Dallas Cowboys — 2021 Season Outlook

Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News Photographer

History. From their 1960 arrival as an NFL expansion team — weak and hapless in early seasons — it did not take long for the Dallas Cowboys to assert mastery. Under steady Head Coaching from Tom Landry (1924-2000), a second-place division finish in 1965 was followed by a 10-3-1 division-winning effort the following year. Soon would emerge a procession of eight Super Bowl appearances, including five NFL Titles. Whether uniforms, a new home stadium, cheerleaders, or Landry’s signature fedora, the Franchise within a decade effectively became the Face of the NFL and is commonly referred to as America’s Team. Formerly a pioneering defensive coordinator for the NY Giants, Landry introduced both 4-3 and “Flex” defenses, carrying a sparkling 250-162-6 — a .610 Winning percentage — to the 1988 conclusion of his Coaching Career.   

Recent Seasons. Over much of the previous decade, results have proven less fruitful. Mostly under Head Coach Jason Garrett, only three playoff appearances were earned in that span, with the last resulting in defeat at the hands of the LA Rams. Pittsburgh native Mike McCarthy assumed sideline patrols last season when the boys went 6-10, surrendering nearly 30 points and 390 yards per game — each at the lower end of League standings. Clear thinking was the order of the day heading into the 2021 player draft. 

The Recent Draft. Late April brought the 22nd Cowboy draft under the ownership banner of Jimmy Jones, who most recently has assumed added roles of General Manager/Talent Evaluator/Player Selection. This year, a few extra selections were had while dropping two slots via a trade with the Eagles. Presumably influenced by incoming Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn, Jones and staff opted to pass on a highly regarded Offensive Tackle — defense was not the only 2020 weakness — from Northwestern.  Instead, the sights were trained mostly on the defensive side of the ball, using eight of its eleven selections for that purpose. At #12 overall arrived Micah Parsons, a Line Backer out of Penn State. The talent is unquestionably there, but so are widely reported — while largely unspecified — “off-field” and “behavioral” issues, some dating from High School. He needs to grow up, an observer succinctly put it. Joining Parsons in the Cowboy stable were Kelvin Joseph (a Corner Back from Kentucky at 44th overall), Odi Odighizuwa (a UCLA defensive lineman at #75), and from Iowa with the 84th pick defensive end/pass-rushing specialist — Chauncey Golston. Reviews are mixed. Some believe Dallas acquired hard-to-manage personalities — Joseph is often mentioned in the same vein as Parsons — for the skill levels.  Others feel that a bit more attention should have been devoted to offense. At a minimum, Cowboy faithful may hope that the prior year draft fiasco was not repeated. 

Up Ahead. Tex Schramm (1920-2003) served as the general manager from the team’s inception through 1988. He and Landry were architects of a pro-football dynasty constructed over nearly three decades. Neither man is now available, but it seems plain that Mr. Jones needs to assemble a Front Office, even if in the process he cedes a few of his own corporate titles. Dak Prescott, at the age of 27 and a Dallas 4th round 2016 selection out of Mississippi State, may yet prove the answer as a quarterback. An uneventful 2020 season was preceded by 4th overall 2019 Adjusted — for things like opposing defensive strengths — QB rating in 2019. A good test arrives early — Dallas “kicks off” 2021 regular season play on Thursday, September 9th at the home of defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay! 

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