3 areas the Cowboys must improve in 2022

75756A5E-120A-4932-810C-2FD980DB785E

We’re now more than a week removed from the Cowboys’ abrupt exit from the playoffs, and there’s still a lot of restless energy surrounding the team.

For most of the season the Cowboys seemed like a well-rounded group, with the talent to compete with any team across the league. So what did everyone miss? What was lacking? Where can Dallas get better?

Live On-Air
Ask Your Smart Speaker to Play One Oh Five Three The Fan
105.3 The Fan
Listen Now
Now Playing
Now Playing

Here are three areas the Cowboys need to improve if they want to be legitimate contenders in 2022.

Game Management

Even when the Cowboys got off to their hot start in the first half of the season, there were still times where game management was being called into question.

There were frequent screens on 3rd and long where they seemed to simply give up on trying to convert. There were times where they put far too much faith in the leg of a psychologically damaged kicker. They often neglected any semblance of tempo until they were far too deep in a hole.

And there was that whole issue of mismanaging both the play clock and the game clock that seemed to haunt them all year, and ultimately ended their season.

Game management is about more than just the clock, and the Cowboys struggled in a number of areas related to game management, but the clock was their most frequent foe. If they fail to correct those issues next year, I’ll be writing a similar article around this time next year.

Offensive Line

The offensive line looked like it was in peak form in the first half of the season, but that all came crumbling down in the second half of the year.

Through the first nine games of the year, the Cowboys were averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and Dak Prescott was getting sacked once every 30 dropbacks. In the final nine games of the year (including the playoffs) the Cowboys’ yards per rushing attempt dipped to 4.2, and Prescott was getting sacked almost twice as often (once every 16 dropbacks).

There are a lot of things you can point to for the problems along the offensive line: lack of continuity, the natural regression that comes with age, and poor coaching seem to be the factors that most stand out when you talk to people around the team.

Dallas went the entire season without seeming to have a clear idea of who their best five offensive linemen were. They can’t let that happen again next season.

The Cowboys also have some tough decisions to make in regards to the future of their tackles, and who they want to build this unit around. Tyron Smith isn’t getting any younger, and they aren’t going to magically give back all the trust La’el Collins has lost in recent years.

And Jerry Jones has made it clear that coaching changes are on the table by the simple fact that he refuses to talk about it at all, despite several pointed questions. Offensive line coach Joe Philbin might just be at the front of that line for Jones’ consideration.

Physicality

Physicality was a problem for the Cowboys all year long.

The team hated hearing questions about it. The defense in particular communicated their annoyance to the media in the week leading up to the 49ers game.

But when you take a look at the four teams that were the most physical with Dallas this season, it was a clean sweep in the loss column: Denver, Kansas City, Arizona, and San Francisco.

Physicality on both sides of the ball needs to get better. The defense needs to be more punishing in the trenches, and make it more difficult for teams to establish the running game. The Cowboys receivers need to respond better to press coverage, the running backs need to dish out more punishment in the open field, and the offensive line can’t have another season where they fail to get any movement in run blocking.

Listen to Dallas sports talk now on Audacy and shop the latest Cowboys team gear