Heading into December with an 8-3 record is never a bad thing considering Dallas has a greater than 99% chance of making the playoffs. To say the Cowboys are in a good position at the moment would be an understatement. The catalyst behind Dallas’ success has been the complete team effort in all three areas of the game. It hasn’t been perfect. but winning nearly 73% of the games to date is a positive sign as the team inches closer to the end of the regular season.
There are still kinks that will need to be worked on between now and then as the playoffs are in sight. The playoffs are where those kinks, regardless of how good a team is, will be exposed. When exposed, more times than not it results in an early exit from the postseason. This obviously would not be an ideal scenario for America’s Team, given the talent that has been assembled on the roster and also for how 2021 postseason ended.
With the Indianapolis Colts on deck for the Cowboys in Week 13, there is one area in particular that has seen it’s stock rise in recent weeks, and there is one area on the opposite side of the spectrum with it’s stock trending downward.
Stock up: CeeDee Lamb
Coming into this season, there were many question marks regarding the wide receiver group and those concerns were certainly warranted. Amari Cooper was traded and Michael Gallup was working his way back from his ACL tear. The organization quickly found out that CeeDee Lamb was the only legitimate threat to stretch the defense. Noah Brown, during the first four games, played well and put up decent numbers, but after that stretch (aside from the Detroit Lions game) he disappeared.
Michael Gallup made his season debut in Week 4 and as each week passes, it seems that Gallup is getting closer and closer to being the player who the Cowboys gave a five-year, $62.5 million dollar contract to in the offseason. The contract was signed a little over two months after Gallup’s ACL tear, which shows how much the team values Gallup as the franchise’s WR2 behind CeeDee Lamb.
Speaking of Lamb, he came into the 2022 season as the unquestioned number one wide receiver which meant he was under a lot of pressure. Lamb is used to the pressure because not only was he a first-round pick, but he dons the famous number 88 which many Cowboys wide receiver legends in the past have worn. Through 11 games this season, Lamb has proven to be the unquestioned number one wide out for the Cowboys. The statistics don’t lie, he is currently 10th in receptions, 7th in receiving yards, and tied for 13th in touchdowns. Lamb, from a per game basis ranks 10th in the league in receiving yards and ranks 14th in the league in receptions. And those numbers include the Cooper Rush games, when just with Dak Prescott his numbers are even better. He is a number one wide receiver and at this stage of his career, there is no doubt about it.
Stock down: Penalties
For as talented as this current Cowboys team is, it shares a common thread with last year’s 12-5 squad, and that is penalties. On the bright side, the Cowboys went down from 7.8 penalties a game in 2021, to 7.5 a game in 2022 thus far. Regardless of the ever-so-slight improvement, Dallas currently is the second most penalized team in the league. In the last three games alone, the Cowboys have been penalized 9.3 times per game which ranks as the most in the league. Just this past game alone, America’s Team was penalized 13 times, and that was head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL in Week 12. The next highest amount of penalties this past week were nine which were called on two teams, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Tampa Buccaneers.
If the Cowboys want to make a deep run in this year’s playoffs, then they need to clean things up. The players and coaching staff both need to get it together and right this ship. From a player’s perspective, there is no excuse for all the mental errors. The mental errors also fall into the coaching staff’s lap as well. As the legendary coach of the New England Patriots Bill Belichick always preaches, “do your job”. That sort of mentality obviously has worked for coach Belichick, considering he has six rings to his credit.
In order for the Cowboys to take things to the next level, which is the championship level, then they need to clean up the penalties. As a reminder, the total amount of penalties committed by the Cowboys in the Wild Card loss to the San Francisco 49ers last year was 14. At the end of the day, talent can only take a team so far, and in order for this talented roster to win it all they’ll need to clean things up. If they don’t, then a repeat of 2021 is upon us.