It’s been a couple of months since the Cowboys released Dez Bryant and the fact that he is still roaming around unsigned in Free Agency isn’t what we are here to talk about today—though I think Dez would fit in nicely in Green Bay. What we are here to talk about is what this 2018 offense looks like without him.
It’s true that Dez Bryant unjustly took the brunt of the blame when things went south with Ezekiel Elliott out. Dak Prescott had more than a few issues when his cornerstone, his rock, Zeke Elliott was on the sidelines.
He hit the dreaded sophomore slump. But is that behind him?
Going into year three with more experience under his belt, will he be able to lead the team in any given situation?
Although this remains to be seen, I believe the short answer is yes.
Last season was a fantastic learning experience, and even though the receiving corps lacks a wideout that you could call a #1 Guy at this point, the unit seems to suit Dak’s style of play. There are more ‘inside' receivers now, which is, despite Dak’s solid arm strength, how he plays; inside to outside.
The organization drafted Stanford’s star Tight End, Dalton Schultz to try to make up for the fact that Jason Witten was on his way out. But if there is one thing in the offense right now that we can call a ‘hole,' it's the gap Jason Witten leaves behind.
I’m sure he will develop nicely, but Schultz won’t be a crafty, mismatch creator like Witten right out of the gate.
But as we said before, the corps of receivers are solid.
Cole Beasley has 250 career receptions, Terrance Williams has 230, newcomers Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns have 194 and 189 respectively, Deonte Thompson now has 77 under his belt, and the Cowboys drafted Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, picked up KD Cannon, and they get a young Noah Brown back this season.
Tavon Austin adds another facet to the offense. He is explosive and works well as a specialist running back out of the slot. Reverses and Jet Sweeps are sure to keep the linebackers guessing when he is out on the field.
Allen Hurns is a veteran who brings a team-first attitude and toughness to the team. His selfless play was seen with the Jaguars when he crawled to the sidelines to avoid the 10-second runoff after suffering a severe high ankle sprain.
The Cowboys have doubled down on creating one of the best offensive lines in the league. They drafted Connor Williams with the 50th pick, and it looks like he will be starting at left guard. And Zack Martin just became the all-time highest paid offensive lineman in league history. He just signed a contract extension to the tune of $84 million with $40-million guaranteed that secures him through the 2024 season.
The offensive line is still improving, which is great news for the 2018 season. With Zeke in the backfield and these new receivers, we should see a little bit better of a balance in the passing attack even without the presence of Witten. Opposing defenses will be kept honest, both near and far.
So what are the Cowboys’ chances? According to Las Vegas, the Eagles are still the odds-on favorites to win the NFC East at -175, with the Cowboys as the second most likely with odds of +320. If you don’t understand these odds, you can learn to bet on sports and the basics of odds in a matter of minutes.
Losing Jason Witten hurts, but I feel like Dez Bryant is a non-factor with the way the offense is shaping up. And though life without them will be different, we have a strong team coming into this campaign.