Every year the Dallas Cowboys are Super Bowl hopefuls, but they disappointed yet again last season only going 8-8. Could this year be different? The Cowboys play in one of the worst divisions in football, the NFC East, with the Philadephia Eagles being the only threat in the division.
A great draft led by 6-foot-2 star wide receiver from Oklahoma, CeeDee Lamb and a former Super Bowl-winning head coach, Mike McCarthy, taking over the team, are reasons to be excited about this year’s team. However, will the loss of star cornerback Byron Jones be too much to overcome?
The Cowboys arguably had the steal of the draft selecting Lamb with the 17th pick. Although Lamb only ran a 4.51, 40 time, his elite route-running made him one of the best receivers in college. With Jalen Hurts as his quarterback, Lamb caught 62 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 total touchdowns. This season as a rookie, he already enters elite company wearing No. 88 for the Cowboys. This marks the fourth ever player to wear that number. He joins three all-time great Cowboy receivers, Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant. Lamb is locked up in Dallas for four years after signing his $14.01 million deal.
A team that ranked 24th in sacks per game (2.4 p/g) and 19th in total sacks (39) needed help on the defensive line. As a result, Dallas grabbed two veteran defensive tackles and one former first-team All-Pro defensive end to bolster their pass rush. The 6-foot-3, 346-pound lineman from the Panthers, Dontari Poe, is lethal when it comes to pass rush. In his eight-year career, Poe has 20.5 career sacks with 278 tackles. Another veteran from Carolina, Gerald McCoy, brings his veteran presence and skill to a developing line.
The biggest risk for the Cowboys was signing Aldon Smith to a one-year, $2 million contract. Smith has been out of the NFL since 2015. Over the years, Smith has been battling drug and alcohol problems. In 2015, the 49ers released Smith after his third DUI, which required him to serve 20 days in prison.
“The first “wow” moment in training came when Smith used his length to execute a long-arm rush technique,” said Brandon Tucker, Smith’s trainer. “Smith was going about 70% and lifted the 6-4, 365-pound Tucker off his feet before catching him.”
Nonetheless, if Smith gets back to his All-Pro form, the Dallas Cowboys get a guy that had 19.5 sacks in 2012. Smith has passed every drug test since August 1, 2019.
The biggest loss for the Cowboys this offseason was elite cornerback Byron Jones. Jones ranked seventh in yards allowed (23.4 p/g), second in yards per target (5.1 p/g), fourth in catch rate allowed (47.8 percent), and only allowed three touchdowns last year. Unfortunately for Dallas, Jones’s asking price was too high. As a result, Jones signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Miami Dolphins, making him the second-highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
“Byron’s a guy we think a lot of,” said owner Jerry Jones. “He’s had a great run at corner, he’s played really well, played at a high level.”
Jones is a player the Cowboys are going to miss. They drafted two cornerbacks and picked up two more in free agency, so only time will tell if they will be suitable replacements for Jones.
The Cowboys added too many great pieces to not win this division. It’s going to be a close race for the division title between the Cowboys and the Eagles and might come down to the week 16 matchup. In the end, Dak Prescott and company do not disappoint and will lead the Cowboys to the division title.
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