The Dallas Cowboys had incredibly high expectations entering the NFL’s 2020 season. They were a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the eyes of many.
Those hopes are all but gone now.
And they left Jerry World on the same cart quarterback Dak Prescott did eight days prior.
As you know by now, the Cowboys signal-caller suffered a right ankle compound fracture and dislocation during a Week 6 win over the New York Giants. He was placed on injured reserve, and while he’s received positive updates about no post-surgery infection, he will not return this season.
Dallas entered its first game without Prescott on “Monday Night Football” against the Arizona Cardinals. The offense proceeded to turn the ball over four times — two Ezekiel Elliott fumbles, two Andy Dalton interceptions — in an embarrassing 38-10 defeat.
We saw just how much trouble the Prescott-less Cowboys could be in for throughout the final 11 weeks of the season.
There were hopes that Elliott, the league’s leading rusher in two of his first four seasons, would be able to aid a transition away from the Cowboys’ pass-heavy scheme that Prescott led this year. NFL analyst Tony Dungy even said immediately after Prescott’s injury that it may be a “blessing in disguise” for the team, as it would help them get back to a run-first offense.
Not only was Dungy’s take poorly timed and flat out stupid last week, but it looked even worse Monday.
The fact is that the once dominant offensive line and run-first group is not the same one they have right now. The Cowboys lost each of their two Pro Bowl caliber offensive tackles — Tyron Smith and La’el Collins — for the season due to injury. Dallas even watched All-Pro guard Zack Martin leave Monday’s game during the first quarter with an injury of his own. The Cowboys, who started two rookies, then had a third-year offensive lineman as their most experienced player at the position.
If you happened to keep the game on past halftime (after it had been decided), you could see said injuries greatly impacted how Dallas was ability to protect Dalton. Admittedly, much was the same before Prescott’s injury, but the dual-threat QB was able to make up for it more so than Dalton showed.
If that wasn’t bad enough, then there was Elliott, a $90 million running back, coughing up two first-half fumbles. It ultimately gave Arizona all it needed to win the game as the Cardinals capitalized with touchdowns. Notably, 24 of Arizona’s points came off Dallas turnovers.
The insane part to all this is that the 2-4 Cowboys still are leading the NFC East, a division which they could potentially win. Then again, that has much more to do with the 1-5 New York Giants, 1-5 Washington Football Team and 1-4-1 Philadelphia Eagles being their division rivals.
Even still, though, we learned those once Super Bowl aspirations are long gone. And the more likely outcome certainly looks like it will be another disappointing season in Dallas.