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Dallas Cowboys 2022 Season Preview

Dallas Cowboys
Photo courtesy of James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys.

The 2021 season was one of the best performances by the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott since the 2016 season. After losing all of their preseason games and the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cowboys went on to win the next six games. However, in 2021 the Cowboys had a relatively easy strength of schedule. Out of their thirteen opponents, six had a losing record. Out of those six teams, the Cowboys played the New York Giants and Washington Football Team (now Washington Commanders) twice, and they won all those games. Dallas also won both games against the Philadelphia Eagles, which raises a point for the NFC East.

Despite being the only division in the entire league in which all of the teams have won the Super Bowl and have made multiple appearances in the Super Bowl, the NFC East is considered by many to be one of the worst divisions (if not the worst) in the league. So, a team with a mediocre roster and above-average management can get into the playoffs. In the 2021 season, Prescott threw for 4,449 yards and 37 touchdowns with a passer rating of 104.2. Ezekiel Elliot, the star running back, played and started all seventeen games but only managed to get 237 carries and barely eclipse 1,000 yards.

Elliot’s 4.2 average yards per carry was much less than the backup running back Tony Pollard, who rushed for 719 yards on just 130 carries at an average of 5.5. On the receiving side, CeeDee Lamb was the leader with 79 receptions and 1,102 yards, followed by Amari Cooper with 865 yards. However, Cooper made some explosive plays, and Dalton Schultz led the team with the most receiving yards Wideout Cedrick Wilson signed with the Miami Dolphins. Even with their impressive 12-5 record, they failed to go beyond the wild card round and lost to the San Francisco 49ers.

Cowboys Offseason Moves

Heading into the offseason, the Cowboys had concerns about cutting costs and had to make some challenging moves. First, they were forced to release right tackle La’el Collins. In 2022 Terrence Steele will be taking Collins’ place. Secondly, they failed to successfully negotiate with Randy Gregory, who was a significant part of the Cowboys’ defense in 2021. But the most questionable move was to trade Amari Cooper to the Browns. Cooper has been a big part of the Cowboys’ offense and was their receiving leader in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He repeatedly put up good numbers with solid averages. Wideout Cedrick Wilson signed with the Miami Dolphins.

In the NFL draft, the Cowboys selected Tyler Smith (offensive tackle) in the first round, Sam Williams (defensive end) in the second, Jalen Tolbert (wide receiver) in the third round, Jake Ferguson (tight end) in the fourth and other defensive players in the fifth and sixth rounds. The third-round pick, wide receiver Jalen Tolbert is also a good selection, but he will need some time to adjust. In 2022 Cowboys tried to make up for their loss of players by picking up their replacements, but time will tell how these picks will play out in 2022 and onwards.

Previewing the Cowboys’ Offense

We have been observing a trend in the Cowboys’ offense for the past couple of seasons: they play a lot better during the first half of the season than the later half. Even if they lose games in the first half, at least their offense puts up a good fight. In 2022 this might slightly change because of new changes in the offense. The Cowboys’ offensive line is also not what it used to be. Ezekiel Elliot has been having some problems, especially in extended plays, and apart from CeeDee Lamb, they don’t have any explosive wideouts. Lamb will get a great opportunity to prove himself as a legitimate top-tier wide receiver in the league, and he must avail of this opportunity.

However, one wide receiver doesn’t make the Cowboys an automatic playoff-caliber team. Kellen Moore has established himself as a legitimate offensive coordinator, and he must get all his offensive weapons together, including the running backs. Michael Gallup will miss the first few games of the season to continue his recovery from a torn ACL injury that he suffered in Week 17. As a result, the Cowboys’ current offense looks slightly weaker than their 2021 offense.

Previewing the Cowboys’ Defense

Two players stood out in 2021 in the Cowboys’ defense. The first one is Micah Parsons, who recorded 13 sacks, and another is Trevon Diggs, who intercepted the ball 11 times and led the league. The good thing for the Cowboys is that both of these will be returning this year. Dan Quinn, who has gotten a lot of praise for turning around the Cowboys’ defense, will also be looking to repeat the same in 2022. It would be better to get DeMarcus Lawrence back in form and provide some support to Micah Parsons. Randy Gregory will be missed, but the Cowboys did manage to get some replacements, and we will see how Quinn uses them.

Important Games

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: September 11

Cincinnati Bengals: September 18

Los Angeles Rams: October 9

Green Bay Packers: November 13

Minnesota Vikings: November 20

Indianapolis Colts: December 4

Tennessee Titans: December 29

Washington Commanders: January 1

Cowboys Projected Outlook for 2022

Win-Loss Projections: 9-8 (On the Bubble Playoff Team)

Apart from the New York Giants, all other teams in NFC East seem to be on equal footing. Despite the departure of Randy Gregory, the Cowboys’ defense might hold up; however, their offense needs to put themselves in a winning position. On paper, no one can replace Amari Cooper, so that’s a significant factor.

But perhaps the most important thing would be seeing how Ezekiel Elliot plays and, if he plays well, whether he will stay healthy. The Cowboys’ project outlook depends mainly on the running game. Our prediction would’ve been 12-5 if the Cowboys had made some good choices during the offseason. In fact, we would’ve been very positive had the Cowboys just avoided the questionable moves. Instead, it was straightforward for them to keep both Gregory and Cooper on their team.

Moreover, our analysis is also dependent on the other team’s performance, and as we discussed above, the Eagles and Commanders have made solid moves to improve. This is also the year that will define Eagles QB Jalen Hurts future. So, we may end up watching three teams competing with each other for the Division title, and whoever dominates will get a chance to be in the playoffs.

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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