We are all ready for the Dallas Cowboys to start their season against the New York Giants. That includes our own @LifeInCharts and @TomRyleBTB. As you might suspect, they have some thoughts about what is coming.
Tom Ryle: In trying to figure out what might be the biggest issue for the Cowboys, I have run into a strange problem. I just don’t see anything that has me seriously concerned. Some elements are still to be proven, but things just look better than I can remember in, well, a couple of decades. I guess this itself might be the one big thing to watch out for. We may be getting a bit too overconfident in this team.
Michael Strawn: One thing I’ve never been accused of is being overly optimistic... but I share your feelings. This team has both high-end talent and more depth at every position than any time I can remember since early 90’s. The offense looks to have talent everywhere except maybe TE. The OL has depth for when the inevitable injuries pop up. And of course there’s the Kellen Moore factor. All make me very optimistic about that unit.
But it’s the defense that has me most excited. You have, by far, the deepest, most-talented DL we’ve seen in decades. The front seven is completed with two hugely talented youngsters just reaching their potential. And the secondary is young but experienced and has more depth than in the past. I’ll be shocked if this isn’t a top-10 units, surprised if it isn’t a top-5 and wouldn’t be at all surprised if it emerges as an elite, top-of-the-league group.
So I completely agree...the only thing than scares me is how optimistic I am about this group.
Tom: Another thing about the defense that makes me feel good is that they were taking the ball away on a regular basis in preseason, getting eleven interceptions and fumbles recovered in total. Of course, that is just preseason, but it certainly is an encouraging sign.
However, while I really look forward to seeing some Purging going on, I have to say I am most anticipating the advent of the Moore era on offense. After the frustrations of last year, I am so hopeful that Kellen is going to bring some cutting edge creativity and a good bit of unpredictability. At the same time, that is the one real worry I have. What if he is not exactly what we hoped for, or if he has a lot of rookie struggles? So much hinges on his game plans and play calling. And given the talent you cited on offense, it would be a crying shame to not get the most out of them.
I also have a little worry about Jason Garrett letting Moore do his own thing. I am not terribly pessimistic that Garrett is going to impose some unneeded conservatism, but it also falls into the category of something we simply won’t know until we see it all play out.
Michael: Yeah, I think the question marks are obvious - and huge. Specifically Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore and Jason Garret. Dak is simply going to have to be better; not a lot better but a little bit better for this team to fulfill its potential. Four thousand yards, 28 total touchdowns and a rating of 95+ would make this team a Super Bowl contender. Him reaching those numbers depends on Moore being all we hope he is. There is a possibility that by week six we’re calling for Garrett to start calling the plays again (in which case this is probably a very disappointing season). And can Garrett finally get better at in-game coaching? He’s good to very good at most other aspects...but his in-game decision-making has been suspect (though better recently than in his early years).
Tom: Well, I will differ with you a bit on Dak, because I think he is poised to have his best season. All the reports out of camp were that he was better than he’d ever been during practices, and he really didn’t show any issues during the preseason games. And he says that about the time Amari Cooper rode in on his white horse to save the season last year, he started seeing the field better and processing faster. That fits right in with where he is in his career. Many quarterbacks don’t really hit their stride until the fourth season or so. Given how good he was at times in the first three, if he has taken the next step and can add consistency, he is not going to be the problem - if there is one.
Michael: Well, assuming all those things are true, then Dak should have no problem reaching those milestones, eh? The reports and pre-season performance are good but I’ll remind everyone we heard those exact same things throughout 2017 - Dak looks much better, accuracy is razor sharp, seeing the field better, processing everything faster. I just don’t put a lot of stock in such reviews. But I’m still optimistic Dak is going to go from being one of the the top 12-15 QBs to one of the top 6-10. The pieces are all there. If he’s unable to make that jump with all the pieces, then we’ll be having a different conversation about his future, won’t we?
But that’s looking at it as half empty, I’m really, really excited about this season. Five years ago this team was in cap hell, had jettisoned off DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher and everyone thought the team would flounder. Since then they’ve won three division titles, advanced to the final eight three times, compiled one of the better records in the league and did so while transitioning from a Ring of Honor QB and creating a flexible cap situation that allows them to retain the young talent on the roster.
That’s a reflection of an organization that knows what they’re doing, has a plan and is methodically working it. The only question is if the team can make that next jump to a deep and satisfying playoff run.
Tom: We certainly are more in agreement than differing, and 100 percent agree about the excitement. Sunday, we find out just how real it all is when the team takes the field.