Following a loss to the 49ers in the Divisional Round, Dallas failed to advance to an NFC Championship Game for the 27th straight season, continuing a frustrating trend of Cowboys teams being unable to find success deep in the postseason.
Joining the Around The NFL podcast Wednesday, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said he understands the disappointment felt in Dallas about a team unable to overcome this hurdle despite having some talented teams in that long span.
"Unfortunately, here we are again," he said. "I hate being close, I'm sure everyone on the team does, and we owe (a win) to all of our fans. It's been quite some time since we had a Lombardi come back to Dallas."
The Cowboys by no means had a bad regular season, finishing 12-5 even despite quarterback Dak Prescott missing five games early in the year due to injury.
In the Wild Card Round the Cowboys were firing on all cylinders, defeating Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, 31-14, behind a great effort on both sides of the ball, something they had struggled to do all season.
But the next game versus San Francisco revealed all of the issues that plagued the Cowboys, who were held to under 300 yards of total offense while Prescott threw two key interceptions. This game was a microcosm of the inconsistency the Dallas offense had shown through much of the season, highlighted by Prescott's league-worst 15 regular-season INTs, which could be attributed to both the QB and his receivers.
This was a downturn from the previous season, in which the Cowboys had one of the most productive offenses in the league. And after another postseason disappointment, the changes have already started to try and reverse that trend. The first step was this week's hiring of a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer.
When asked what else he thought the Cowboys need to do to reach the highest level of the game, Lamb drew comparisons with both the team that eliminated them and one of Dallas' divisional rivals.
"You gotta surround (the quarterback)," Lamb said. "You go look at the Eagles, and they've got three receivers, a great tight end group, they run the ball well, the O-line is very phenomenal. You look at San Fran, they surrounded their quarterback and you get success ultimately. I mean we've got just as many weapons, but that extra player, all it takes is one. You can be so close to the Super Bowl and it can be a deciding factor."
Both Philly and S.F. upgraded their already-talented rosters in the last year to create the teams that made it to Super Bowl LVII and the NFC Championship Game, respectively. The Eagles acquired receiver A.J. Brown from the Titans through a trade during the 2022 NFL Draft, and the 49ers added to their roster midseason by trading for multi-purpose running back Christian McCaffrey. Brown had 1,496 receiving yards this season and the Niners were 10-1 after McCaffrey came to the Bay Area, emphasizing the impact these kind of additions can have on their respective teams.
With the long offseason just getting started, the question now becomes whether the Cowboys can or will make the move to get big playmakers, and if they do, whether Lamb is right that additional offensive weapons is the last thing they need to make it back to the top.