After an awful 6-10 season in 2020, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy may have wished he’d have stayed in retirement! Nothing seemed to go right for Dallas as Dak Prescott got injured and the defense was one of the worst in the league. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys fans expect much better results in 2021.
After such an abysmal defensive campaign, Mike Nolan is out as defensive coordinator. Dan Quinn takes over and will try to improve a defense that gave up the highest amount of points in franchise history in 2020 (nflanalysis.net). Can Quinn get this group pointed in the right direction?
All reports say that star QB Dak Prescott is fully healthy after a gruesome ankle injury prematurely ended his season in 2020. The former Mississippi State star got paid handsomely this offseason by signing a four-deal deal worth $160 million. Prescott is a great guy with outstanding leadership qualities, but how will he handle the pressure of that big contract?
Running back Ezekiel Elliott’s numbers have been on the decline since he got his big payday a few years ago. However, Elliott is apparently in the best shape of his pro career after a rigorous offseason training program! Dallas fans hope that Zeke can improve on his 979 yards and six touchdowns from last season.
The Cowboys are blessed with one of the best receiver groups in the NFL. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb form a terrific trio for Prescott to look for down the field.
Cooper had a fantastic 2020 campaign as he caught 92 passes for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns. Both Lamb and Gallup chipped in with five touchdowns apiece as well in 2020. With Prescott back at the helm, expect all three of these star wideouts to improve in 2021.
The Jones family wisely spent the majority of their draft picks on defensive players. Micah Parsons, a stud linebacker from Penn State, should start right away and may contend for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Kelvin Joseph, a second-round pick from Kentucky, should provide a much-needed boost to the Dallas secondary.
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence did a decent job of pressuring the QB in 2020 by registering 6.5 sacks. However, Dallas desperately needs Lawrence to return to his 2017 form when he had 14.5 sacks. Linebacker Jaylon Smith set a career-high in tackles last season and Dallas expects another big year from him in 2021.
2021 Special Teams
CeeDee Lamb will handle the punt return duties in 2021. The former Oklahoma superstar had 172 punt return yards as a rookie last year. Backup RB Tony Pollard will be the kick returner in 2021 after racking up 766 yards in that role in 2020.
The starting punter job will be up for grabs in training camp, with Hunter Niswander and Bryan Anger battling it out. Niswander averaged over 47 yards per punt for Dallas in 2020 after coming over from the XFL.
Veteran kicker Greg Zuerlein will return in 2021 after making 34 of his 41 field goal attempts last season.