Which Dallas Cowboys are underneath most stress this season?

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By David Helman
FOX Sports activities Dallas Cowboys Author

DALLAS — It simply looks like sizzling temperatures are going to be a theme this 12 months.

True, the Dallas Cowboys are about to go away this oppressive, 110-degree climate for a a lot cooler local weather, however I’ve a sense the warmth goes to observe them.

Spotlights and scrutiny include the territory whenever you work for this franchise. However even nonetheless, 2022 appears like a uniquely pressure-packed scenario for the Cowboys. 

So whereas we look forward to coaching camp to start subsequent week, I wished to try 10 guys who’ve massive expectations on them within the 12 months forward.

10. Tyler Biadasz

I’ve all the time heard the adage attributed to Invoice Parcells that, if a participant goes to turn out to be The Man, it must occur by his third 12 months, or it isn’t going to occur in any respect.

I personally do not suppose Biadasz has been fairly the obtrusive concern that some make him out to be, nevertheless it’s additionally honest to say the inside of the Cowboys’ offensive line has been an issue spot. They drafted Tyler Smith to handle that, and we’ll get to him later. However Biadasz is now coming into his third NFL season and his second 12 months because the full-time starter.

The entrance workplace did not prioritize the middle place on this 12 months’s draft cycle, which may very well be seen as a vote of confidence of their incumbent. If Biadasz does not make some form of leap in 12 months 3, although, that perspective may change in a rush.

9. Dalton Schultz

I can not justify placing Schultz too excessive on this checklist, as a result of on the finish of the day he signed a young that ensures him a $10.9 million wage it doesn’t matter what occurs this season.

Nonetheless, would you relatively have one 12 months of job safety with $10.9 million within the financial institution, or three to 4 years of job safety with $30-plus million within the financial institution? That is the kind of long-term safety Schultz misplaced by being tagged this 12 months.

Will Cowboys be higher or worse this season?

Will Cowboys be better or worse this season?

Regardless of Dallas shedding many key gamers, former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett praised the staff for having a superb season final 12 months.

Now, it is on him to place his finest foot ahead as one of many focal factors of this offense. With Michael Gallup nonetheless restricted by his ACL rehab, Schultz and CeeDee Lamb may enter this season as Dak Prescott’s solely established choices within the downfield passing recreation. Opponents will probably be getting ready for him like by no means earlier than.

Schultz’s stage of play, to not point out his good well being, will go a great distance towards figuring out the place his future lies — and the way profitable it seems to be.

8. Kellen Moore

You do not see rocket ship trajectories like this usually. Moore is coming into his fourth season because the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, having already been thought of for NFL head teaching vacancies in Miami and Philadelphia, to not point out his school alma matter, Boise State. 

As somebody staring down the barrel at his thirty fourth birthday in just some months, I discover it extremely miserable to relay that Moore simply turned 34 earlier this month.

The résumé speaks for itself. The man was the most effective school quarterbacks of all time, and he is used that experience to blossom into one of many hottest teaching commodities within the NFL. 

As with all issues Cowboys-related, although, Moore’s diploma of aptitude may rely upon who you ask. This staff cranked alongside as essentially the most explosive offense in soccer final season, although anybody who was paying consideration will inform you they sputtered down the stretch. Blowout wins towards overmatched opponents helped masks the actual fact the Cowboys put up disappointing totals of 9, 22 and 17 in big-time video games towards Kansas Metropolis, Arizona and San Francisco.

Now, Moore is tasked with operating it again — arguably with a lesser solid. Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson are gone, Gallup is sidelined, the offensive line remains to be a query mark. 

How nicely Moore can climate these modifications, and succeed regardless of them, shall be a dominant storyline within the trajectory of this staff.

7. Micah Parsons

Congrats on all of your success, Micah. Now, do it once more.

Talking of untamed trajectories, take into account the actual fact we’re speaking about Micah Parsons as one of many centerpiece names of this subsequent technology of NFL superstars. I assume that stuff occurs whenever you contend for NFL Defensive Participant of the 12 months as a rookie.

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons ranks behind 49ers’ Nick Bosa on NFL’s Finest Below 25

Cowboys' Micah Parsons ranks behind 49ers' Nick Bosa on NFL's Best Under 25

Professional Soccer Focus launched its prime 25 gamers underneath the age of 25, and San Francisco 49ers move rusher Nick Bosa took the highest spot.

These are good issues to have, however the sporting world may have all eyes on how nicely Parsons builds on the 13-sack, 84-tackle season that noticed him win NFL Defensive Rookie of the 12 months. 

There’s additionally the little matter that Parsons’ stage of play will dictate rather a lot about how Dan Quinn and his protection dwell as much as final 12 months’s spectacular season.

6. Tyler Smith

Think about being the man that should observe up Parsons’ efficiency.

Like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott earlier than him, Parsons reminded us simply how a lot the suitable rookie on the proper time can do for a corporation. Smith won’t get after any opposing quarterbacks, however the Cowboys want him to have an identical affect defending theirs.

There have been loads of critics when Smith, the 21-year-old left sort out out of Tulsa, was drafted twenty fourth general. The detractors say he is younger and uncooked, however the Cowboys see him as a strong, nasty left sort out of the longer term — who ought to have the ability to bolster the left guard spot within the meantime.

Cowboys draft Tulsa OT Tyler Smith

Cowboys draft Tulsa OT Tyler Smith

The Dallas Cowboys’ offseason has been stuffed with query marks, together with its 2022 NFL Draft class.

The Cowboys’ offense fell aside on the finish of final season for 2 apparent causes. They could not impose their will within the run recreation, and their offensive line obtained mauled by gifted opposing fronts, making life depressing on Prescott.

Smith is predicted to assist with that instantly. If he cannot, it is prone to be a noticeable downside.

5. Trevon Diggs

Solely a Dallas Cowboy may lead the league in interceptions, be named a first-team All-Professional and discover himself in a sizzling debate about whether or not he is really good at his job.

Such is life for Diggs. The dude has 14 profession picks to his title heading into 12 months 3, however, as critics shall be fast to inform you, his aggressive perspective has helped him quit his share of massive performs whereas doing so.

So, what is going on to offer? Can Diggs construct on final 12 months’s breakout season and cement himself as one of many actually elite corners in soccer, or will opponents discover his flaws and exploit them? Given the Cowboys’ polarizing nature, you’ll be able to wager the talk shall be fierce all season lengthy. 

Oh, and did a point out that Diggs is eligible to barter a brand new contract beginning in 2023? His efficiency this 12 months may do fairly a bit for his backside line.

4. CeeDee Lamb

You are the person now.

I do not know if Lamb has ever seen “Discovering Forrester,” nevertheless it’s not essential to get the purpose. Lamb obtained right here in 2020 with loads of fanfare, however he was additionally the most recent piece of a stacked receiver corps, together with Cooper and Gallup.

Cooper is now gone, and Gallup shall be unavailable in the interim, on the very least, as he continues to rehab an ACL damage. Even with Gallup signing a $57 million extension within the offseason, the implication is obvious that the Cowboys need Lamb to step into the position of a real No. 1 receiver.

Cowboys prime WR CeeDee Lamb ranks sixteenth in newest NFL receiver rankings

Cowboys top WR CeeDee Lamb ranks 16th in latest NFL receiver rankings

With Amari Cooper now not a member of the Dallas Cowboys, CeeDee Lamb is in line to be Dak Prescott’s prime goal.

It isn’t that he has been unhealthy. Lamb’s numbers by his first two seasons have been stable by any goal measure, and he has flashed his top-tier expertise on loads of events. Nonetheless, with Cooper and Gallup selecting up some slack, he hasn’t wanted star constantly the way in which we have seen different younger receivers corresponding to Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase do.

In 2022, the protection web has been eliminated, and it is time for Lamb to fly.

3. Dak Prescott

Let’s level out the plain and admit that Dak may simply be No. 1 on the checklist this 12 months and each different 12 months. He performs quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Strain is the secret.

Sooner or later, it will get tedious to proceed emphasizing the quantity of stress on Prescott’s shoulders. His staff slumped to a disappointing end after a blazing begin to final season. He went from a bona-fide MVP contender to out of the playoffs, seemingly within the blink of a watch. 

Now, as could be anticipated, the talk rages about whether or not he will be That Man, to not point out whether or not the Cowboys have surrounded him with sufficient expertise to succeed.

Cowboys insider says Dak Prescott should “stand up” to contend

Cowboys insider says Dak Prescott must "rise up" to contend

The Dallas Cowboys have excessive expectations this season and numerous that may fall on Dak Prescott’s shoulders.

These arguments are actually irrelevant. The season is right here, and Prescott shall be tasked with getting the Cowboys the place they wish to go, no matter how honest or unfair these expectations are. He is being paid $40 million to take action, and that tends to drown out every other qualms and considerations.

Prescott is fond of claiming that stress is a privilege. It is a great perspective to have, as a result of he is going through loads of it.

2. Ezekiel Elliott

You possibly can’t underestimate how massive a 12 months that is for the Cowboys’ $90 million again.

No, operating again is not as essential a place as quarterback, and this staff’s success hinges rather more on Prescott than anybody else. However this might actually be make-or-break territory for Ezekiel Elliott.

Ezekiel Elliott ranks outdoors NFL’s High 10 RBs rankings

Ezekiel Elliott ranks outside NFL's Top 10 RBs rankings

Within the newest operating again rankings, Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott fell outdoors the highest 10.

It is beginning to really feel like a distant reminiscence when Elliott was universally thought to be one of many league’s finest ball-carriers and an annual risk to win the speeding title. Within the time since he signed that mega-extension again in 2019, he has been stable and reliable – however removed from the dynamic participant you are hoping to safe with that kind of paycheck.

That final bit is essential, as a result of the Cowboys will quickly have the ability to rethink that call. The way in which Elliott’s contract is structured makes it not possible to half methods with him proper now. To have lower him in 2022 would have hit the staff’s cap for $30 million, with zero reduction to be gained.

Making that call in 2023 nonetheless would not be enjoyable for the Cowboys’ funds, nevertheless it begins to look doable.

The message ought to be clear: the Cowboys want a bounce again season from Elliott in a giant means if they are going to make an actual playoff run. Elliott wants it simply as a lot, or else his future with the Cowboys begins to look murky.

1. Mike McCarthy

The buck all the time stops on the prime.

Perhaps it is dishonest to checklist the pinnacle coach at No. 1, however I can not consider a extra becoming reply. Considerations about McCarthy’s job standing obtained thrown within the combine all the way in which again in January, when a clearly annoyed Jerry Jones left that query unanswered after a disappointing end to the season.

Jones would later clarify that he performed coy about McCarthy’s standing as a result of he and his employees have been working behind the scenes to retain Dan Quinn. I suppose the technique labored, although I am nonetheless undecided what these two issues need to do with one another. Regardless, the harm is finished and McCarthy’s job safety is sufficient of a speaking level that he is needed to tackle it at a number of factors this offseason.

Mike McCarthy cancels Cowboys apply for staff bonding at Topgolf

Mike McCarthy cancels Cowboys practice for team bonding at Topgolf

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy determined to cancel the second day of minicamp for staff bonding at a neighborhood Topgolf.

Given the angst finally season’s early exit from the playoffs, there’s a clear expectation to ship one thing higher. It is 12 months 3 of McCarthy’s program, and successful the NFC East and bowing out of the event with out at the least one postseason win is not going to fulfill anybody.

That is loads of motivation by itself. Throw within the outdoors components, and it begins to get noisy. The whispers connecting Sean Payton to the Cowboys have been persistent all through his profession teaching the New Orleans Saints. Now that he has retired to work as a broadcaster, how loud do you suppose they are going to get. 

McCarthy additionally works proper down the corridor from Quinn, who had a largely profitable head teaching stint in Atlanta and was a sizzling commodity in final 12 months’s hiring cycle.

There are viable choices for a brand new head coach, if Jerry Jones desires to pursue them. It is on Mike McCarthy to show that will not be obligatory in 2023.

David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports activities, offering perception and evaluation on the NFL’s most seen franchise. Previous to becoming a member of FOX, David spent 9 seasons masking the Cowboys for the staff’s official web site, DallasCowboys.com. In 2018, he gained a regional Emmy for his position in producing “Dak Prescott: A Household Reunion” in regards to the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State.

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