The Dallas Cowboys started the 2019 season with a 3-0 record, but quickly fell to 3-3 after losing three straight games. They would have another three game losing streak in the second half of the season that ultimately came back to hurt them as they finished 8-8 and second in the NFC East.
The struggles throughout the season and failure to make the playoffs led to the firing of head coach Jason Garrett. Now, former Green Bay Packers and Super Bowl winning head coach, Mike McCarthy takes over in Dallas.
The offseason for the Cowboys has featured some terrific additions, especially in the NFL Draft, but there were also some tough departures.
Key Additions: QB Andy Dalton, DE Aldon Smith, DT Gerald McCoy, DT Dontari Poe, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, K Greg Zuerlein, WR CeeDee Lamb, CB Trevon Diggs, and C Tyler Biadasz
Key Departures: WR Randall Cobb, WR Tavon Austin, TE Jason Witten, OT Cameron Fleming, G Xavier Su’a-Filo, DE Robert Quinn, DE Michael Bennett, CB Byron Jones, and S Jeff Heath
Let’s take a look at the Cowboys roster going into year one with McCarthy.
Starter: Dak Prescott
Backups: Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Clayton Thorson
Prescott has signed his franchise tender and is making $31.4 million this season. Prescott set multiple career-highs last year, including passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30). It was the first time in his career that he eclipsed 4,000 passing yards and had at least 30 touchdowns. He looks to take it up another level this season with a new head coach and another weapon in CeeDee Lamb.
Andy Dalton comes to Dallas after spending his entire career in Cincinnati. He is a top backup in the league and honestly still has the ability to be a starter. Dalton brings security to the QB position in a scenario where Prescott gets injured.
Starter: Ezekiel Elliott
Backups: Tony Pollard, Jordan Chunn, Jamize Olawale
The Cowboys have one of the league’s best RBs with Elliott. He has continued to evolve and play at a high level. The least amount of rushing yards he has recorded in a season is 942 when he only played in ten games in 2017
In every other season of his four year career, he has rushed for over 1,300 yards and has led the league in rushing yards per game in three out of his four seasons. He was selected as a First-Team All-Pro his rookie season and has been named to three Pro Bowls.
Tony Pollard enters his second season and could see a jump in production as McCarthy could get creative with his usage of the second string back.
Starters: Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup
Backups: Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, and Devin Smith
The Cowboys started the offseason by re-signing star WR Amari Cooper. Since his trade to Dallas in 2018, Cooper has rejuvenated his career, reaching 1,000 yards receiving for two straight years. Cooper remains the WR1 for Prescott and the Cowboys as he enters his third season with the team.
Michael Gallup took off in his second season, recording over 1,100 receiving yards and six touchdowns, averaging over 16.5 yards per reception. Gallup will look to keep up his production in year three.
Dallas got a steal with the No. 17 overall pick in the draft by grabbing CeeDee Lamb out of Oklahoma. Last year, Lamb recorded over 1,300 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns for the Sooners. He is an early candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year as he creates a dominant trio with Cooper and Gallup.
The WR position is one of the strongest areas for the Cowboys going into this season. They have a dominant trio with Cooper, Gallup, and Lamb. Expect a lot from the newly-formed trio and Dak Prescott this season.
Starter: Blake Jarwin
Backups; Blake Bell and Dalton Schultz
The TE position is one of the weaker spots for the Cowboys this season. They lost long-tenured TE Jason Witten to the Raiders and look to Blake Jarwin to take over the starting spot. Jarwin posted career-highs in receptions (31) and yards (365) last season, scoring three times.
Blake Bell joins the Cowboys after winning the Super Bowl with the Chiefs last season. He will fill the TE2 role and look to gain traction and really make his mark in the league.
Starters: Tyron Smith (LT), Connor Williams (LG), Joe Looney (C), Zack Martin (RG), and La’el Collins (RT)
Backups: Tyler Biadasz, Connor McGovern, Wyatt Miller, and Brandon Knight
The Cowboys have one of the league’s best offensive lines in the NFL year in and year out. They have arguably the best pair of OT in the league that Arte returning and Zack Martin has been a great interior piece.
They did lose Travis Frederick as he retired at the end of last season, but they have Looney who is likely to take over and they drafted former Wisconsin center, Tyler Biadasz, in the fourth round of Aprils’s draft.
The offensive line has been key to the success of both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, and expect more of the same as the line will likely be one of the league’s best once again in 2020.
Starters: DeMarcus Lawrence (DE), Dontari Poe (DT), Gerald McCoy (DT), and Tyrone Crawford (DE)
Backups: Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Antwuan Woods, Aldon Smith, and Bradlee Anae
One of the top strengths for Dallas this season will not just be the starting pieces on their defensive line, but their deep depth. The interior is well solidified with the additions of Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy in free agency after playing last year with the Carolina Panthers. The interior also has a new young piece as they drafted Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma.
Antwaun Woods has been solid in his two seasons with the Cowboys, but will now share snaps with the veteran Poe on the interior as they want to improve on their pressure.
McCoy will slot in as starter at the other DT role as second-year players, Trysten Hill and Gallimore will battle it out for snaps in the rotation at defensive tackle.
Aldon Smith has been reinstated, and he, along with the addition of Bradlee Anae in the draft, gives the Cowboys strong pass rush depth behind star DeMarcus Lawrence.
Starters: Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, and Leighton Vander Esch
Backups: Joe Thomas, Luke Gifford, Justin March, and Francis Bernard
The starting trio for the Cowboys is really solid. Smith and Vander Esch are a solid duo for the LB unit but struggled last year. This year the duo will look to bounce back as the defensive scheme hope to better utilize size to occupy interior offensive linemen, opening up holes for both Smith and Vander Esch.
The Cowboys LB unit may have some solid pieces for Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel this year. Thomas is a solid backup at all three LB positions. Gifford played in only six games before going on IR for the last two weeks, but he flashed enough potential to be kept on the roster.
Starters: Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown
Backups: Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, Daryl Worley, and Reggie Robinson II
The Cowboys did a lot of work with their CB room this offseason with the introduction of multiple new faces.
It’s a contract year for Chidobe Awuzie, who needs to show up in training camp to solidify his spot in the starting lineup. Awuzie has a ton of talent and athleticism that he needs to put together for a solid fourth year and a new coaching staff and scheme will give him a chance to shine.
Brown only played in nine games last year, but in his first three seasons he has at least eight passes defensed and 40 tackles. He looks to stay healthy this season and get back to where he left off in 2018.
Rookies Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson will have a strong chance to earn significant snaps out of the gate, providing a new and fresh look to the back end of the defense.
Starters: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Xavier Woods
Backups: Darian Thompson and Donovan Wilson
Clinton-Dix joins the Cowboys after spending last season with the Chicago Bears, where he recorded 78 tackles, two interceptions, and five passes defensed. He looks to be an upgrade for the safety position after losing Jeff Heath in free agency.
Woods set a carerr-high in tackles last season, displaying his physicality and athleticism paired with his play in coverage, intercepting two passes and defending five passes. Woods and Clinton-Dix look to be the answers for the back end of the secondary that struggled a year ago.
Starters: Greg Zeurlein (K), Chris Jones (P), and L.P. Ladoceur (LS)
The battle to watch is between Zeurlein and Kai Forbath. Forbath took over for Brett Maher towards the end of the season and went 10-10 on field goal attempts. Zeurlein has been having health issues and needs to get healthy to win the competition.
The Cowboys are looking to put a disappointing season behind them as the McCarthy era begins this year. Prescott has a dominant trio of wide receivers that will boost his passing and Ezekiel Elliot will look for his fourth 1,000-yard season in five years.
The defense looks to be improved up front with new faces and an insane amount of depth on the defensive line. The LB unit looks to bounce back after a tough season, with new faces in the secondary looking to make their marks early on.