Dalton Schultz should be looking to build on his impressive 2021 season this year.
Dallas Cowboys: TE Dalton Schultz
The Dallas Cowboys might have the most star-studded receiving corps in the NFL. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup have both recorded 1,000 yards in a season, and first-round pick CeeDee Lamb narrowly missed the mark as a rookie, finishing with 935 receiving yards and seven all-purpose touchdowns in 2020.
With Dak Prescott on the mend from last year’s broken ankle, the Cowboys’ passing attack could be the most explosive in the NFL. Tight end Dalton Schultz will be a significant piece of it, even if he doesn’t garner the attention that the receiver trio gets.
Schultz had a breakout campaign in 2020, catching 63 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns. He provided a passer rating of 95.5 when targeted. He could be even more productive this season if Prescott is pulling the trigger for all 17 games.
With Ezekiel Elliott commanding attention up front and Dallas wideouts stretching the field, Schultz could easily be overlooked by opposing defenses. Expect him to make them pay when that happens and to be a difference-maker in the mid-level passing game.
DeMarcus Lawrence could be highly productive under Dan Quinn in 2021.
A new defensive coordinator could mean a return to the sack totals that would appease the fan base. Last season under Mike Nolan, Lawrence was asked to rush standing up, as a 3-4 edge player and while it could be tangential, he suffered a new series of lower-half ailments that slowed him down.
Dan Quinn’s arrival should bring a new outlook for the defense even as he talks of continuing a hybrid-front approach. Ironically, Quinn’s never had a double-digit sack contributor since Chris Clemons in 2010 when Quinn was the Seahawks Assistant HC and DL coach, but he’s never had an edge player with the talent of Lawrence. The pairing of Quinn and Lawrence looks like a perfect fit.
Lawrence will also get a running mate in the prime of his career in Randy Gregory this upcoming season. That’s something Lawrence hasn’t had the luxury of since he’s entered the league and it could result in Lawrence returning to double-digit takedowns.
For the past two years, Lawrence has paved the way for other pass rushers to shine. With Quinn arriving and the presence of Gregory, Lawrence may now be afforded more opportunities to get to the quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys making roster moves prior to the start of training camp.
JULY 17: ROBINSON RELEASED Cornerback Rashard Robinson, who has been suspended the first two games of next season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, is now out of a job, the Cowboys having released him on Saturday.
Robinson spent most of the 2020 season on the practice squad but was signed to the active roster in December. He appeared in four games, and had three starts while totaling 21 tackles.
(As a note of clarity, Rashard Robinson is not to be confused with Reggie Robinson, the DB who remains with the Cowboys as they prepare to go to Oxnard and training camp on Tuesday.
Oh, and Rashard’s response to the move?
The Dallas Cowboys have no shortage of offensive weapons in 2021.
The Cowboys are bringing a lot of receivers to camp but it’s hard to imagine any of the lesser prospects getting further than the practice squad. Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown have well-established roles on special teams and proven assets on offense. Dallas already has to go six-deep at WR just to keep them and 4th-Round rookie Simi Fehoko. Surprises can happen but that’s exactly what it will be if any of the UDFAs from 2020 or 2021 make the team.
Same story at TE; Jeremy Sprinkle was a veteran free agent signed specifically to replace Blake Bell as a proven blocker. Dallas could keep four tight ends, and especially if they forego a fullback, but I project they’ll go light on some positions to save roster spots for the offensive line and defense.
Of course, much can change between next week and the end of the preseason. We’re sure to hear of some UDFAs who are dazzling in camp but quickly fizzle in August (RIP Jon’Vea Johnson). And while we never want to see it, injuries will have their say in the final outworking of the roster and depth charts as well.
All eyes will no doubt be on the Dallas Cowboys defense between now and the start of the 2021 season.
Dallas Cowboys: Defensive Overhaul
Many folks point to the season-ending ankle injury suffered by quarterback Dak Prescott as the reason things fell apart for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. But even before that fateful game against the Giants where Prescott went down, the Cowboys were in big trouble.
While Prescott and the offense were piling up the yardage and points, the defense was abysmal. Over the team’s 1-3 start, Dallas allowed 36.5 points per game.
The Cowboys made major changes on that side of the ball. They hired ex-Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn as the new defensive coordinator. They also used their first draft pick on Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who drew raves from Quinn during OTAs.
“The pass-rushing part of him, he has really picked up where he left off,” Quinn told reporters. “He really had good speed off the edge. That part of the game is intact. Now we are working on behind-the-ball things: man-to-man, playing zone, blitzing from off the ball. Those are things we can feature and assess.”
Dallas has the most potent offense in the NFC East. But unless Quinn and Parsons can help get the defense turned around, the season to come will look a lot like the one that just took place…
Dallas trying to win shootouts every week and finishing below .500.
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