there were people who didn’t think that he could hang at the NFL level. That was thankfully proven to not be true.
Trading away Michael Gallup is the worst idea ever
In the spring of 2020 we, as Cowboys fans, saw Michael Gallup’s name repeatedly thrown out in trade ideas concerning then-New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. While the Cowboys re-signed Amari Cooper and drafted CeeDee Lamb last year the shared idea was that Michael Gallup was a rising superstar, a point justified by the way that Gallup played this past season.
Still, though, there were many people incredibly opposed to the idea of trading away Michael Gallup (just look at the replies to this tweet). Speaking for myself I found it hard to even consider sending Gallup to the Jets for Adams and while that is not the best example, the point is that no Cowboys fan wanted to part with Gallup at all.
As noted in today’s discussion, time changes opinions. If the team were to trade away Michael Gallup this offseason it feels like that idea would not have the hardest of landing among the fan base as CeeDee Lamb showed what we thought he would and the team could theoretically use help at other points on their roster.
Mike McCarthy in general
This is perhaps the easy slam dunk answer as Mike McCarthy had a lot of hype surrounding him as the Cowboys head coach last year, especially after the NFL Draft.
Obviously a lot of things happened throughout his inaugural flight with the Cowboys, but it does feel safe to say that a number of people have jumped from one extreme to the other when it comes to the team’s head coach.
What’s more is that within the idea of Mike McCarthy we all were impressed by the staff that he was building. Some of the decisions that McCarthy made a year ago not only were incorrect but completely failed in spectacular fashion.