The Cowboys Report

Dallas Cowboys year in review

Zeke Elliot keeps rolling. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (11-7) 2018 season came to an end Saturday night with a 30-22 loss to the Los Angeles Rams (14-3).They failed to win another road playoff game and were unable to make it to their first Conference Championship game since 1996.

The 8 point loss does not paint a true picture of the game. Dallas was never in a realistic position to win. The Rams dominated the Cowboys by shutting down Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, controlling the clock, and scoring on 5 of their 7 possessions.

Elliott was held to 22 touches total, 20 carries for 47 yards (1 Touchdown), and 2 catches for 19 yards.He was never able to get anything going, mostly because the Rams kept the ball out of his hands by possessing the ball for a little over 36 minutes.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had a good game. He was 20/32 for 266 yards, one touchdown, and NO turnovers.He was responsible for almost all of their offensive production but that was all due to the Rams plan of shutting down Zeke.Dak connected with eight different receivers, most notably was a 29 yard touchdown pass to stud receiver Amari Cooper mid-way through the first quarter.Cooper had 6 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.Their leading receiver was rookie Michael Gallup who posted his first career 100 yard game with 6 catches for 119 yards. If he continues to improve, the Cooper/Gallup duo could become one of the better tandems in the league.

The defense went into the game knowing they were up against a big challenge in the Rams' offense.They held their own for most of the first half but ran out of gas when the Dallas offense punted three consecutive times on their last three possessions before the half. Team leading tackler Leighton Vander Esch had his worst game of the year with only four total tackles, even though three were solo.The Cowboy defense gave up over 450 yards, 273 of them were on the ground. Superstar running back Todd Gurley and veteran C.J. Anderson both had over 100 yards and scored touchdowns.

Looking back, I believe the Cowboys have a lot of positives to build on and have shown that they are a good team that can become great very quickly. Don't forget that they started off 3-5 and their season could have been over a long time ago. Instead, they rallied and made it all the way to the No. 4 seed in the NFC.They have a solid core of great young talent on both sides of the ball and have to potential to be contenders for years to come.

Possible Improvements

Offense: Elliott, Cooper, and Gallup can be great weapons for Prescott.The offensive line is one of the best in the league and the only position they need to improve on is tight end. The void that was left when Cowboy great Jason Witten retired was never filled and it showed.

Defense: Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are two young amazing linebackers that are the foundation to build around. The Cowboy D could use either a great defensive lineman and or a dominant defensive back to complement their stud linebackers. Re-signing defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is a must for the Cowboys to keep their defense in the top 10 of the NFL.

3 Things to watch for in the offseason

1.Dak Prescott (Quarterback): The Cowboys' front office needs to make a decision in whether or not he is their QB of the future. The 2019 season will be the final year of rookie current contract and his next one is looking to be a big one.It will probably be around $20 million per year.

2.Jason Garrett (Head coach): The 2019 season will also be the final year of his current contract. I think they should let him play it out and see if he can produce another great season before signing him to an extension. Dallas is almost always at a disadvantage when it comes to coaching and I believe a change is needed no matter what.

3. Earl Thomas (Free agent safety): There were rumors early this season that Thomas would like to play for the Cowboys before he was injured as a member of the Seahawks. Dallas could use this six-time Pro Bowler on back end of their defense who could be the defensive back they need to help upgrade this side of the ball.

With that being said, there are only 3 games left in the NFL season:

Sunday January 20th

NFC Championship: Rams vs Saints at 2:05 pm Central time

AFC Championship: Patriots vs Chiefs at 5:40 pm Central time

Sunday February 3rd

Super Bowl LIII (53):Kickoff is at 5:30 pm Central time

SPORTSMAP ROUNDTABLE PRESENTED BY TIGHT ENDS SPORTS BAR & GRILL

Why beating the Ravens means more than you think

Composite photo by Jack Brame

The Texans head to Baltimore with a 6-3 record hoping to win a statement game making Houston a real threat to win the conference.

The Patriots and the Ravens are the Texans' biggest threats in the AFC, so a win against Baltimore would be huge for Houston.

ESPN 97.5's John Granato, A.J. Hoffman, and Raheel Ramzanali discuss if a win at Baltimore would make them believers in the Texans. SportsMap Roundtable presented by Tight Ends Sports Bar & Grill.

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