The Dallas Cowboys have done what the Dallas Cowboys, unfortunately, usually do around this time: lose a playoff game in ugly fashion. Dallas came into this season with Super Bowl expectations. Throughout the season, they looked like those expectations would be fulfilled. Dak Prescott was an MVP candidate for most of the season, leading the Cowboys to the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, as well as being top 5 in most major QB stats. CeeDee Lamb played like a top 3 receiver this year, finishing top 3 in receptions, yards, and TDs. The defense, led by Micah Parsons and Daron Bland, was a consensus top-5 defense. Then, this past Sunday came.
The Cowboys ran into a hot, young, upstart Green Bay Packers team that finished 9-8 and finished second in the NFC North to the Detroit Lions. They had a quarterback in Jordan Love who finished the season playing like one of the better quarterbacks in the league and a running back in Aaron Jones who has a history of playing well against his home-state Cowboys. They did practically whatever they wanted to do to the 'vaunted' Dallas defense. It raised a lot of eyebrows because it was a defense that many thought would make life extremely difficult for a young quarterback like Jordan Love making his first playoff start. Instead, he shredded them, completing 16 out of 21 passes for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns en route to a 48-32 beatdown, although the score doesn't tell you how much of a beatdown it really was. It just leaves you thinking, how? How could the Cowboys' season end like this?
Now that the Cowboys' season has ended, they have a long, hard, unsure offseason ahead of them. Do you keep Mike McCarthy, a man who has led the Cowboys to three straight 12-win seasons but is only 1-3 in the playoffs with Dallas? Do you keep Dak Prescott when he consistently puts up great regular-season numbers but comes up short in the playoffs? A quarterback who is also due for an extension soon, which could pay him all-time high QB money. Dan Quinn, the head of that Dallas defense, has been a head coaching candidate for a few years now because of the job he has done with the Cowboys, but we see his latest product. Do you let him walk? A lot of questions that need answers.
The constant coming up short for a very talented Cowboys team must be a big thought in the minds of Cowboys fans and even management. "This seems like the most painful because we all had such great expectations and had hope for this team," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game. That seems like a true statement. Like I mentioned before, this was a team that had real, legit Super Bowl aspirations. To end the season like they did is not what anybody in Dallas was expecting. All we can do is sit back and watch the offseason unfold. What happens this offseason will tell us a lot.