The 2018 NFL Season is finally upon us. The Dallas Cowboys will travel to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers in less than a week. Are the Cowboys ready to reclaim the NFC East crown? Take a look at these five players.
This is a no brainer for the success of the franchise. Your quarterback is always your most important player on any team. So it comes with no surprise that your tackle in charge of protecting his blindside would be near the top. . Yes you can point out how Prescott failed to have quality starts when Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith were out of the lineup, but who wouldn’t when you take away All-Pro’s at their respective positions.
Without Tyron Smith the Cowboys were only able to muster up 16 combined points in two games. With Tyron but without Zeke the team scored a total of 94 points with a record of 3-1. Staying healthy is the way Smith can step up in 2018.
To piggyback off of point number one, Prescott comes in as my second player who needs to step up in 2018. Yes, Dak has a career record of 22-10 after 32 starts over his first two seasons. He is tied for second with Andrew Luck for having the best 32 game start just behind Russell Wilson. These are the quarterbacks who started day one as a rookie and played in every game for their franchise.
Going into his 3rd season a lot more will be asked of the former fourth round selection. The Cowboys are going into the year missing their biggest key to the offensive line in Travis Frederick. The Cowboys will look to Joe Looney to step up to the plate. The mantra that you hear quite often with Jason Garrett will be tested, it is “next man up” for Looney and company. Prescott could be relied upon to help with pre-snap adjustments and changing line protections.
Lawrence is coming off his best season with a career best 14.5 sacks. He played so well that the Cowboys designated their franchise tag on him. Not only will the Cowboys be relying on another huge season from Lawrence, Tank will also be relying on that so that he may get a contract extension.
Aside from a healthy and productive season resulting in a new contract, the Cowboys defense will benefit from his play. Provided that Tank is still performing at the same level he did in 2017, there should be more one on one opportunities across the entire defensive line. With Randy Gregory ready to go for Carolina, he could very well be the top benefactor of Tank’s performances.
Since Smith was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft the team and fans have been waiting to get excited about Jaylon Smith. This very well may be the season. After watching him in practice and during the preseason this year, the concerns from two years ago seem like a distant memory.
The Cowboys drafted Leighton Vander Esch with their first selection this year, but even before his injuries it wasn’t clear when he was going to see the field with all of the positive news surrounding Jaylon. LVE will see some time on the field but more than likely the insurance for Sean Lee. Meanwhile Smith can prove to be a difference maker at mike, what they thought they lost with Anthony Hitchen’s departure.
Maher made this list due in large part with the fact that the Cowboys parted ways with one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, Dan Bailey. Many have pointed to Bailey’s numbers from a season ago but it seems this move was financially driven. The Cowboys will save Bailey’s $3.4 million base salary the next three seasons according to OverTheCap.com. As unfair as it may seem, the first time Maher misses a kick is when this move will come under scrutiny. Should Maher prove that he can be a reliable kicker then this move becomes a smart one.
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