NFL team preview: Are the Dallas Cowboys really the best team in a weak NFC East?
It's been a decade of falling short and disappointing fans for America's team. Are the Cowboys ready to take back the NFC East throne? Our team preview of the Dallas Cowboys.
What's the best word to describe the Dallas Cowboys franchise? Crazy? Ridiculous? Entertaining? Whatever the word is, all eyes are always on America's team. Whether it's showcasing their talents on Hard Knocks or Jerry Jones making headlines at his press conferences, the NFL world is always curious what Dallas' next move is.
The Cowboys enter this season with more questions than answers. How is Dak going to look coming off a grueling ankle injury? Is Dan Quinn going to turn this defense around? Is Mike McCarthy even qualified to be an NFL head coach in the year 2021? With all those questions, Cowboys fans are probably still optimistic about their team. When you have the best QB in a weak division, there's going to be hope. If we know anything about the Cowboys the past decade, when there are expectations, the 'Boys will most likely fall short.
Our season preview of the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas had a historically bad defense in 2020. They ranked at the bottom of the list for every major defensive category. The defense as a whole looked unprepared, led by long-time coach Mike Nolan. Too many plays that looked like this.
Dan Quinn steps in as the new defensive coordinator. He had success with Seattle, most famously being part of the Legion of Boom defense. The Cowboys are hoping he can bring a new identity to a defense that was severely lacking one last season.
It was obvious Jerry Jones wanted to fix their defense. In the draft, the Cowboys used their first six picks on defense. Most notably, Micah Parsons. The first-round pick out of Penn State will slide into the role Sean Lee played for so many years. Parsons will be paired with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith as the starting linebacking unit. If this unit can stay healthy, it will be solid.
Demarcus Lawrence is coming off back surgery and getting worked back slowly. The Cowboys' best pass rusher hasn't been particularly great the past two seasons, but many point to his back issue as to why he hasn't produced as much on the field. In the past two seasons, he has only combined for 11.5 sacks. The previous two before that, he registered double-digit sack seasons. A healthy Lawrence is key for this Dallas defense.
The secondary is still a major concern. The unit is young and is going to have some growing pains. I wouldn't be surprised to see this unit rank at the bottom of the league when all is said and done. I thought Trevon Diggs had a decent rookie season. He improved as the season went on and will likely be their number one corner. One player that I'm interested to see is Malik Hooker. He was a big prospect coming out of Ohio State, but injuries have plagued his NFL career. He has flashed at times during his career, but I want to see how he plays at 100%.
The Cowboys should have a top ten offense. On paper, they have everything you want. A three-down running back, explosive wide receivers, All-Pro offensive linemen, and a franchise QB. That should be enough to win a very weak NFC East, right?
As we saw last year, none of that matters if you can't stop anyone on defense. The Cowboys averaged an astonishing 36.2 points per game when Dak was on the field. They were 1-3 in their first four games before Dak went out early in week five against the Giants.
Speaking of Dak, how healthy is he going to be? He's already coming off a gruesome ankle injury. He's now dealing with a strain in his right shoulder. The Cowboys don't seem to worry about it and expect him to play in week one. Dak has about a week to get fully ready for the defending Super Bowl champs on opening night.
Every year we hear about a player that lost weight and is in the best shape of their life. Zeke comes into 2021 looking slimmer and faster, according to reports. I'm always concerned when players come back with a new body type. I remember when CC Sabathia lost a ton of weight, and he had his worst season as a pro. Hopefully, Diet Zeke looks like his old self again. If not, he needs to start eating that Texas BBQ and get Chunky Zeke back.
The trio of Cowboys receivers must be ecstatic to see Dak back after catching passes from Andy Dalton and Ben DiNucci. Amari Cooper looks to hold onto his WR1 status, but Ceedee Lamb is certainly challenging him to take the crown as top dog. Lamb and Cooper should be one of the best receiver duos in football. They also have Michael Gallup filling that third role.
Zack Martin and Tyron Smith return to the line after dealing with injuries last season. They might not be the same offensive line as they were a few years ago, but this unit is still really strong.
BEST VALUE FANTASY PLAYER
I feel like Michael Gallup has won this award the past three seasons. If Amari or Lamb goes down, he's the next guy up. With Cooper dealing with preseason injuries and Lamb being sent to the COVID list, we should see Gallup produce early and often.
TOTAL WIN PREDICTION
The Cowboys win total is currently set at 9.5. I'm going with the under. I don't like Mike McCarthy as a head coach, and there are still some concerns with that defense. In my opinion, they aren't even the best team in the NFC East. Sorry Cowboys fans, but I see another underachieving season in Dallas.
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