One of the most alluring storylines heading into this football season will be the play of the Dallas Cowboys.
Before starting quarterback Dak Prescott went down in Week 5 last year with a gruesome ankle injury, the team was producing at historic levels on the offensive side of the football.
Unfortunately for them, their defense was also conceding a ton of yardage and points, which made every week a heart-stopping shootout.
Missing their leader under center for most of the year, and receiving less than dominant defenses performances each week, left the Cowboys with a 6-10 record in 2020.
The good news for Dallas is that both of those unfortunate narratives from last season should improve themselves in 2021.
The franchise also has other things working in their favor.
It was a sight for sore eyes for Cowboys fans last month.
Number 4 was back in a helmet and pads in training camp, hoping to put his best foot forward (literally) in 2021.
There haven’t been too many concerns expressed in Dallas camp about Prescott’s ankle, which is a huge positive in his recovery.
However, he has been sidelined for a good part of August with a strained muscle in his right (throwing) shoulder.
In and of itself, that’s not the greatest thing to hear from a Cowboys fan perspective, but the reason for panic should be at a minimum.
Reports indicate that the shoulder is feeling better, and that the quarterback is already back throwing some light passes.
Even if there are some limitations in Prescott’s arm strength, it shouldn’t hold the team back too much.
There’s a ton of talent around him, (more on that later), and he was a successful player before the statistic explosion in Weeks 1-5 last year.
Even though the Cowboys are expecting big things out of their offense, they’re also hopeful that their defense will be able to create turnovers and hold leads better than they did last year.
Much maligned defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is no longer with the team, and he has been replaced by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
Quinn served as the defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks in 2013 and 2014 during the team’s dominant “Legion of Boom” run.
In theory, their scheme and coaching should improve greatly.
Dallas invested a top-10 draft pick in Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who will team with Leighton Vander Esch in the front seven.
Parsons provides elite level potential insurance if Vander Esch cannot regain his Pro Bowl level form from 2018.
.@dallascowboys @MicahhParsons11 played 16 snaps last night. They sure are moving him around and asking him to do a lot of different assignments. Has a chance to be an immediate impactful player. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/c6lYUieyaV
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 14, 2021
Impressive Offensive Depth
The Cowboys truly have an embarrassment of riches on offense.
As has been well documented, their wide receiver room might be the best in the NFL.
Amari Cooper was activated off of the PUP list earlier this month after offseason foot surgery, and appears to be close to a full go.
Second-year wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has all the makings of becoming the league’s next elite wide receiver, and he may not even be the featured guy, which is scary for opposing defenses.
Michael Gallup, entering a contract year, is extremely talented as well, and will be motivated to show the league he deserves a lucrative deal next offseason.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) August 7, 2021
Dallas is living right in their backfield as well, as Ezekiel Elliott continues to be one of the premier bell-cow options in the game.
There has been chatter of limiting his workload throughout the course of the regular season, but even if that happens, the team is well positioned to maintain their ground production.
Third-year running back Tony Pollard has shown immense ability in a reserve role, and his career 4.8 yards per carry average is not a bad fallback plan should Dallas want to involve him more in the offense.