Sunday, August 21, 2016

DALLAS COWBOYS - 2016 Season Preview

DALLAS COWBOYS                                                                              

2015 Record:  4-12-0

Head Coach:  Jason Garrett

New Faces for 2016 -  DL Benson Mayowa, RB Alfred Morris, OL Joe Looney, DL Cedric Thornton

OFFENSE:  As long as he is healthy, Tony Romo is the Cowboys' starting quarterback. Romo played in just four games in 2015, passing for 884 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Backing up will likely be rookie Dak Prescott (Mississippi State) as Kellen Moore is out indefinitely with a broken leg.
The running game will have depth and they may need it as rookie Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State) the team's top draft pick, has lingering hamstring issues. Darren McFadden did well a year ago, playing in all 16 games while leading Dallas in rushing with 1,089 yards (4.6 ypc average) and scored three touchdowns.
McFadden has a long history with injuries during his NFL career, so Alfred Morris was also signed to provide more depth after going for 751 yards (3.7 ypc) with one score with Washington last season. Lance Dunbar is another possibility for the running game.
Dez Bryant, who also missed a lot of playing time a year ago, is back to lead the wide receivers. Bryant was limited to nine games while making 31 catches for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Along with him will be Terrance Williams (52 receptions, 840 yards, three TD) and Cole Beasley (52, 536, five TD). The tight end is future Hall-of-Famer Jason Witten, who led the 'Pokes with 77 receptions in 2015 for 713 yards and three scores.

DEFENSE:  Two members of the front line face suspensions to start the season, but Dallas has depth as they drafted Maliek Collins (Nebraska) and Tapper Collins (Oklahoma) to possibly fill the void of ends Demarcus Lawrence (eight QB sacks) and Randy Gregory. The tackles are Cedric Thornton and Tyrone Crawford (five sacks). Free agent DE Benson Mayowa will help out this season along with Jack Crawford, who registered four sacks.
Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens are the outside linebackers along with middle man Rolando McClain. Rookie Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame), Damien Wilson and Kyle Wilber will provide depth.
The secondary has Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick playing the corner spots. The safeties will be Barry Church and Byron Jones, who also doubles as a cornerback. Reserve safety Jeff Heath led the team with two interceptions last season. Rookies Kavon Frazier (Central Michigan) and Anthony Brown (Purdue) may also get a shot this season.

OUTLOOK:  Keeping all their vital cogs in the offense on the field at the same time is the key for the Dallas Cowboys this year.
Tony Romo is entering his 11th season as the starter and along with (rookie) Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden in the backfield gives the Cowboys the potential for a very explosive offense. Wide receiver Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten provide Romo the targets he needs in the passing game and in the past this trio has shown they can be dominant.
Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett is counting on that for success this season or else the "hot seat" conversation may begin once again regarding his future in Dallas.
The defense played fairly well last season, giving up 23.4 points per game while ranking in the middle of the pack overall. The pass defense was fifth (227 yards allowed per game) but needs to get after the quarterback better, evidenced by just 31 sacks. The secondary only tallied eight interceptions a year ago and that MUST improve.
Dallas also has to take better care of the football as they ranked at the bottom of the league with a minus-22 in the turnover category.
The Cowboys can win the NFC East again but it will come down to Romo staying in one piece and the rest of the offense returning to the scoring machine it was two years ago when they dominated their division. The playoffs are a real possibility after the disaster that was last season.

Fearless forecast -  10-6 this year (playoff team)

Week 1 - vs. NY Giants
Week 2 - at Washington
Week 3 - vs. Chicago
Week 4 - at San Francisco
Week 5 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 6 - at Green Bay
Week 7 - BYE
Week 8 - vs. Philadelphia
Week 9 - at Cleveland
Week 10 - at Pittsburgh
Week 11 - vs. Baltimore
Week 12 - vs. Washington
Week 13 - at Minnesota
Week 14 - at NY Giants
Week 15 - vs. Tampa Bay
Week 16 - vs. Detroit
Week 17 - at Philadelphia 

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