Can Dallas end the long Super Bowl drought?
I’ll rank them by the offseason projections from ESPN’s FPI, which estimated each team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl. Let’s begin with the league’s worst teams. You’ll see plenty of examples of how these teams at the bottom could be this year’s Bengals, because it’ll take something spectacular for them to make it to Arizona in February:
Chance to win Super Bowl LVII: 5.6%
Chance to make the playoffs: 70.2%
The best case includes healthy seasons from quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, both of whom were slowed by injuries a year ago. The Cowboys have one of the best young cores in football with wideout CeeDee Lamb, corner Trevon Diggs and linebacker Micah Parsons all still on rookie deals. They thrive when their superstars are healthy and play at their expected levels. Losing left tackle Tyron Smith to a serious hamstring injury hurts their chances, but if everyone else does what they’re supposed to do, they should be able to approximate their 2021 performance.
What happens after the regular season is up to the whims of the postseason gods, but let’s not pretend that seemingly cursed teams haven’t managed to win Super Bowls. Andy Reid won one with the Chiefs after failure after failure in January with the Eagles. Peyton Manning won one after just three victories in his first nine playoff appearances. McCarthy has a Super Bowl title, too, although it came toward the beginning of his time in Green Bay. Stranger things have happened.
Will the offensive line hold up vs the Bucs?
The Cowboys are prepared to go with rookie first rounder Tyler Smith at the left tackle position now that Tyron Smith is set to miss a big chunk of the season with injury. Dallas did sign former Eagles’ tackle Jason Peters on Monday to help fill out the depth of the offensive line and as a mentor to the younger Smith. Tampa will bring plenty of firepower in their front seven, presenting quite the challenge for a rookie in his first NFL start.
It’s a new-look receiving corps that Dak Prescott will be presented with on Sunday, though he will still have CeeDee Lamb at his disposal. After an offseason of turnover at the keystone, the Cowboys are set to roll into the season with a group of young and talented receivers like Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko, and Jalen Tolbert. However, most all are inexperienced and remains to be seen how they will react in game situation after a strong camp while they wait for Michael Gallup and James Washington to return from injury.
If there is one unit that does not have many questions marks surrounding it for the Cowboys, it would be the defensive side of the ball. In last year’s matchup against the Bucs, the defense forced four turnovers including two interceptions by Brady. With Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons holding another full season under their belt and others stepping up during the preseason the Cowboys could lean on their defense most of the way.
After playing it out during the course of training camp and the preseason, the Cowboys finally settled on a kicker by bringing back Brett Maher for the season. In this matchup last year, Greg Zuerlein missed two field goal attempts and one of his extra-point attempts in what was just a two-point loss for Dallas. The Cowboys are hoping Maher can bring a little bit more stability in clutch situations.
So you’re saying there’s a chance? Or it’s Jerry being Jerry.
The NFL’s top salesman was at it again yesterday. Jerry Jones left the door cracked open that Cowboys starting WR Michael Gallup could play in Week 1 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but most aren’t buying Jerry’s snake oil this time.
Gallup’s absence for the season opener, if not most of September, has been an expectation since his ACL surgery last February. It was assumed that Dallas would be without him for at least the first quarter of the season when they re-signed Michael to a new five-year deal in March.
Recovery has gone well enough that the Cowboys didn’t leave Gallup on the Physically Unable to Perform list, carrying him on the 53-man roster with the hope that he could play sooner than Week 5. Gallup would have had to miss at least four games if he started the season on PUP or injured reserve.
Still, the idea of Michael debuting with his teammates this Sunday night seems fantastic at best.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on @1053thefan re: WR Michael Gallup (ACL): "I couldn't be more pleased about how he's pleased with his status and how coaches are pleased... He can do anything you ask of him right now." Being held out because of injury risk if he played at this time.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 6, 2022
Which three do you believe will make an immediate impact?
3. KaVontae Turpin, KR/PR
KaVontae Turpin turned heads early this preseason during their matchup with the Los Angeles Charges. Turpin returned a kickoff in the 1st quarter for a 98-yard touchdown. This would get Cowboys nation stirring early. He then did it again in the 2nd quarter by returning a punt for an 86 yard touchdown, who said light doesn’t strike twice? These highlights made Turpin nearly “uncuttable” as he looked to secure a spot on the. 53-man roster.
2. Jake Ferguson, TE
Jake Ferguson comes to us from Wisconsin as a no-brainer selection with the Cowboys having to franchise tag Dalton Schultz to retain his services for one more year. In high school Ferguson was recruited to Wisconsin, when he flashed his ability as both wide receiver and linebacker. At Wisconsin, Ferguson had a modest career while serving as a TE for the Badgers. In 2021, Ferguson broke out for the Badgers all-time great Lee Evans’ record for most consecutive games with a catch (38). As well, Ferguson earned All-Big Ten honors in his senior season.
1. Jalen Tolbert, WR
Jalen Tolbert is Jerry Jones’ answer to trading away Amari Cooper for peanuts and a handshake. Before the draft, very few people knew Tolbert and what he brings to the table. Having special interest in the Sun-Belt division gave us a sneak peek to what Tolbert can offer. Tolbert received a two-star rating and received offers from South Alabama and Jacksonville St opting to attend the latter. Tolbert’s defined by his dedication and work ethic to improve. Tolbert’s explosive performance over the last two seasons has put him in the conversation with: Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Drake London, Jameson Williams and George Pickens.
‘The secret’s out’; Cowboys look for KaVontae Turpin to have ‘Devin Hester Effect’ - Todd Brock, USA Today
The element of surprise is a huge part of special teams play, and something that Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel loves to save for gameday, to unleash in just the right situation, against just the right opponent.
So he admits he was perhaps just a little disheartened when late-spring signee and undrafted free agent KaVontae Turpin electrifyingly took two long returns to the house in the team’s second preseason game versus Los Angeles.
Turpin may have been flying under the radar since leaving TCU in 2019. But the cat is now out of the bag: the USFL’s MVP sure looks like he can play in this league, too.
“You sign a guy in the middle of training camp, I don’t know maybe if I was just hoping that there was going to be a secret with him. Maybe there wouldn’t have been,” Fassel said. “The secret’s out, and I think he’s going to be really good.”
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