2017 Season Previews: Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott stunned the world last year, and took command of the locker room and made believers of the coaching staff and even allowed the team to move on from longtime leader Tony Romo. Matt Moore is back as the primary backup as Mark Sanchez didn’t exactly stand out last year. I personally have always liked Moore, and thought he was a decent NFL QB. Then again, I think I could be a decent QB behind the Cowboys offensive line last year.
I think Dak is going to have more problems than last year, as there is a TON of tape on him now, and there are two defensive coaches that has already faced him twice. Dak might be a better QB, but his win loss won’t be as good. Then again, I saw him play in the SEC, and had no idea he’d be as good as this.

Ezekiel Elliot is a BEAST. The question is, how good would he be if he was a Charger or a Lion? Maybe 80% as good? NFL Running backs have a standard shelf life, and the Cowboys would do well to start to make some of those 25 carry games into 20 carry games. Darren McFadden is a good change of pace back, and Rod Smith might start getting some carries as well. This is a great group of backs for the Cowboys to have, and as long as they can limit Elliots carries, they should have a top rushing attack for a long time.

Dez Bryant had a another frustrating year, both in himself and for the fans. Dez can take over a game, but far too often he vanishes for a series or two. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley are the other two starters and both could start for any team. Maybe this year Jason Garrett opens up the playbook and allows this dynamic group a chance to really stand out. No wait, this is Jason Garrett here. Ryan Switzer is going to be the 4th guy and should get a lot of attention if a tight end doesn’t develop. Speaking of,  Jason Witten is still here he’s been here since Danny White was under center, James Hanna is still having problems coming back from injury, and Blake Jarwin is the only TE left. If Witten goes down, the Cowboys could be making a lot of phone calls or could be having to put a lot more pressure on Dak’s shoulders without a security blanket.

The Best line in Football has come back to the pack a little bit as Doug Free retired and Ronald Leary went to Denver. Of course, when the other three guys Tyron Smith, Travis Fredrick and Zack Martin are without a doubt the top 3 in their position in the NFL, that’s a great starting point. La’el Collins is expected to take one spot, and they signed former top 10 pick Jonathan Cooper and former Panther Byron Bell to take the other. Emmitt Cleary is also in the picture as he has played well. Joe Looney is the primary backup on the interior, and could start for some teams.

Defense: I have questions about the defense, starting with that secondary. Clairborne and Carr are gone at corner, and Barry Church and JJ Wilcox are gone at safety. Nolan Carroll is over from Philly to try and help, and the Boys dropped a 2nd and 3rd, and 6th round pick there are well. If they come together that would be one thing, if they jell- then thats another. There is a lot of speed here, and you can’t coach speed.
The front seven is even more troubling, but they have Sean Lee and uh, well, Sean Lee. Taco Charlton is exepected to be an impact player, and last years second rounder Jaylon Smith are expected to bring some help in getting something going.

Special Teams: Dan Bailey is as good as any kicker in NFL history, and Chris Jones averaged 45.9 yards per punt. Coverage units were a different story, as they have some serious issues.

Overall: I do think this comes down to that secondary. Teams that can run and pass might be able to keep up with that offense, and if they have good special teams, they might be able to pull away. I have them winning 4 in the division, and taking 3 in the NFC West, as they have Seattle late in the year at home and go to Arizona. They also take 3 vs the AFC West, as they have Denver on the road early, but I think they drop to Oakland. I have them dropping both bonus games at Atlanta and Green Bay at home. 10-6.

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