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

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Accountability seems to be lacking. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Did you catch exiled Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, starting his "Redemption Tour 2020," doing his best imitation of Sgt. Schultz from the classic sitcom Hogan's Heroes?

"I see nothing. I hear nothing."

Luhnow sat for 37 minutes (the extended director's cut on click2houston.com) with Channel 2 sports reporter Vanessa Richardson and insisted that he played no part in the Astros 2017-18 illegal sign-stealing operation, and didn't deserve to be suspended for one year by baseball, and ultimately fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.

"I didn't know."

"I wasn't aware."

"I wasn't involved."

"Had I known about it, I would have stopped it."

"I was punished for something I didn't do."

Remember, Luhnow wasn't just the Astros general manager, he also held the title of President of Baseball Operations, responsible for every action that took place at Minute Maid Park, on the field, in the dugout, clubhouse, bullpen and boardroom.

Everybody else seemed to know, including field manager A.J. Hinch, who admitted that he knew the Astros were cheating, tried to stop it, but couldn't.

That's some leadership that Astros had in 2017-18. A manager who couldn't get his players to stop cheating, and a general manager who claims he didn't know. The inmates truly were running the asylum.

If Luhnow is telling the truth, that makes him one monkey who saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil.

On one hand, Luhnow takes credit for building a supremely gifted Astros team that has made four consecutive American League Championship Series, won two American League pennants, and captured Houston's first World Series title in 2017.

One commercial break later, he's swearing that he didn't have a clue that his team was committing baseball's crime of the century – which ultimately cost the Astros their manager, general manager, a $5 million fine, and four draft picks.

Which is it, was Luhnow a detached genius, incredibly naïve or unfortunate scapegoat?

Luhnow claimed that an honest investigation by MLB would have determined that he was merely an innocent bystander to the scandal. He told baseball commissioner Rob Manfred that he was willing to take a lie detector test to prove it, but Manfred declined his offer.

OK, Manfred said a lie detector test wasn't necessary. Why didn't Luhnow do it anyway? It might have helped mitigate some of his sentence.

Put it this way, I work at Gow Media World Headquarters in Houston. If the boss brought me into his office and said he was firing me because I was stealing equipment, or missing deadlines or harassing other employees … and I was innocent, I holler to the high heavens that I was fired unjustly. I'd hire Jim Adler, the Tough Texas Lawyer, to sue everybody who ever touched a baseball for wrongful termination, defamation of character and a hundred other things. I wouldn't take a called third strike and wait 10 months to speak up.

Right now, Luhnow's once-brilliant reputation is sullied. He's on the outside of baseball looking in. Luhnow's protestation of innocence reminds me of Jose Canseco's book, Juiced, in 2005, where the slugger claimed that steroid use was rampant in the big leagues. And he named names.

Accused players bleated that they were innocent, that Canseco was a bad apple who made up stories to cover his own use of banned drugs.

Here's when I knew that Canseco, while a rat, was right – when the accused steroid users screamed bloody murder, but didn't sue Canseco. If somebody accused you of a crime that you didn't commit, a crime that cost you your job and legacy, a crime that might keep you out of the Hall of Fame of your profession, would you stay silent for almost a year and take the punishment lying down?

We may never know if Luhnow knew or didn't know that his Astros were cheating. It's possible that he's telling the truth now. His teary-eyed interview was convincing in parts. But accepting punishment for something you didn't do, and not fighting back – it's not a good look.

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