Ahead of their first game of the season on Sunday afternoon against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys released their newly elected captains for the 2019 season. It's a veteran group, evenly dispersed between the offense, defense, and special teams. While there are a couple of carryovers from the 2018 group of captains, there are four new faces representing the Dallas Cowboys in 2019.
Per Jon Machota of The Athletic, these are the Dallas Cowboys captains for 2019.
- Dak Prescott (Offense)
- Zack Martin (Offense)
- DeMarcus Lawrence (Defense)
- Jaylon Smith (Defense)
- Jeff Heath (Special Teams)
- Chris Jones (Special Teams)
There's no change on the offensive side of the ball with Dak Prescott and Zack Martin taking the mantel for that group for the second year in a row.
Dak Prescott has been one of the emotional and vocal leaders of the team since taking over as a rookie in 2016. His ability to shrug off adversity and help lead the team to victory has been tremendous. From the ownership and front office, the 53rd player on the roster, everyone believes in and follows Prescott. He's been a leader on and off the field and being the quarterback of the team, everyone takes their cues from Dak Prescott.
Something interesting to note among the offensive group is that Jason Witten wasn't elected a captain for 2019. Witten sitting out 2018 during his brief retirement allowed some of the younger players to become leaders on the team and it's no surprise that the team has turned to Dak Prescott and Zack Martin.
Along the offensive line, Martin is a more vocal player than fellow All-Pro Tyron Smith. With Frederick also sitting out 2018, Martin became a leader in the offensive line room.
On the defense, the Dallas Cowboys are experiencing a changing of the guard with their captains. Jaylon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence take over for long-time Dallas Cowboys Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been a vocal leader of the team. His words in the week leading up to the New Orleans Saints game in 2018 rallied the defense to pull off an incredible defensive performance against one of the NFL's best offense. Over the last several years, Lawrence has become a tone-setter for the defense. His passion, energy, enthusiasm, and belief are infectious. When DeMarcus Lawrence speaks, everyone listens. Even those of us who follow him on Twitter can't get enough of Tank. As one of the founding members of the Hot Boyz (the nickname given to the defensive line and a select few) Lawrence has helped to mold an identity for this defense.
Jaylon Smith taking over for Sean Lee shouldn't come as a surprise either. Smith has an infectious faith and optimism that bubbles over when he speaks. His mantra of “Clear eye view” helped inspire his comeback from the devastating knee injury he suffered in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.
Both Lawrence and Smith have faced adversity in their careers, both with injuries, and both are considered tireless workers at their craft. The two of them make big plays for the defense on a regular basis.
On Special teams, Chris Jones returns as a captain. His ability to run fake punts and to lay physical hits on returners is pretty impressive. There aren't many punters in the NFL that can do what Chris Jones can do. Also, he's pretty good at his craft.
The inclusion of Jeff Heath on this list may come as a surprise to fans, but it shouldn't be. Despite the calls for the Dallas Cowboys to move on from the hotly debated safety (and I've even argued for Donovan Wilson to start), the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff really likes Jeff Heath. They trust him in-game. Yes, he missed a lot of tackles in 2018 and his misread on the Jared Goff play-action bootleg allowed the Los Angeles Rams to pick up the first down and win the playoff game, but Heath is a trusted player among the veterans on the team.
Though he may have been overexposed in 2018, Heath has shown to be a playmaker in his career.
The youth movement in Dallas is thriving. Of the 53 players on their roster heading into week one, the Dallas Cowboys only have eight players over 30 years old. All six of their captains are 30 years old or younger with Chris Jones the oldest captain at 30. Chris Jones is the oldest captain at 30 years old and Zack Martin is right behind him at 29.
With this selection of captains, it's clear where this team is heading in the future. DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, and Jaylon Smith are all locked up through the 2023 season and Martin and Smith through 2024. With reports that the Dallas Cowboys and representatives of Dak Prescott may reach an agreement before Sunday's week one opener, it's possible that the Dallas Cowboys offensive and defensive leadership group will all be under contract through the 2023 season. That kind of leadership continuity is huge for a team with championship aspirations.
In their selected captains, the Dallas Cowboys have a group of guys that the rest of the team rallies to and follows. They have arguably the two best players on the team in Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence and the two most inspirational players on the team in Jaylon Smith and Dak Prescott. Their special teams captains are a couple of playmakers.
Optimism about what this team can accomplish in 2019 is soaring and with this group of captains leading them, there's no reason to doubt that they can return the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl glory.