Football is back! The Dallas Cowboys will head to Carolina this week for their 2018 season opener against the Panthers, meaning we will finally get to see what this team is all about. Are you excited!?
With so much unknown still surrounding this year’s Dallas Cowboys team, I decided to put together a list of the top five storylines I will personally be watching in the season opener. I’m sure if you were to put together a list it wouldn’t be exactly the same as mine, but that’s the reason we have a common section located at the end of our articles.
Please continue to read below to see what my top five storylines to watch in the Cowboys 2018 season opener are. And as always, don’t hesitate to use the comment section to voice your own thoughts and opinions. In fact, it’s highly encouraged.
Kris Richard’s Cowboys Coaching Debut
Ever since the Dallas Cowboys hired Kris Richard as their new Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator, expectations on the defensive side of the ball have risen significantly. Richard brings an infectious attitude on the defensive side of the ball and we’ve already seen some of that feistiness in the preseason.
I for one am really interested in seeing what, if any, changes he makes for the Cowboys defense. If preseason was any indication, it looks as if we will see a lot more man coverage from the secondary, but that might not be the only change. Rod Marinelli may still hold the title of Defensive Coordinator, but I’m expecting Richard to bring/add some of that attitude and aggressiveness to the Cowboys D that he had with the Seattle Seahawks.
A Bigger, Stronger, Faster Jaylon Smith
What better storyline to follow than that of Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith? It’s the kind of comeback story that could turn into a featured film… Hello Hollywood!
I don’t know about you, but I am anxiously awaiting to see what Smith looks like in an actual game now that he is as close to his old self as he has been since sustaining that horrific knee injury. He is no longer playing with the knee brace that limited his mobility last season and definitely has looked bigger, stronger, and faster so far in the preseason.
I’m actually expecting big things from Smith this year. I think he will have a Pro Bowl caliber 2018 season and will end up being one of the best overall defensive players. It’s funny to think about it now, but all the talk that rookie Leighton Vander Esch would challenge Smith for the starting middle linebacker position has all but been thrown out the window. Jaylon Smith is back and that should make you extremely excited!
The Cowboys New Look Passing Game
One of the ultimate unknowns for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2018 season opener against the Carolina Panthers is what this new look passing game is all about. Gone are their top two receiving threats, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, meaning there’s quite a bit of production that needs to be replaced. Who’s going to step up?
With Witten gone the tight end position is as unproven as it gets. It looks like Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin will get the first shot at replacing Witten’s production, but Rico Gathers could factor in there as well. One thing is for sure, someone needs to raise the level of their game.
Things don’t look much better at wide receiver. The Cowboys do have holdovers Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams, but the WRs behind them are new in Dallas and need to prove they can be reliable before they can be counted on. The potential is there though. Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and rookie Michael Gallup all bring something different to the table, but what that is has yet to be determined.
Randy Gregory and the Cowboys Pass Rush
Seriously though, if Hollywood is looking for some material for comeback stories, they should look no further than the Dallas Cowboys. Just like with Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory is making his own comeback, although for different reasons. Gregory’s return should help boost the Cowboys pass rush, especially if DeMarcus Lawrence picks up where he left off last season.
I know I’m not alone here, but I think the Cowboys pass rush could be something special this season. I think they are going to feast in the Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, which should only build their confidence for the rest of the season. Dallas’ front four on the defensive line could end up being the strength of the defense.
With Lawrence and Gregory coming off the edges, Tyrone Crawford and eventually David Irving at the three-technique, and Maliek Collins rushing from the one-technique, opposing quarterbacks should be put on notice. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m really excited about the potential here.
A Travis Frederick Less Offensive Line
One of the biggest storylines ahead of the 2018 season opener for the Dallas Cowboys is what their offensive line will look like without Travis Frederick on the field. Frederick has been the model of consistency and health since arriving in Dallas in 2013 as a rookie. His Ironman streak will unfortunately come to an end, but hopefully it won’t setback the offense too terribly much.
With Frederick out, Joe Looney will take over at center. He has supposedly looked pretty good, but there is no denying there will be a drop off in production there. Hopefully though it won’t have a ripple effect throughout the OL, especially at left guard.
Connor Williams, the Cowboys new rookie LG, could be impacted the most with Frederick out of the lineup. Ideally he would’ve started the season sandwiched between Frederick and Tyron Smith, but that’s not the case as of now. That likely would have hidden some of his growing pains, especially early in the season. Now he may need to rely more on himself then the help he would’ve received from a veteran All Pro like Frederick.