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Cowboys news: Offseason begins with familiar questions after second straight playoff exit to 49ers

The Cowboys news looks at the past, the 49ers game, and the future, the 2023 offseason.

Houston Texans v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

After another lackluster finish, Cowboys must reconsider who will be part of their future - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys drafting well has given them a core to build around, but the missing pieces to win in the playoffs still aren’t here.

Zeke shouldn’t be back, and Dan Quinn, who’s interviewed for more jobs than a high school dropout, surely will accept a head coaching offer this time. As for Kellen Moore, the Cowboys’ other coordinator, if anybody’s still interested, Jerry Jones should offer to throw in the Pork Chopper as a sweetener.

And now the $40 million question:

Will Dak Prescott be back?

In all his faded glory.

If Dak could spin a football like McCarthy and Jerry spun a 19-12 loss to the 49ers, the Cowboys would be in Philadelphia this week. McCarthy shoved a Dallas-Fort Worth cameraman’s lens out of the way after the game Sunday, but he wasn’t nearly as offended by Dak’s pair of interceptions or his abject failure to rally the Cowboys on a game-winning drive when the opportunity presented itself.

Dak, in fact, looked nothing like he did in a career-best performance against Tampa Bay, not that Sunday wasn’t familiar.

Besides missing Michael Gallup on the Cowboys’ next-to-last drive, he apparently didn’t even see T.Y. Hilton running wide open down the seam earlier when he threw errantly to CeeDee Lamb instead. Cost the Cowboys a touchdown. Even a 46-yard heave to Lamb required a spectacular effort by the receiver.

Anatomy Lesson: Cowboys teach master class on leaving points behind - KD Drummond, The Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys being stuck on 12 points in their season-ending loss is something that will sting throughout the offseason.

Defense falters with penalties, missed opportunities, -7

The teams traded punts from just across midfield, the refusal to press the issue making the careful nature of each team’s risk threshold obvious.

The 49ers got their offense going though on a play that should’ve been an incompletion at worst. 49ers QB Brock Purdy overshot George Kittle who was somehow matched by a defensive tackle. Kittle tipped the ball in the air. Instead of attacking it, CB Trevon Diggs went for the big hit on Kittle but whiffed. A hit would have easily jarred the ball loose. Instead a 30-yard reception put the ball in Dallas’ territory.

The mistakes weren’t over.

On 2nd-and-8 from the 20, Anthony Barr tipped the Purdy pass, right to Diggs. The ball fell through his arms incomplete.

Dallas’ defensive front still got them off the field, almost. DeMarcus Lawrence should’ve had his second sack of the game on 3rd-and-8, but safety Donovan Wilson tackled Kittle downfield and was called for the hold.

Two plays later, Christian McCaffrey scored the 49ers lone touchdown of the game.

Jerry Jones: 49ers Loss ‘Didn’t Change My Mind’ About Dak Prescott Being Cowboys’ QB - Tyler Conway, Bleacher Report

The Cowboys are sticking by their franchise quarterback, but need more talent around Prescott.

“Just two throws that I can’t have, you can’t have in the playoffs,” Prescott said. “You can’t have them when you’re trying to beat a team like that. You can’t have it on the road. There’s no excuses for that. Those two are 100 percent on me. I’ve got to be better. There’s no other way to sugarcoat it.”

Turnovers were a major issue for Prescott throughout the 2022 season. He set a career high with 15 interceptions during the regular season, tying Houston’s Davis Mills for the league lead despite playing in three fewer games.

After posting a 1.7 percent interception rate over his first six NFL seasons, Prescott was picked off on 3.8 percent of his passes in 2022. While there is likely some mean regression coming next season, the vast majority of his picks this year were jarring mental gaffes that left Cowboys fans dumbfounded.

Even if Jones wanted to move on from Prescott, it would be borderline impossible this offseason. The Cowboys would have to pay an $89.1 dead cap hit—by far an NFL record—to release or trade him before June 1. It’s very likely Prescott will restructure his contract in the spring as well to lower his $49.1 million cap number, a move that would essentially lock him in through the 2024 campaign.


It’s another offseason of keeping an eye on the status of both Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore.

Jerry Jones didn’t take long to speak to the media after the game was over, saying how sorry he felt for the fans, and blah blah blah.

We hear the same thing every single season.

Mike McCarthy is going nowhere after back-to-back 12-win seasons and a playoff victory; he has already noted that. Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore are where it gets tricky.

Quinn will have plenty of chances to leave to become a head coach somewhere.

If he does, the Cowboys may be hurting on that side of the ball. The defense was excellent yesterday; they did everything right outside of a Trevon Diggs dropped INT that led to a touchdown.

This is the worst. Waiting to see if the front office will take the necessary steps to help get this team further than the Divisional Round.

3 reasons Cowboys shouldn’t fire Mike McCarthy after playoff exit - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

McCarthy having back-to-back 12-win playoff seasons shouldn’t be overlooked, but many Dallas fans are asking if he’s the right coach to end their championship drought.

2. McCarthy has built a winning culture

Say what you will about Dallas failing to make it to the NFC Championship Game for another season, but McCarthy has done what very few recent Cowboys coaches have: cultivate a winning culture and bring consistency to the franchise.

Jason Garrett’s Cowboys teams were notorious for being inconsistent. Over Garrett’s 10-year tenure in Dallas (still can’t believe it was that long), Dallas finished .500 or worse five times, and made the playoffs three times. They won 10 or more games thrice, and rattled off consecutive winning seasons once (three straight years spanning 2016-2018).

If we call 2020 a wash due to Dak Prescott’s season-ending ankle injury, McCarthy has back-to-back 12-win seasons as Cowboys coach. A 24-10 record is far better than any two-year run Garrett had in Dallas, and it took McCarthy three years to make it happen.

McCarthy isn’t perfect, and he might not be “the guy” to lead the Cowboys to the promised land, but don’t pretend like this organization didn’t suffer through 25 years of coming up short in the biggest moments before he arrived. He’s done really good work over his three years in Arlington. Don’t lose sight of that.

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