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Dallas Cowboys exit interview

The 2015 season seemed to fall apart for the Dallas Cowboys and it didn’t help that they had a quarterback carousel to close out the season. America’s team found itself in a sub-.500 hole after opening the season with a two-game win streak mainly because of a seven-game losing streak and quarterback Tony Romo injuring his collarbone for the first time in 2015. Can they recover from a 4-12 season or is this a result that will become normal for Dallas?

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

Offensive line, linebackers

Offensive Line: The Cowboys had one of the better offensive lines on paper heading into the season, and they performed well enough as they allowed 33 sacks with second, third and fourth options at quarterback. But there will be thousands of fans that probably blame them for allowing Romo to get hurt twice in the same season. In all fairness, the o-line was one of the best parts about the Cowboys this season, but that is only a consolation prize.

Linebacker: Sean Lee came back in 2015 and was his usual dominant self at linebacker; leading the team with 128 total tackles. Rolando McClain also had a successful season and had 80 tackles himself. The Cowboys could add depth at the position, but McClain and Lee are a great dominant foundation to build a defense around, assuming they re-sign McClain.

Weaknesses:

Turnover ratio, offense

Turnover Ratio: This is a compounded problem that factors in both offensive ineptitude and lack of capitalization by the defense. On one hand, the offense threw 22 interceptions, and on the other, the defense only had eight interceptions themselves. It was a recipe for disaster that gave Dallas a -22 turnover ratio, and it didn’t help that the Cowboys’ offense only averaged 17.2 points per game.

Offense: This season proved that the Cowboys have waited too long to discuss the need of a backup quarterback, and now there are rumors that they want Johnny Manziel? Jerry Jones does have a knack for liking players that tend to find trouble off the field, so it wouldn’t be too surprising if Manziel did end up in Dallas. With the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Cowboys need to pick a quarterback or look into trading down and selecting one later in the first round. Even with Romo in the game the Cowboys struggled, but injuries to Romo and Dez Bryant didn’t help.

Darren McFadden was able to avoid injury this season and rush for 1,089 yards, but most of his performances week in and week out weren’t anything special. He was able to post five 100-yard games out of his 10 starts though, and was able to benefit from injuries to Lance Dunbar and the release of starting running back Joseph Randle.

Team Needs

Players to Re-Sign:

OL Mackenzy Bernadeau

CB Morris Claiborne

LG Ronald Leary

LB Rolando McClain

2016 FREE AGENT TARGETS ($8.7 million projected cap space):

WR Alshon Jeffery

RB Matt Forte

RB Lamar Miller

S Walter Thurmond III

2016 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND TARGETS (No. 4 pick):

DE DeForest Buckner (Oregon)

QB Paxton Lynch (Memphis)

WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)

OLB Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame)

Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:

AFC East: Buffalo Bills | Miami Dolphins | New York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens | Cleveland Browns

AFC South: Tennessee Titans | Jacksonville Jaguars | Indianapolis Colts

AFC West: San Diego Chargers | Oakland Raiders

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