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Five reasons the Cowboys are more “Dak-Friendly” for 2018

How the Cowboys accomplished their goal of being “Dak-Friendly”.

Dallas Cowboys v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

It was one of the most overused and outplayed references of the offseason. How were the Cowboys going to become more “Dak-Friendly” in 2018? That meant, of course, how would the Cowboys build a winning team around quarterback Dak Prescott after the struggles of 2017?

Now that we’ve been through the offseason program, training camp, and preseason, we should have a better idea of that plan. So, here are the reasons to believe that the 2018 Dallas Cowboys will become more “Dak-Friendly”.

5.) Addition of speed on offense/ short passing game

Dak Prescott has a lot of critics that like to point out how he survives on the checkdown. Well, even Hall of Fame quarterbacks will tell you that it’s important to every quarterback’s success:

When the Cowboys put an emphasis on route running abilities in the receiving game, they helped Prescott tremendously become a better quarterback. A big part of that is getting more speed on their offense at different levels. Tavon Austin and Cole Beasley will be a huge part of the short passing game that will allow Dak Prescott to develop into a better quarterback. Lots of great NFL quarterbacks use the short passing game as a big contributor in the offense. Getting a quarterback into rhythm with short and intermediate passing is how you build momentum on an offensive drive.

Tavon Austin has game-breaking speed but he’s also proving to be a decent route runner, too. Cole Beasley is more quick than fast but his route running is excellent. Deonte Thompson adds speed deep down the field. If they want to have a successful passing offense, it’s going to come from getting the ball out quickly to their receivers and allowing their quickness to make the plays after the catch. The running backs are another example of how they can make plays after the catch. The addition of speed is great but it only matters when it comes from skilled route runners. The Cowboys have both in their passing repertoire now which makes the short passing game much more “Dak-Friendly”.

4.) Starless Wide Receiver group/competition for Dak’s trust

Another huge shot in the arm to the passing offense is not having any pressure from an established star receiver. Prescott was at his best as a rookie because he just spread the ball around to whoever was open, that should be helpful for him again in 2018. When you look at the roster, they don’t have that established presence at receiver. This may seem counter-intuitive, but Prescott not feeling like he has to feed specific receivers means he can function better in this offensive scheme,

Allen Hurns could be a guy that emerges but he’s trying to prove he can stay healthy and contribute. Michael Gallup will certainly get his time to shine and has shown to have built a rapport with the quarterback. Terrance Williams has a knack for making a play at the critical points of the game but he also has a history of making a few bad ones, too.

What you have to like about this group is that they will all be fighting for their place in this passing offense. Being the top receiver on this team is a little different because of how much is geared toward the running game. What Prescott needs more than ever are guys that are going to be in position when and where he needs them to be. Again, having skilled route runners will help in that department. Another plus is that Dak has a lot of receivers with differing skill sets at his disposal. There may not be a ton of star power but that doesn’t mean that guys won’t emerge, these are NFL players after all. Where was Adam Thielen before Case Keenum? Dak can and will create his own stars but for the time being, let them fight for his attention in the passing game.

3.) The Cowboys re-tooled offensive line/better depth than perception suggests

It’s a bummer that the Cowboys won’t have starting All-Pro center Travis Frederick for the near future, though there is some cautious optimism there. However, they still have two All-Pro’s at left tackle and guard. It seems as though people are forgetting that their two remaining All-Pros, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, just also happen to be two of the very best to ever play this game. The right tackle, La’el Collins, became famous as a rookie for his pancakes in the running game. Collins also took on a murderer’s row of edge rushers last year, battling as he was hobbling through practices down the stretch.

Connor Williams is a rookie but every single time we’ve seen a rookie mistake, we’ve seen other plays that show his potential. Williams is a fast learner and has that same nastiness that Ronald Leary had in this offense. Joe Looney has always been his jovial self but don’t confuse that with as a weakness. Looney is intelligent, strong, and has remade his body this offseason to be a factor when called upon.

There’s concerns about injuries to Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins but there’s health concerns about every lineman in the NFL. What makes this team more equipped to deal with it now is them recommitting to the quality of depth on their offensive line. Cameron Fleming has started plenty of games in this league and is world’s better than Chaz Green or Byron Bell last season. Kadeem Edwards had played well enough to earn a spot on this roster but good enough wasn’t what they envisioned. So, the Cowboys traded for Parker Ehringer and claimed Adam Redmond, two guys they believe make them better.

Look around the league at offensive line play and you will feel much better at where the Cowboys are compared to most teams.

2.) The Cowboys defense may be scary good

Quality defenses can help a quarterback immensely. Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Carson Wentz, and Case Keenum come to mind as benefactors of quality defenses. A quality defense can take teams really far but it also can take a ton of pressure off young quarterbacks. The Cowboys just may be on their way to having an elite defense.

You can talk about the safety position being in question but they can get by there with what they have. Start at defensive line and you not only have DeMarcus Lawrence, who established himself last year, but now add Randy Gregory’s abilities as the speed rusher. They also have tapped into some potential with Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong as the second wave of rushers. Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins are solid presences for the middle of that defense and can help keep the run contained. They won’t let linebacker be their downfall if Sean Lee goes down. Jaylon Smith is a star in the making but they are protected on the back end with Joe Thomas, Damien Wilson, Leighton Vander Esch and Justin March-Lillard.

In the secondary, they have Byron Jones, who has settled his nicely at cornerback with solid man-coverage skills. Chidobe Awuzie looks to be on every Cowboys’ writers shortlist to make his first Pro Bowl. The have two solid slot corners in Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis too. The defense could be scary good for the Cowboys which will be just about the most “Dak-Friendliest” thing to think of outside the most obvious that we’ve saved for number one.

1.) Ezekiel Elliott’s Revenge Tour

There is no black cloud of uncertainty following Ezekiel Elliott around in 2018. His presence will be felt and it affects everything. It also allows this team to do what they are best at and that’s controlling the ball. By controlling the ball, they also can control the pace of the game, and no team does it better than the Cowboys. He’s not just a great running back but he’s a threat every time the ball is in his hands.

Elliott puts the ball into the end zone and you can bet that he’s got major plans to do so again after missing six games last season. Elliott will be involved in all aspects of the offense but he helps the defense too. Elliott can grind opponents down which makes it much harder for team to keep up though four quarters of play. He’s simply Dak Prescott’s best friend and best weapon on the field.

Opposing defenses will likely stack the box because they don’t respect the Cowboys receivers. Well, that’s just going to allow for Dak Prescott to take advantage of one-on-one coverage in the passing game. Nothing the Cowboys offense does is better than Ezekiel Elliott running the football. Ezekiel Elliott is the guy through which everything else becomes possible for the Cowboys offense.

The Cowboys set out to make their team more friendly to their quarterback and that’s exactly what they accomplished.

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