The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Are Going for Broke

For the Dallas Cowboys, 2015 was the sort of season that an NFL franchise absolutely dreads. Despite high hopes and talk of making a deep playoff run, everything seemed to go wrong for the Cowboys. Injuries to starting players like Tony Romo and Dez Bryant absolutely stymied this club. After a disappointing 4-12 finish, the Cowboys found themselves at the bottom of the NFC East.

Typically, teams that struggle so mightily aren’t usually expected to win a division title one year after such a disappointing record, but there’s nothing typical about this franchise. Keep in mind that this club went from first to worst between 2014 and 2015, and watched their record drop from 12-4 to 4-12 over that same span.

The 2016 Dallas Cowboys Are Going for Broke

Clearly, this team can attribute much of their frustrating season to bad luck. When you have a franchise quarterback like Tony Romo miss twelve games due to injury, it is difficult to win games. The Cowboys went 3-1 in games that Romo started last season, only losing to the NFC Champion Carolina Panthers in a game that Romo left in the third quarter. Conversely, the ‘Boys went 1-11 in games that Romo missed. With Romo and Bryant recovered, this is a team that is ready to compete in a wide open NFC East.

As far as new additions to the team, the importance of the Cowboys’ selection of Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott cannot be understated. Hoping to replicate the team’s successful 2014 formula of leaning on the running game to take the pressure off Romo, the Cowboys nabbed Elliott with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Elliott is a rare three-down, do-it-all NFL back, and will handle a heavy workload right out of the gate. Romo turned in arguably the best year of his NFL career under this template, and a return to form could be in the cards with Elliott in the mix.

The Cowboys may have found a steal in Jaylon Smith. The former Notre Dame linebacker was a likely top-five pick were it not for a serious injury. The Cowboys are banking on a return to full health for the youngster. While he may not see the field until 2017, any mental reps that he will pick up this year will be invaluable to his development.

To be certain, the NFC East is one of the more unpredictable divisions in the NFL. In fact, there has not been a single repeat NFC East Champion since the Philadelphia Eagles went on a dominant stretch between 2002 and 2005. In such an unusual environment, it is definitely possible that the Cowboys could return to glory.

All the ingredients are in place for this team to be highly competitive this season. They will need a lot more luck than they experienced in 2015, but the talent is there. Will the 2016 Dallas Cowboys take the NFC East by storm? It is still early, but with camp opening in just over a month, excitement is most definitely building for “America’s Team.”