The Dallas Cowboys preseason games will soon be approaching and for a team that is still trying to find an identity on defense, and get healthy on offense, this season the games will be important. The Cowboys coaching staff will have a better idea of what they have in their players this season compared to last year due to the COVID restrictions that forced them to do a lot of the offensive and defensive scheme installing via Zoom. The other reason for some optimism is that we’ve been hearing good things about the health of certain players and that some of these rookies are showing some play-making ability.
The true test, though, will come in live-action preseason games for the Cowboys. They may not show teams what their game plans for the regular season will be, but we can start to gauge the level of play these rookies are able to handle as pro athletes and how well some of the players returning from injury will hold up when the pads are on and things get physical. That leads to three things we should be looking for from this team during the preseason.
First on this list, and probably the most important for the Cowboys, is can this team stay healthy. Even though the majority of last season's injuries came during the season, that doesn’t mean freak accidents can’t happen in a preseason game. For that reason, it’s highly possible that the Cowboys will decide to keep the majority of their starters off the field for the majority of the preseason games to protect them from injury or re-injury. This would be a very smart move for the Cowboys, especially on the offensive side of the football since they know what they are getting for the most part.
The biggest question for them will be how does quarterback Dak Prescott hold up after taking some hits. The same goes for the offensive lineman returning from injury, and Amari Cooper who’s still dealing with irritation in his ankle from his surgery this offseason.
Communication on defense
Coming in at number two on this list is that preseason action is quite important for the new defense. Many will say that the Cowboys defensive woes last season were mainly due to the lack of hands-on instruction due to COVID restrictions and the complex scheme that former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was installing. Some of that is true, but there was also a major lack of communication on the defensive side of the football for the Cowboys which led to a lot of blown coverages and touchdowns. You can’t give up 34 receiving touchdowns and blame everything on the coaches. These players are going to need to figure out how to communicate even more than ever with the infusion of rookies in the secondary and linebacker units.
New defensive coordinator Dann Quinn brought some of his former players in for a reason and one could assume that it is to help with the breakdowns in communication. For this defense to have any kind of success, they will need to be able to talk on the field and trust each other to be where they need to be.
Sorting out player positions
The Cowboys have created somewhat of a logjam at the linebacker position. So this preseason, it’s going to be very interesting to see where they try lining these players up and how they are going to use them in different situations. The secondary is another position where things could get interesting, we might start seeing some cornerbacks trying their hand at playing safety as well. But for the most part, the main focus is going to be on linebacker and who’s playing where, and who they are on the field with at different times.
Things are going to get very interesting especially with all of the talk about potential trades and teams contacting the Cowboys about a certain former first-round pick at the position.