The NFL season is officially underway, and it’s a fresh start for all teams. That’s the beauty of this league. Teams are able to completely update their personnel and attitudes, and make startling improvements in the standings from one year to the next. With so much optimism this time of the year, it becomes even more important to keep things in perspective.
The Dallas Cowboys had an interesting offseason. Everyone knows Ezekiel Elliott is a world-class athlete and talent, who has quickly become one of the top three or four running backs in the NFL. But for all that he brings to the table, he simply can’t get the Cowboys to the next level all by himself. He needs the help of his teammates, and it appears there just aren’t enough of them to really contribute at the necessary level for Dallas to win the division.
In order for Dallas to really make a run at a division that includes the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, as well as the vastly improved New York Giants and Washington Redskins, Dak Prescott needs to step up his game. And not just a little bit. He needs to have really big season.
One thing that could really limit Prescott’s potential ceiling being reached early in the season, is the absence of Dez Bryant, who was let go by the team early in the offseason. While Dez remains a free agent, and has yet to sign with another team, that doesn’t help Dallas feel any better about their playmakers in the passing game. The Cowboys drafted Michael Gallup in the third round of the recent draft, but he could take some time to develop. It would be quite the shock to see him immediately assume the role of a true number one wide receiver. Gallup certainly offers a lot of upside. And he could be force fed targets, simply due to the lack of other options in the passing game.
Dallas also added Allen Hurns and Tavon Austin to add some other weapons in the passing game. Both should get their fair share of looks, in an effort to help the team move the ball. Outside of Zeke of course, the thing that matters the most is the performance of Prescott. The most glaring stat that he needs to improve on is the interceptions, which climbed to 13 last season, from just four in 2016. Those mistakes are too costly for the Cowboys to overcome. The team will need to rely on their defense and running game, in order to make sure that they don’t fall behind by too many points, simply due to their lack of passing game weapons, which should theoretically limit the ceiling of the overall passing attack.
But Dak is so talented, that we could all see him reach new heights this season. If he is able to do that, the sky’s the limit. Nobody expected much out of the Houston Texans offense last year, until Deshaun Watson showed the world what he can do. Suddenly, the entire offense came to life. Wide receiver Will Fuller became a dangerous deep-threat and game-breaking receiver. If Dak can emulate that type of play, we could see similar performances from the underrated Hurns and the gadget-player Austin.
In any case, there is no doubt that Zeke needs help on offense. Dak’s play will dictate what type of defensive fronts the running back will face. The better Dak plays, the more room Zeke will have to operate, and it could result in the team far exceeding current expectations.