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Don’t fool us again, Cowboys

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We really want the Cowboys new-look offense to not be a mirage.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
This is the key relationship.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

A certain amount of skepticism, even cynicism, is rather normal for fans of the Dallas Cowboys. We have, after all, been sold a bill of goods before. Rob Ryan was brought in to take the defense to the next step. The staff assured us that Quincy, or Chad, or Vinny, or Drew, or the other Drew, or Brandon was capable of leading this team to the playoffs. Oh, and Greg, or Rolando, or David was going to be a terror on defense. And we just went through the entire wide-receiver-by-committee debacle.

So it is no surprise that some are still not comfortably sold on the changes that Kellen Moore is now expected to bring to the offense, no matter how badly they want it to be real.

But . . .

Since the OTAs, the subtle and not-so-subtle indications continue to roll in that this time it may be real.

The Cowboys faced a real challenge when they decided to move on from Scott Linehan. There were obvious issues with his play design and situational calls. Still, his offense got the team to the divisional round of the playoffs and the failure to advance to the conference championship was as much on the defense’s inability to stop the run as the offense’s struggles. They needed to make crucial adjustments while keeping the working elements of the scheme and building on the talent they have.

The sequencing of plays and situational calls still are just a potential area for the team to do better, but those shifts and motions are fairly convincing evidence that they are going to be a big part of Moore’s MO. This is the part of camp where the installation, begun in OTAs, is still continuing, and may be the biggest part of the first two, non-padded days. We are seeing the plan forming before our eyes.

Of course, the plan can be great, but all is for naught if the personnel are not up to the task. Clearly, the most important player for all this is the quarterback. We need to see more accuracy and better processing from Dak Prescott to make it work.

So, if you missed it, check this out.

A couple of the biggest criticisms of Prescott have been his perceived lack of ability to throw deep and accuracy issues. That was just one rep, but he certainly checked both those boxes off on that throw.

And as for the processing part of things, the team at least seems to think he has taken a big step forward. Bryan Broaddus had this in his day 1 observations at DallasCowboys.com.

There were several snaps where Dak Prescott completely turned his back to the defense off a play action fake and then was asked to relocate how the routes were developing all while reading along the way. To show you how far Prescott has come in his development, there was a time where they would not have asked him to play this way fearing it would confuse his read. But there is now a trust that he can consistently execute that without any issues.

If that is true and the team is correct, then the chances for success are up. Way up. The skill positions around Prescott are unquestionably better than they were to start last season (assuming the Ezekiel Elliott situation is successfully resolved). And that offensive line looks a lot better with the return of Travis Frederick.

Gave me chills, honestly.

So all the pieces appear to be in place, and the new elements of the offensive plan are being incorporated. This time, the Cowboys may be delivering on their promises.

To be fair, they have not always been wrong lately. Truthfully, there have a lot more hits than misses, including the past several drafts, this year’s impressive free agency/trade moves, led by Randall Cobb and Robert Quinn, and last year’s trade to add Amari Cooper. Jason Witten was a bit of an unexpected bonus. And of course, they decided to go with Prescott as their franchise QB. He has led the team to two division titles in three years, and to their first playoff win in a while last January.

It is still the time of unbridled and, in many cases, unfounded optimism across the NFL. In Oxnard, however, there seems to be some real steak behind the sizzle.