With the Cowboys overhauling their defensive line this year with bigger interior linemen, who do you feel that helps the most? DeMarcus Lawrence or Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith?
Mason: I am going with DeMarcus Lawrence here. Without a big presence at defensive tackle last season, it allowed teams to commit to double and triple-teaming him which significantly hindered his production. Now with very good help in the middle with Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe as well as a full off-season to keep healthy, I think Lawrence will have the most to benefit from this season.
Juwan: The linebackers for sure. Last year it didn’t feel as if Jalyon Smith and LVE were consistently impactful as they were the year prior. Looking back further and you see how much trouble they had against the LA Rams power run offense when offensive linemen are able to get a body on them. I believe the move to get bigger bodies inside will allow us to see more of that magic those two created in 2018.
On paper, Dallas has talent at nearly every position on offense. With the change in coaching staff, do you still feel Ezekiel Elliott is the focal point of the offense?
Mason: I feel like he needs to be. This team’s identity has always been to have a strong run game and, while they are perfectly capable of being a passing team, they seemed to move away from that identity last season. Ezekiel Elliott is one of if not the most reliable and consistent running backs in the entire league, that combined with the amount of money he was paid should solidify his spot as the focal point of this offense. They have a great pass game, but a consistent emphasis on Zeke and the run game will only open up so much more for Dak Prescott.
Juwan: I don’t believe he has to be the focal point in a traditional sense of how we’re accustomed to Dallas using him. He doesn’t need 25-plus carries a game to be effective, nor should designed screens offer the only opportunity to involve him in the passing game. With as many weapons as this team has, I would be a bit disappointed if the gameplan remained force-feeding Zeke 30 carries per game. Especially if the goal remains to make Dak one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league.
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