The excuses in Dallas ran out about five years ago, but this time: we mean it. Franchise QB Dak Prescott has finally been given a real head coach and a brand spanking new defensive coordinator.
Anything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Cowboys last year. Zeke took what could be considered a step back, Leighton Vander Esch was missed seven games while dealing with neck problems, and the defense in general could not keep opposing offenses off the field. This led to the Cowboys frequently playing behind and Dak Prescott needing to make magic happen late in games. An 8-8 season was an embarrassment for a team that should’ve won the division handily.
I’ll get to the offense in a minute, but the defense had more issues last year, so I’m starting there.
This is a defense that ranked 25th in takeaways last season and in the bottom half of the league in sacks. Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard ran that defense, and both were ousted by Mike McCarthy in favor of former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Cowboys players have said that they will be running more defenses, and will disguise more of what they’ll be running.
On the D-Line, Demarcus Lawrence will still be at defensive end, with Tyrone Crawford joining him after missing 12 games last season after hip surgery. Crawford and Lawrence are both reliable on the D-Line, but the interesting parts of this group are the new faces.
Aldon Smith returning to the NFL after a five-year absence was one of the more interesting stories to come out of the NFL this offseason. The former first-team all-pro will help compensate for the loss of Robert Quinn in free agency. Smith has been having a good training camp, so we’ll see if Jerry was right in taking a chance on him.
Randy Gregory is one of the most frustrating players in the league, as the kid has plenty of talent, but the issues that made him fall to the Cowboys in the second round have haunted him throughout his career. Gregory has missed nearly three full seasons due to suspensions in his young career, but when he’s actually been on the field, he was a nice piece on the pass rush to complement Lawrence. Food for thought: the last time Demarcus Lawrence had double digit sacks in a season, Gregory was on the field.
Gerald McCoy being injured and subsequently released is unfortunate, so the Cowboys will need to rely on Dontari Poe to bolster the interior.
Losing Byron Jones to Miami is the biggest loss the Cowboys had this offseason, and his replacement will be rookie corner Trevon Diggs.
Diggs, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Rhodes headline the secondary, which is easily the weak link of this roster. Whether or nor Earl Thomas will be joining them remains to be seen.
Now for the good stuff.
Dak Prescott has one last shot to prove to Jerry that he is worth the big boy money. Statistically, he’s coming off of his best season, yet the lack of a playoff berth is damming to his case.
Dak has no shortage of weapons with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and rookie CeeDee Lamb as his wide receiver trio. The Cowboys passing attack is going to be absolutely lethal this season. All three players can get yards after the catch, so expect bloated passing numbers from Dak this season.
As for Zeke, he took something of a step back for a player of his caliber, but I’m willing to chalk that up to missing camp and hanging out in Cabo for way too long. With the passing game keeping linebackers on their heels, running lanes will be open for Zeke to run wild. As we know, Zeke in open space is not a fun thing for defenses to deal with.
The biggest acquisition for this Cowboys team is not any one player. It’s the coach. Mike McCarthy is back in the NFL. I loved this hire from day one. McCarthy has Super Bowl experience, his players respect him and perhaps most importantly, he has Jerry’s respect. Being able to stand up to Jerry is very important for any coach in Dallas.
McCarthy kept on offensive coordinator Kellen Moore at the request of Dak and Zeke, and apparently will give him more free reign than the human muppet Jason Garrett did. McCarthy will also make sure the Cowboys will never go into a game unprepared. You know, like that time against the Jets.
Thank the good lord Jason Garrett is gone.
The Cowboys look to be a much different team this season with new looks on both sides of the ball. The offense figures to remain as one of the league’s best, so it’s on the defense to ensure that Dak won’t be playing down multiple scores in the second quarter.
Looking at the schedule, there aren’t many games that the Cowboys SHOULD lose. This team is going 12-4 and will go into January as a second or third seed in the NFC with yet another NFC East crown.
COME AT ME EAGLES FANS!