Blake Jarwin might be a name we need to start paying more attention to heading into training camp.
Dallas Cowboys: Tight End Blake Jarwin
The Dallas Cowboys offense should be among the most potent in the NFL this year. The team’s trio of wide receivers (Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup) is as good as any in the league.
But Dak Prescott could be on the verge of leading an even more loaded passing game.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been down this road with Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin. The fifth-year pro was a trendy pick as a breakout candidate in 2020 after posting a 31/365/3 stat line in 2019. But that breakout season ended almost before it began—Jarwin tore his ACL in the season opener against the Rams.
But Jarwin is back, and the 6’5”, 260-pounder told reporters he’s eager to show the $22 million contract extension he signed last year isn’t wasted money.
“I’m excited, and my goal is to be the best I’ve ever been by day one of training camp and carry that into the season, and let’s just roll from there,” he said.
Dak Prescott’s a favorite to be the MVP of the NFC East division in 2021.
Who will be considered the division’s MVP?
Archer: Prescott is the easy choice. There are obvious questions as he returns from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle suffered last October, but he has shown he has all the answers so far. If Prescott returns to form, the Cowboys are the favorite to win the division. They were awful without him last season but weren’t eliminated from playoff contention until the final weeks of the season. If Prescott returns to Prescott form, the Cowboys will be the team to beat. So not only will he be the division’s MVP, he could be in the running for league MVP as well as the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Raanan: Chase Young had 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles as a rookie in 15 games for Washington last season. If he stays healthy, his sack tally will double and Washington’s defense will be one of the league’s best. Actually, it already was last season, and there is little reason to think it won’t be again in 2021. Only this time, it will be with Young taking it to the next level and putting up massive numbers while Washington wins back-to-back division titles.
It’s easy to forget Mike Ditka was once a Dallas Cowboy as both a player (1969-1972) and coach (1973-1981).
Ditka thought he might be finished after the 1968 season when he received a call from Tom Landry. The Cowboys were trading for him and giving him one more chance.
“I was told I’d be a backup, and that hurt,” Ditka said. “And that’s what I was because I didn’t do all I could that first year. But the next year, I started. I worked harder than anyone else in the offseason. Nobody ever worked harder. I ran in my bare feet to toughen my bad foot … I could have done anything a 21-year-old kid could do, and I was 30. I dropped my weight 21 pounds until everything was muscle.”
Ditka put his career and life back on track in Dallas with Landry’s guidance. He was blocking more and catching less, but that was OK because he could block like a third offensive tackle. In his book “Pro Football’s 100 Greatest Players,” Hall of Fame coach George Allen said Ditka “seldom missed” as a blocker. He also wrote, “He modeled the tight end position, really, and it hasn’t changed much. You just couldn’t do much more with it than Ditka did.”
The 1971 Cowboys were a team of stars — Roger Staubach threw passes to Bob Hayes and Lance Alworth and was protected by Rayfield Wright and Forrest Gregg. Their Doomsday Defense was led by Herb Adderley, Cliff Harris, Bob Lilly and Mel Renfro. But as the Cowboys came down the stretch of the 1971 season, it was Ditka who was at the forefront of their charge.
Kellen Moore has all the weapons to be a great OC, but can he get the best out of them?
Moore’s already had a significant impact on Dallas’ offense. After ascending to the job in 2019 following the firing of Scott Linehan, Kellen took a group that ranked 22nd in total offense and scoring the year before and finished 1st and 6th in those categories in 2018.
Trading for Amari Cooper in the middle of that year certainly helped, but such dramatic shifts also had a lot to do with the change in coordinator. Moore brought a less conservative approach to play-calling and things just felt more open and creative under his direction.
That trend was continuing in 2020 as Dak Prescott was on pace to smash the record for passing yards in a season. With over 1,800 yards from Weeks 1-5, Prescott could’ve been the first NFL quarterback to hit 6,000 and would’ve blown past Peyton Manning’s record of 5,477 in 2013.
But we know what happened in Week 5 and in the discouraging weeks that followed. Still, even with Prescott’s injury and everything else that went wrong in 2020, Kellen’s offense still managed to finish 14th in yards and 17th in scoring for the year.
Which players do you think well have a breakout 2021 season with the Dallas Cowboys?
Want a trio of Dallas Cowboys “breakout stars’’ for the 2021 season? On three different levels, and for three different reasons, Randy Gregory, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons are the guys to watch.
Gregory: The team has essentially cleared the path for his ascent. The long wait has been mostly due to his suspension-related battles - though last year, new coach Mike McCarthy and staff were painfully slow in recognizing the weapon Gregory can be as an edge rusher. The former second-round pick, 28, is in the final year of his contract, making his a perfect time for him to lead the team in sacks.
Lamb: I’ve got some people here inside The Star suggesting to me that Lamb is about to overtake Amari Cooper as Dallas’ top wideout. Don’t allow any dinged-up-related bias against Cooper color your understanding of what this means; Cooper is 27 and a four-time Pro Bowler. Lamb, last year’s first-round pick, demonstrated often how special he is. But CeeDee - or any other receiver - being better than Amari? That would be quite something.
Parsons: We still don’t know exactly how Dallas is going to use this year’s first-round pick; the Penn State linebacker might be best-utilized as a versatile chess piece, or maybe it’d be smarter to plug the rookie in at MIKE and leave it alone for the next decade or so. Either way, Parsons figures as an NFL Rookie of the Year candidate, a “breakout’’ identity by definition for a Dallas defense that needs identity and breakout players.