Offense has been the major theme of the 2020 Cowboys offseason. From hiring Mike McCarthy as head coach, to re-signing Amari Cooper in free agency, to adding CeeDee Lamb through the draft, to all of the Dak Prescott contract speculation, everybody surrounding America’s Team is talking offense.
That side of the ball has large expectations to live up to — and those will only rise once Prescott receives his new contract. Kellen Moore enters his second season as offensive coordinator, Ezekiel Elliott is in year two of his hefty contract extension, and the trio of Cooper, Lamb, and Michael Gallup compares very favorably on paper when looking at wide receiver trios across the league.
There are some questions regarding the other side of the ball. Mike Nolan’s unit will be without Byron Jones and Robert Quinn, but the team added the likes of Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and Trevon Diggs this offseason. It was also reported on Wednesday that pass rusher Aldon Smith has been reinstated and is clear to join virtual team activities.
The reason for hope and optimism in regards to the upcoming season is in large part because of the plethora of talent on offense combined with a — hopefully — improved coaching staff across the board. Many are high on what Blake Jarwin will be able to do without the great Jason Witten sharing snaps, and Tony Pollard is another piece that has some potential.
All in all, the Cowboys are largely expected to compete for a playoff berth and a division crown in 2020. The Athletic has relased their most updated power rankings for all 32 teams. Dallas landed just outside the top-10.
11. Dallas Cowboys (End of regular-season ranking: 14)
It’s a slight climb since our last rankings, in which the Cowboys were No. 12 after free agency, after what was widely considered to be a very good draft by the Jones family. None of us could have imagined CeeDee Lamb falling into the Cowboys’ laps, and while wide receiver wasn’t a pressing need for the Cowboys, the reality is that it looks like their best chance to win this year is going to be through a loaded, high-scoring offense. And things are as optimistic as ever in Dallas.
To no surprise, the prevailing thought is that the Dallas offense will have to carry the team to wins. Relying on one side of the ball to win games in the NFL is tricky, but there is no denying how much talent this team has at its disposable when they have the ball.
Where does the rest of the NFC East stack up in these rankings?
The NFC East is seen to be a two-team race between Dallas and Philadelphia, and that is no different in these rankings. The defending division champions Eagles land the highest on the list:
7. Philadelphia Eagles (End of regular-season ranking: 12)
It’s been more than three weeks and we’re still thinking about the selection of Jalen Hurts in the second round (and this excellent film breakdown by Ted Nguyen helps give a glimpse into how the Eagles could use him). The question we’re trying to answer, though, is after free agency and the draft, are the Eagles better than the Cowboys? Our panel still seems to think so.
Our old friend Jason Garrett and the New York Giants land towards the very bottom of the rankings. It will be interesting to see how the Joe Judge and Garrett pairing will fare in year one of the Judge era.
30. New York Giants (End of regular-season ranking: 29)
In a move that should have surprised no one, the Giants took an offensive tackle, Andrew Thomas, with their first-round pick. It’s a classic Dave Gettleman move, but one the Giants needed to make as they build around Daniel Jones. What does it mean for Nate Solder? Well, that’s a question for another day. (One other question that’s been bothering us since the draft: Why couldn’t Joe Judge have brought his dog Abby with him to his apartment for the draft?)
Meanwhile, Washington added Chase Young to their already talented front seven, but that did not move the needle in these rankings.
31. Washington Redskins (End of regular-season ranking: 30)
Washington bookended its draft with a pair of edge rushers: Chase Young, the consensus best defensive player in the class, at No. 2 and seventh-rounder James Smith-Williams. You probably know plenty about Young by now, so we’re going to recommend taking a moment to get to know Smith-Williams through this story by The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker about his work as the NFL’s first “Set the Expectation” ambassador.