The Cowboys were mediocre coming out of the gate, partially from having a new coaching staff and a deeply disrupted off-season. The disappointing start masks the carnage since. The team lost to injury for part or all the season at least 17 players counted on to start or to play key roles. Nine of those losses were for multiple games, including the loss of QB1, the starting OTs, the TE, rhe presumed starters at DT, the best LB and the presumed best CB. Add to that the retirement of an all-pro C. Players such as OG Martin, OT Knight, CB Brown and LB Lee missed significant time. OT Erving, C Looney and G Biadasz missed time. QB2 missed time. Finally, they even lost the punter, which while maybe not impactful is a metaphor for a lost season. Or maybe we could choose as the season's symbol the decision of the presumed FB to opt out. Now the promising rookie CB will be out for most or all the remaining games. One must assume, given what has happened, another player or two will go down. The team miscalculated on Griffen and Clinton-Dix, which left thin positions thinner. They miscalculated on Poe. We might throw in McCoy. They were not blindsided by his injury. The revolving door OL has impacted Elliott, who hasn't played that well regardless. The loss of QB1 neutralized the team's greatest strength, WR. Jaylon Smith is most effective when paired with Vander Esch, and the latter missed multiple games. The team's strengths (QB1 and OL) were wiped out. The loss of those strengths was Kryptonite to Elliott. A shaky secondary has been a revolving door due to injuries and the Clinton-Dix fiasco. The Cowboys can't point to a single strength unless QB play is adequate to allow the WRs to shine. By games 15 and 16, the Cowboys might well "rest" players such as Elliott, Martin, Lawrence and Vander Esch should they not be, by then, legitimately injured. They might ask Dinucci to take the bullet in the name of experience and "seeing what we have." The schedule is weak enough for 3-4 more wins to be found, but I suspect, unless they come in a sudden burst and soon, the lineup will look like a practice squad the last 2-3 games. I'm don't recall a Cowboys team hit with such a wave of injuries to key players, including at the most critical position, QB. That multiplied the negative impact of a disastrous crop of free agent signings. This is a team absent Pro Bowl or near Pro Bowl talent in Frederick, who retired, Smith, Collins, Prescott, Martin for a couple of games and Vander Esch. OT is a hospital ward. Awuzie would have been better than his replacements. A promising rookie class saw Biadasz and now Diggs go down to injury. Lamb's impact has been deeply impaired by the QB issues. Most likely, the ceiling on remaining wins is 3. Realistically, they might win 1 or 2. I will forecast 2 more wins, a 4-12 finish and pick 3-5 in the draft. They are more likely to lose out than to win 4 more. There is talent on the field, but the holes are deep and the strengths are exacerbated by the QB and OL circumstances. In the hope Elliott hasn't lost as much tread on the tires as it has appeared at times, I would cap his remaining carries this season at, say, 75. Let's see if he can come back fresh in 2021 and reclaim some of the lost burst and downfield speed. That isn't tanking. That is preserving a valuable asset in a circumstance in which he is sure to absorb inordinate punishment. The Cowboys would be smart to see what they have in the young LBs. Let Robinson sink or swim in the D backfield. Give Aenee some time. Find out whether they have a QB2 if Dalton doesn't return. Tanking is mischaracterized unless the team quits on the coaching staff. The players on the field want to win and to preserve their jobs. The coaches can't and won't encourage them to play badly, of course. But there is nothing wrong with being smart, promoting youth and finding out about the back of the roster. All that has future value.