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 October.
Employee of the Month: There were several worthy contenders here, from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb and more, but I'm landing squarely on DaRon Bland for this honor. In only his second month as an outside corner due to the torn ACL on Trevon Diggs, Bland used the month of October as a launchpad for what would become a record-setting season for the second-year cornerback. He'd grab three interceptions and rattle off two of his five pick-sixes in this span of only four games, pushing his value into the stratosphere, where Diggs' resides as well. Bland stepped up big when the Cowboys were trying desperately to avoid a collapse at cornerback following the loss of Diggs.
They Looked Like Contenders When: In the moment, it was impressive to see the Cowboys manhandle the Rams but, in hindsight, it's even more so — seeing how the remainder of the year went for Los Angeles. Dak Prescott and the offense woke up in explosive fashion after trying to figure themselves out over the course of the first several weeks of the season. Throwing for four touchdowns to only one interception, in tandem with one of CeeDee Lamb's many lights-out performances in 2023, the defense matched serve by shutting down the duo of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua as well as the Rams' rushing attack. It was at this moment that the Cowboys looked as if they finally had it all figured out.
Reaching for the Panic Button When: You know when. Oh boy, do you ever. The trip to Santa Clara carried very high hopes of the Cowboys taking down their Boogeyman, but they instead were beaten into submission at the hands of the 49ers. It was their least competitive game of the season to that point, and launched a slew of questions on if Dallas was truly a serious contender; but there was a silver lining that emanated from that beatdown. That loss served as the pivot point for the entire season, especially offensively (see Rams game for reference) and Prescott went on to an MVP caliber season alongside a historic one from Lamb, and the defense allowed an average of only 18.5 points per game for the remainder of the month.
Something to Remember: It was the beginning of history being made for Lamb and Bland, and the beginning of an MVP regular season campaign from Prescott. It was the promise of Markquese Bell at linebacker and Osa Odighizuwa dominating the interior of the defensive line. It was the jump start for Brandin Cooks, who went from having no touchdowns in September to two touchdowns in as many games to end the month of October. All in all, it was a four-game stretch that featured more good times than bad, and one that saw the Cowboys use the bad to flip the switch and locate the great.
Something to Forget: Everything that happened at Levi's Stadium, and I do mean every single thing. That's it. Place the Men In Black neuralyzer in front of your own eyes and hit the button, because we're all better off not reliving what happened on the field that afternoon.