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Mailbag: What Should Expectations Be For 2020?

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At this point, not knowing the coaching situation, what will you expect to see from this team in 2020? Everything led up to this year: the right players were in place, several of them proven Pro Bowl players, the right coaches, a young stud quarterback and running back, huge contracts, and the team not only didn't get to the Super Bowl, but they missed the playoffs altogether. Can Dallas replace those leaving with productive players and coaches? - JIM WHATLEY / HENDERSON, TX

Rob:We still don't know the future of the coaching staff. We do know that the young core of the roster is expected to be back, starting with Dak Prescott, whether he's on a long-term deal or not. The biggest questions to me are on defense. Six players who started games last year are eligible for unrestricted free agency, including top cornerback Byron Jones. The offensive personnel looks more solidified, even though Amari Cooper also has an expiring contract.

David: It's tough to even guess what to expect until we see how the coaching situation gets resolved. But regardless of what happens, the goal will remain the same: "take the next step." I still think this is a talented roster. The Cowboys have some tough decisions to make, but I don't see why they can't field a squad that's capable of making the playoffs in 2020.

I'm already looking ahead to the opponents for next year. I know that everything changes from season to season, but the 49ers, Browns, Steelers, and Falcons at home and Seahawks, Rams, Vikings, and Ravens on the road? And that's not considering the Eagles twice, who have the same schedule (plus the Saints and Green Bay) except the home and road flipped. What do you expect for next year? - KEVIN WATSON / CHOUDRANT, LA

Rob: On paper, no, it doesn't look easy with the two best teams in the league this season (49ers and Ravens) on next year's schedule. But as you said, the rest of the division has to play the same slate with the exception of two games (the Cowboys get the Vikings and Falcons because those are the corresponding second-place intra-conference opponents). So much has to be decided here with regard to the roster and coaching staff. Ask me again in April and I'll have a better answer for you.

David: We do this every year, and every year it's pretty fruitless. Nobody was talking about the 49ers as a Super Bowl contender in August, and nobody saw the Browns and Steelers being mediocre. This league is so even, you're going to wind up playing 5-6 tossup games, no matter what the schedule is. The Cowboys were great at winning the toss ups in 2018 and terrible at it in 2019. They'll have to be better in those close games if they want to improve next year.

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