There is no shortage of hype surrounding the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. While the defensive unit landed big-name upgrades this offseason to make for a seemingly formidable front, it’s the offense that’s truly stolen the headlines. After all, the No. 1 offense in the league last season added wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with the 17th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, setting them up for lethality this coming season. When also factoring in the move to promote playmaking tight end Blake Jarwin and move on from Jason Witten, Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore have the keys to what could be a wide open offense that could lead them right to Super Bowl LV.

That’s exactly what McCarthy envisioned for 2020 and beyond when he kept Kellen Moore as one of the scarce offseason coaching retentions in the regime change from the Jason Garrett era, and the expectation is the offense will go full throttle, beyond levels that saw them become the No. 1-ranked offense in the land last season. A large part of that will come by way of Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott, but not simply in the realm of handoffs. With fullback Jamize Olawale having opted out, there’s now a blueprint for aerial warfare rarely seen in Dallas — something owner Jerry Jones is downright giddy over.

And though the tight-lipped McCarthy would rather Jones not tip the Cowboys hand, well, it happened anyway. Jones confirmed both Pollard and Elliott will be key parts of the passing attack going into Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams, and then each game to follow.

“Out of the backfield, it should be interesting this year with more use of Pollard and Zeke as receiver types,” Jones said to 105.3FM the Fan on Tuesday. “We’ve got that in and it’s gonna be very effective. I’m sure excited about that area.”

It’s something Elliott has been champing at the bit to do since landing in Dallas with the fourth-overall pick in 2016 and, on the whole, the two-time rushing champ feels the talent on the Cowboys roster in 2020 is something he’s never before been a part of — along with something that’ll be very difficult to contain. 

“This is probably the most talented team I’ve been on,” he told reporters recently as training camp came to an end. “Just look at the depth chart, look at the roster, look at how many Pro Bowlers, how many All-Pro guys we have out there. And I mean I think it’s the best.”

Elliott isn’t being hyperbolic, by the way.

When comparing the 2020 roster to those of 2016 through 2019, it’s really not a fair fight. The Cowboys currently boast three wide receivers with the ability to deliver 1,000 yards, a YAC monster and red zone threat at tight end, a slippery RB2, the aforementioned two-time All-Pro running back, and more. Turning to the defensive side of the equation, the addition of Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen and Aldon Smith means the Cowboys have a combined total of nine Pro Bowl nods and four All-Pro honors on their defensive line — additionally throwing potential draft steals Neville Gallimore and Bradlee Anae into the mix.

Even with the loss of Gerald McCoy to injury and subsequent release, the Cowboys are loaded on a defensive front that also includes Pro Bowl linebackers Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, the latter coming off of one of his best and most durable years as a pro. 

There are still questions to be answered, most certainly, such as Trevon Diggs’ ability to burst out of the gate in Year 1 and who’ll play where in assessing the opposite field cornerback role and strong safety. The team also hope Connor Williams can equal or better his Year 2 play at left guard going into Year 3, after seeing his 2019 season end prematurely due to injury. 

And then there’s the retirement of perennial All-Pro Travis Frederick, which is a blow, but it’s one Joe Looney has lessened before. It’s also a role that could be taken over before year’s end by another Wisconsin legend in Tyler Biadasz, so keep an eye on that battle.

All in all, Elliott loves the direction the Cowboys are headed, including scheme-wise on offense.

McCarthy enters his first year with no plans of taking play-calling duties away from Kellen Moore, who proved himself one of the more promising young coordinator minds in the NFL last season. Moore flipped the offense from worst to first in only one year on the job, and the passing attack — along with Dak Prescott, who drove it — flourished as a result. With more West Coast intricacies set to come for Dallas in 2020, does that mean they’re no longer a run-first team? 

Not necessarily, but the goal is to not be predictable, in whatever form that may come. 

“[Plays in camp have] been really balanced from Kellen,” Elliott said. “That’s what I was expected.”

To that point, expect more in the passing game from Elliott, who’s mostly been caged in that regard by McCarthy’s and Moore’s predecessors. Having always had the ability in his pocket, as evidenced in his time at Ohio State, the Cowboys haven’t often utilized Elliott’s ability to catch out of the backfield. When they do, it usually pays off big, more often than not (ask the Pittsburgh Steelers).

The three-time Pro Bowler has been doing much more in camp than only taking handoffs. He’s been working on his route-running ability and has gotten some snaps as a slot receiver — a hint at the level of unpredictability the Cowboys will employ in 2020.

“I definitely feel a difference [in my routes],” Elliott said. “I just feel more comfortable out there. This offseason, me and Dak, we were working all offseason. I feel comfortable and ready to go. 

“… I feel like everything is going well. I think Coach McCarthy has done a great job kind of starting us a little slow and kind of slowly ramping up the workload for practice. I feel good. I feel like I’m getting my timing down. 

“My hands feel good. I’m excited.”

So are the Cowboys.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here