DALLAS – The pool of talented players on the Dallas Cowboys offense is a nightmare for opposing defenses. Optimism is sky high that new coach Mike McCarthy and second-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will lead that stockpile of weapons to their first NFC Championship (and beyond) in 24 years.
To improve on their 8-8 record last season, however, there are a few flaws to improve and questions to be answered. Sports Illustrated’s Bri Amaranthus and Mike Fisher break it down:
4. Set the tone early
In 16 games, the Dallas Cowboys scored on the opening drive just four times. The slow starts were often products of errors during the Cowboys first possession;
· Ezekiel Elliott fumbled against the Detroit Lions
· Amari Cooper dropped a pass that was intercepted against the Green Bay Packers
· Brett Maher missed a field goal against the New England Patriots
The team that scores first does not necessarily always win the game but there is a correlation. The Cowboys would benefit greatly by creating the habit of finding a quick, successful rhythm to strike first instead of playing from behind in 2020.
3. Jason Witten departs from Dallas
Cowboys veteran Jason Witten is gone to Oakland, opening up opportunity and a lot of snaps at the tight end position. Blake Jarwin looks poised for a breakout season in 2020, exemplified by his contract with the Cowboys, a four-year, $22 million commitment.
Will his dynamic receiving potential live up to the bill? Should he have had more opportunities last season?
“A lot of people inside The Star do believe that he should have been used more,” Fish said. “Instead of 85-15 or 75-25 in terms of usage with Jason Witten, it should have been flip-flopped. Witten should have been the guy who played less. Jarwin needs to prove those people right this year.”
2. Who will be at center?
“The old saying at quarterback is, ‘if you have multiple starting quarterbacks then maybe you don’t have any,” Fish said, insinuating the Cowboys may have "too many'' centers.
All-Pro Cowboys center Travis Frederick has retired leaving a void. Dallas has five options at center, including newly drafted Tyler Biadasz, a fourth-round selection out of Wisconsin. Joe Looney started 16 games two years ago while Frederick was out. Adam Redmond returns, Connor McGovern is an option and left guard Connor Williams has versatility. Who will emerge?
1. What is Dak Prescott and where is he going?
How high is the ceiling for Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott?
“I think he got better as a thrower last year,” Fish said. “To some degree, when it comes you accuracy, you are born with it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it.”
Prescott looks to build on his best statistical season yet: a 65.1-percent completion rate, 4,902 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2019. He’s got the surrounding talent, including a quarterback-minded coach in McCarthy, to top those numbers in 2020.
If Prescott takes the next step, the Cowboys wont have many flaws to correct heading into 2020.