As they prepare for the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys have a shot to replicate their success from a year ago and try to get this team to a level it hasn’t seen since the late 90s. The media is hyping the team up saying it has the pieces to contend for a championship. They may look legit on paper, but they need to execute on the field. For this to be a successful season, here are three players that need to have a great season if this team is to take the next step.
Coming out of college, Gallup was generating buzz with his big play ability. He had great hands and was one of the more physical receivers coming into the draft that year. The Cowboys took him in the third round and hoped he would make a fast impact on the young receiving corps. Unfortunately, as the offense struggled to find any rhythm through the first half of the season, so did Gallup.
Then the Cowboys added Amari Cooper to the team and it opened up the game for the rookie. He started to learn how to adapt to Dak Prescott and he made some big plays down the stretch. His best game of the season came in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, where he had a huge 40+ yard gain. He ended that night with 6 catches for 119 yards.
Going into year two, it is imperative that Gallup be a huge focal point in the offense. Making defenses pay for playing Gallup with single coverage is just going to open up more room for Zeke Elliott, Randall Cobb and even Jason Witten. Having your number two receiver by a threat just makes it that much tougher to defend. Gallup will have to step up and help bring this offense to another level in 2019.
Not much has been said about defensive end Robert Quinn since his trade to the Cowboys earlier in the off-season. Quinn, coming from the Miami Dolphins, isn’t the same player anymore. Long gone are the days of having 19 sacks in a season, but it don’t mean he isn’t going to be an effective player. Now, being the primary pass rusher isn’t what he is here for.
He is here to be Randy Gregory’s replacement and maybe a bit more. Gregory’s emergence as a speed rusher was one of the big reasons why the team was so successful on defense. Then the NFL handed out bad news when they suspended him indefinitely due to another failed drug test. That is where Quinn comes in.
No one knows for sure when Gregory will come back, but for at least this season you have a replacement in Quinn who still has talent. Quinn might not be the man he was a few seasons ago, but he still managed to get 15 sacks over the past two seasons. Also, the speed has never left him, something he has in common with Gregory. Quinn will be critical for the success of this defensive line to get pressure.
Woods has to wonder what he needs to do to prove to the Cowboys that he is the answer at safety. There was so much talk about trying to acquire talent to upgrade the safety position; Woods might have wondered if the team bothered to look at how well he has played as of late.
As a big hitting safety, he helped the Cowboys’ defense last season become one of the best at defending in the red zone. Pro Football Focus had him as the best safety in 2018 at forcing incompletions in the red zone. He was tied on the team with most picks at two, nine pass deflections, 56 tackles and a forced fumbles. At one point in 2018, his numbers were comparable with some of the best at his position.
Now going into his second season with Kirs Richard coaching his unit, things are looking up for Woods and his ability to turn into one of the best safeties in the game. That is crucial for this team and this defense as the safety position is still the weakest unit. Woods will need to elevate his game to another level to help add another play-maker to this already talented unit. This defense with someone who can be a ball hawk and a big hitter back there will push this team into elite status.
Will these guys step up? Maybe someone else will? The real question is if these players can actually step up and live up to the expectations being presented. If they can, 2019 might be a very special year.
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