It’s clear that the Cowboys are doing everything in their power to make sure their offense fits Dak Prescott like a glove. In just over a year after Tony Romo retired, other stalwarts like Dez Bryant have been released while Jason Witten mulls retirement. Either way, the Cowboys are moving on with the “Dak-friendly” plan and should feel confident after what they’ve accomplished in just the last four months. Let’s review.
It all starts up front
The struggles of last season may have been mostly due to Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension but they were only magnified by problems on the offensive line. The Chaz Green experiment was an absolute failure and may have ruined him for good. Jonathan Cooper played decently at guard but left for more money in free agency after the Cowboys made no real move to re-sign him. The Cowboys realize that running the football behind their vaunted offensive line makes the entire offense work like magic. With three moves, the Cowboys took huge steps in re-establishing their dominance.
- Signing Cameron Fleming - This was a very good move to find a better backup tackle as neither Green nor Byron Bell were instilling any confidence. Sure, they paid him more money, but you get what you pay for and Dallas got a starting caliber tackle as their insurance policy.
- Drafting Connor Williams - No offense to the free agent acquisition of Marcus Martin but the Cowboys needed to settle things at left guard. Williams hasn’t officially earned the job yet, but getting him at 50 was extremely valuable as many had him gone in the first round. With his addition, the Cowboys are coming back to reclaim the title of best line in the business.
- Drafting Bo Scarborough - In this offense, it’s the Ezekiel Elliott show but behind him you have Rod Smith, a powerful runner with great agility. With the addition of Scarborough, this rushing attack is what nightmares are made of. He’s a punishing runner that can work over a defense and close them out. He reminds you of another running back the Cowboys liked a few years ago in Derrick Henry. They needed depth with only two runners on the roster, Scarborough was a great addition.
Reset at receiver
Though a lot of folks were upset with the release of Dez Bryant, his production would suggest it was the right move. He might have led this receiving corps in 2017 but he hasn’t been a true number one receiver since 2014. Dallas simply couldn’t pay that price tag in hopes he could make a roaring comeback. He wasn’t the only disappointment, every receiver took massive steps back, which opened the door for a reset.
- Signing Allen Hurns - Two seasons ago, Hurns was the breakout star in Jacksonville but they added more talent and he was lost in the shuffle. When he was released, the Cowboys pounced seeing a young playmaker needing a restart. He will need to get past his recent durability issues (played 21 of 32 games past two seasons) but was given a prove-it deal.
- Drafting Michael Gallup - In the third round, the Cowboys were able to take advantage of a deep receiving class. He’s got NFL ready-made separation ability and is an incredible talent when it comes to making plays after the catch. Gallup is a volume receiver, catching 100 balls for 1,413 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
- Trading for Tavon Austin - (Yes, he might end up being more of a RB, but we’re including him for now). He certainly didn’t have the career he wanted to with the Rams but he has a skill-set that this offense wants and that’s speed. He’s a deceptive player that is able to make backbreaking plays with the ball in space. The Cowboys would not be trading for this player without a plan in place, they seem him as a backfield threat more reliable than Lucky Whitehead and more durable than Lance Dunbar. With his kick return abilities, they even felt good enough to trade last year’s fourth-round pick, Ryan Switzer, away for defensive tackle help.
- Best of the rest- By signing Deonte Thompson, they brought in a veteran with great deep speed to make plays downfield and can embarrass defenses. At worst, he’s an adequate replacement for Brice Butler. Drafting Cedrick Wilson was about taking another receiver to add competition on the roster. Wilson has the measurables and a ton of upside to be even better at the next level.
- Holdovers- If you’re Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, or Noah Brown, you’ve just been served notice. Beasley was completely taken out of games last year by opposing defenses and must bounce back. Williams signed an extension only to produce next to nothing as the WR2. Noah Brown has been working hard this offseason and has some ‘X’ qualities but must take a giant step forward in year two. Anyone of these guys must be feeling nervous after their entire room just got flipped, including a change at their position coach.
- Drafting TE Dalton Schultz - Dallas didn’t force drafting a tight end, no matter what the Eagles need to say to feel good about giving up draft capital to get Dallas Goedert. The Cowboys wanted Connor Williams at that spot and got him. What they did do was take a really nice fit in the fourth round, as Schultz is an inline player that is familiar with the type of concepts the Cowboys run. If Witten hangs them up, the Cowboys are content to see what they have in their youth.
- Drafting QB Mike White - Dallas wanted a developmental quarterback but it’s rather surprising that White was there for them in the fifth. The Cowboys will be able to bring him along in hopes he can compete with Cooper Rush. White was considered a third-rounder so the value is certainly on the Cowboys' side for a QB3.
All in all, the Cowboys were looking to drastically improve their offense but stuck to their fundamentals. Without a powerful rushing attack, none of what the Cowboys did at other positions would have meant much. They can feel comfortable knowing that by fortifying their strengths, it opens up the door for this battle royal at wide receiver and will allow the quarterback to grow. The offense will look remarkably different than in years past but the foundation remains the same.