Dallas Cowboys 2020 Team Previewby Jayton Washington August 31, 2020 0 comments
A hot start to the 2019 season winning their first three games amid Super Bowl conversations, quickly spiraled downward after only winning five more games throughout the season, to end yet another depressing season under former head coach, Jason Garrett. While the Dallas Cowboys struggled, so did the entire NFC East, giving hopes that the Cowboys could earn another playoff spot. It was within the Cowboys control until they lost to Philadelphia in week 16, allowing the Eagles to gain the top seed in their division and crushing any playoff hopes for Dallas. The team completed their collapsing season at 8-8 and finished second in the NFC East.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team previews.
After another promising season that fell in the dumps, Jerry Jones finally had enough and cleaned out the majority of the coaching staff. However, with a class act from the organization, Garrett was not fired as his contract was never renewed. Garrett ended his tenure as the head coach with an 85-67 record during the regular season and 2-3 in the playoffs. He led the team to three NFC East titles but was never able to brainstorm his way deep into a Super Bowl contention team.
After a year away from the game, the Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy to lead the franchise’s coaching staff. McCarthy had the power to hire anyone he wanted, but he chose to keep offensive coordinator Kellen Moore since he basically improved the offense from worst to first in just a single season. Mike Nolan will be the new defensive coordinator. The special teams’ coach has a new face as well as John “Bones” Fassel, who has a very outgoing personality will turn the dragging special teams around. Jim Tomsula is the new defensive line coach. Quarterback, Dak Prescott has a new coach, Doug Nussmeier.
Joe Philbin is in charge of the offensive line and Skip Peete is the coach for Ezekiel Elliott and company. Lunda Wells will be the coach for tight ends as Blake Jarwin is looking to have a breakout season since Jason Witten is now a Las Vegas Raider. Maurice Linguist will be leading the young secondary team as Adam Henry has all the wide receivers under him. Coach McCarthy has hired a powerhouse staff. With the talent of the players on paper, short term success for this team is imminent.
Away from the football field, the Cowboys had the best offseason they could have asked for and it all started with a couple of jaw-dropping steals in the draft. Still hard to believe that Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb fell all the way to the Cowboys at the 17th pick of the first round that sent a shock heard around the world. The shock continued as the Cowboys drafted cornerback Trevon Diggs who was expected to be a first-round pick. The Cowboys continued their impressive draft by selecting Neville Gallimore, Reggie Robinson II, Bradlee Anae, and Ben DiNucci.
This offense could be electrifying and is going to create a lot of havoc for opposing defenses. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both had over 1,000 yards last year and drafting Lamb will spread defenses extremely thin. Elliott will still get his fair share of the cowbell and since the defense will be spread wide, Elliott has the potential to break loose on extended runs. Now that Witten is gone, Jarwin can truly unleash and split the defensive gaps and make a true impact as well. The Cowboys still have another card hidden in the deck with back-up Tony Pollard and the team is rumored to have played with both running backs on the field at the same time.
Travis Frederick retired during the offseason, but Joe Looney is expected to hold his own as the teams, center, which he did very well when Frederick was out when he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Prescott threw for 4,902 yards last season and coming up short on a long term deal, Prescott is having to prove himself again while playing under the franchise tag. The team acquired former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, during the offseason as a backup. If this team can perform on the field as great as they look on paper, it may be an unprecedented season for “America’s” team.
Missing half the season last year, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is healthy again and was promoted to calling the plays on the defensive field. The defense last season was not the same once Vander Esch went down with a neck injury and they are looking to rebound this season. The new defensive coordinator has had a busy offseason and the personnel on the defensive side of the ball are just as impressive as the offense. The team did take an early blow when Gerald McCoy went down with a ruptured quad ending his promising season.
However, the Cowboys did pick up four-time Pro-Bowler Everson Griffen from the Minnesota Vikings. Another exciting grab is the addition of Aldon Smith. Smith hasn’t played an NFL game is four years but he’s reported to be in better shape than he ever has been and shown minimal signs of rust. He may be the golden gem on the defensive front. DeMarcus Lawrence looks to continue his presence felt rushing the quarterback and hopes to increase his sack total next season.
Making headlines out of camp is the second-round pick, Diggs. He is the younger brother Stefon Diggs, of the Buffalo Bills. Trevon brings explosion as he has a natural eye to go for the ball and has tremendous upside to cause turn-overs or pass break-ups. The Cowboys were in every conversation related to a notable safety that was available like Jamaal Adams and more recently, Earl Thomas. The team did transition Robinson from cornerback to safety as of late to compete with Darian Thompson and Xavier Woods. he team is looking to keep improving defensively and under Nolan, a spark is all they need to get this team deep into playoff contention.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
It’s not a secret, Dalton did not come to the Cowboys to replace Prescott. Prescott is the leader of this team, make no mistake about it. However, Dalton is a solid backup in case Prescott goes down. Prescott probably should have missed a couple of games late last season due to injury, but his toughness and competitiveness kept him in the game.
This is more than likely a stepping stone for Dalton to sit back a season and then move on next season with another team to re-start his career. Prescott and company are still looking for a long term deal and Prescott will need to prove himself yet once again to get the Cowboys a little closer to the negotiating table.
Elliott will carry the bulk of the load again and is expecting to touch the ball at least 250 times again this season. Elliott missed all of last year’s preseason camp due to a holdout for a long term contract. He did agree to a six-year contract worth 90 million dollars. He will be striving to re-gain the rushing title, even though it may be difficult with the triple threat the Cowboys have at the wide receiver position and the team may look to pass first and run the ball second.
Backup, Pollard, will come in the give Elliott a breather but also anticipate him to play a bit more as receiving the ball through the air in the backfield as the team will get innovative and create plays with both running backs on the field at the same time. Dowdle will get some time in at the full back spot since Jamize Olawale opted out for the season.
Is it possible the Cowboys have three, 1,000-yard receiver’s this year, a feat that hasn’t been done since 2008? While it’s still a bit early to give this triple threat a nickname, we will see how the season goes before making that statement. Wilson and Brown are locks as backups and it may be a bit pre-mature to place Smith on the team. However, I think with his athletic potential and his capabilities on special teams, I think he will earn a spot on the 53 man roster.
While Jarwin is looking to have a break-out season, there still is a slight concern on how he can handle himself as a lead blocker. No doubt he worked hard on that during the offseason and throughout camp this year, but it’s something to keep an eye on. While he does solidify his starting role, Bell and Schultz could see limited routes as they will be on the field for blocking purposes. Jarwin’s strength on stretching the field and great hands, he’s another threat that defenses will have to figure out how to stop.
The Cowboys have had one of the best offensive lines for the last half-decade and this year is no different. Everyone on this list is a lock, barring any injury. The Cowboys will look to next year’s first-round draft to start rebuilding the offensive tackle position to add to Biadasz from this year’s draft. This line has performed well on moving the scrimmage forward on running plays and has proven to prevent Prescott from getting hit on passing plays. The key position to watch is the center position. Looney is expected to start, but any flaws could see Williams getting the nod during the season. Although Looney is proving himself to be a leader on the team.
Crawford is coming off another injury and missed the end of last season. At one point, it was unknown if he would even return, but he has emerged as a starter for this defensive front. Anxious to see Poe on the line, a former number 11 overall pick, to add pressure to stop the run. Woods is a hidden star and would be a starter on any other team, but the Cowboys locked him in and didn’t allow any other teams to reach out to him. Smart move by the Cowboys, but Woods didn’t get a fair contract offer and is playing for far less than what he deserves.
With the loss of last year’s sack leader, Robert Quinn, the team still got an upgrade in acquiring Griffen and Smith. Fans are patiently waiting to see what Smith does to prove himself as he is entered back into the league. Lawrence saw a lot of double teams last season, but with Griffen and Smith on the other end, look for Lawrence to regain the team’s sack leader. Armstrong and rookie, Anae, will provide solid depth from the bench and will get their fair share of playing time.
Vander Esch was moved to the Mike linebacker and is the first significant change under new defensive coordinator, Nolan. This move plays to Vander Esch’s and Smith’s strengths as a player as opposed to the former coach’s strength. The Cowboys were a different defense when Vander Esch and Smith were on the field at the same time. When Vander Esch was injured last season, the defense never really gelled. They had trouble filling the hole that Vander Esch could cover. Likely, Lee’s last season as a football player with injury always a concern. He still makes epic plays when the game is on the line.
Don’t sleep on Awuzie just yet, this may be his best year yet. Rookie, Diggs may hurdle Lewis for the starting role since he’s making a lot of noise throughout camp as Lewis is nursing another injury. Brown will also get plenty of playing time. He is a natural at making defensive plays while the ball is in the air. Goodwin won’t see much time on the defensive side of the ball but he’s a solid lock-in on special teams.
If the Cowboys have a weak spot on the roster, it’s the safety position. Fans have been begging for a safety like Adams or the available Thomas. But the coaches and the owner seem to be content on who they currently have. Thompson and Woods will split the time. Robinson recently made the transition from corner to safety, so only time will tell how that plays out. Wilson is a sleeper. He keeps earning a spot on the roster but has just never been able to see enough game time to elevate his status. Surprised Haha Clinton-Dix doesn’t make the list? He’s been on a decline and doesn’t clear the final round of cuts.
The Cowboys are hoping to have a sure kicker with Zeurlin, since Dan Bailey. The team released Brett Maher, too late to be honest. Missed field goals last year kept the Cowboys out of contention and killed any positive momentum they had. The team looks to improve dramatically this season with a new kicker in line.
With a new coaching staff and a remarkable offseason, the Cowboys are in dire need to win their sixth Super Bowl. With all the playmakers on this team, the offense could be a high-flying, high scoring offense. On the flip side, the defense could score multiple games on their own to help elevate this team to a top-seeded team. It will also be very intriguing to see how McCarthy utilizes his new analytics team. This team has needed a fresh start for a while now, and 2020 may be the ticket to get the new dynasty on a roll.
Season Prediction: 12-4, NFC East Champions and make it the NFC Division game.
Check us out on our socials:
Follow Jayton Washington on Twitter @Jayton_PTSports
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images