But the absence of Prescott shouldn't have excused poor effort from players, according to franchise legend Drew Pearson. The Hall of Fame wide receiver believes the Cowboys underperformed, and he wasn't too satisfied with how first-year head coach Mike McCarthy handled business.
"He didn't impress me last year. Players just didn't appear to be accountable to anything or anyone," Pearson recently told The Zach Gelb Show. "Make a mistake, you saw mistakes over and over, dropped passes. A lot of situations last season, missed tackles and all that kind of stuff. When that happens on a regular basis, game in and game out, that tells me the players aren't being accountable. No one's making them accountable.
"Hopefully, Mike McCarthy can impose his will on these players and they have more respect for him -- for what he's done in the past as a head coach -- and he'll turn the corner. He'll have the Cowboys turning the corner. The NFC East is a wreck, anyway. And if we can't win the NFC East, then we're in trouble."
There's immense pressure on the Cowboys -- which finished in third place with a 6-10 record last season -- to meet fans' high expectations and deliver on a Super Bowl promise. The franchise hasn't hoisted a Lombardi Trophy since 1996, and they've yet to appear in a conference championship game this century.
Dallas will open the 2021 regular season on the road against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, Sept. 9. According to the William Hill Sportsbook, the Cowboys currently have the best odds (+150) to win the NFC East, and the sixth-best odds (+1600) to win the conference.
The entire conversation between Pearson and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.