Regardless of the year or who’s on the team, the Dallas Cowboys usually get a fair bit of attention when they report to training camp in Oxnard, California.
Fans and media members alike are always excited to see the initial iteration of the roster, and predict whether America’s Team can return to glory.
The opportunity to get this sneak peak was muted in 2020 due to the pandemic, but we should be able to get many more updates about the state of the Cowboys this summer.
Apparently, the team is eligible to be featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks training camp documentary, which would take the intrigue to a whole other level.
Let’s take a look at three of the biggest storylines for Dallas heading into camp.
3. Dallas’ Defense
To say that the Cowboys defense was ineffective last season would be an understatement.
They allowed the second-most rushing yards, and the third-most passing touchdowns in the league last year.
There was a lot of scrutiny on the job defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was doing, and he’s since been replaced by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn in the same capacity.
Quinn was leading the Seattle Seahawks’ defense during their “Legion of Boom” days, and is being entrusted to lead a significant bounce back of that unit.
They’ve invested legitimate draft capital on that side of the ball the past two seasons, by selecting linebacker Micah Parsons in the first round this year and cornerback Trevon Diggs in the second round last year.
A letter from Dan Quinn to the city of Atlanta. pic.twitter.com/2QSoHtbDxI
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 14, 2020
2. Mike McCarthy’s Job Security
The narrative for a head coach usually doesn’t turn sour in the first year of a new gig, especially when the starting quarterback is injured and out for the season.
Unfortunately for Mike McCarthy, having one of the most high profile jobs in professional sports doesn’t afford him that luxury.
There were whispers last year of his approach and control over the pulse of the team.
This was after the team faced some questions about his hiring due to McCarthy’s offensive approach while leading the Green Bay Packers.
Either way, McCarthy will be under the microscope in 2021 for his temperament in dealing with his players, and for Dallas’ offensive philosophy as they try to maximize their talent.
1. Dak Prescott’s Ankle
It might not just be the biggest storyline for the Cowboys; Dak Prescott’s recovery from ankle surgery might be the biggest storyline in the NFL.
If Prescott is able to regain his form from early in the 2020 season, Dallas can legitimately be viewed as a threat to make it to the Super Bowl.
If he’s a shell of himself after the injury, then the team might struggle to even make the playoffs.
As we saw last year, the drop-off between Prescott and anyone backing him up is immense.
Felt good to put up 4 touchdowns for Cowboys Nation, but it felt even better knowing that means @Pepsi is donating 400 meals to the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and Tarrant County #PepsiCauseForCelebration #ad https://t.co/F7C1ZUJAIV
— Dak Prescott (@dak) September 9, 2019
We’ve seen quarterbacks take a couple of years after a major leg injury to get back to their old form, and it will be interesting to see what Prescott’s comfort level his.
He’s not an avid scrambler per se, but he did have solid mobility to get out of the pocket and extend plays.