If the Dallas Cowboys fail in 2016, don't forget these three things: Tony Romo's collarbone, PEDs, and purple drank. The aftermath of which leave the Cowboys with a few more question marks heading into the 2016 season.
How will the team perform if Tony Romo misses time?
Dallas has been one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to winning without their starting quarterback. A record of 1-13 over the past three seasons without Romo solidifies that truth.
In year's past, this team was truly Tony Romo-or-bust. Now? I'm not so sure. Prescott has shown he can at least be a backup who poses a legitimate threat to opposing defenses, in the air and on the ground. He posted near-impeccable stat lines in both of his preseason games thus far. The health of Tony Romo remains important, but it may no longer spell life and death for this team.
Where is the pass rush coming from?
In 2014, when the team lost 26-21 to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, Aaron Rodgers was hardly touched. He was playing on one leg too, by the way. It was this — not Dez Bryant's “catch” or DeMarco Murray's fumble — truly at the heart of the loss.
If the Cowboys hope to take the next step, they must get after the quarterback.
Suspensions are currently killing that idea.
DeMarcus Lawrence — the team's best threat to apply pressure — will miss 4 games.
Talent within Dallas' front-seven is thin, and players need to step up. Can newly signed players Benson Mayowa and Cedric Thornton produce? Thornton is already looking like a nice addition. The consistent health of Sean Lee and Tyrone Crawford are also concerns.
It basically seems like Dallas will need some pleasant surprises to truly succeed on the defensive line. Maybe drawing up some more creative blitz packages can alleviate the pressure on the front-four. Situational defense may be the best recipe for success at this point, though.
This unit will have to rely on a repeat of 2014. The defense needs the offense to dominate in time of possession, allowing for timely defensive stands, sacks, and turnovers. Keeping this group fresh will be imperative.
Other than Dez Bryant, who will step up in the passing game?
I'm the most satisfied I have been in years with the Dallas offense, on paper. With that being said, they must be elite through the air in 2016 to compliment their running game.
I have the biggest love/hate relationship with Terrance Williams.
Some games, he plays like a great WR2 with deep threat ability. Then the next week he goes missing without any targets. Drops and inconsistency have held him back from being a reliable number 2.
I love what I'm seeing from Brice Butler so far, and hope to see him grow more with Tony Romo. He already has a nice rapport with Dak Prescott.
Look for this offense to utilize the pass-catching skills of Ezekiel Elliott as well.