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2023-24 Dallas Cowboys Season Preview

2022-23 Record: 12-5, Lost in the Divisional Round

The Dallas Cowboys once again had their season come to a close at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. After a season where Dak Prescott was injured for five games due to a thumb injury, the Cowboys stayed afloat with backup Cooper Rush at the helm. 

Dak Prescott injures his thumb. Image – Bleeding Green Nation

The Cowboys had complete control against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round, winning 31-14 in Tom Brady’s final game of his career. Dallas would go on to lose 19-12 against the 49ers which ended with Ezekiel Elliott playing center. Unfortunately, Prescott struggled with interception issues in the season’s final stretch but allowed “America’s Team” to finish 12-5 for the second consecutive year under Mike McCarthy.

Another season where the Cowboys came up short, still not being able to get over that hump that has haunted the team and its fans for over 25 years. With the 2023 season on the horizon, in a weaker NFC, will the Dallas Cowboys be able to finally reach the Super Bowl?

Key Additions: WR Brandin Cooks, CB Stephon Gilmore, DT Mazi Smith

Unlike most off seasons, Jerry Jones and the front office in Arlington, Texas made some big-time moves in the past six months. On March 14, the Cowboys traded their 2023 fifth-round pick to the Indianapolis Colts for 2019 DPOY Stephon Gilmore. This move made some noise as Gilmore will make himself and Trevon Diggs possibly the best cornerback duo in the NFL. Gilmore has quite a resume. He is a five-time Pro-Bowler, two-time All-Pro, Super Bowl Champion, 2019 DPOY, and future Hall of Famer. He has already made an impact on the young cornerback room and makes the Cowboys’ secondary that much better. 

Five days later on March 19, the Cowboys acquired Brandon Cooks from the Houston Texans for a 2023 fifth-round pick and 2024 sixth-rounder. Cooks has been a 1,000-yard receiver for 6-of-9 seasons that he’s been in the NFL. Cooks brings a reliable second option on the outside after Lamb as Michael Gallup will look to get back to his old self post-injury. The receiving core is miles ahead of what they were going into last season. This move should make Cowboys’ fans ecstatic as Prescott has another weapon on the outside.

Brandon Cooks – image, Houston Texans

With the 26th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected DT Mazi Smith out of Michigan. Smith brings incredible size and strength for a Dallas D-line that struggled mightily against the run all season. Smith will have some growing pains as he’ll look to be a three-down type of guy but the potential is intriguing. 

Key Departures: RB Ezekiel Elliott, TE Dalton Schultz

Long-time Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was cut this offseason due to his rather large contract he was owed. As they go younger and cheaper, it is an end of an era. Elliott made a name for himself as one of the best backs in the league in his early years. Elliott was a three-time Pro-Bowler, one-time All-Pro and 2016 ROTY.

Five-year Cowboy Dalton Schultz also leaves after not getting a new contract. This move could be seen a mile away as the Cowboys had rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot show insane potential. Both were explosive and fun to watch in 2022. Schultz caught 57 passes for 577 yards and five touchdowns last season in a down year. He has a new home in Houston with rookie QB C.J. Stroud. Schultz should be his security blanket just like he was Dak’s over the years.

Dalton Shultz – image, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys welcomed a return to Dallas for a discount but Zeke chose to go play under Bill Belichick in New England. Pollard will now take RB1 duties after coming off a career year of 1,007 yards on the ground and 12 total touchdowns. The halfback position should be in good hands for this season.

The Cowboys also added Luke Schoonmaker in the draft with their second-round pick, who also came from Michigan. He caught 35 passes for 418 yards and three touchdowns in his senior season. With the trio of young guys at tight end, the Cowboys will have sneaky success from the position.

3 Players to Watch: QB Dak Prescott, LB Micah Parsons, WR CeeDee Lamb

Dak Prescott was the most over-hated, over-scrutinized, and most talked-about player in the NFL this offseason. I could talk for days about how much hate Prescott gets, but it comes down to him playing for America’s Team and that is what draws in views. To keep it short, Dak is coming off a rough season turnover-wise but still was at the helm for the highest-scoring offense in the NFL. I have no doubt he will come back this season in an MVP form. He has something to prove this season. 

Future DPOY Micah Parsons is going into his third year as possibly the most dominant and dynamic defensive player in the league. Parsons will continue to improve this season and truly brings this defense as one of the best in the NFL. Not much to say other than, to watch out for the lion.

Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs. Image – Bleacher Report

Lastly, Ceedee Lamb is going into his contract year. Which means, the man is going to want to earn his money. Lamb is coming off his best year with 107 receptions, 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns. With Cooks on the opposite side of him, I expect Lamb to get more single coverage this season which will only help him in the long run. Excited to see what this offense will be able to do this season.

Season Prediction: 12-5, Win NFC East

It would be the third consecutive season going 12-5 for the Cowboys, but that should be enough to win the East. I expect a drop-off in Philadelphia due to losing both coordinators, some key players, and a Super Bowl loss hangover. The New York Giants seem overrated but will still be competitive, and Washington is all but already out of the playoff race. 

With McCarthy calling plays, I think it opens this offense to different levels. There are weapons at every skill position. The offense line, if healthy, looks scarier than it’s been since the Travis Frederick days. On the other side of the ball, Dan Quinn’s defense has a chance to be the best in the league. Every position has talent. All three levels have playmakers. It should be fun to watch.

This is the weakest the NFC has been in quite some time while this may be the most complete team the Cowboys have had. If the pieces align, it should be a great season in Dallas. 

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