2022 has been great to the Dallas Cowboys, who are currently sitting at 12-4 this season. The team is set to appear in their second consecutive post-season, a feat they have not accomplished as an organization since the 2006 and 2007 NFL seasons. However, 2023 is a new year, and these are some New Year’s resolutions that the team should focus on.
Giving up big plays in the secondary:
Since cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown went down with season-ending injuries this season, the Dallas Cowboys secondary has suffered. CB Trevon Diggs has been the only consistent player at the position throughout this season, and while he has been much better at preventing big plays down the field than he was in 2021, even he has had some miscues in recent games.
The front office has done as much as they can to try help their situation, going out and signing free agent cornerbacks such as Trayvon Mullen, Mackensie Alexander, and Kendall Sheffield. However, none of these additions have yet to get a valuable opportunity on the field.
The Cowboys have shown recently this season that they can lose games because of their inability to prevent big plays in the air. The team allowed nine plays of 15 yards or more, including 59, 30, 30, and 27 yard plays, in their loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15. This is something the team needs to address to prevent it hurting them in January.
Sacking the quarterback more often:
The best way to help a struggling secondary is to have a dominant pass rush. A dominant pass rush has been the hallmark of the Dallas Cowboys since they added Dan Quinn as their defensive coordinator, and drafted LB Micah Parsons in the 2021 NFL draft. However, as of late the team has not been able to get to the quarterback efficiently.
While the team’s 51.0 total sacks ranks second in the NFL through 16 games behind the Philadelphia Eagles (61.0), they had zero sacks against the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles in weeks 14 and 16, only one sack against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15, and only two sacks against the Josh Dobbs-led Tennessee Titans in Week 17. While the team still won three of those four games, they will have to be better as the playoffs approach if they hope to have a deep playoff run. That brings the team to what should be their next and most important resolution.
Make it past the Divisional Round:
While the Cowboys are having a great season, the brutal honesty is that it is NFC Championship game appearance or bust for the team this postseason. Cowboys fans are becoming increasingly impatient, and rightfully so. Since 2000, the Cowboys have won just three playoff games in eleven appearances. This is tied for the second lowest in the NFL. The team has failed to make it past the divisional round of the playoffs since their last Super Bowl victory, despite holding holding home field advantage and the number one seed in 2007 and 2016. The NFC playoffs could have gone through Dallas both of those seasons, and they were unable to win a game both times.
This is a new team from those teams who failed to reach success in the playoffs in Dallas. This team has new leadership with coaching experience that knows what it is like to make deep playoff runs. Head coach Mike McCarthy led the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl victory in 2011, and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn led the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance in 2017.
With that being said, they are already off to a poor start to their playoff resumé in Dallas, as they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card Round last season. With the team being as talented as it is, and the NFC conference feeling as wide open as it does, it is imperative that head coach Mike McCarthy is finally able to break the curse in Dallas by making a deep playoff run.
Bringing back Tony Pollard and Donovan Wilson in the offseason:
The final resolution for the Dallas Cowboys is one that won’t happen until after the season. However, it is vital for the Cowboys to accomplish this if they want to continue their trend of being a winning football team. The front office has to do what is necessary in order to bring back RB Tony Pollard and S Donovan Wilson. Both players are proving how valuable they are to the Cowboys, and both are doing it on contract years.
Pollard has been the best offensive weapon for the Cowboys the entire season. He has 988 rushing yards on just 186 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. He also has 371 receiving yards on 39 receptions, an average of 9.5 yards per reception. He has 12 touchdowns on the season, nine coming from the running game, three coming from the receiving game. His magnificent play has earned him his first ever NFL Pro Bowl nomination this season.
Wilson has also had a fantastic season, and was snubbed from his first ever Pro Bowl nomination. Wilson has 97 total tackles, 75 solo tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one interception this season. He has been key for the Cowboys defense throughout the entire season, and if the Cowboys want to remain an intimidating defense, they have to bring back their enforcer on that side of the ball.
The Cowboys have given fans a lot to cheer for at the end of the 2022 season. They have won six of their last seven games, the offense is producing at a high level with Dak Prescott back at quarterback, and the defense leads the NFL in takeaways with 32. All of this excitement and momentum could be taken away very quickly if the team does not try and achieve these resolutions in the new year of 2023.