(Editor's Note: Over the next month, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking to answer the 20 biggest questions facing the team heading into the 2022 season. Today, the staff writers discuss expectations for the Cowboys this season.)
1) Are Cowboys Good Enough To Take Next Step?
Nick Eatman: I think the answer is "No" & "Yes." Because, if we're talking about what they did last year, I guess I can't sit here and say this team is definitely better than the 2021 team. They lost key pieces across the board and didn't exactly replace them with players who are considered an upgrade. They didn't get a better Amari Cooper, or even a better Cedrick Wilson. They didn't get someone better than La'el Collins and it's a debate on Randy Gregory, but they certainly lost a dynamic, freaky talent and haven't exactly replaced him. So are they better this year? Maybe not. But can they go further? Sure. Can they win a playoff game and get to the Divisional Round? Most definitely they can do that and maybe even further. The playoffs are all about getting hot at the right time – something we haven't seen around here in a quarter-century. The wild card here is the fact that maybe Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs are going to a level that will carry the defense. Maybe the running game will be resurrected and that will carry the entire offense where it needs to go. If that happens, good things can follow. I don't know if they're better. But I know they can have a better finish.
Rob Phillips: I believe the 2022 Cowboys are good enough to win double-digit games and the division again. My record prediction is 11-6. That would put them right back where they were last season: hosting a first-round playoff game, at the very least. Beyond that, I can't say I know they'll go further this time around. There are more unknowns about the roster than last year -- we've covered them over and over and over again since March -- and we'll just have to see how everything comes together. But I do think there are aspects to this year's team that are more certain than last year. We knew Dan Quinn's track record as a defensive coordinator but not how the defense would perform in Year One of his system. It turned out to be a terrific turnaround from 2020. To me, it comes down to Dak Prescott and the offensive line as a collective factor. Prescott was an MVP candidate at bye-week time before the calf injury last year and the O-Line was dominant, leading to a really effective run game. If they can get back to that, absolutely they can go further.
Kyle Youmans: This is the unpopular opinion, but I thought they were good enough last year, and I think they're good enough this year. The losses of Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory are tough to replace, but most of the cornerstone players return with a completely new attitude. The division may be better, but the NFC is wide open with Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Arizona, and others with their own offseason questions. Just going to the playoffs isn't enough, this talented roster realizes that and are still plenty good enough to make a run.