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Can Malik Hooker Help Cowboys' Bad Pass Defense Keep Up With Dak's Offense?

Last season's atrocious defense must improve if Dallas is to become a legitimate contender

FRISCO - The expectations surrounding the Dallas Cowboys are high as the 2021 regular season approaches. What's the ceiling of what the team can accomplish?

There's a lot to like about the Cowboys' offense. With Dak Prescott making his return to the lineup, there is now a high-level quarterback to pair with an elite receiving corps and star Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. 

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But while not everyone is sold on the Cowboys' offense being among the NFL's best units, it's the concerns about the team's defense that prompts some analysts to predict a 26th consecutive season without a championship. To the degree that Dallas itself might agree with some of this club's pass-defense flaws, we have the planned signing of safety Malik Hooker.

How much can Hooker help? Dig in here.

Regardless of that, skepticism remains.

On FS1's First Things First, host Nick Wright explained why he feels the Cowboys do not have enough on this roster to make the Super Bowl. 

"The Cowboys should have a good to a very good offense. I don't think they're going to have the No. 1 offense in football as some have speculated because I actually don't think their offense, aside from Zack Martin, has any great players. They have a GOOD quarterback, a GOOD running back and 3 GOOD wide receivers. ... But I don't think they can win 3 playoff games with that pass defense."

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While the Cowboys do deploy arguably the best receiving corps in the NFL, Wright contends that none of the three are actually elite.

"They might have the best combined receiving corps in football but we just did that top 10 receivers in football and we were like 'man, there's four or five guys left off this. Could be 15 and nobody mentioned Amari Cooper. But Cooper, Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, it's a great trio and I like their linebacking corps."

Wright also expressed that having to face off against some of the elite quarterbacks and explosive offensives in the NFC could prove to be too much for the Cowboys to overcome due to their limitations on defense.

"I'd be shocked if [the Cowboys] didn't win the division. But in the playoffs, when you have to play Aaron Rodgers, or Russell Wilson, or Trey Lance with Kyle Shanahan calling the plays, or Matt Stafford with Sean McVay calling the plays, no matter who you run up into in the playoffs, or Tom Brady assuming the Bucs make the postseason, you're going to have to stop the pass. The Cowboys have a mediocre pass rush and their secondary is first in first and second-year guys. I don't think you can win three straight playoff games with a bad pass defense unless you have a super elite offense and I think the offense will be a tick beneath that."

It remains to be seen if the inexperienced members of the Cowboys' secondary will manage to elevate their respective impact this season. If the right player were to step up, perhaps it could prove to be difference-making in a needed way.

Regardless of how the team's secondary performance, the Dallas Cowboys remain the favorite to win the NFC East. Now, it just remains to be seen if it will prove to be too limiting en route to a potential Super Bowl appearance.

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