After all of these months, we are finally almost out of the NFL dead zone. Training camp is right around the corner and soon the regular season will be kicking off, meaning we can stop paying attention to rankings and projections and focus on results.
Those days aren’t here yet, however, and this week another NFL writer ranked the Cowboys offense very favorably.
Cian Fahey recently ranked the best “supporting casts” for each quarterback in the NFL on SportsOnEarth.com. In this case, supporting cast refers to the remainder of the offensive unit: the offensive line, wide receivers, and running backs, as well as the offensive coaches.
Fahey slotted the Cowboys’ supporting cast 2nd in the entire NFL, behind only the Oakland Raiders. Only one other NFC East team, the Washington Redskins, was included in the top 10 while the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants ranked 29th and 25th respectively.
It is hard to argue with Fahey’s logic for why the Cowboys offensive supporting cast is so great, as he cites that outside of receiver depth, this offense has almost no flaws on paper.
Putting Ezekiel Elliott behind an offensive line that essentially features four first-round picks is unfair. Elliott will be able to replicate and even improve on what Murray achieved two years ago behind a slightly less-talented line. With Dez Bryant as a mismatch problem outside, a healthy Tony Romo should have one of the easiest roles of any top quarterback next season. What Romo will need to do is elevate the other receivers in his offense. Jason Witten has declined dramatically over the final stage of his career, while Terrance Williams has never lived up to expectations. Cole Beasley and Brice Butler could thrive with Romo if the quarterback is given the kind of pass protection we expect. This team is extremely talented, even if most of the defense will be suspended by the time the season starts.
For years we have said that Tony Romo needed more help to bring that elusive sixth championship to Dallas, but it now seems that, at least offensively, the help is finally fully in place. Jerry and Stephen Jones have equipped the Cowboys with the NFL’s top and most complete offensive line, an all-time great tight end, one of the most dangerous receivers in the league, and now an expected rookie sensation running back.
Maybe, just maybe, for the first time in his career, the Dallas Cowboys organization has truly set Romo up to succeed from game one, without having to carry the entire load of the offense on his shoulders.
As Fahey also points out, however, this defense could very well be the weight that weighs too heavy for the offense to carry. Suspensions to DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory deplete an already questionable defensive line, and the suspension of Rolando McClain brings with it even more uncertainty to the unit as a whole.
While the front office has spent a good amount of resources on the offensive side of the ball since the 2010 Draft, the defense has consistently lagged behind. But this lag is certainly not due to a lack of effort by that same front office.
Since that same 2010 draft, the Cowboys have used 8 of their first two draft choices in a given year on defensive players. This list includes guys like Tyrone Crawford, Byron Jones, and Sean Lee. The problem is this list also includes Bruce Carter, the now-suspended DeMarcus Lawrence, and Jaylon Smith, who we have no idea what the future holds health-wise.
But for once I’d like to not end any positive discussion about this team with a reminder about how many questions there are about the defensive unit.
As Cian Fahey pointed out in his rankings, the Dallas Cowboys offense has a chance to be really good, and we should be excited about it. Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are back healthy and motivated, which is a bad combination for any defense trying to stop them. Then you throw in Ezekiel Elliott behind four first-round quality offensive linemen, and you can guarantee this team is going to cause problems each and every week in defensive meeting rooms.