The Cowboys’ 2016 season took the league by surprise thanks to the stellar play of their rookie backfield. When Tony Romo went down in the preseason, it was fair to assume the Cowboys would fall victim to incompetent back-up quarterback play like in years past. Fourth-round quarterback Dak Prescott took the league by surprise by putting together one of the best rookie seasons a quarterback has ever had, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 season and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Despite falling short to Green Bay by a last second field goal, Dallas’ future is bright thanks to Prescott’s rookie contract; they basically hit the lotto by drafting their franchise quarterback in the fourth round.
The 2017 Cowboys presumably face a taller task. The league has a full seasons worth of film on Prescott, Elliott and the new-look Cowboys, and it’s fair to question whether or not they can replicate that type of success moving forward. It’s especially fair because their strongest unit, their offensive line, will feature two new starters, while their defense said goodbye to four key contributors in their secondary. Dallas drafted six defensive players with their first seven picks in the 2017 draft, while four of them are slated to compete for starting jobs in the secondary.
2017 will also be difficult due to a harder schedule. Out are teams like the Browns, Lions and Bears, and in are teams like the Seahawks, Falcons and Chiefs. The Cowboys haven’t put together back-to-back 10-win seasons since the early-to-mid 1990’s. Prescott and Elliott are no longer rookies, nor will they take anyone by surprise. The pressure is on them to help the Cowboys achieve their ultimate goal of returning to a Super Bowl, but it starts with them leading Dallas to the playoffs for the second year in a row for the first time since 2006-2007.