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Cowboys mailbag: Questions on the offense, play-calling and DeMarcus Lawrence

People have questions about the Cowboys, and we strive to provide the answers.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Every week, we will take questions on Twitter and Facebook about Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. This week the mailbag has a guest speaker to join in answering your questions, the great Shannon Gross from’s Hanging With The Boys. So let’s get right into it.

“Does this Cowboys offense still have questions?”

(@Goezeverything via X)

Brandon: They still have questions that need answering, but they are all positive. What will Brandin Cooks look like in this offense? Will they have more offensive packages that get KaVonate Turpin and Deuce Vaughn on the field? How far can Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott take this offense?

What the Cowboys were able to do to the New York Jets might not have blown up a stat sheet, but it certainly was efficient against one of the premier defenses in the league. McCarthy has gotten the best out of CeeDee Lamb and is getting Tony Pollard as much work as possible. Questions remain, but they shouldn’t be about poking holes in what Dallas is building.

Mike: Yes they do. But for context, we could do the same for nearly every team in the NFL. This time of year every team has questions on their roster and on either side of the ball. Until we get past Week 4 or 5, you can’t really say with confidence what a team’s offense truly is. For the Cowboys so far, those questions are on running back consistency, but the biggest question is how does it handle adversity and playing on negative game scripts. So to answer, the real big question for this offense is how well does it play when it’s playing from behind.

Shannon: Not to me. For the first time since I can remember, you can look at the depth chart and there’s not one player on the offensive side of the ball that you can say isn’t a good player. There may be a couple that the jury is out on, but none you could label as not good. The only thing you could question at this point is the red zone offense, and I think that will answer itself. In my opinion the rhythm of these first two games have somewhat dictated the play-calling in the red zone and the point output.

It’s only two games in, but I’m not sure you could ask much more out of the gate.

“What do we think of Mike McCarthy’s play calling so far? What are the key differences between his and [Kellen] Moore’s calls?”

(@Chris Cole via Facebook)

Brandon: I’ve been very impressed with McCarthy’s offense. They seem to be playing faster and connected. Remember Week 1 of the 2022 season? Kellen Moore called a double reverse that appeared utterly out of nowhere and unwarranted. That’s what his play-calling was like at times.

McCarthy has emphasized having his pass catchers and Prescott on the same page. It’s paying dividends early by their efficiency.

Mike: So far it’s looked great and Mike McCarthy is calling a good game. The play-calling was different in both games as well as the score line evolved. Under Kellen Moore we didn’t see that flexibility and more of, “this is how it is, so beat me” approach. But the biggest change in the two styles of play-calling has been to start the game. McCarthy is drawing up easy plays for Dak to make, in turn that builds momentum and confidence in the offense and the end result has been an efficient offense to start games which is seen throughout the game. Under Moore it was always confusing to watch the start of games with difficult plays, tough window throws and watch the offense stall from the outset.

Shannon: Again, it’s only been two games, but I think he’s been outstanding and has really found his groove as a coach and play-caller. Just watching these first two games, he looks like he’s in his element and appears to have an uncanny feel for the rhythm of the game and being in sync with his QB like no other coach has. I’m interested to see how he shifts gears when the team finds itself in a deficit and he needs quick points on the board from his offense.

“Do the Cowboys pay Dorance Armstrong or keep DeMarcus Lawrence next season?”

(@Rard Karot via Facebook)

Brandon: I think another NFL team would be willing to bet on the upside and potential of Dorance Armstrong, so signing him back might be challenging. DeMarcus Lawrence has developed into an all-around defensive end and is playing healthier. He might be worth keeping around to develop whoever they draft to take his place in a few years.

Mike: So Lawrence is under contract till the end of 2024 season, but his cap hit is over $20 million. Personally I think the way Tank is playing right now he’s worth every penny. He ranks the highest in run defense grade among edge defenders, and last week showed you how important he is in disrupting a play and saving the defense on two possible touchdowns. Since Lawrence lost some of the weight and is no longer the focal point for offensive linemen to key in on, he’s become the guy he once was for Dallas way back in his early years and getting pressure. Add also his leadership and mentorship to the younger players.

Shannon: I think this all comes down to value. They’ve liked Armstrong for years and he’s turned into a nice player. Tank isn’t a spring chicken but is still has some years left. It will be interesting to see what they do. It may come down to the asking price for both players.

Poll Of The Week: Finally, we asked you to predict the offensive start for this week's game against the Arizona Cardinals. Here are the results and our take on the poll.

Mike: Dak gets some love from Cowboys Nation. The change in offensive scheme and how it all caters to Dak’s play-style is certainly something everyone has noticed. In this week’s poll we had some interesting names like Deuce Vaughn, KaVontae Turpin and Jalen Tolbert. This, more than anything, goes to show how well distributed the talent on offense is, but also how deep the talent goes.

Brandon: With Budda Baker on injured reserve for the Cardinals, I expect CeeDee Lamb to keep winning against lesser secondaries. Their coverage could have been bracketed towards Lamb with someone like Baker on the back end, but with him out of the lineup, it’ll be more demanding for Arizona’s defense.

Head coach Jonathan Gannon is familiar with Lamb’s game, having schemed against him when he was with Philadelphia. However, the last time No. 88 went up against Gannon’s defense, he torched them for ten receptions for 120 yards and two touchdowns on Christmas Eve. We might see another 120-yard day from Lamb in Arizona.

Be sure to check Blogging The Boys as well as @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on X and also Facebook for the weekly post, asking for your questions to include in the weekly mailbag. Also, check for the Poll of The Week on X. Many thanks to everyone that sends in your questions and votes.

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