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Cowboys news: Dallas players and coaches with the most to prove in 2023

Your Saturday morning news around the Dallas Cowboys.

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys under the most pressure in 2023 - Bruce Ewing, Yardbarker

Is this season “make or break” for some members of the Cowboys?

Dak Prescott

In seven years as the Cowboys quarterback, Prescott has thrown for nearly 25,000 yards and 166 touchdowns. But he’s also thrown a lot of interceptions and frustrated fans with a 2-4 playoff record.

With CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks signed for 2023, Prescott will have two of the best wide receivers in the NFC this year. What he won’t have is a workhorse running back who averages 1,180 yards and more than 11 touchdowns per season. Without Ezekiel Elliott, all eyes will be on the quarterback.

Mike McCarthy

As head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, McCarthy has a 31-22 record. Under his leadership, the Cowboys made the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, and had their first playoff win since 2018.

But with former OC Kellen Moore now with the Chargers, McCarthy will assume more responsibility for the offense by calling plays this year. The former Packers coach called plays for 12 seasons in Green Bay, but hasn’t done it since 2018 when his team went 6-9-1.

Pass protection remains a concern for Cowboys heading to training camp - Reid Hanson, Yahoo! Sports

The Cowboys still need to figure out who’s at left guard.

They’ve lived through the lean years at QB and have seen how much of a struggle it is to win without a franchise signal-caller. That’s why they’ve invested so much in Dak Prescott and that’s why they will continue to invest in their QB1. An extension is forthcoming, but paying the QB isn’t the only responsibility. Teams must also protect that investment with the offensive line that stands between him and the bad guys.

The Cowboys value the offensive line

While teams with pedestrian QB play can certainly find ways to win, franchise QBs have a way of covering up a lot of roster weakness that would otherwise be seen as detrimental. QB isn’t just the most important position in the NFL, but possibly the most important position in all of professional sports.

Given the importance of the position, teams like the Cowboys (who have a franchise QB under center) place a premium on protecting their most important asset.

Role Call: Isaiah Land Brings High Ceiling - Nick Harris,

The HBCU school standout has a high upside entering his rookie season.

How He Got Here: For the second year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys made their presence felt in the undrafted free agent market with Florida A&M University after taking Markquese Bell in 2022 and Isaiah Land after April’s 2023 draft. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn honed in on Bell during the draft process in 2022, but while evaluating his film, a young violent edge rusher also caught his eye in Land. The Cowboys kept tabs on the Buffalo, N.Y. native throughout the 2023 process and when he went undrafted, they were quick to sign him to one of their more lucrative undrafted free agent deals.

What’s Next: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Land brings a certain element to this defense: versatility. In addition to having pass-rush ability as an edge rusher, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound defender also has potential as an inside linebacker in space. The ability to move anywhere in the second level along with his athleticism and production from his college days as a Rattler makes him a high ceiling prospect in Dallas’ 2023 draft class that has the potential to contribute as early as year one. Special teams will most likely be the best fit early on, but even earning that type of roster spot would show early success for one of FCS’ top defenders from the last two seasons.

Could Dallas Have Another All-Pro Guard Sitting Right Under Their Nose? - Jermaine Arvie, Inside the Star

The questions swirling around Terence Steele, his health, and the position he will ultimately play will lead the way.

During a recent interview, Tyler Smith stressed the importance of staying ready to play either position on the left side of the line.

Hearing such eagerness and willingness to contribute from a young player is refreshing. Dallas will need that same energy from all its players to reach the goal that has escaped them for 28 years.

Smith is highly athletic for his size with unbelievable strength. It’s easy to want to plug him at left tackle for the next ten years and don’t look back. Left tackles protect the blindside of your quarterback. It’s typically a no-brainer for most head coaches.

However, coaches get paid the big bucks to assess and decide what’s best for the team. It is up to Mike McCarthy and newly hired Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari to decide if Smith should play as a guard or a tackle. Pro Football Focus graded him a 72.4 in run sets versus 64.2 against the pass rush.

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