Not long ago fans of the Dallas Cowboys were hanging their heads low after starting the season with a loss where they were the only NFL team to not score a touchdown. And to make matters worse, their star quarterback, Dak Prescott, injured his hand and was expected to miss a month of action. After such a dismal start, fingers were pointed at the Cowboys' front office as it seemed as if their offseason decisions were coming back to bite them.
Fast forward two weeks and fans should be singing a different tune. Some of the things we thought were bad aren’t so bad. In fact, some of them are actually pretty good. With three games under their belt, let’s revisit some of the organization's most controversial offseason decisions and make a ruling on whether they did the right thing.
The Cowboys made a mistake letting Randy Gregory get away
Gregory played five seasons with the Cowboys and during that time you could see his potential. He started 11 games for Dallas last season after only starting one game in his previous four years. His impact was felt and it earned him a five-year, $70 million deal with the Denver Broncos.
Many fans were upset he got away, partly because it first appeared he would be returning to Dallas. But while Gregory is a good player, the team might’ve made the right move by going in a different direction. Dorance Armstong has been fantastic so far this season. Here is how the two compare after the first three games of the season.
As you can see, they are very close in production as both have had their share of splash plays, however, the Cowboys are getting Armstrong for less than half the cost as he signed a two-year deal for $12 million this offseason. And when you factor in that Dante Fowler has added another sack, forced fumble, and deflected pass to the mix for a cap hit of just under $3 million, that’s adding more for less.
Gregory is a good player, but the Cowboys aren’t missing him one bit.
Cutting La’el Collins was unnecessary and reckless
Collins had been a reliable fixture along the offensive line for most of his Cowboys’ career, but he’s had some availability issues down the stretch. He missed the entire 2020 season with an injury and was suspended five games last year for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Collins also wasn’t automatically inserted back as the starting right tackle when he returned as the team favored the younger Terence Steele.
This offseason the Cowboys released Collins saving them $10 million but then putting all their faith in Steele. While Steele struggled with penalties in Week 1, he’s been nothing short of fantastic since.
Steele is holding up fine in pass protection and slowly turning into one of the best run-blocking tackles in the league. The coaches were right to believe in him.
They are putting too much faith in Tyler Smith
One of the reasons fans were upset with getting rid of Collins was that it cut into their depth at the tackle position. And when Tyron Smith got hurt in training camp, this put the spotlight on unproven youngsters like Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko, and they didn’t look ready. How could the Cowboys be so careless at a very important position?
The team calmly said they could fall back on the great potential of rookie Tyler Smith. After mostly playing left guard in training camp, they just threw him out there in Week 1 to handle some talented Buccaneers edge rushers. Surprisingly, the rookie has played extremely well. In fact, even with veteran free agent signing Jason Peters ready to go, the Cowboys opted to keep Smith at left tackle, and again, it’s working out magically.
One of my favorite plays from last night. If it doesn't work, people are calling for Kellen's head, but funny what a little execution can do.— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) September 27, 2022
Noah and Jake attack the outside shoulder and Tyler Smith runs downfield and takes out not one, not two, but three defensive backs. pic.twitter.com/rRiG2z8Dsc
This guy is legit. The fact that he’s playing this well this early only means great things for his future and we should be glad that we get a front-row seat.
The Cowboys got robbed on the Amari Cooper deal
Amari Cooper is a good player which is why it surprised many of us to see him traded to the Cleveland Browns for a fifth-round pick. Last season saw a shift in targets from Cooper to CeeDee Lamb, so the front office didn’t think it was worth it to keep spending $20 million per season for Cooper’s services. Instead, they felt they could replace his production with cheaper resources.
Cooper is off to a good start in Cleveland as he has 19 catches for 219 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys offense is the third-worst offense so far this season averaging just 15.3 points per game. They certainly could use Cooper, however, there are some other things going on that have contributed to this. First, they have been playing with a backup quarterback these past two games, and the game Dak Prescott played, he played poorly. Second, the team is still without Michael Gallup.
While any team would be better with Cooper on it, is he still worth his price to this Cowboys team? Noah Brown has played extremely well as his production is similar to Cooper’s thus far as he has 15 catches for 213 yards and one touchdown. Once Dak and Gallup come back, we’ll have a better idea as to whether the Cowboys were wise to part ways with Amari.
If you were Team Amari, it would be really easy to flex here, but we need to see how Lamb does with Gallup on the other side, and what this offense looks like when they are at full strength.
The Cowboys mishandled their kicking situation
The team seems like a lost puppy when it comes to finding a kicker as each decision they make seems to result in a wet newspaper. The second stint of Brett Maher had nightmare written all over it.
But, to Maher’s credit, he’s been extremely reliable to start the season. He’s made six of seven field goal attempts with his only miss being a 59-yard attempt against the Giants on Monday night. He’s made all three of his extra point attempts and all three of his field goal attempts under 50 yards. which is something that plagued him during his first stint with the Cowboys.
He’s already knocked down three field goals from 50+ yards, so he’s doing everything you can expect him to do as a kicker.