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Kicking it off: The good, the bad and the ugly heading into the Cowboys season opener

A weekly segment for Cowboys Nation covering the upsides, downsides and the pieces that need to change

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly will be a weekly segment on Blogging The Boys this season. Our aim is to highlight and challenge why the Cowboys are doing what they are doing, and how the team is faring this season. Some weeks will be dominated by the upcoming matchup while others will focus on a coaches decision or a particular play that altered the outcome of the game. Without further ado, here we go!

The Good

What is better than the start of football season? Well, here we are, how ‘bout dem Cowboys?! The front office had the challenging task to trim the roster to 53 over the weekend. There has been a clear shift in mentality as the decision-makers are focusing on today’s talent and productivity, as opposed to prior performance or contracts. Dallas made an early decisive decision by letting Cedric Thornton go because of his lackluster play last season, regardless of the $3 million they owed him this season. This has been a significant change compared to prior seasons where the front office would hang onto struggling players for longer periods of time. This theme was also highlighted by Dallas’s decision to keep Cooper Rush as a backup quarterback and releasing Kellen Moore, despite Moore’s long tenure with the team. Moore is back in some capacity, but keeping Rush signals a change in philosophy has shaped the Dallas Cowboys for success this season.

The Bad

Rico Gathers entered this offseason with a lot to prove as he aimed to finally make an impact at the tight end position. Over the last few seasons, James Hanna and Geoff Swaim have been serviceable, but they are just backups because they have been injured or have proven to be less two-dimensional than necessary for many of the Cowboys schemes. In stepped Rico Gathers this offseason. He played remarkably well until he was sidelined with a concussion that eventually placed him on the Injured Reserve list. The Cowboys will be out of his services for at least the first eight games, depending on how he progresses through the protocol. This will inevitably impede Gathers in continuing his growth and quest to become the primary backup tight end behind Jason Witten.

In addition, a slew of hamstring injuries has held back the Cowboys rookie secondary players from progressing in training camp and in preseason games. The team would have loved to have a clearer picture of what they got back there, but will have to wait until the season to test them out.

The Ugly

The Cowboys have suffered some off the field problems that are clouding their future. Most prominent is the Ezekiel Elliott situation, something that is being worked through although he will play in Week 1. The Cowboys have also lost David Irving for four games, Damontre Moore was suspended for two. Nolan Carroll was busted for DUI and Damien Wilson still faces an uncertain future after his road rage/parking lot incident. The Cowboys have a talented roster, but keeping some of the players on the field is becoming an issue.

Keep coming back for more segments every week! Over the course of the season, we hope to cover the upsides, downsides and the pieces that could get better or should have already gotten better for our Dallas Cowboys.