Training camp is under a week away for the Dallas Cowboys. Meaning the nightmare of the 2022 off-season is also nearing it’s end.
In what has been one of the most inactive off-seasons in recent memory, the feeling of despair has lasted since the end of their home playoff loss. Now it’s all beginning to culminate in a new season, and a new team.
With training camp comes preseason and the evaluation of the 90-man roster. Including the nine draft picks, 28 undrafted free agents and five free agent signees. After the loss of multiple high-value teammates.
Nothing will be figured out until the end of the season, but there are things going into the season they’ll need to answer for. Areas that have been continuing topics of conversation.
These are what the defense needs to answer. Some of the most pressing issues that continue to cloud the Cowboys. Inching closer and closer to the season.
Has Kellen Moore learned to adapt?
For the first half of the 2021 season, the Dallas Cowboys offense moved the ball as they pleased. Using multiple looks in 12-personnel, three and four WR looks, including multiple offensive linemen. Up until the halfway point versus the Denver Broncos. Instead of blitzing QB Dak Prescott, teams played simple Cover 2 looks and only rushed 3-4 players at a time, dumbfounding Kellen Moore into a Jason Garrett-esq conservative offense.
If Kellen Moore wants to one day become a head coach, or even stay as a high-level offensive coordinator, he’ll need to show an adaptation of play-calling as well as evolving formations and better reactions to offensive inefficiencies. Otherwise, he might be another coach not in the Cowboys future plans.
What does the health of Michael Gallup look like?
Michael Gallup has gone through the rehab of his torn ACL throughout the off-season. Obviously the Dallas Cowboys believe in him and his recovery enough to have rewarded him with a 5-year $62.5 million deal. The likelihood being he’ll be ready to go around the start of the season.
While one or two games is being discussed the most frequently, the PUP list is still a possibility. Meaning at least the first four games he’d be out. This means the Cowboys would need to make roster decisions on if they think he’ll be out an extended period of time. And if so, who would (temporarily) get his roster spot. Otherwise, they could swallow his roster spot, making him a weekly inactive in lieu of a player who’d be more helpful for the time being.
Will Tony Pollard really see an expanded role?
We’ve all know the reports coming out of practices. RB Tony Pollard is getting more looks in 2023. In fact, the offense is lining him up at the slot as well as in the backfield, to better expand the use of his receiving abilities. However, we’ve heard this before.
Even with Ezekiel Elliott playing through a partially torn PCL for much of the season, the Cowboys favored their RB1 over Pollard, who averaged 6.25 yards every time he touched the ball. Almost two yards more than Elliott.
The smart thing would be to utilize a talented, multi-tooled RB going into a contract year. Even though Pollard should see a slight uptick in touches, the Dallas Cowboys have favored who sells jerseys over on-field production time and time again.
How will this new offensive line look?
Outside of Zack Martin, there are nothing but questions surrounding the Dallas Cowboys offensive line:
When will Tyron Smith eventually miss time? Can he be available late in the season? Has Tyler Biadasz taken the next step? Is Terence Steele ready to take over for La’el Collins full-time? Where will rookie Tyler Smith play? How does Connor McGovern factor into this?
All of these things can be answered at the start of the season, but going into a season it’s clear that the offensive line isn’t as dominant as it once was. The good news is it can be better than it was last year.
Is Jalen Tolbert ready to be the WR2?
The question of Gallup’s availability has a trickle-down effect. With him out for an undetermined amount of time, rookie Jalen Tolbert is now a starter beside WR1 CeeDee Lamb. These two, along with new addition James Washington, will make up the primary outside passing options for the offense.
Tolbert has plenty of skills as a route runner, strong hands and ability to win in one-on-one situations. He and Dak are already creating what looks like a solid connection together, which will be important in a season following the loss of a number of weapons.
Tolbert has upside but now it’s a requirement to step up, and will be fed to the fire.
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports