2017 NFL Preseason Outlooks: DALLAS COWBOYS
DALLAS COWBOYS (NFC East)
2016 record: 13-3 (3-3 in division)
KEY ADDITIONS: (R) DE Taco Charlton, (R) CB Chidobe Awuzie
KEY DEPARTURES: QB Tony Romo, CB Brandon Carr, CB Morris Claiborne, FS Barry Church, RT Doug Free
2016 SEASON RECAP
Coming into the 2016 season rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott was expected to give QB Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense that running game they missed after losing DeMarco Murray the year prior. So no one was surprised when Elliott led the NFL in rushing. The surprising part of the 2016 Cowboys was 4th round QB Dak Prescott.
Tony Romo went down with another back injury in the preseason and the rookie Prescott stepped in like he was a 10 year vet. Dak threw for 3,667 yards and scored 29 total TDs on his way to Rookie of the year honors. The team went 13-3 and was the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, however what was a breakout season came to an end with a 34-31 loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
2017 SEASON PREVIEW
Dak Prescott is no longer an under the radar sensation, he will be in the cross hairs of all Dallas Cowboys opponents in 2017. Teams will stack the box to slow down Elliott (who may or may not have a suspension coming), forcing Prescott to beat them through the air. Even with that 13-3 record the Cowboys were only 3-3 in the division (week 17 vs Eagles saw many starters sit out or play a handful of snaps). The 0-2 record vs their biggest rival the New York Giants is the alarming.
The Giants harrassed Prescott and held Dallas to a total of 26 points combined for both games. A full year of experience should help the young Cowboys as well as a healthy Dez Bryant. The biggest concern in Dallas is the defense. They lost 4 players in the secondary (3 starters), add the suspensions that always seem to deplete their defensive line and they some huge question marks on that side of the ball. Dallas Dedicated this years draft to defense and they hope that draftees Taco Charlton, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis can make immediate impacts.
It will be tough for Dallas to repeat 13 wins but they still looks like a playoff team. However a slow start can put them in the rearview mirror of one or two of the other teams in a much improved NFC East.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, RT Lael Collins, WR Dez Bryant
2017 RECORD PREDICTION