Cowboys: signs point to return to prominence in 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 31: Running back Ezekiel Elliott
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 31: Running back Ezekiel Elliott /

If form holds, the Dallas Cowboys should return to elite regular season status this year. Whether it translates to the postseason is anyone’s guess.

Don’t look now, but there are less than two months before the Dallas Cowboys have their first practice of training camp. Seems like these guys go away just long enough to make us start missing them again. For some, absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. For others, it’s a random 1:00 am “Heyyyyy…” text from someone you haven’t heard from in months.

In any event, the mood strikes. It’s only natural to look forward. For all the distractions and headaches this team generates, we can never really turn away. As a result, I found myself checking the calendar yesterday for the camp schedule. Suffice to say, it didn’t catch me completely off guard to see that it’s not that far off.

So with that in mind, let’s look ahead a little. First off, though, if you haven’t watched the Amazon Prime Video series “All Or Nothing”, it’s worth at least a month’s subscription. The show documents the turbulent 2017 season that featured the looming specter of running back Ezekiel Elliott’s league mandated suspension. Everyone remembers the circus side show that became. While there are many cringe worthy moments, it’s worth nothing that that mess somehow put nine wins on the board.

I bring this up because I think this coming season brings a return to good form. While consistent success regularly evades this organization, they appear poised to follow the recipe from 2014 and 2016. That is, a punishing ground game that controls the clock and allows a beleaguered and green defense from being exposed on a continual basis.

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Now, you may be asking yourself, “How on earth are they going to do that without their lead receiver?” Well, if I’m being honest, I think releasing mercurial wideout Dez Bryant is addition by subtraction.

While it pains me a bit to write that and see it in print, I can’t shake the notion that the Cowboys did themselves a favor by washing their hands of him. As much as he contributed during his time here, I think injuries and age at the very least started catching up to him last season.

Better to cut ties now. It’s a risky move, since they must rely on an unproven corps, but this forces the coaching staff to get creative.

Additionally, I think this newfound need for for inventiveness will be facilitated by a full season from Elliott. Barring injury or further suspension–and frankly, we never know with this kid–he will ostensibly be available for the entire season. Make no mistake, the Dallas Cowboys are still built on a foundation of pounding the rock and bludgeoning their foes into weak-legged fourth quarter jelly. Until further notice, this is the order of the day for this club. They have the horses to continue, so there’s no sense in changing their approach.

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This is an indisputably general view of the upcoming season. I just sense an every-other-year vibe to this organization right now. While it’s irksome that they seemingly need all the breaks falling their way to be successful, I see that more or less happening once the games start to count. It might be all candy and nuts for the regular season, but stay tuned to the show that never ends. It’s sure to be another wild ride.