Blake Jarwin’s path back to the football field has been a quiet one. Back in Week 1 of the 2020 season, his injury was seen as a major blow to the 2021 Dallas Cowboys but it was quickly overshadowed by Dak Prescott’s injury in Week 5.
But in Week 1, Jarwin’s return could be an X-Factor in the Cowboys’ opening game that has them labeled as 7.5 point underdogs
It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys will be facing a premier team on the NFL Kickoff when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defending champions feature the same 22 starters that won the Lombardi Trophy last season plus another nine players who logged on over 200 snaps last year.
If the Cowboys are to beat such a complete team, they’ll likely have to do it through their best unit, the offense.
The only problem is the Bucs have a very tough defense. In 2020, Todd Bowles’ unit finished the year 5th in defensive DVOA. In 2019, they were sixth in the league. They’re talented and willing to be aggressive, being one of the NFL teams to blitz the most last year.
But if we want to split hairs, the Bucs did struggle versus tight ends. While they ranked as one of the best defenses in just about every category, they ranked 25th in DVOA when opposing tight ends were targeted.
The Dallas Cowboys boast one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. The Bucs’ secondary will have its hands full dealing with these three.
But somehow, someway, it seems like we’ve forgotten about Blake Jarwin. Before the 2020 season, the Cowboys actually signed the 27-year-old tight end to a three-year, $24.5M contract extension. While Jarwin’s playing time has been limited, what he’s shown so far raises high expectations for 2021.
Now granted, Dalton Schultz could compete for the starting role this season. In the Cowboys’ latest unofficial depth chart, Schultz is actually listed as TE1. Then again, it’s unofficial and the same depth chart has Jaylon Smith as the starting MLB, something that hasn’t been the case in training camp and in the preseason.
Blake Jarwin’s first test back from injury will not be an easy one, but he has the opportunity of stepping up and become a key player in this Thursday’s game. The Dallas Cowboys hope to upset the current Super Bowl Champions through a strong offensive showing.
Blake Jarwin might the overlooked key to the game to achieve so.
Featured image via Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports