3 Cowboys players who did not live up to expectations this season

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws during the first quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws during the first quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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The Dallas Cowboys finished the 2022-2023 season with a 12-5 record and second place finish in the NFC East. Their record helped them secure the fifth seed in the NFC.

But the season would only be a success if the Cowboys could do what they haven’t done in over 20 years: win the Super Bowl Even making the Super Bowl or the NFC Championship game would have been better than what the team has finished over the last 25 seasons.

However, yet again, America’s Team came up short.

After an impressive 31-14 win against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in the Wild Card round, the Cowboys looked like the NFC’s most dangerous team. Dak Prescott threw for 305 yards with five total touchdowns and the Cowboys defense looked unstoppable.

Then, came the Divisional round and the Cowboys failed to carry that momentum from the previous week. The defense did its job against the 49ers’ offense by allowing just one touchdown in the game.

But, the Cowboys’ offense was a much different story. Prescott threw two big interceptions and the ground game only accounted for 76 yards in the contest. It wasn’t a pretty performance offensively and it cost them any hope of a Super Bowl run.

It was another season of disappointment and coming up short for the Cowboys. There’s a lot that went wrong for Dallas, and these three players did not live up to their season-long expectations, including in the playoff loss.

3 Cowboys who did not meet expectations in 2022 season

Dec 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (13) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

3. Michael Gallup

By trading away Amari Cooper over the offseason, the Cowboys opened up more opportunities for Michael Gallup in the passing game. Gallup was just two years removed from a 1,100-yard season and the team was likely confident that he can get back to that type of production with Cooper gone.

So instead of keeping Cooper and letting Gallup walk, the Cowboys signed the latter to a five-year, $62.5 million deal for a cheaper price.

But with Gallup tearing his ACL in Week 17 of the 2021 season, there was little optimism that he would be ready for Week 1. On top of that, he likely wasn’t going to be 100% all season as he worked his way back from the injury.

Instead of having Cooper as the second wide receiver option for Prescott, they got Gallup — who was almost non-existent on the football field at times.

Gallup posted just 39 catches for 424 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games this season. He had just one game this season where he had five-plus catches and/or 50 yards in a game. He also had six games in which he had two or fewer catches.

Numbers like that aren’t remotely good enough to be the team’s second-best wide receiver option. Of course, coming off an ACL injury likely takes a player one full year to get fully up to speed on the field. But still, his season was a big disappointment for the Cowboys, who lacked another option outside of CeeDee Lamb.

This upcoming season is a big one for Gallup, whose cap hit is set at $13.8 million. The Cowboys can opt out of his contract after the 2023 season and assuming he doesn’t get back to his 2019 production, he might be on his way out.

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Cowboys, Dak Prescott

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) warms up before a NFC divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

2. Dak Prescott

Prescott had his great moments this season like in the Wild Card round and when he tore up the Vikings and Eagles’ defenses for 40 points apiece during the regular season. But at the end of the day, the negatives outweigh the positives in his 2022 campaign.

In just 12 games, Prescott threw a career-high 15 interceptions. His 15 picks were also tied with Davis Mills for the league lead. Of course, they all weren’t his fault, but there were just too many times that the Cowboys quarterback tried to force throws.

One key example comes from the playoff game against the 49ers. With the Cowboys driving down the field with under two minutes until the half, Prescott throws a crucial interception. Dallas was in a prime position to take a lead into the second half; instead San Francisco came down to hit a field goal.

Those decisions hurt the Cowboys at the end of the season and ultimately hurt their Super Bowl chances.

No, Dallas shouldn’t move on from Prescott or try to draft a quarterback early in the 2023 NFL Draft. But the Cowboys’ quarterback simply didn’t live up to his expectations during the season.

Prescott threw for just 2,860 yards and 23 touchdowns on the year. That averages out to 238.3 yards and 1.92 passing touchdowns per game.

The Cowboys’ franchise quarterback will bounce back next season, especially if they add another option for him on the outside. If Dallas can add a free agent like Odell Beckham Jr., or a first-round pick on a stud wideout, it’ll help him big time in 2023.

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Cowboys. Kelvin Joseph

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) hauls in a reception for a run and score against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Kelvin Joseph (1) during the third quarter of a regular season NFL football matchup Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jaguars edged the Dallas Cowboys 40-34 in overtime. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
Jki 121822 Cowboys Jags Cp 66

1. Kelvin Joseph

For this last spot, Jalen Tolbert was a strong possibility after his absent production as a rookie. Tolbert was the Cowboys’ third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and contributed with just two catches for 12 yards on the year. He was also a healthy scratch in nine games.

But given he is a rookie, Kelvin Joseph was a better pick for his disappointing season.

Joseph was a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Kentucky. The Cowboys decided to take him over Asante Samuel Jr. two years ago, and it looks like a mistake on their part.

One player, Joseph, was on the bench in the postseason, while the other, Samuel, was picking off Trevor Lawrence three times in a playoff game.

The second-year corner did force a fumble in the Divisional round against the 49ers on a punt, but on defense, he was a liability. In one of his only starts of the season, he allowed a long touchdown to Zay Jones that changed the whole complexion of the contest.

He then allowed another touchdown to Marvin Jones Jr. on the ensuing drive and was ultimately benched for the rest of the season. He played just two defensive snaps the rest of the year after that.

The Cowboys loved his size out of the draft and the idea that he had the second-most interceptions in the SEC in his final season was enticing. But he hasn’t done much with his playing time in two years.

There’s very little hope that Joseph can turn into a solid corner for the Cowboys. It’s tough that they might have missed out on such talent in the second round, but they’ll surely look to add to their cornerback room this offseason.

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