Dallas Cowboys: Potent offense but unknown defense…

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

While we should hear some roster moves over the next few days, the coaching staff and starters have already started to prepare for a week one matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dallas Cowboys certainly have the offense to keep up with the defending Super Bowl Champs, but the question will be how will the defense hold up.

With a new scheme, new players (to include a handful of rookies), and that still-potent offense, there is both concern and excitement heading into 2021. One thing is clear, the offense should be the strength of this team early on.

With a potent offense and a new-look defense, there is hope and excitement for the Dallas Cowboys

Before we get into the defensive questions that the Cowboys need to answer, let’s look at this offense and how it should look for week one. Of course, the largest upgrade from last year is a healthy Dak Prescott. Forget what you have heard about his shoulder or ankle, Prescott is set to have an outstanding season with a stacked offense.

With a slimmed-down Ezekiel Elliott, the trio of receivers in Amari Cooper, Ceedee Lamb, and Michael Gallup, seam busting tight ends in Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, and of course Kellen Moore with a full offseason, the offense should be able to outscore just about any team.

Based on preseason and training camp footage, the offense showed a ton of pre-snap movement. I attended the practice this last Friday and almost every snap had some element of movement. This is something the Cowboys have tried to introduce last season, but with a strange offseason and injuries, it could not be fully implemented. However, it appears this year the Cowboys look dedicated to the cause and will use a lot more movement than in previous seasons.

On several first-down reps, there were passes up the seams instead of a bunch of handoffs. The offense varied their plays and was able to press the ball downfield. From preseason games we also saw running backs moving to slot positions to stretch the defense and create mismatches, which is also something the Cowboys have not done a lot of over the past few seasons.

However, for all the excitement for the offense, the defense could be taxed against a vaunted Buccaneer offense. The front seven looks upgraded from last season, but the real questions linger in the secondary. Without knowing the final roster at the time of writing this, it appears Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown might be the two starting outside corners, with Donovan Wilson and either Damontae Kazee or Malik Hooker as the safeties.

While Diggs looks to be the far and away best corner, the coverage of the rest of the corps is still very much unknown. If the Cowboys can get pressure from the front seven, they have a chance to slow down the Bucs offense.

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Tom Brady is famous for his quick release and ability to read defenses, so the Cowboys will have to try to disguise things a little and throw enough pressure to keep Brady off-balance. If the Cowboys can do this, it will take pressure off of the secondary to have to cover for longer periods of time. The secondary will be one of the key parts of this matchup and for the season as a whole.

On offense, even with all of the firepower, there are some concerns about the offensive line. However, it should be able to hold up enough to allow Prescott and the crew to move the ball. Should La’el Collins have continued medical issues, they could move Zack Martin to tackle, but that leaves the interior offensive line a little soft. This is the only real worry for the offense, and with the weapons they have and the desire to make adjustments, it can be overcome.

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So week one is on deck for the Cowboys and we will finally start getting a picture of who this team will be. Some of the questions for this game will probably linger throughout the season, but some of what we know are strengths should start to show up early. It is time for real, meaningful football, and it starts with the Bucs and the Cowboys’ offense.