Writer: Aaron Hendon
Coming off a season where the Cowboys finished 13-3, which would be good enough to earn a 1st seed and 1st round bye in the playoffs, only to be stunned at home by the one and only, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Looking at a roster that should have some growing pains on defense, but still a steady offense and even in the toughest division in the NFC, the Cowboys should have no problem having the same success as last year.
Returning all but one body on offense should serve them well on that side of the ball as they will look to remain a top 5 offense in the league in terms of yards and points per game. That one body being Ron Leary who signed a 4-year, $35 million deal with the Denver Broncos. Looking into year two with the Dak attack, after a full offseason and his ability to lead this group of guys, I do not see any sophomore slump from this young Cowboy quarterback. Now to the backfield, where the cowboys had somewhat of a scare after Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for weeks 2 through 7 which would have had the Cowboys without one of the NFL’s leading rushers from a year ago up against 3 of the top 10 defenses in 2015. With news coming out Friday that a Texas judge put a hold on Elliot’s case until the end of the year. Moving over to what I believe is the deepest position on the team and maybe the entire NFL, the Dallas Cowboys will absolutely wreak havoc on opposing defenses last year. A consistent group of guys who share the rock but who are all capable of taking over a game if need be.
On the defensive side, Rod Marinelli will have his hands full, having lost a lot on that side of the ball this offseason including the team’s 3rd leading tackler, Barry Church who signed a 4-year deal with the Jaguars. Also, both starting corners, Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne, it may not seem like a ton of talent being lost here, but it its experience and depth being lost which is much needed in that aspect of the game. Replacing them with 2nd year player out of Purdue Anthony Brown will get a crack at most of the 1st team reps, followed closely by rookie corner Chidobe Awuzie, who the Cowboys took with the 60th pick of this past draft. The secondary will be young and may take a little longer than fans would like to get accustomed to the speed and smart of the NFL game. The linebacking corps took a big blow this pre-season when backer Anthony Hitchens suffered a knee injury with 20 ticks to go in the 1st half against the Oakland Raiders. With that being said it may open up a door for Jaylon Smith, the former Notre Dame star that tore his ACL in his final game against Ohio St. in 2015. Staying in the front 7, the defensive line may look spread thin with little to no depth, but really, they’ll have more depth than the past few seasons. Not saying that veteran defensive tackle Stephen Paea will be the Cowboys saving grace, but adding rookie end Taco Charlton and a full year of Demarcus Lawrence could help the defense get a push up front and pressure opposing quarterbacks.
The 2017 Dallas Cowboys are primed to have another strong season to repeat their success from 2016, having to go through the gauntlet of the NFC east will be difficult but in a few games that should be dogfights, it should benefit the team in the playoffs. Just like the fans, the players on this Cowboys team is ready to dilute the bitter taste in their mouth from what was an unfortunate ending in the NFC divisional game.