Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys’ bright future is an issue for Eagles

November 30, 2018 - 9:55 am
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By Eliot Shorr-Parks, 94WIP Sportsradio

PHILADELPHIA (94WIP Sportsradio) —  Things change quickly in the NFL. 

A team that is dead in the water one week can be alive the next. A franchise that is on the rocks can look a lot different after a few wins. A Super Bowl champion can be on the outside looking in way sooner than expected. 

The Dallas Cowboys are a prime example of how quickly things can change. After looking like a train wreck the majority of this season, Eagles’ fans might have to face a harsh reality that their biggest rival has a much brighter future than expected after their win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.

That reality should be an eye-opener to the Eagles’ front office, who have a massive offseason ahead of them, and are going to have to have a much better 2019 offseason than they did in 2018 if they want to continue to get back to being one of the top teams in the NFC. 

At 7-5, the Cowboys have now won three straight games, and barring a collapse, are on their way to an NFC East crown. They have done it behind a group of talented players that are all young and aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. 

Quarterback Dak Prescott certainly has his flaws, and some were on display against the Saints. His fumble in the final moments was almost devastating. He missed a wide-open touchdown in the fourth quarter that would have ended the game. 

The good, however, far outweighed the bad with Prescott on Thursday night, and that has been the case during the Cowboys' climb to the top of the division. Prescott finished the game 24-of-28 for 248 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Those numbers aren’t empty — Prescott made a number of impressive throws and big plays. The Cowboys might have finished with just 13 points on Thursday night, but over their three-game, season-saving winning streak, Prescott has accounted for five touchdowns, zero interceptions and three-straight games with a quarterback rating over 100.

Fans can laugh about the idea of the Cowboys extending Prescott, but if things hold to form, Prescott will be going to the playoffs for the second time in three years when the postseason begins, and he’ll have two division titles under his belt three years into his career. The same can be said for head coach Jason Garrett, who for all of jokes about his clapping, is also likely heading to the postseason for the second time in the last three seasons. 

The trade of wide receiver Amari Cooper should also not be overlooked. A move that was mocked at the time has clearly had a huge impact on the season, and there is a strong argument to be made it launched the Cowboys into the postseason. The move did exactly what the Eagles’ disastrous trade for Golden Tate was supposed to do.

There is also plenty of young talent for the Cowboys to be excited about. Running back Ezekiel Elliott has proved this season he is still an elite running back. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, assuming he is back in 2019, is an elite pass rusher. The duo of Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have a very bright future as a pair of playmaking linebackers. 

Combine all of the young talent with a whopping $54 million in salary cap space this upcoming offseason, and the Cowboys appear to be without question the Eagles’ biggest competition in the NFC East, both the remainder of this season and going forward. 

The good news for Eagles’ fans is that they have plenty of reason to be optimistic themselves. 

They have a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz. They have a head coach in Doug Pederson that has a Super Bowl ring. They have arguably the best tight end in the NFL in Zach Ertz, and one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL in Fletcher Cox. They have an outstanding right tackle in Lane Johnson, and safety Malcolm Jenkins has shown no signs of slowing down.

The elite talent is there, and it is arguably better than the elite talent the Cowboys have. 

How Howie Roseman and the front office surround that talent this offseason is going to be key in deciding if they can compete for a division title next year or years to come. The Eagles, if they move on from a few aging veterans, should end up with around $25 million in salary cap space. They have some very tough decisions ahead of them, but if they make the right ones, they have the resources to bring this team back from a disappointing 2018 season. 

Of course, it is not time just yet for a eulogy, and this is not the end of the Eagles’ 2018 season. Things do change quickly, and perhaps they will change as quickly for the Eagles as they did for the Cowboys. That needs to start with a win on Monday night, and then a victory in their trip to Dallas the following week. 

As of now, however, one thing appears to be clear — the Cowboys' future is much brighter than expected, and the Eagles cannot overlook them moving forward.

This story originally appeared on 94wip.radio.com.

Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!