Cowboy Maven

Is Dallas close to building a Super Bowl contender?

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (middle) looks on from the sidelines before a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has to make decisions on coaching, where the team needs the most help this offseason.

If given a blind taste test, Dallas Cowboys fans would likely relish the idea of a young team with a solid record the last three seasons, made possible by a better-than-average drafting record over the last five years, that advanced to the Division round of the playoffs.

Except for the fact that Dallas is starving for a Super Bowl contender, this season lived up to expectations on paper.

The Cowboys have gone 32-16 in the regular season since picking up running back Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott in the 2016 NFL Draft. But some Cowboys fans don’t believe Jason Garrettt is the coach to end the Super Bowl drought in Dallas and when the team went 3-5 through the first half of this season, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seemed inclined to agree. The Cowboys’ turnaround in the second half and their NFC East championship will likely keep Garrett in the coach’s chair at least through 2019, but the club is ready for him to show he’s on the brink of something bigger.

In his latest radio show on Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stopped short of talking about coaching matters. If Jones saw an available coach that piqued his interest, he might make a move. But let’s not forget what we’ve seen in the latest cycle of coaching hires. There seems to be a dearth of sure-thing superstars.

Meanwhile, Garrett has backed offensive coordinator Scott Linehan all season in the face of a fan uproar about play calling. The Cowboys’ red zone problems haven’t helped Linehan’s case. But Dallas definitely made strides on offense this season after acquiring wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Raiders.

And when the Cowboys season came to an end in Los Angeles on Saturday night, offense wasn’t the weak link. That distinction fell to the front seven and, in particular, the Dallas defensive line.

If the reason Dallas fans were so critical of Linehan was that they believed they had a championship caliber defense, they need to rethink that assumption.

There were flashes of evidence to back that claim at certain points of this campaign. The Cowboys finished seventh in total defense in the regular season. But an objective person couldn’t watch Dallas games against the Colts and Rams and believe its defense is top-notch.

It’s going to make for an interesting offseason as we find out where the Joneses believe the team needs the most help.