It was a fitting end to a disappointing season. The Dallas Cowboys came away with a very uninspiring 6-0 victory of the Philadelphia Eagles. The game was tied at zero after three quarters and most everyone was just hoping for the game to end.
Here are this week’s winners and losers:
The Cowboys have thrown a lot of different darts when it comes to acquiring that perennial pass rusher they so desperately need. It’s so nice to see one finally stick. DeMarcus Lawrence had a great season, finishing the year with 14.5 sacks, tying him for second-most in the league.
Not only was he sacking quarterbacks, but he was disruptive in so many ways. Against the Eagles, he was constantly in the backfield giving the quarterback fits.
Von Miller led all edge defenders in total pressures this season! pic.twitter.com/ARXNujCc2E— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 1, 2018
Lawrence is going to be a rich man this off-season, but will it be the Cowboys giving him a big sack of cash? He’s set to be a free agent and should be rewarded handsomely for a great breakout performance this season.
The young secondary
After the Thanksgiving debacle against the Los Angele Chargers where Philip Rivers put up 434 yards passing, the Cowboys made a change. All the rookies were finally healthy and given a heavy dose of the reps and what a great change that has turned out to be.
The defense hasn’t allowed 230 yards passing in any of the five games since the change. Not only that, but they’ve had two-straight games where they’ve allowed fewer than 150 yards passing. They didn’t have a single game last year where they accomplished that.
Chidobe Awuzie got his first interception of the season. This is a great sign for this young secondary and hopefully is something they can build upon for next season.
With no Cole Beasley available, the Cowboys gave rookie Ryan Switzer a shot in the slot. He played solid, hauling in four of his five targets for a total of 32 yards. Those stats don’t jump off the page, but he was able to move the chains as three of those catches were for first downs.
It was good to finally see what the kid could do in the passing game. In a year where all the Cowboys receivers fell off, it should be interesting to see how they regroup next season. Could Switzer be a bigger part of the mix next year?
The Cowboys front office will have the entire off-season to digest what went wrong in 2017. That’s at least a two-lemonade conversation. Some will point to the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, others will talk about the absence of Sean Lee. While missing those All-Pro players certainly hurt, none proved more costly than when Tyron Smith was not on the field.
Dak Prescott's Passer Rating Without Tyron Smith in 2017: 61.1 pic.twitter.com/iTcfVT47rA— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 1, 2018
Without Smith at left tackle, the team relied first on Chaz Green and then on Byron Bell. Both were huge liabilities at protecting Dak Prescott’s blind spot. Against the Eagles, Bell committed three holding penalties, including one that negated a 52-yard Dez Bryant reception. Bell also was overpowered by Eagles defensive lineman, Vin Curry on that failed fourth down play where Elliott was stuffed in the backfield.
If you made of list of all the things that went wrong this season, one of the hardest things to believe would be the collapse of Cowboys kicker, Dan Bailey. Entering the season, fans had the upmost confidence in their ever-so-reliable filed goal maker. That same level of confidence has been shattered after what we have witnessed over the last month.
After being perfect through Week 13 of the season, Bailey has missed a total of five field goals over the last four games. And I’m not talking about just the long ones. He’s missing chip shot field goals and some of them aren’t even close. In this same span, he’s also missed two extra points, which is something he hadn’t done before in his previous six seasons in the league.
Something is clearly not right with the Cowboys kicker. Is he still dealing with a lingering injury? It should be interesting to see how he responds in 2018.
The Cowboys young quarterback has a lot of work to do get back on track and show fans he can play at the level close to how he played last season. While he has been skittish without his All-Pro left tackle, Prescott continued to struggle against the Eagles. He overthrew wide open receivers, underthrew targets, and just couldn’t sync up with his receivers.
He was able to connect with Brice Butler on his lone touchdown pass, but one score is not how he wanted to end the season.
All eyes will be on the Cowboys new franchise quarterback next season to see if he can rebound or if there is a genuine cause for concern.
With the Cowboys season finally over, how do you feel about their chances next season? Do you think they can regroup and get back into the playoffs? Share your answer with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.