The Dallas Cowboys are preparing for the 2023 edition of the team. They have shaped their roster and headed out to Oxnard, Calif., for their first practice on July 26. Rosters can change during training camp, but what they have now is likely to make up the bulk of the forces they will use in the 2023 campaign.
Let’s do a quick review of how the roster has changed from 2022, and how these new pieces fit into what they are doing for 2023.
Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore
Running back Ezekiel Elliott
Tight end Dalton Schultz
Guard Connor McGovern
Cornerback Anthony Brown
Wide receiver Noah Brown
Linebacker Anthony Barr
Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins
Kicker Brett Maher
Wide receiver Brandin Cooks
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore
Defensive tackle Mazi Smith
Tight end Luke Schoonmaker
Running back Ronald Jones
Running back Deuce Vaughn
Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga
Kickers Tristan Vizcaino, Brandon Aubrey
How it all fits together
The Cowboys decided that their offense, although very productive at times over the last few seasons, needed an overhaul of sorts. So the team said goodbye to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who is now with the Los Angeles Chargers. Brain Schottenheimer was promoted to offensive coordinator, but head coach Mike McCarthy will be calling the plays.
With this change, the Cowboys will be running a scheme that incorporates more West Coast offensive principals. One aspect of the offense that seems to be an obvious change is the injection of speed and quickness. The Cowboys let go of Ezekiel Elliott and have turned the running back duties over to Tony Pollard, who is electric. They also added running back Deuce Vaughn, a diminutive back who excels through quickness in space. And perhaps their biggest addition on offense is speed merchant Brandin Cooks at wide receiver. He gives the Cowboys an element of speed at the wide receiver position they have been needing. The Cowboys offense will be more concerned with getting playmakers into space and letting them work.
Dallas also filled some other holes on offense. Tight end Luke Schoonmaker, another above-average athlete, will help fill the gap left by the departed Dalton Schultz. Offensive lineman Chuma Edoga is a veteran stop-gap along the offensive line where starting guard Connor McGovern left. Edoga may not start, but he provides a veteran presence in case of injuries.
The Cowboys defense has been left in the very capable hands of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Since Quinn has taken over in 2021, the Cowboys defense has been getting better and better and are now among the best units in the NFL. They didn’t rest on what they had, which including re-signing some of their own key free agents like safety Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. The Cowboys made a huge move when they added veteran corner Stephon Gilmore to the mix. The former Defensive Player of the Year will combine with Trevon Diggs to make a formidable outside corner tandem.
They also did something they hadn’t done since 1991 — drafting a defensive tackle in the first round. Mazi Smith is a huge man who is uber-athletic. The Cowboys run defense was an issue last year and they hope Smith will help to rectify that problem.
Our partners over at DraftKings Sportsbook have been tracking odds for the Cowboys, and for all teams, since the season ended. For the Cowboys to win the NFC East in 2023, the opening odds after the season had them at +190. Since then, on March 20 of this year, right after the first wave of free agency, Dallas was +185. As of May 1, those same odds have landed at +175.