In what will likely be a strange season, the Dallas Cowboys are poised to dominate.
Entering this past offseason, the Dallas Cowboys had a few goals to keep in mind. They had to establish new head coach Mike McCarthy and bring back quarterback Dak Prescott, which they’ve done, on the franchise tag. They also had to address their defense and special teams, which finished last season ranked 19th and 30th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The area that Dallas did not really have to spend much time improving was the offense (after finding a way to retain Prescott). Statistically, the Cowboys had the second-best offense in football a year ago, trailing only the trend-setting Baltimore Ravens. Well, they improved upon it anyways and now look scary good in 2020.
In what will be a strange season, the Cowboys are poised to dominate. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate the Dallas Cowboys in today’s NFL Sports Debate.
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Todd Salem on the Dallas Cowboys
What do we make of the Cowboys? Their heavily leaning roster imbalance didn’t stop Dallas from using its top draft pick on another offensive weapon: wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. And yet, I can’t fault the move. It was the smartest pick Dallas could’ve made in that spot of the draft.
We always get on teams for not taking the best player available in the draft. This was a by-the-book situation of a team drafting a player who was not a need simply because he was the best player on the board. And Lamb certainly appeared to be that after 16 other players had been drafted ahead of him.
So where does this leave the Cowboys overall? The team’s biggest offseason asset went toward a unit that didn’t really need him in the strictest of definitions. However, I think it was smart.
There were obviously loads of other moves made by the team this offseason. In fact, Dallas drafted defensive players in the next four rounds after the Lamb pick. Even if the defense doesn’t improve as much as the coaches would want, securing and improving upon an elite offensive unit is not the wrong strategy to have.
We just saw a team win the Super Bowl with an underwhelming defense that didn’t come into its own until late in the year. The Cowboys have a similar blueprint to work off of.
And this offense should be really, Kansas-City-level good. Outside of the new Prescott and Lamb connection, this offense utilizes Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, the high upside of Blake Jarwin, a perennially elite offensive line, and, oh yeah, Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the best running back in football. And just for good measure, management paid for one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league when it added the jettisoned Andy Dalton.
It is stupid to squish an entire offseason down into one decision, but the Lamb draft pick is a microcosm of everything else the team did. Many franchises would have turned to another route and drafted a real area of need. Dallas needed linebacker and pass-rush help. Big-play edge player K’Lavon Chaisson was selected just three picks later. Would he have been a more sensible pick? Maybe, but I don’t think he instead of Lamb makes Dallas a better football team than it is right now.
Dan Salem on the Dallas Cowboys
If one didn’t know any better, they might think you are a Dallas Cowboys fan rather than a supporter of their arch-rival New York Giants. Do I smell a reverse jinx in action? I refuse to credit Dallas with “keeping” Dak Prescott when in reality they failed to secure him longterm and are now paying the max for his services. Applying the franchise tag is shrewd business considering our ongoing pandemic, but it was not the plan all along.
Drafting Lamb was also not as transparent as you may believe. It was also an attempt to sweeten the deal for Prescott in the hopes he takes a hometown discount or at least signs on the dotted line. Lamb was the right pick but there were other considerations at play. I have a difficult time giving Dallas the benefit of the doubt — or even praising them — after the team has consistently fallen short of our lofty expectations.
Do I expect the Cowboys to be better this season? Absolutely, yes I do. McCarthy will improve upon an already solid offense that just added a tremendous rookie wide receiver. Simply switching coaches will do wonders for Dallas and the current NFL formula does not require elite defense.
Teams only need a defense that can do just enough, assuming an elite offense is on the other side of the ball. The Cowboys are in great shape this season and must capitalize on Prescott’s presence because his longterm tenure in Dallas is no guarantee.
One could argue that Dallas inadvertently set themselves up perfectly to perform under this pandemic as well. No preseason games means our September contests will have a preseason feel. September football has been very ugly in recent seasons, so now it appears we will get ugly football from September through October. Lots of injuries and inexperience.
These truths point at two things which both favor the Cowboys. Offense will dominate the early going, meaning our first two months, and teams with consistent star power have a leg up. Dallas has both. Watch out, because the Cowboys are once again favorites in the NFC… at least on paper.