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Mailbag: Did Cowboys make any progress in 2023?


Due to the playoff loss, it's easy to say the 2023 season as a whole was not a success, but I'm trying to determine if "progress" was made over the 2022 season. Yes, there were numerous individual accomplishments, records and awards, but did the Cowboys as a team make progress in 2023? – Dave Nystrom/Loudon, TN

Nick Eatman: Not an easy question to answer, simply because of the uncertainties that hover around this team right now, particularly on defense with Dan Quinn. Because, no matter what happened in the playoffs, continuity is always a big thing in sports. Sure, they got beat really bad by the Packers but over the course of the entire season, I still think it was rather successful because of the strides made by a young team, particularly with certain players. Seeing DaRon Bland step up his game was huge for the future. And Micah Parsons, while he had trouble getting a holding call, still showed that he can take over games, especially as a rusher. In just three years, he's doing things that has rarely been done in the entire NFL history. On offense, CeeDee Lamb and Jake Ferguson showed the types of players that can be in this offense. I think Tyler Smith will become one of the best blockers in this league, regardless if he ends up at tackle or stays at guard. To me, those individual accomplishments will eventually help the entire team make progress.

Kurt: That's a tough one. You're exactly right, several players no doubt made progress, but when a season ends on such a disappointing note, can we say the team took a step forward? There are two areas where I would suggest that, yes, things maybe did progress. One is the Texas Coast offense. I think we saw Mike McCarthy's play-calling and Dak Prescott's knowledge of the system improve throughout the course of the season. Consequently, when they pick up again in July for training camp, they'll be starting from a higher floor with the potential for an even higher ceiling. Secondly, they continued their quest to build a winning culture. Although losing in the playoffs, the Cowboys produced their third straight season with 12 victories with a second NFC East title as well in that time. As McCarthy said, "We have established a championship program. It's just not the world championship yet." While that's tough to hear right now, there is some truth to it. Success breeds more success. Then again, maybe this is all just wishful thinking. Because another season like this one and the Cowboys will undoubtedly be taking a step back closer to square one.

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