The word bold and the Dallas Cowboys go hand in hand. From flashy draft picks to fancy helicopters, Dallas is always in the news. This year in particular reached new highs and lows in that category.
It has been a complete roller coaster.
Tony Romo got hurt… again. Three defensive starters are currently suspended. And rookie Dak Prescott has shined. If one offseason can be so crazy, it can be both fun and scary to try to predict the future.
Here are my bold predictions for the Cowboys this season.
Ezekiel Elliott Will Lead the League in Rushing
In 2015, Dallas was without arguably its two best players. Tony Romo played in a total of four games. Star wide receiver Dez Bryant played in nine, but was realistically healthy for none.
Despite this, Darren McFadden still finished fourth in rushing. Fourth! And this was all without starting a whole season. If McFadden was lead-dog from week one last season, he could have pushed for the rushing title. Just imagine what a superior talent like Ezekiel Elliott can achieve.
The talent and upside are there for this young man. Against Seattle's acclaimed starting defense in the preseason, he looked poised and explosive. But his situation may trump all.
We've all heard plenty about the offensive line. But, he plays for a team that has a dynamic rushing attack and the actual desire to run the ball heavily. In a pass-oriented league, that is almost non-existent these days. If Dallas has any success this year, running Elliott effectively is clearly plan A.
He will get the carries, and he has surrounding talent on offense. I expect Ezekiel Elliott to have one of the greatest rookie rushing seasons in league history.
Dallas' Secondary Will Produce Two Pro-Bowlers
2009 was the last year that a Dallas Cowboy made the Pro-Bowl (actual votes). That year featured two players, Terence Williams and Mike Jenkins. Seven years is a long drought, but this secondary is ready to make some significant strides.
In spite of the flack this defensive unit has received, I still have big expectations for their secondary.
Byron Jones quietly had a solid rookie campaign, flashing a lot of what the Cowboys hoped he'd be as a first round selection. He is a complete, versatile talent, possessing tremendous closing speed. He demonstrated plenty of this in the preseason this year.
Orlando Scandrick remains one of the most underrated corners in the game. Very few defensive backs have the ability to go inside and cover slot receivers like Scandrick. Healthy and with a lot to prove in 2016, expect him to return to 2014 form.
Mark Sanchez Never Takes a Snap
Dak Prescott will have his ups and downs, but I expect enough production from him to hold down the starting job. Barring injury, this is Prescott's chance.
Mark Sanchez will remain strictly a clipboard holder as Prescott is given a full opportunity to shine. Cowboys Nation is praying that Prescott is the real deal, and the organization will let him play for the majority of the season to get their answers. When Tony Romo comes back from injury, I fully expect him to resume starting duties. Unless Prescott is playing at a consistently elite level, Tony Romo gets one more crack at it.
Jason Garrett Coaches His Last Season in Dallas
I really hope this one isn't true, because by default, this means the Cowboys will have another bad season. The mediocrity of Jason Garrett's tenure as head coach cannot be denied. Specifically, this team has proven time after time totally inept without Tony Romo. I expect improvement this season with Prescott, but I'm still not convinced this team can win without Romo.
Is a record of… let's say 6-10 enough to keep Garrett around? Dallas still has enough to compete for a division crown.
How much longer can we sit here and blame backup quarterbacks for losing? Dak Prescott has looked great, and he has the talent to win in this league, but it's time for this coaching staff to start producing wins without number nine. Not to mention the Dallas Cowboys' 2016 schedule is pretty favorable.
Garrett needs to produce wins now.
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Nothing about the Cowboys isn't bold, and I expect the trend to continue this season. Maybe Prescott is the second coming of Russell Wilson and Tony Romo comes back to lead the Cowboys to the promised land. But even I can't go there. Here's to dreaming.
Bold will always be relevant in Big D.