Dallas Cowboys: 2022-23 Team Preview
Cowboys 2021-22 Season:
Record: 12-5 (NFC East Champions): Eliminated in 1st round of playoffs by the San Francisco 49ers.
Big Wins: Week 2- Chargers, Week 6- Patriots, Week 8- Vikings.
Big Losses (Games that team should have won): Week 9- Broncos, Week 12- Raiders.
Key Returners: Edge- DeMarcus Lawrence, WR- Michael Gallup, TE- Dalton Schultz, S- Jayron Kearse, LB- Leighton Vander Esch, S- Malik Hooker
Key Additions: WR- James Washington, Edge- Dante Fowler Jr., G/T- *Tyler Smith, Edge- *Sam Williams, WR- *Jalen Tolbert, TE- *Jake Furgeson
Key Departures: WR- Amari Cooper, Edge- Randy Gregory, T- La'el Collins, C- Connor Williams, WR- Cedrick Wilson, S- Keanu Neal, K- Greg Zuerlein
Best Move: Resigning WR Michael Gallup (5 year $57 million) + Singing WR James Washington (1 year $1.1 million) |
In an offseason restricted by limited cap space and filled with losing tons of offensive weapons (Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson), the best move by Dallas has to be extending Michael Gallup to a long-term extension. Gallup recorded 35 receptions for 445 yards and 2 TDs in just nine games last season. Gallup missed time with injury throughout the regular season and then suffered from a torn ACL against the Cardinals in Week 17. Gallup is only 26 years old and has shown significant promise for the Cowboys. Bringing him back on a relatively cheap deal compared to the receiver market was an excellent move by the front office. Additionally, James Washington provides the Cowboys with an affordable and more experienced depth option to potentially fill the role of Cedrick Wilson, who signed with the Dolphins this offseason.
Worst Move: Losing two key offensive lineman: La'el Collins (Bengals) and Connor Williams (Dolphins) |
The Cowboys have always had a stable and efficient offensive line since Tony Romo was the QB 1, but letting these two guys walk could hurt this reputation. Collins started in 10 games last season and is one of the best tackles in the NFL. They will look to the 25-year-old Terrance Steele to fill this void, as he is coming off a solid 2021 season. As for Williams, the gap is not quite as large as Collin's, as the team hopes their 2020 fourth-round draft pick, Tyler Biadasz, can step up and be the guy. The 6'4, 24-year-old started for the franchise last season but still has a steep learning curve with increased pressure since Williams departed.
2022-23 Depth Chart:
Week 1- Vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 2- Vs Cincinnati Bengals
Week 3- At New York Giants
Week 4- Vs Washington Commanders
Week 5- At Los Angeles Rams
Week 6- At Philadelphia Eagles
Week 7- Vs Detroit Lions
Week 8- Vs Chicago Bears
Week 9- BYE
Week 10- At Green Bay Packers
Week 11- At Minnesota Vikings
Week 12- Vs New York Giants
Week 13- Vs Indianapolis Colts
Week 14- Vs Houston Texans
Week 15- At Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 16- Vs Philadelphia Eagles
Week 17- At Tennessee Titans
Week 18- At Washington Commanders
Schedule Thoughts: Schedule ranks Easiest in the NFL (based on Power Rankings).
Week 1- Week 5: The first five weeks of the schedule are not friendly for Dallas. Weeks 1 and 2 should be tricky, but I predict the Cowboys will defeat Cincinnati in Week 2, as the Bengals may have a bit of a Super Bowl hangover. Week 3 and Week 4 should provide Dallas with wins over their divisional rivals, except for the Commanders, who may give more fight than expected. All will be well for Mike McCarthy if he can lead the team to a 3-2 record in this brutal five-game stretch.
Week 6- Week 9: The schedule lightens up with favorable matchups for the Cowboys. Week 6 against the Eagles will be a pivotal matchup and could determine the success level of both franchises this season. Dallas shouldn't be too worried about Detroit and Chicago. I predict them going 5-3 before the bye week, assuming the Eagles win at home in Week 6 and lose on the road in Week 16.
Week 10- Week 14: Dallas will face a tough matchup against the Packers in Week 10 but should come out with a win on the road, especially after a crucial rest week. I think Dallas will lose one of the three after Green Bay, either to the Vikings or the Colts, and go 3-1 in this stretch. 8-4 heading into Week 15 seems reasonable to me.
Week 14- Week 18: This five-game stretch provides favorable matchups to close the season. I think the Cowboys win three straight heading into Week 17 before losing to the Titans on the road. I already discussed how I feel about the Eagles, and I think Dallas will split the series in Week 16. I think the Titans are being slept on now and could give Dallas a run for their money. Week 18 is a total toss-up depending on late playoff pushes, and assuming that the Cowboys will have clinched and the Commanders will need a must-win, I predict a split series leading to an 11-6 final record.
Ezekiel Elliott + Tony Pollard:
Despite Zeke reaching a 1,000-yard season last year, many fans think Tony Pollard could be the franchise's future. Pollard rushed for 719 yards last season on 107 fewer carries than Elliott, which is astonishing. The future for Zeke as a Cowboy is a bit uncertain, especially since the team restructured his contract last offseason and has an out after this season. The former 2016 fourth overall pick looked slow in his 2021 campaign, and Pollard had his best season to date. For Dallas to succeed, they need to create the most efficient schemes that utilize both assets. In my eyes, fade Zeke, and let Pollard control the fair share. This could be one of the best running back duos in the NFL if Pollard has more opportunities to take control.
Wide Receiver Threats:
The Cowboys lost two critical threats this offseason in Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson. The team resigned Michael Gallup with hopes that he will recover from his injury and be a meaningful #2 option to complement CeeDee Lamb. Additionally, Dallas signed James Washington, franchised tagged TE Dalton Schultz, and drafted Jalen Tolbert in the third round. James Washington got hurt last week and is expected to miss 6-10 weeks, which is a considerable loss in terms of depth and experience. The franchise will rely on young and unproven wide receivers to be viable pass targets for Dak Prescott. Lamb and Schultz can't do it alone, and in just one offseason alone, the wide receiver room went from a team strength to a weakness.
As mentioned above, the offensive line lost two critical members via free agency in La'el Collins and Connor Williams. Collins is one of the best tackles in the NFL, and Williams is highly experienced and provides immense depth. Like the wide receiver position, the team is looking to fill these holes with young, unproven lineman. The franchise 2022 first-rounder Tyler Smith and 2020 fourth-rounder Tyler Biadasz will have big shoes to fill. Dallas is always known for having a solid and efficient offensive line, but things could change this year if these younglings can't step up.
Randy Gregory Departure + Dante Fowler Inbound:
Randy Gregory signed a 5-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos this offseason, becoming yet another member to depart from Dallas. To address this, the front office signed Dante Fowler Jr. from Atlanta. Fowler is a decent edge rusher but doesn't even compare to Gregory. In addition, the team drafted Sam Williams from Ole Miss in the second round in hopes of him being the long-term solution on the other side of DeMarcus Lawrence, who they resigned this offseason. This offseason shows a common theme with the front office in developing young players to step into critical roles. Only time will tell whether they succeed, but as long as the team has Micah Parsons, they shouldn't worry too much about losing Gregory as a pass rusher.
The Cowboys resigned Leighton Vander Esch to a one-year deal, which will benefit the defensive core. Vander Esch is a steady and reliable player who has battled injuries after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie. The concern here falls under nearly any linebacker after Parsons and Vander Esch. I am not quite sure what Dallas will do to address this need, but without a breakout performance from an unknown player, the defense will likely still struggle to stop the run. Again, Parsons is a game changer, but if anything happens to him, this Dallas defense could crumble quickly.
Final Record: 11-6
This prediction is pretty generous and has a lot to do with Dallas having the easiest schedule in the NFL. Due to cap space restrictions, it has been a very underwhelming offseason for Jerry Jones and the franchise. Guess this is what happens when you pay Dak Prescott $160 million. Despite the offseason, the Cowboys still have a chance to regain the NFC East title and clinch the playoffs. I think the Eagles will be a massive obstacle for Dallas to overcome, but if they can, the NFC East is definitely up for grabs. The team will rely heavily on their scouting and incoming rookies, as well as their star players to lead them to a successful season. I think they could surprise fans this season in an underwhelming division that provides them with opportunities to develop their arsenal of promising players.
Thank you to all my readers if any, especially you Kade. Stay tuned for more posts this week and the Giants team preview up next! Hope everyone has a great week!