The Dallas Cowboys have had a tumultuous offseason, which isn’t something altogether out of the ordinary for the organization. But, as we start to look at the NFL landscape and try to identify whose stocks will rise and fall this season, the Cowboys, whose Vegas over/under is 9.5 (3.5 games less than they won last year), feel due for a regression.
Ezekiel Elliott, already under a microscope with the NFL’s extra-judicial investigative arm, pulled down a woman’s top at a St. Patrick’s Day parade and allegedly broke an adversary’s nose in a bar fight. (The details of this latter incident are very murky and may never be adjudicated, which may or may not have to do with the fixer the Cowboys have on retainer.)
Despite Jerry Jones’ public protestations, Roger Goodell’s wheel of punishment is expected to come up with a suspension for the talented young running back. Whether it is one, two, three, or four games is anyone’s guess.
Nobody actually believes that, like, Cowboys-Rams on October 1st will be impacted one iota by Dez Bryant’s tardiness for mandatory workouts. However, Dez is 28 years old now. This is his eighth season in the NFL. Will there ever come a point where he will understand that it’s easier in aggregate to just abide by administrative responsibilities than incur the bad-optic firestorm?
The Cowboys’ defense has had off-field issues. Cornerback Nolan Carroll got a DUI. Linebacker Damien Wilson has been charged with aggravated assault of a deadly weapon. Defensive end David Irving will start the season with a four-game PED suspension.
There will be a year of tape on Dak Prescott. How will he adjust to the league’s adjustments? If he’s called on to make more plays, especially in the presumed absence of Elliott, will he do it?
Last year, the Cowboys caught everybody by surprise. They rebounded from 4-12 in 2015 to 13-3, and a miraculous Aaron Rodgers completion to Jared Cook away from the NFC Championship Game. This year, they’ll come into the season with a bullseye on their backs.