Here are some Dallas Cowboys musings for your consideration.
The perfect season opener
There are some who have complained about the Cowboys having to go on the road for the Thursday night kickoff to the season to face the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Concerns abound about whether Dan Quinn will have his defense functioning correctly, how fully healed Dak Prescott and much of the offensive line will be after ending last year on IR, and how formidable the Bucs and the NFL’s own Dorian Gray, Tom Brady, looked in rolling to the Lombardi Trophy last year. Dallas is already almost a touchdown underdog with the betting world.
Looking at it another way, Dallas has nothing to lose and plenty to gain. If they are not fully up to speed and get beaten, well, that was what everyone expected. Should they emerge victorious, then everyone will take note. Basically, they can’t really fail to meet expectations, but can easily exceed them.
And before you get all concerned about starting the year 0-1 rather than 1-0, it is the longest NFL season in history. The Cowboys also play in what still looks to be one of the weakest divisions in the league, with the best quarterback.
Let’s just get our popcorn ready and enjoy the return of pro football.
No matter what people say, this is STILL America’s Team
The NFL makes a big deal out of announcing the season schedule. They claim the pre-determined matchups are the fairest way to try and give teams as equitable a schedule as possible. But let’s be real. They set up the actual dates and times for the games based on one and only one principle: Profits.
Profits, of course, are driven by ratings and attendance at the games. As the defending Super Bowl champions, the Buccaneers were rewarded with the opening game, and the side benefit of getting a long week before the second matchup. The Cowboys were chosen as the game they would play because they bring the biggest audience possible. Face it, this matchup is, from a fan’s standpoint, freakin’ awesome.
Dak’s first game back from his devastating injury. TB12 beginning his 22nd NFL season, lining up against some players who hadn’t even learned to walk when he first entered the league. The expected high-powered Dallas offense against that smothering Tampa defense. A defense that was little short of a train wreck last year trying to find its footing against Bruce Arians’ attack. While fans of both teams will be transfixed, it also has the advantage of having arguably the most hated team on one side and the most hated single player on the other.
Folks, that’s entertainment.
This may be the most intriguing offseason and camp in Cowboys history
The big story is that defense. Can anyone recall a year when so many starting positions were up for grabs? Right now, you can argue that both defensive tackle spots, both the nickel linebacker jobs, two starting corners, and one safety job are truly competitive. The camp battles should be fierce and entertaining.
Offense is also highly interesting, in a much more nerve-wracking way. There, the questions revolve around the already-mentioned players coming back from injury. We can name all eleven expected starters if those all go well, but there is a lot to watch in the depth positions there. On defense, several of the rookies and free agents added also have past health issues to be concerned about, so medical stuff will be key.
Just by virtue of having eleven draft picks, Dallas added a lot of potential talent. Add in some key free agents, and there will be a lot of new faces when the 53-man roster is determined.
What about the OTAs?
On top of everything else, we have the unique situation of the NFLPA calling for their players to boycott all voluntary activities. Many rosters around the league have signed on for that, but the Cowboys are notably not one. After the debacle of last year, this is a team that needs all the work they can get in. If most of the team does show up for the OTAs, starting just a couple of weeks from now, it could go a long way in giving them a head start over many of their opponents.
They may not, and the player’s organization is going to be trying to influence them to go along with the plan. It is just one more development to watch closely.
It may feel like the season opener is still a long time away, but we have plenty to study and speculate over before then. It is a year when things may not seem to drag as much.