Another appearance on Hard Knocks for the Cowboys should be entertaining.
7. Jerry’s World
Lastly, expect a prominent role from Dallas owner Jerry Jones. Will he make practice field entries from his helicopter? Maybe provide a tour of “The Star,” the Cowboys’ state-of-the-art training facility, complete with a 12,000-seat indoor stadium? How much air time will be devoted to Jones’ children and grandchildren, many increasingly visible around the family business – most notably son Stephen Jones (chief operating officer, executive vice president and director of player personnel) and daughter Charlotte Jones (executive vice president and chief brand officer). In his roles as team president and general manager, how often will we see Jerry Jones’ ending a fringe player’s dream and/or interacting with key performers like Prescott and Elliott? And what will Jones’ “Hard Knocks” message be to second-year coach Mike McCarthy – don’t expect him to be on camera beyond any minimum obligation – and a roster widely perceived as the best in the middling NFC East? It should be worth the price of admission ... or at least your HBO Max subscription.
Could QB Nick Foles land back in the NFC East as Dak’s backup?
Indeed, an NFL sources tells CowboysSI.com that the Bears are shopping Foles, despite the fact that Chicago just before the April NFL Draft gave up a fourth-round pick to get him. And of course, he was available to Chicago via Jacksonville despite the fact that just two years ago, the Jags gave the QB what was billed as a four-year, $88 million deal.
Foles didn’t work out in Jacksonville or in Chicago. And his record is hardly spotless, as he most recently couldn’t keep the Bears job for very long before poor play meant being replaced by a previously-benched Mitchell Trubisky.
But Foles, 32, has a track record that present Dallas backups Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci cannot become to compete with. He’s appeared in 58 NFL games and compiled a 26-22 record in 48 starts over eight seasons with the Eagles. The 6-6, 243-pounder has been a Pro Bowler, has owned a league-leading 119.2 passer rating. And of course with the Eagles in 2017, Foles stepped in for Carson Wentz and helped lead Philadelphia to the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history, and winning himself an MVP.
Carlos Watkins needs a strong training camp to make it through roster cuts.
Carlos played out his rookie contract with the Houston Texans after being a 4th-Round pick in 2017. While Watkins only had 18 total starts in Houston, 11 of them came last season in his highest activity level thus far. He posted career highs of two sacks and 27 tackles in 2020.
A defensive end in the Texans’ 3-4 scheme, Watkins is expected to play defensive tackle in the Cowboys’ defense. When he was originally signed, Dallas only had Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore under contract and lots of uncertainty about the rest of the depth chart.
But the same day that Watkins became a Cowboy, so did another veteran in Brent Urban. Both got one-year contracts at $1.75 million, but only $400k of Carlos’ deal was guaranteed money. Urban’s entire contract is guaranteed and gives him significantly more job security.
To make matters worse, the Cowboys later spent a 3rd-Round pick on UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa and a 6th on Kentucky NT Quinton Bohanna. Even after releasing Antwaun Woods shortly following the draft, Dallas is carrying plenty of defensive tackle prospects into their 2021 training camp.
Is 2021 really a make-or-break season for the Dallas Cowboys?
The Dallas Cowboys don’t have a quarterback issue by any stretch thanks to Dak Prescott’s elite ability. Plus, he’s only going into his age-28 season.
But the way Dallas dragged its feet on an extension for Prescott has put the franchise in a financial bind once paired with the other cap decisions in recent years. He carries the team’s second-highest cap hit in 2021 ($22 million), tied with Amari Cooper and second only to DeMarcus Lawrence ($25 million). This, for a team that has just $5 million in cap space and is a projected $23 million over the cap in 2022.
And that’s just the financial aspect. The first season under Mike McCarthy was a bust at 6-10, the team’s worst record since 2015. Prescott’s season-ending injury didn’t help, but neither did an overly complicated scheme that resulted in a miserable defense that had even mainstays like linebacker Jaylon Smith underperforming.
While the Cowboys had previously been content to hold on to someone like Jason Garrett for longer than they probably should have, another failure to crack .500 given the team’s contend-now payroll could cause the patience factor to evaporate.
Regardless, the Cowboys have a cap reckoning coming. After two seasons without a playoff appearance, a third could spell disaster in Dallas.
Just how talented is the Dallas Cowboys 2021 roster?
Pro Football Focus agrees and according to them, the Cowboys have one of the more talented rosters in the NFL, ranking them eighth in the league.
Biggest strength: There is no reason that this passing offense, if healthy, shouldn’t be one of the league’s best. QB Dak Prescott‘s 85.2 PFF grade before his injury last season was on pace to be the highest of his career. Even in Prescott’s absence, rookie widout CeeDee Lamb proved himself to be one of the more dynamic slot receivers in the league. His 877 receiving yards from the slot in 2020 were fewer than only Cole Beasley‘s. Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are certainly in the conversation for best wide receiver trio in the NFL.
Biggest weakness: This secondary bled production to opposing passing offenses in 2020, and it didn’t get noticeably better this offseason. Second-round selection Kelvin Joseph has a chance to start opposite Trevon Diggs. While that might represent an upgrade in talent, last season showed the risk involved with relying heavily on rookie cornerbacks. Eight of the 20 highest yards per coverage snap marks at the cornerback position belonged to rookies in 2020, including Diggs in Dallas. The Cowboys are banking on young players improving on the fly in a new system.
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