Cowboys fans and even haters, yes, the team lost their first playoff game and kept the streak of failing to advance past the divisional playoff round since 1996 alive. However, there is no reason to be so hard on them for this loss.
While the loss was devastating and upsetting, people have to remember there was not one, but two rookie starters on offense in two very important positions. Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliot more than held their own this year.
When looking at the other offensive rookies who were taken quickly in the draft, none compare to Dak and Zeke.
Jared Goff was taken with the first pick in the draft, but surrendered quite a bit of playing time to Case Keenum, and even when he came in to start, his production was less than adequate.
Carson Wentz, taken second overall, started for the Eagles all year and performed well, however, they tanked late in the season, losing five games in a row and ending the season at 7-9.
If you looked at what Dak and Zeke did this year without prior knowlege that they were rookies, you would most likely think them to be talented veterans.
Zeke led the league in rushing yards for the season with 1,631 and was third in rushing touchdowns with 15 to David Johnson’s 16 and LeGarrette Blount’s career high 18. He also broke the Cowboy’s rookies season records for rushing yards and touchdowns.
Dak achieved the highest rookie QB rating in NFL history at 104.9 and finished third in the league to Tom Brady’s 112.2, which could possibly have been lower without his four game suspension, and Matt Ryan’s 117.1. Dak also tied the record of wins in a season by a rookie QB with 13 next to Ben Roethlisberger.
In their playoff game against the Packers, the duo became the first rookies in the Super Bowl era to to have 300 passing yards and 100 rushing yards.
With the stud rookies aside, the rest of the team was very productive as well. The Cowboys’ offensive line is young as well and one of the best in the league.
The Cowboys also have a reliable kicker, Dan Bailey, who continued his impressive career thus far. He made 27 of his 32 field goal attempts, giving him 171 made out of 191 attempted in his career. Bailey also hit all three of his attempts in the divisional game including a clutch 52 yarder to tie the game in the last minute.
I did save the defense for last because, if I’m being honest, the defense needs some improvement. It gave up too many big pass plays as well as key run plays that allowed for easy points by the Packers. The defense did make some key stops when needed, however, its horrible start to the game put the Cowboys in an awful position.
The bright side for their defense is that it was fifth in the league in points allowed with 26.3 a game, second in the league in rush yards allowed with 149.8, and fifth in total yards allowed with 376.7.
However, its problem was pass defense, as they ranked 23rd in pass yards allowed with 226.9, and Aaron Rodgers was able to pick apart the Cowboys’ secondary with all day to throw. The Cowboys could look to improve their defense in the future with draft picks and the development of current players.
When reflecting on the game for the Cowboys, they had to play the red hot Packers who had a seven-game winning streak coming into the game, and the Packers had more playoff experience.
I don’t think fans should be worried at all, and haters should stop hating on the Cowboys, because if a 13-3 record and the top seed in the NFC playoffs is worst the Cowboys can do while being under a rookie quarterback and running back, the league better watch out.