The NFL season is upon us, whether COVID-19 likes it or not. So it is time to assess team prospects for the season, starting with the Dallas Cowboys season.
Since there are no NFL preseason games, we don’t get to eyeball the teams in game situations as they trim rosters. That makes NFL predictions a little tougher.
So we go forward with what we know about the Cowboys prospects, while they pare down the roster in training camp.
The Virus Factor
Let’s get this one out of the way. When it comes to the coronavirus, the state of Texas is one of the worst environments in the country.
The Cowboys got a warning of the threat earlier this summer when star running back Ezekiel Elliott tested positive for the virus and had to quarantine for a while. Elliott is OK, but the test was a good reality check for players.
Three Cowboys decided to opt out – cornerback Maurice Canady, fullback Jamize Olawale, and receiver Stephen Guidry. All three would have contributed to the Cowboys season but are not huge difference makers.
Still, the virus will be like an injury factor for all teams, and the Cowboys will have to pay attention to their Texas surroundings.
The Cowboys prospects for 2019 were tall, and their star players produced.
Quarterback Dak Prescott passed for 4,902 yards and tossed 30 touchdowns. Elliott rushed for 1,357 yards, and wideout Amari Cooper ran up 1,189 yards on 79 catches.
But they lost five close games, finished 8-8 and missed the post season. That got Coach Jason Garrett the boot.
The Cowboys hired former Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy to take over on the sidelines. McCarthy brought in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and promoted Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator.
Cowboys Prospects on Paper
This team looks much the same as last year’s, a high-powered offense with a
decent defense. But they made some off-season changes that make the Cowboys prospects better.
By all accounts, the team had a good draft, and they signed some players that will upgrade them in several areas.
With an offensive line that lost a leader in Travis Frederick, there is still no reason Dallas can’t repeat their offensive performance of last year.
The issue is more on the defensive side, with a unit that ranked 19th in the league last season and lost some key elements. The replacements are yet to be proven.
Though they are juggling roles, the corps of linebackers is the strength of the unit. Leighton Vander Esch is reportedly healthy, and together with DeMarcus Lawrence and leading tackler Jaylon Smith make up a wrecking crew.
Up front the Cowboys lost their top sacker in Robert Quinn, but they added veterans Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to fill the void.
The defensive backfield has holes to fill. Cornerback Byron Jones and safety Jeff Heath are gone, and the team will have to rely on new safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and second-round pick Trevon Diggs to make up the loss. They will have to prove themselves as the season moves forward.
No NFL schedule is particularly easy, but the Cowpokes face non-division road games against the Rams, Seahawks, Vikings and Ravens. Not that fans will make a difference this year, but travel itself will not be simple because of COVID.
The two dates with their toughest divisional foe are at Philadelphia on Nov. 1 and at home on Dec. 27.
If they can split those six games and go 7-3 for the rest of the slate, the Cowboys season looks good.
With a new coaching setup, there will be some new looks on both sides of the ball that their opponents may not have seen. With good execution, the Cowboys prospects for turning the tables on some of those close games look good.
It is not too much to ask of the team to make post season and even the Super Bowl if they have momentum at the end of the year.