While there is hope that Dan Quinn and some new talent will improve the defense, it is generally accepted that the biggest factor in how well the Dallas Cowboys will do this year is the offense. It was devastated by injuries last year, which torpedoed the season. With key names like Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Zack Martin, Tyler Biadasz, and Dak Prescott all believed to be ready to go by the start of training camp and hopefully at 100%, there is growing hope for 2021. That is always the case at this time of year for the fan base, but there are also people outside the Cowboys bubble who see good things ahead.
Top five is good. And having your quarterback come in behind only Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers is also quite tasty. The use of the QBs to illustrate this is just recognition how that is the single most important position on any NFL team in this pass-focused era. While an argument can be made that Brady has become more of a manager or bus driver in the (seemingly endless) twilight of his career, no one will give much of an argument that Mahomes and Rodgers are absolutely superb on the field. Even Matt Stafford is a significant talent who most think was held back by his surroundings with the Detroit Lions.
It just seems great at first glance. Things that confirm your prior beliefs usually do, but there should be concerns. The Cowboys are often one of the most overhyped teams in the league, at least partly because their owner and general manager is one of the greatest promoters in the world. At times there even seems to be a bit of a con man in Jerry Jones. After all, it has been a quarter of a century since Dallas went to the promised land. Yet they are still the biggest draw for viewers in the league. There have been times he has convinced at least the team’s followers that they were a legitimate contender when events rapidly proved otherwise.
The health of the players mentioned above will be crucial to whether this is a valid take on the offense. Those linemen will be called upon to protect Prescott, and if he is able to stay upright and healthy, he is surrounded by some very good talent, especially the wide receivers.
That ranking is just an opinion, however. It would be even better if there was some analytical evidence that the offense is indeed poised to start putting up numbers like they were during the games before Prescott was injured.
Who are the smartest offensive minds in the NFL?— Zach Drapkin (@ZachDrapkin) May 21, 2021
A look at the best passing play callers from 2012-2020: pic.twitter.com/yA0qb3XB5L
Having great talent is not much good unless the coaching staff properly uses it. (See Stafford.) Kellen Moore is just now getting into what should be his best years as an offensive coordinator, and already he is listed among some elite play-callers. It is a small sample size, given that he has been OC for the minimum two years to show up on this chart.
But this measurement, based on expected results, filters out the effects of having to call plays with Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci filling in for Prescott last year. And it shows that he is exhibiting some traits of near-genius at his job. You don’t get those kinds of results unless you are making the right calls a great deal of the time.
It is an interesting and encouraging take on just what might be developing for the Cowboys. If things go at all in their favor in the uncontrollable factor of injuries, and the defense gets even to the level of being average, this could be a very good year in Dallas. Hype sometimes gets it right.