Romo went down in Week 3 with a collarbone injury he re-aggravated against the Panthers on Thanksgiving, while Dez was basically done in Week 1 when he suffered a foot injury. With both guys healthy and the best offensive line in football back, there are high expectations for a bounceback in 2016.
Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones expects the bounce to be even higher, saying on NFL Network on Monday night he believes the Dallas offense will be better than it was in 2014. Jones wouldn't, however, say the 2016 team would be better than the legendary Triplets offense featuring Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
"Well I don't want to go as far as to make those comparisons, because they've done it and they've done it consistently," Jones said of the Triplets. "Certainly that group did have a great year two years ago -- that you mention that we have, including [DeMarco] Murray. I think we compensated for that, although we think Murray is still a great player. On the other hand, I think our offensive line has gotten better. And they've done that with experience, plus we've even added more talent to the offensive line.
"I think we've got a chance to be a better offensive team than we've been in several years. Whether it approaches Aikman, Emmitt and Michael Irvin and that group or not, we'll see."
Back in 2014, the Cowboys ranked 5th in points scored and 7th in yards produced in the NFL. That wasn't quite as good as the Triplets in their heyday -- in 1992 and 1993 (the back-to-back Super Bowl titles under Jimmy Johnson), Dallas was 2nd in points scored both seasons and 4th in yards produced in both seasons.
Inflation is real, kids! Busting out 5,600 yards in 1992 and 1993 was a heck of a lot harder than ripping off 6,000 yards is in the modern game. Life was just more difficult for offenses 25 years ago.
But it's totally possible the 2016 Cowboys could match what the 1992 and 1993 Cowboys did from an offensive standpoint. Raw numbers-wise they will absolutely beat it. And having a top-five unit that picks up large-chunk yardage isn't out of the question at all. It basically happened two years ago.
If Jones is right and this team is better offensively than 2014, then it will reasonably reach the bar that those great teams set.
The big difference? The Cowboys of the early 90s were also good on defense. Both of the two teams coached by Johnson were top-five defensive units as well. The 1992 team was 5th in points allowed and 1st in yards allowed, while the 1993 team was 2nd in points allowed and 10th in yards allowed.
The 2014 Cowboys were 15th in points allowed and 19th in yards allowed and because of various suspensions, injuries and general roster turnover, this team probably won't be as good defensively as the 2014 version.
So no matter how close Romo, Dez and rookie Ezekiel Elliott come to recreating a modern version of the Triplets, the Cowboys are going to struggle to live up to the lofty expectations set from their predecessors.