The Dallas Cowboys finished 6-10 in the NFC East during the 2020 NFL season.
It was yet another season where the Cowboys fell short of the lofty expectations placed on them by their owner Jerry Jones, the city of Dallas, and their faithful fan base.
While everyone hopes the Cowboys bounce back in 2021 with much better results, here are worst-case scenarios that could happen.
Dak Prescott is Not Ready
Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury that involved both a compound fracture and dislocation in October.
Coach Mike McCarthy summarized the team’s feeling as they watched Prescott get carted off the field with this gruesome injury.
“I feel terrible for him. He was having a tremendous year. In the short time working with him, he’s made such an impression on me. He’s clearly the leader of this football team. I have no doubt that he’ll bounce back from this. This will be just a part of his great story.”
Prescott is confident that he will be ready and at 100 percent in September.
Here is video of Dak Prescott talking about how healthy he is from his injured ankle. pic.twitter.com/iUa8QjgMcr
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) May 4, 2021
Another part of Prescott’s offseason story is he signed an enormous contract to be the quarterback of the Cowboys for years to come.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) March 10, 2021
All this means that Prescott is the man (especially with last season’s backup Andy Dalton now in Chicago).
If the Cowboys are going to contend, he has to bounce back, stay healthy, and be dominant.
Ezekiel Elliott’s Production Continues to Dwindle
Speaking of large contracts, Ezekiel Elliott signed a big one in 2019.
Ezekiel Elliott signed a six-year contract worth $90 million and yet they wont give him the ball on 4th and inches. pic.twitter.com/ftICXyEhs5
— Brenden Deeg (@BrendenDeegNFP) November 26, 2020
Ever since, his numbers have dwindled in all areas except for fumbles.
Zeke has to get on track, be consistent, and play like it is 2016 which was his best season statistically.
In 2020, he didn’t even reach the 1,000-yard milestone.
While it is clear that running backs hit their prime early in the NFL, Elliott is only 25 so he should have more good years ahead.
If not, the Cowboys will need to utilize Tony Pollard more.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, but the return on investment for Elliott would be disappointing at best.
Unfortunately, if Prescott struggles in 2021, that does not bode well for Elliott as opposing defenses will anticipate that he will shoulder the burden (and carries) so they will load the box and stifle him.
Red Zone Scoring Continues to be Troublesome
In recent years, the Cowboys have not mastered the art of dominating in the red zone.
It is far from automatic that they come away with any points.
Often, it is only three points.
To be a contender with an offense that is supposedly loaded with star power, those trips to the red zone must end with touchdowns.
In 2020, the Cowboys ranked 29th with a dismal 50 percent red zone percentage.
The Green Bay Packers who nearly won the NFC Championship in 2020 led the NFL in red zone percentage at 76.81 percent.
2021 will be telling for the Cowboys.
It is 26 years since they last won a Super Bowl.
Time is running out so hopefully these worst-case scenarios do not come to fruition for the Cowboys in 2021.