The Dallas Cowboys need to understand the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs. The team should construct their roster with this in mind.
Twelve teams make the playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys were not one of them this past season.
Ten of these teams had rushing offenses in the top half of the league. Only New England and Kansas City failed to have rushing attacks in the top sixteen.
Three teams had passing offenses in the top ten. No surprises that the Chiefs and Patriots compensated for their lack of a running attack with the pass. The Saints were the third team in the top ten.
In three of the ten playoff games, the winning team passed for less than 100 yards with the Titans doing it twice and the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. In nine of the ten playoff games, the winning team rushed for more than 100 yards with only Seattle below the century mark in their wildcard win in Philadelphia.
In eight of the ten games, the winning team passed for less yards than the losing team. In seven of the ten games, the wining team rushed for more yards than the losing team.
The winning team scored more touchdowns in all ten games. In four games, the losing team had the same or more scores than the wining team with the points difference between field goals and touchdowns deciding the outcome.
The winning team had the same or less turnovers than the losing team in all ten games. Nine of the ten winners scored 20 or more points. Seven of the ten losers scored 20 or fewer points.
Distilling this down to simple terms, successful teams score touchdowns and not field goals, hold onto the ball and run the ball effectively to win in the playoffs. It is no surprise that the top five quarterbacks by passing yards in the regular season, including Dak Prescott, did not qualify for the playoffs.
Looking back at the 2019 season, the Cowboys finished 16th in red zone offense scoring touchdowns 57.1 percent of the time. Seven of the top ten made the playoffs.
The areas of weakness for the 2019 Cowboys look similar to the weaknesses of the 2018 team. As a result there were no surprises that changes were made in the coaching staff.
New coach Mike McCarthy will need to find ways to create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks to increase the percentage of turnover worthy plays. The Cowboys did a good job of not turning the ball over – they simply could not find ways to get takeaways from their defense.
Defensive linemen who can collapse the pocket are needed. On the back end, the team would benefit with defensive backs who can catch the ball to turn defended passes into interceptions.
McCarthy had good success with the Packers getting into the end zone. His teams finished in the top ten in two of his last three years in red zone efficiency. This is the area he will need to make the greatest contribution to the 2020 Cowboys to be successful.
The blue print to success in the NFL hasn’t changed despite the appearance of pass happy offenses. For the Cowboys to be considered a good team in 2020, they will need to find ways to score more touchdowns and force more turnovers.