The Dallas Cowboys have not played for a Super Bowl in 25 long years. Some seasons have been more successful than others, but America’s Team has failed to reach the mountain top in a quarter-century.
Super Bowl LV featured two organizations that took different routes in getting to the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs quickly developed into a well-oiled machine behind Patrick Mahomes after trading up for the former Texas Tech signal-caller in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned from a 7-9 team into champions by being aggressive in free agency. The team signed Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, and Antonio Brown, among others.
There are a few different things that the Dallas Cowboys can take away from the two teams that just squared off for the Lombardi Trophy.
Invest in your passing attack and offensive line.
Throwing the football has never been more important than it is in today’s NFL. The best teams across the league are investing premium resources in their quarterback, supporting cast, and coaching staff to maximize that aspect of the game.
Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are great examples of this. Kansas City’s offense — when healthy — is what the modern NFL offense is supposed to look like. The deep passes, the explosive plays, and the creative designs.
The Super Bowl showed that even the Chiefs — a team loaded with talent — have to invest in their offensive line. Multiple starters were unavailable, and the Bucs’ aggressive defense made life hard on Mahomes and company.
Still, they are a team that has consistently invested resources into improving that side of the ball.
As for Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers went out and pursued a number of players to add to the talented receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Tom Brady, obviously, was the biggest addition.
The team also added Gronk, Brown, and Fournette before drafting offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first-round.
The Dallas Cowboys have invested into the offense as well — trading for Amari Cooper and drafting Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, as well as signing Ezekiel Elliott — rightfully or wrongfully.
That said, Dallas has still not paid their franchise quarterback and the 2020 season took a toll on the offensive line. The Cowboys need to secure Dak Prescott to a long-term deal and continue to invest resources on that side of the ball.
Safety play matters.
One position that the Dallas Cowboys have largely ignored is safety. From not spending in free agency to passing over the position in the draft, the Cowboys have shown us that it is not important to them.
Both Super Bowl squads featured at least one big time player at the safety position. Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill for the Chiefs and Antoine Winfield, Jr. for the Bucs.
All three of those players made big impacts over the course of the season and were important factors in helping their team reach the title game.
Another season down.— Burgers and Blitzes (@NotToBeTrite) February 8, 2021
Another year of high level safety play in the Super Bowl.
Dallas had an opportunity to acquire at least one of Mathieu (free agency) or Thornhill (draft) but decided against it. The Cowboys reportedly didn’t think the Honey Badger was a scheme fit, while the team opted to draft defensive tackle Trysten Hill over Thornhill in the 2019 draft.
2019 sixth-rounder Donovan Wilson flashed during the second half of the 2020 season, but the Cowboys need more talent at that spot. Xavier Woods is set to hit free agency and it is unclear if the team will bring him back or not.
With Dan Quinn now running the show on the defensive side of the ball, there is a chance that the Cowboys invest more at the position.
Beef up the defensive line.
Safety is not the only position that the Dallas Cowboys have largely ignored. Defensive tackle is a spot where the team has not addressed in a big way for the most part.
The team did draft Trysten Hill in the second-round of the 2019 draft while also signing Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe last offseason. Hill tore his ACL in week five and hasn’t proven to be worthy of his draft status. Poe was cut midseason, and McCoy was lost for the year before the first snap was played.
Beefing up the interior of the line of scrimmage needs to be a priority for the Cowboys. Dallas was dreadful against the run. Adding a big body in the middle would help solve some of that.
Kansas City and Tampa Bay each have interior disruptors that can change the complexion of a game.
Highest-graded DI of 2020:— PFF (@PFF) February 4, 2021
1. Aaron Donald – 94.5
2. Chris Jones – 90.3
3. Vita Vea – 90.1 pic.twitter.com/8EOgXwL4bV
For Kansas City, Chris Jones is one of the elite defensive linemen in football. Mike Pennel and Derrick Nnadi are two other bodies that make life hard on offensive lines.
Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh are the headliners for the Buccaneers, as each can disrupt the pass and the run. Vea’s return to the field was a huge boost to Tampa Bay’s defense and overall success.
Dalvin Tomlinson is one free agent that is worth the Cowboys reaching out to. He has played in the division with the Giants since entering the league in 2017, so Dallas is very familiar with what he brings to the table.
Christian Barmore, Alim McNeill, and Marvin Wilson are three different possibilities through the draft. No matter how they do it, the Cowboys must address this area.
Get faster on defense — especially at linebacker.
The Dallas Cowboys defense struggled in 2020, to put things mildly. Safety and defensive tackle need to be priorities to be upgraded in some capacity this offseason.
It shouldn’t stop there, though.
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken big steps back since their stellar 2018 campaigns. Smith looks lost against any team that utilizes misdirection, and he struggles in coverage. Vander Esch cannot stay healthy and has regressed even when on the field.
Tampa Bay put on a clinic at the linebacker position during the Super Bowl. Devin White flew around the field, and Lavonte David excelled in coverage. The entire unit played at full speed.
While the Chiefs are not known for defense, they too have a speedy, athletic linebacker. Rookie Willie Gay, Jr. — who missed the Super Bowl due to a torn meniscus — flashed during his first year in the league and should be a big part of Kansas City moving forward.
Willie Gay Jr. is fast. He also isn't scared to take on blockers. pic.twitter.com/6C1RuSFdFy— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) October 7, 2020
Drafting an off-ball linebacker high isn’t the best use of resources in most cases. That said, the Cowboys do need improvement at the position.
Addressing the defensive line would not only solve the issue on the line of scrimmage, but it would also help the linebackers as well.
The Cowboys may not be ready to hoist the Lombari Trophy next season, but there are a few different things that the team can takeaway from this year’s Super Bowl.
Featured image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports