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Taking the pulse of Cowboys fans: Reasons to be optimistic, neutral, or pessimistic

What is the Cowboys fanbase feeling now that the season is over?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 Dallas Cowboys season is in the books. A 6-10 campaign that was marred by a multitude of injuries and a virus that put a new coaching staff behind schedule. Those aren’t excuses for a poor record, just facts to discuss and analyze. Based on how 2020 went for Dallas, there are various takeaways that fans may have. Let’s try to get a sense of the direction most fans are moving.

Reasons to be optimistic

As briefly alluded to above, the Cowboys were hit hard by injuries in 2020, and the hits were at some of the most important positions, and sometimes in bunches. The roster the team used for most of 2020 is not their best roster. Dak Prescott should be back (if the Cowboys front office doesn’t botch things), and he should get some key members of his offensive line back. That should make this an elite unit with Kellen Moore back in the fold.

The coaching staff will also have a year in with the team, and you could see the team was playing better football in the latter half of the season, mainly on defense. Turnovers finally started to come. That’s promising.

The Cowboys will also have a relatively high draft pick (10th), plus they should get a bounty of compensatory picks for the likes of Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, etc. The Cowboys have been having a fair share of success drafting, so that bodes well for 2021.

The Cowboys also were able to give a lot of guys playing time in 2020, especially some of the young guys and backups, and that experience is a bonus for 2021. There is a solid chance this team could be significantly better in 2021.

Reasons to be neutral

There is a “been there, done that” feeling with the Cowboys where each offseason optimism reins and then the season falls short. There is always talk about how talented of a roster the Cowboys have and yet they never really prove it on the field.

There is also a feeling of incomplete evaluation on this coaching staff. Mike McCarthy certainly made some very curious in-game decisions which could be argued to have lost the Cowboys a couple of games. His bold talk of analytics didn’t always surface as effectively as hoped.

Then there is Jerry and Stephen Jones. They talk a good game, but every since the mid 90s, they’ve led this franchise to a lot of mediocrity with a few highs and lows sprinkled in. It feels like the Cowboys never really ascend to the heights of the elite in the NFL. The one constant across that time is the Jones family.

Reasons to be pessimistic

First of all, the Dak Prescott situation has been a mess. The team should have gotten him signed long ago and it hasn’t happened. Now they face an even more leveraged-up Prescott who saw his true value to the franchise writ large on the playing field in 2020. Dallas now faces either giving Prescott a huge contract that will eat away at their cap space, or franchise tag him which will destroy their cap space, or start over. Will the front office bungle this again?

The Cowboys defense was abysmal for much of 2020. They did turn things around a bit at the end thanks to some opportunistic turnovers, but the unit needs a lot of work. They also have three of their prime contributors in the secondary hitting free agency, so a plan is needed to shore that area up. And Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are just a mystery right now.

The Cowboys struck out in free agency in 2020 and they never have been overly successful in that endeavor. Thy will try again in 2021 but there is no reason to expect success. Every once in a while they hit on someone, but they are seemingly better at making trades than straight free agency. This team needs a lot of help, especially on defense, but trusting the Cowboys to make up for it in free agency is a scary proposition.

The jury is still out on the coaching staff, especially Mike Nolan. Overall, there were times when the Cowboys didn’t look ready to play and there were moments when the organization seemed lost. Dallas just may not have the right combination of coaches in place to make this work.

Fan Poll

So where are you when it comes to the Cowboys in 2021. Are you optimistic, neutral, or pessimistic. Vote in the poll then give us your take in the comments.

Poll

I am feeling:

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    optimistic about the Cowboys in 2021.
    (287 votes)
  • 33%
    neutral about the Cowboys in 2021.
    (327 votes)
  • 37%
    pessimistic about the Cowboys in 2021.
    (367 votes)
981 votes total Vote Now