The 2024 offseason has suddenly arrived, perhaps much sooner than the Cowboys were expecting.
Just like that, the focus now shifts towards next year, with free agency beginning in March, followed by the NFL Draft in April.
Before we take a deep dive into the next steps for this team, let's take a look back to the 2023 season, with a monthly recap of what went right and wrong for the Cowboys.
Today, let's begin with the month of December.
Employee of the Month: The honor goes to CeeDee Lamb for the month of December. The All-Pro wideout had an impact beginning to the month in helping to take down the Eagles in grand fashion, and while his 118-yard outing against the Dolphins was for naught in a narrow loss, his 227-yard explosion against the Lions became one of the biggest reasons the Cowboys were able to land the victory. In all, Lamb racked (get it? Lamb? rack?) up 469 receiving yards and four combined touchdowns, while averaging more than 14 yards per reception. Wow.
They Looked Like Contenders When: Winning a barnburner against the one of the best secondaries in the NFL to end the month of November combined with an obliteration of the Eagles — who were 10-2 at that point — had the Cowboys looking primed to make a deep run in the playoffs. They showed no mercy at all against Philadelphia, ultimately helping to throw them into a tailspin over the remainder of the season and, to me, this is the victory that started the butterfly effect that led to the Cowboys taking the NFC East crown and the No. 2 seed.
Reaching for the Panic Button When: Well, to be honest, in the very next game that followed the domination over the Eagles that I just mentioned. It took only a week for the Cowboys to go from looking like contenders to playing like anything but, falling flat on their faces against the Bills in Buffalo; and allowed James Cook to have a record-setting day while Josh Allen was only forced to complete a total of seven (!!) passes in a blowout. It was the worst outing since the Week 5 humiliation against the 49ers, if not arguably worse because of the optics of it.
Something to Remember: Declaring eligible isn't as complicated as the Lions made it on Dec. 30, folks. In one of the few narrow victories of the season, the Lions found themselves in position to potentially take a one-point lead with little time remaining if they could've produced a two-point conversion; but their futile attempt to confuse the Cowboys with whom they were declaring as eligible only confused the officials instead, and the rest is headlines history. The Cowboys went on end a two-game losing streak, and against a top NFC contender, but what that fight will always be remembered for is the chicanery that took place on a two-point conversion attempt with the game on the line (the NFL even released an instructional video after the fact, thanks to Detroit).
Something to Forget: The events in Buffalo. It wasn't weather that defeated the Cowboys on a December evening in upstate New York. It was instead the fact they spotted the Bills 18 of their first 21 points due to untimely penalties that extended drives. From there, the Cowboys couldn't stop James Cook from looking like Emmitt Smith mixed with Walter Payton mixed with Barry Sanders, and the Bills basically spammed them with Cook the entire game en route to 221 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. One word describes this game best: yuck.