You would be hard pressed to find someone who feels like the Dallas Cowboys improved their roster this offseason in a traditional sense. That’s not to say that the Cowboys cannot improve upon their success from last year in this upcoming one, but who they are “on paper” seems to be a lesser version of the group that suffered a bitter playoff loss against the San Francisco 49ers four months ago.
Over three months separate us from the actual beginning of the 2022 NFL season when results will come in to justify perception one way or the other. The current view from some quarters of the media is that this coming season may be a challenge for the Cowboys.
Peter King’s power rankings have Dallas Cowboys 15th, six spots below Philadelphia Eagles
The exercise of power rankings is sometimes met with eye rolls even during the season which suggests that a set of them from the final week of May could instigate similar results.
It is always interesting, though, to see how people view not just the Cowboys but the league as a whole and one of the NFL’s foremost insiders in Peter King released his latest power rankings during Monday’s version of Football Morning in America.
King has the Dallas Cowboys squarely in the middle of the league as a whole at 15th.
15. Dallas (12-6, lost in the wild-card round to San Francisco)
The Cowboys do lead the league in drama most years. (The Raiders have eclipsed them in the last 12 months, but Dallas will be in the distraction ballgame soon, somehow.) Last year it was clock management as the Dallas season ended with Dak Prescott trying to get one more play off after scrambling with no timeouts against the Niners. Two weeks of recriminations about Mike McCarthy’s clock management and Prescott’s game management followed. I picked the Eagles ahead of Dallas because the Eagles got significantly better this offseason and Dallas worse, with the subtraction of two key contributors (Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory) and the addition of none. Oh, and the two best pieces of protection for Prescott, tackle Tyron Smith and guard Zack Martin, both turn 32 this season and have missed 26 games, combined, due to injury the last two years. On their best day, the Cowboys can play with everyone except maybe Buffalo. Problem is, they don’t have enough best days.
The assessment here encapsulates why some Cowboys fans themselves are down on the team entering 2022. King mentioned the losses of Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory, but starters in La’el Collins and Connor Williams are both gone, too. The reality is the Cowboys seem to have lost more than they have gained this offseason which adds up to them taking a step backwards through the prism of looking at this on paper.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles came in all the way at ninth in these same rankings, and a huge reason for that is obviously the emphasis that they have placed on improving their roster. An argument could be made that every other team in the NFC East closed the gap on Dallas this offseason, and if you believe the Cowboys took a step back then they have contributed to closing that gap.
Not that it has anything to do with the modern day, but no NFC East winner has repeated as such since 2004. The Cowboys haven’t been a playoff team in consecutive seasons since 2006 and 2007, and they haven’t won double-digit games in back to back campaigns since 1995 and 1996.
So the Cowboys are fighting a lot of negative history and doing so with a lesser roster on paper. King’s last line really does summarize the difficulty in evaluating this team because we know that they have a gear within them to play like one of the best teams in the NFL.
There just isn’t any consistency in that regard.