Dallas Cowboys Season Outlook
As training camp is set to kick off, the Dallas Cowboys are primed to put the dismal 2015 season that was marred with injuries behind them. It was a season that included as many starting quarterbacks as it did wins. With a healthy Tony Romo, who is fully healthy after having a metal plate attached to his clavicle in order to reduce risk of a future break, this team is picked by many pundits to go from worst to first in the NFC East.
Obviously, the quarterback position is the most important in all of sports. That’s not the only reason fans are excited around Valley Ranch these days. All pro wideout Dez Bryant has seen no setbacks in his return from multiple surgeries. Injuries plagued him last season and forced him to miss several games and limp through several others to the least productive stat line of his NFL career. The hope is that he will return to the top-5 wide receiver everyone knows him to be. The same wide receiver that produced an average of 91 receptions, 1312 yards and almost 14 touchdowns a year over the previous three seasons.
If the Romo to Bryant connection gets back to its old ways, then there are bound to be some fireworks.
NFL Draft Steal
Speaking of fireworks, the Cowboys added another spark plug this off-season to an already incredibly talented offense.
“With the 4th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Ezekiel Elliot, running back Ohio State.”
That was music to the ears of all Cowboys fans on April 28th. Elliott is not only the best running back prospect in this draft, but is considered by some to be the best prospect at the position to come out of school since Adrian Peterson. Lofty expectations to be compared to one of the greatest to ever do it, but many would say they are justified. Landing in Dallas and running behind the best offensive line in football is the perfect situation for Elliott to live up to those expectations.
Zeke can do it all. He can cut to the whole, make people miss, gain short yardage, catch passes out of the backfield, pass protect — you name it. He is a true workhorse back who can play all 3 downs in all 3 situations. It remains to be seen just how much of the load he will shoulder with Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar also in the backfield picture.
On the other side of the ball, things aren’t quite as optimistic. After being in the middle of the pack last year, the defense is facing 3 suspensions to players at key positions. DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are both sitting the first 4 games of the year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. For a team with an already weak pass rush, missing it’s two most talented pass rushers is about as bad as it gets.
Linebacker Rolando McClain is suspended for the same offense, but being a multiple offender, he is suspended for 10 games. It remains to be seen if the Cowboys even hang onto McClain as the word out of Valley Ranch is that they are fed up with his off-the-field issues and only Jerry Jones is keeping him there at the moment.
When Jason Garrett constantly preaches having the “right type of guys,” it’s a direct contradiction when they keep guys like McClain around. Remember, this is a player who skipped voluntary OTA’s and then showed up and failed another drug test. It’s time to cut your losses with a guy who clearly doesn’t put the team first.
This suspension puts added pressure on fellow linebacker Sean Lee not only to perform, but to be on the field for 16 games. That is something he has yet to do in his career. The defensive unit that many consider to be the weakest link on the field — the secondary — actually has some optimism coming into this season.
Firstly, they get their most talented cornerback Orlando Scandrick back after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. There are also some chatter out of camp that they have been seeing a vastly improved and more confident version of Morris Claiborne, the former 6th overall pick who has been nothing but a bust to this point. Finally, 2nd year safety Byron Jones is expected to take the next step in his development and many believe it won’t be long before his name is in the discussion with the upper echelon of players at the position.
If the team can stay healthy first and foremost and they can get back to the formula that led them to a 12-4 record and their first playoff win since 2009, then they have a good shot at winning a wide open NFC East division. Rod Marinelli will look to work his magic with that defense and the boys will use Elliott on the ground to control the clock and keep the defense off the field as much as possible to try and replicate 2014’s success.
If they can do that, along with having former MVP runner up Tony Romo healthy, this offense will be one of the best in the league and this team will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
(Dallas Cowboys Season Outlook)(Dallas Cowboys Season Outlook)(Dallas Cowboys Season Outlook)