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Three Reasons To Be Excited About The Cowboys 2016 Season

It's not often that you find yourself relishing in excitement after just two preseason games, but the Cowboys have flashed some great football over the last two weeks. Are you excited? Here are three reasons you should be.

NFL: Preseason-Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With two preseason games completed, the excitement level is rising. The Cowboys have won one and lost one, but have come out of each of them feeling like winners. This is largely a result of the early success of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, but there are other good things going on, too. Here are three reasons to be excited about the upcoming season.

All the offensive tools are there

While fans across the nation have be in awe of the performance of backup sensation Dak Prescott, the coaching staff is cruising along like this was all part of the plan. This team has reiterated on several occasions that they are content with the quarterbacks they have. Even when one of those hopeful candidates went down with an injury, they remained calm and didn’t go out and make some hasty signing.

Why is that?

Is it because they knew Dak would be this good? I hardly think so. Sure, they believed he could be an asset to the team, but the confidence stems more from what the offense can do for these young quarterbacks. The Cowboys have made a strong commitment in putting together a support system that can beat you several ways. One of the most encouraging things about Prescott’s early success is how much it has been spread out all across the offense. For example:

  • The running game looks outstanding. And this is happening without Ezekiel Elliott stepping on the field yet.
  • Dez Bryant is a matchup nightmare. He’s beating defenders on the routes and he’s beating them when he goes up for the ball.
  • Jason Witten remains a safe and reliable option.
  • Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams are great complement receivers.
  • Brice Butler is even living up to his potential and adding another deep threat to the team.

If the Cowboys do have to turn to Dak, Scott Linehan has already demonstrated that he knows how to utilize his strengths. He’s a can stretch the field deep, he’s effective in the screen game, and if he has no open receivers – he can take off running. Prescott will certainly have his moments, but no longer are the days where a Romo injury automatically meant crumbling up the season and throwing it in the waste basket. This kid gives the offense a real chance.

Return of the opportunistic defense

The Cowboys haven’t made great strides improving the defense, but make no mistake about – they’re getting better. It’s subtle, but it’s working. I could preach to you about how the offense will put points of the board that will allow the defense to play downhill. We saw something similar in 2014. The Cowboys were taking the ball away left and right. But that’s not the sole reasoning for a better defensive showing. The players still have to make the plays.

The Cowboys need to get their opponents in passing situations. Having an offense that puts points on the board is helpful, but the defense needs to do their part as well. And it all starts with stopping the run. Just like what makes them successful on offense, winning the run battle will be the key to success on the defensive side of the ball as well. The team has shown vulnerability in this area at times over the last few years.

Clearly, the Cowboys offense helped out tremendously in 2014, but they can bolster their efficiency another way – improving the interior line. This unit had made the biggest improvement of any other position group when it comes to strengthening their depth. There have been some motley characters on this unit in recent years, even to the point of counting on Nick Hayden to be a starter. Those days are over. Tyrone Crawford, Terrell McClain, and Cedric Thornton offer up a great trio of interior strength. And that doesn’t even include the team’s third-round draft choice, Maliek Collins, or sneaky-good signing Shaneil Jenkins who could fill out the bottom of the depth chart.

If the Cowboys can keep creating pass rushing situations, players like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving will get chances to tee off on quarterbacks. The results will be rewarding.

McFadden isn’t as good as people think

That doesn’t seem like a reason to be excited, but hear me out. Just because you lead the team in rushing doesn’t make you a keeper on this Cowboys offense. Just ask DeMarco Murray. The team has a good understanding of why the running game is so successful and they have proven it year after year. Darren McFadden had a good season last year, but he isn’t as talented as the players that usually finish fourth in the league in rushing. He’s okay, but he’s not great.

Alfred Morris is demonstrating what a better running back can do. Similar to McFadden before him, Morris was labeled as "washed up" due to his career low 751 yards and paltry 3.7 yards per carry last year.

Does he looked wasted up to you?

He rushed 13 times for 89 yards for an impressive 6.5 yards per carry, which included a 15-yard touchdown. And he would have had another touchdown had it not been for an illegal formation penalty, which had no bearing on his run.

And as good as Morris is, he’s not good enough to be taking snaps from soon-to-be star RB sensation, Ezekiel Elliott. Morris will have a role on the team and will propel himself into elite relevance again should something happen to Elliott, but right now – he’s a "just in case" guy who will give Zeke periodic breathers. Having said that, it is clear the Cowboys are in great shape at the backup running back position. And there is just no place for McFadden on this team. And just like the move to part ways with DeMarco, it comes down to money. The Cowboys will save $2 million by cutting him loose. He’s a decent player, but it would take a run of injuries for him to come close to having that type of value to the team.

Regardless of how that plays out, one thing is for sure - the Cowboys running game is going to be phenomenal.

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