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Dallas Cowboys True or False: June Edition

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Do the Dallas Cowboys have an offense that can’t be stopped? Michael Gallup certainly thinks so, but a lot will hinge on the play of quarterback Dak Prescott. He’s healthy again and apparently primed to enjoy a career year operating head coach Mike McCarthy’s pass-first scheme. But will McCarthy let Prescott keep the ball in the air with running back Ezekiel Elliott in peak condition and fully motivated to return to his best?

Nobody Will Stop the Dallas Offense?

True. The Cowboys were pretty damn explosive through the air in 2020, even without Prescott throwing the passes. Prescott was lost for the season after five games and Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garrett Gilbert all took turns under center. This uninspiring cadre of signal-callers was still able to help McCarthy’s offense put up 4,511 passing yards.

You can understand why Gallup sees few limits for the Cowboys’ offense in 2021:

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I think the sky’s the limit for us. We said that last year. Obviously, we had some injuries on the team and stuff like that. We’re already running out the gate right now, it’s just OTAs. I think we can explode. We can do what we need to do out here on the field and just kill it. I don’t see anybody stopping us.

Gallup’s a key member of a gifted stable of wide receivers also featuring Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. The latter caught 74 passes as a rookie but will be more productive in year two, especially with Prescott upright again. Cooper’s dealing with an ankle injury that could cost him the start of training camp, but he’s still Prescott’s go-to target, the field-stretcher defenses fear.

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It will be up to Prescott to prove he can spread the passes around, including to running backs Elliott and Tony Pollard. The quarterback went through two surgeries to repair a fractured ankle, but Prescott will have his best season yet if he’s allowed to stand in the pocket and share the wealth.

Is Tyler Biadasz Ready to Replace Travis Frederick?

False. Patching up the middle of Prescott’s offensive line remains a priority for the Cowboys this offseason. The job’s fallen to Biadasz, and the second-year center has been earning lofty praise during OTAs. Right tackle La’el Collins even went as far as noting similarities between Biadasz and Travis Frederick: “He reminds me a lot of Trav (Frederick). He’s got a lot of Travis in him. He’s great to see because we all know how great Travis was.”

The Dallas offensive line hasn’t been the same since Frederick retired before last season due to suffering from Guillain-Barré syndrome. Frederick’s size, roughhouse style, and intelligence helped him become the fulcrum of a stout O-line able to beat up defenses. It’s a stretch to think Biadasz will be as effective, even though having Zack Martin back at guard will help the interior of the Dallas front five reassert itself. Nonetheless, Prescott could be left wishing McCarthy and Jerry Jones had gotten him a more experienced and skilled pivotman this offseason.

Will Elliott Dominate in 2021?

True. If minicamp is anything to go by, the NFL’s best running back is primed to dominate again after a down year in 2020. Prescott has waxed lyrical about how good Elliott has looked during offseason workouts:

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Zeke looks great. He’s in the best shape of his life — looking fast. Everybody’s seen the clips of him working out independently with his running back coach. His cuts, just how explosive he is.

There’s no other runner who combines raw power, pure speed, and fluid grace the way Elliott can when he’s on song. He wasn’t on it too often last season, compiling 6.5 yards per attempt, the lowest average of his career. Elliott also failed to crack 1,000 yards rushing for just the second time in five seasons.

That will change this year with Prescott back to get defenses thinking pass at least half the time. One thing’s certain, Elliott won’t see as many eight-man fronts this term. He’ll also benefit from the improved health of his offensive line, with Collins, Martin, and left tackle Tyron Smith all free from injuries. As long as McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore remember to call Elliott’s number often enough, 21 should be the favorite for the league’s rushing crown.

Keanu Neal Will Make the Cowboys Better at Linebacker?

False. Neal is pumped about playing linebacker more often in Dallas, but the former safety won’t make the Cowboys better at the position. Converting a defensive back, even one as physical as Neal, to linebacker is a bold move by defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. He coached Neal with the Atlanta Falcons, and Quinn is counting on Neal and first-round draft pick Micah Parsons to improve linebacker play in Dallas.

The Cowboys have been busy trying to pave the way for life after Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Neal and Parsons are just two of the new faces at the position, along with fourth-round pick Jabril Cox. It’s a young group but there’s no guarantee they’ll be any better than peak Smith and Vander Esch.

Injuries have ravaged their talents, and both struggled mightily in 2020. The thing is every member of the Dallas defense played off the boil last season. Smith and Vander Esch look set to be playing on new teams in 2022, so both could play up for their next contracts. That’s something Quinn shouldn’t ignore or else the Cowboys might be giving up on Smith and Vander Esch too soon.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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