The Dallas Cowboys are the reigning NFC East champs. They are a team that is young, hungry, and with each new season the talent level continues to grow. It’s a great time to be a Cowboys fan. The upcoming season brings about a lot of excitement as the team looks make the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 2007. There are reasons to be hopeful, but there are a few things that are concerning as well. Here are three things we shouldn’t worry about as well as three things that aren’t as big of a deal as some are making it.
Shouldn’t be worried about: Offensive Weapons
Last season was a giant mess in terms of chemistry on offense. The offensive line was hindered by several injuries/illnesses. The retirement of Jason Witten meant the NFL experience of the team’s new cast of tight ends was next to nothing. And the organization decided to do a ctrl-alt-delete to their receiving group, starting with the release of Dez Bryant. For a team that is trying to implement some type of consistency for their young quarterback, they sure haven’t been doing Dak Prescott any favors.
If things go according to plan, 2019’s leading receiver should again be Amari Cooper as he and Prescott appear to have a good thing going. The Cowboys should also have an improved offensive line with the return of Travis Frederick and rookie guard Connor McGovern. Jason Witten is back, and between free agency, trades, and another draft - the Cowboys have added an assortment of weapons for Prescott.
Should be worried about: Dak Prescott
The most debated thing buzzing around the inner circles of the Cowboys these days is how much Prescott is worth. To extend or not to extend? And if so, for how much? Recently, we discussed why giving Dak a big bag of money is not only a foregone conclusion, but a wise investment.
But just because the Cowboys are going all-in on Prescott doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to drag the pot. Prescott must produce, and he must do so more consistently. He’s the single most influential player on this roster, which is why he will command so much money, but with great power comes great responsibility. The addition of Jon Kitna should help him, and there’s no reason be overly concerned, however - the team only goes as far as Dak takes them. If Prescott sputters, it will show up in the win column. Should he improve and take steps toward being elite - brace yourself for a fun ride over the next several years.
Shouldn’t be worried about: The Safety Position
If you had to pick which position on the team contains the worst starter, there’s a good chance your guess would be safety. The Cowboys passed on Earl Thomas, and they passed on one of top safeties in the draft. Instead, they’ve added George Iloka at a super thrifty price of (in Dr. Evil’s voice) one million dollars.
The duo of Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath doesn’t exactly get fans excited, and the lack of depth behind them can make some cringe a bit. But don’t fret, it’s not a problem. At least it hasn’t been. Despite an underwhelming list of names at the safety position, the Cowboys just don’t give up the big plays.
When you look at the additions the team has made to strengthen the pass rush, their ordinary safety position just got a little better.
Should be worried about: Takeaways
Last year, the Cowboys defense was second-best in the NFC in terms of points allowed, trailing only the Chicago Bears. They were third in the conference in total yards allowed, trailing the Bears and the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys defense has improved steadily as the team has added a lot of speed and continues to develop some of their younger, more recent draft picks. DeMarcus Lawrence (2014) is a star now, Byron Jones (2015) flourished in his first year at corner, and Leighton Vander Esch (2018) burst onto the scene, earning All-Pro honors his rookie season. This is a really talented group.
But as good as they are, you don’t hear the Cowboys mentioned as one of the shutdown defenses in the league. And one of the reasons is that the Cowboys just don’t take the ball away very much. After finishing dead last in takeaways in 2015 with just 11, the team has been sitting in the middle of the pack with 20, 21, and 20 takeaways over the last three seasons. Some of this is just blind luck as you can’t always predict where the ball bounces, but for Dallas - they need to make their own luck. Part of that starts on offense to where they can get ahead early in the games and put pressure on their opponents. Those instances lead to added opportunity on defense. In 2014, when the offense was firing on all cylinders, the Cowboys defense finished second in the league with 31 takeaways.
But part of it also capitalizing on mistakes. Defensive backs need to get their heads turned around to make a play on the ball. Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown were three of the best corners in terms of tight window percentage, and while the pass breakups are great - interceptions are even better.
Shouldn’t be worried about: Jason Garrett
The Cowboys head coach is entering the last year of his contract and many are labeling this season as a “prove it or move on” type of season. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard people say that, I’d have a pretty good sack of nickels. Truth be told, every year is a year Garrett must demonstrate he’s the right coach. And considering he’s only had one losing season in his eight years as coach and has a pretty good résumé of winning in recent years - he must be doing something right.
As successful as Garrett has been, everyone is waiting for his team to take the next step. The Cowboys have done a lot of remodeling in recent years and they’ve always had some area where there’s a big adjustment period. But this season is different. The team Garrett has built is manifesting nicely into talent across the board. He has this team the way he wants it, so now it’s time to deliver.
If you don’t have much faith in Garrett as a head coach, then you’re probably foreseeing disappointment in the near future, but for those who believe in him - this could be the year more people start viewing him for the coach he is.
Should be worried about: Kellen Moore
The Cowboys finally ripped the band aid off of what has been the Scott Linehan experiment. There were some good years, but the offense has struggled in recent years and it was time to make a change. And that change is 29-year-old Kellen Moore.
Despite his lack of experience, Moore is very intelligent and has a great sense of what offenses can do. While many are hoping to see a lot of creativity added to the offense, the Cowboys should still do what they do, only it may look slightly different now. Expect more complex formations, a lot of shifts, and a greater attempt to give defenses different looks. This will remove some of the predictability that has plagued the Cowboys offense in year’s past.
While there are reasons to be excited about the fresh new play calling of Moore, it’s important to remember that we are entering uncharted waters. We don’t know how this is all going to turn out. There is no guarantee this change is going to jump-start the offense. Fans will be holding their breath as we wait and see if this new offensive coordinator can resurrect the Cowboys offense. Fingers crossed.
What are you worried about the most? What is something you think some are making a big deal about that doesn’t concern you very much? Let us know in the comments.